Apr 16, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon

Society

11At Least 36 Dead or Wounded By Gun Violence in Chicago Last Weekend

At least 36 Chicago residents were wounded from gunfire in a span of 36 hours this past weekend.

The weekend marked a spike in shootings after a quarter boasting the lowest murder rate in Chicago history since 1958. One of the victims was 17-year-old girl Gakirah Barnes, whose mother described her as the latest victim of “an ongoing war” of gun violence in the city.

“This is something that has become all too normal to everybody, and it needs to stop," she told the Chicago Tribune.

Barnes died two hours after being shot multiple times Friday afternoon in the Woodlawn neighborhood.

34-year-old Shannon Mack, 32-year-old Corey Brownlee, and 20-year-old Joshua Martinez were also fatally shot over the weekend, DNAinfo reports.

25-year-old mother-of-two Jasmine Martinez, who is in the hospital in critical condition after being shot in the head and chest while driving her car through Humboldt Park. Police suspect that shooting may have been gang related.

"You cannot even come out of your house without worrying if you are going to be alive," Angie Diaz, the victim's aunt, told NBC Chicago.

NBC reports a total of four dead and 33 wounded. Doctors said they expected a rise in violence as the weather got warmer, but police have not commented on the possible role of the weather.

"While Chicago continues to see reductions in crime and violence, there's obviously much more work to be done and we continue to be challenged by lax state and federal gun laws," Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said in a statement.

"From our officers to our police strategies to the city's strengthened investments in youth violence prevention to our close partnership with residents and community leaders, no one will rest until everyone in Chicago enjoys the same sense of safety."

Sources: Huffington Post, DNAinfo, NBC Chicago


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115-Year-Old Boy Shoots 7-Year-Old Girl at S.C. Birthday Party With Gun He Thought Was a Toy

A 5-year-old boy accidentally fired a loaded gun he thought was a toy at a South Carolina birthday party Saturday night, killing a 7-year-old girl.

According to Lexington County Sheriff James Metts, the boy wanted to get a toy gun out of a trunk in his home, but instead he picked up a real firearm that belonged to his mother’s boyfriend. The mother told police she did not know that her boyfriend kept a gun in the trunk.

The gun went off and a bullet went through a car. Fragments struck 7-year-old Juliet Lynch, killing her.

Sheriff Metts also said that bullet fragments hit another 5-year-old boy in the arm.

Lynch's father, Corey Salley, described the terror of hearing the loud shot.

"I said, 'Oh goodness,' and I wasn't thinking that someone could be shooting at a kid's birthday party. So I ran around front and that's the first thing I see is my daughter on the ground," Salley told local news. "I picked her up and I ran."

His wife, Priscilla Salley, was also present for the terrible scene.

"I dropped everything, all I heard was 'Juliet! Juliet! Juliet!' And then I saw her blood," said Priscilla.

The couple rushed their daughter to the hospital, but it was too late. They had to tell Lynch’s twin sister that she was “in heaven” and wouldn’t be coming home.

While they recognize that the shooting was a tragic accident, the family still wants to see the adults involved held accountable.

"Why would there be a gun at a kid's birthday party? And if you do got a gun, why don't you have safety on it, out of reach of a kid," Corey Salley said.

"I just want justice done. I can't blame the little boy. He's a kid himself, but the adults that were there, whoever had what gun, they need to go to jail."

Sheriff Metts said charges could be filed.

Sources: Associated Press, WMBF


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11Pennsylvania Trooper Who Kicked in Handcuffed Man's Teeth Didn't Use Excessive Force, Jury Finds

A Pennsylvania state trooper accused of stomping on the face of a handcuffed man was acquitted yesterday.

A jury found that 43-year-old Kelly Cruz did not use excessive force nor deprive 22-year-old Zachary Bare of his civil rights when he kicked the handcuffed man in the head, leading to two facial fractures, damaged teeth, and a broken nose.

Cruz never denied that he was the one who caused Bare’s injuries, striking him with such force that his teeth were driven into his gums. The question was whether such force had been called for.

The incident was the result of a drug raid gone wrong: Cruz was leading a group of West Whiteland police officers to ambush a suspected meth lab. As they approached, the men inside the ranch house saw them and one managed to flee.

One of the officers told jurors that he’d seen Bare running and followed him to his house, where he ordered to lie on the kitchen floor. Another officer handcuffed him and left him there.

Accounts begin to differ from there. A third officer, Glenn Cockerham, filed a report saying he witnessed Cruz yell at Bare and then stomp on his head. But the first two officers said they never saw Cockerham in the house.

"This case boils down to credibility," Christian Hoey, Cruz’s lawyer, said at the beginning of trial. "It all comes down to who the jury believes."

In the end, the court chose to believe Cruz and witnesses Hoey called to the stand who testified to the trooper’s nonviolent reputation.

The officer said during his testimony that he had entered the home that Bare shared with his disabled mother, searched it, and, finding no one, returned to the kitchen to find Bare. He claimed Bare was enraged, making threats and attempting to get up. So he “pushed” on Bare’s shoulder to restrain him.

“I reacted to his actions,” Cruz testified. “I was fixated on his rage, and I did not have the opportunity to do the scans I would do, with my training and expertise.

“I am taking care of me,” Cruz said. “I am afraid. At that moment I did not know he was handcuffed. I responded the way I was trained to respond. I reacted to what I saw. If I fail, I don’t come home to my family.”

During his closing arguments, prosecutor L.C. Wright argued that Bare shouldn’t have been subjected to an unwarranted, brutal assault.

“He might have been a drunken nuisance, but that does not matter, because he is still protected by the civil rights laws,” Wright argued.

“He didn’t pose a significant threat,” Wright said. “He did not pose any threat at all.”

Sources: CBS Philly, Inquirer, Daily Local News (2)


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11Reeva Steenkamp's Family Calls Pistorius a 'Disgusting Liar' Who Is 'Enjoying His Celebrity Status'

The family of slain model Reeva Steenkamp has come forth to state unequivocally that they believe Oscar Pistorius, the man who allegedly shot their daughter, is a liar.

The “Bladerunner” is currently standing trial for Steenkamp’s murder. Pistorius, an South African sprinter, claims that he fired a shot into a closed bathroom door on Valentine’s Day because he thought the person behind it was an intruder. The victim’s family is calling it murder.

In an interview with The Daily Mail, Steenkamp’s sister, Simone Steenkamp, said she and her mother don’t believe Pistorius for a second.

“He is trying to convince the court that they were really close and that he cared for her,” she said. "It’s not true. He is a disgusting liar."

His behavior in the courtroom — sobbing and vomiting — was nothing but dramatics, she said, which only intensified her and her mother's feelings of fear and anger.

"It was so scary," Simone Steenkamp said. "My heart stopped as he walked past, ignoring us. I like to think his heart stopped too. He knew we were there but he almost lost his balance and fell over when he saw us."

“Then he sat in the dock, smirking. He killed my sister and yet he still seems to be enjoying his celebrity status.”

"It has been such an eye-opener for me," she said of the trial. "Until I walked into the courtroom it hadn’t really hit me that Reeva was dead, that I’ll never again see her coming through the door, bouncing around, being in charge of us all like she used to be.”

Pistorius claimed that her sister kept silent when he asked who was in the bathroom, but Simone Steenkamp said that would have been completely out of character for her.

"Our Reeva was very vocal, very assertive," she said. "Some people might go quiet when something terrible is happening, but not Reeva. She would have screamed. I know she would. She was a loving, outgoing girl who always spoke up about her feelings; she didn’t hold back.”

Pistorius will stand trial for another three weeks.

Sources: ABC, The Daily Mail


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11Idaho State Trooper Stops Man Coming Home From Daughter's Baby Shower to Search His Truck For Pot

A 69-year-old man is filing a federal law suit against an Idaho State Trooper who, claiming that a “smell” constituted probable cause, stopped him and searched his car for marijuana — and then found none.

Caught on video, Trooper Justin Klitch followed Darien Roseen's truck to a “Welcome to Idaho” rest stop.

"Why'd you pull in here so rapidly?" Klitch asked Roseen.

"Uh, I had to go to the bathroom," Roseen responded.

"You didn't have to go to the bathroom before you saw me," the officer said.

"That's true — no, I did have to,” Roseen responded.

The trooper then slammed the driver with a battery of accusations.

"I'm telling you, you pulled in here to avoid me, that's exactly what you did," the trooper said. "I mean, you almost hit the curb, you almost ran off the road. You definitely didn't want me around you for some reason … Why are your eyes glassy today?"

The cop then asked Roseen when he last used marijuana. When Roseen said he’s never used it, Klitch asked if he can search the car. 

"Well, yeah, if I have a choice, I can say no, I don't want you to search it,” Roseen responded.

"Why are you so worried about me if you're not violating any laws of the state or this country — why are you so concerned about me?" the officer asked.

"Because I want to get on the road and just get home,” Roseen answered.

As the exchange progressed, the officer claimed that he was “going to find whatever it is.” He convinced the driver to unload the bed of his truck, which was full of art supplies and presents from his daughter’s baby shower.

Klitch then claimed to smell marijuana from the compartment underneath the truck bed.

"Why do I smell marijuana coming out of there, sir?" he asked.

"You don't," Roseen responded.

"Well, take a smell," the trooper said.

"Nothing of the sort,” Roseen said.

Claiming that the odor gave him “probable cause” to search the vehicle, Roseen was detained for hours at Payette County Jail while an officer searched the car — finding nothing by way of illicit drugs.

The Idaho State Police said in a statement last week that it is conducting an internal investigation.

"We would like to assure the citizens of Idaho and the visitors to our state that the Idaho State Police holds all of its employees to a high standard which includes following the Constitution of the United States and the laws and constitution of the state of Idaho," the agency said.

Sources: Spokesman-Review


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11British Priest Marries Partner in First Defiance of Church's Gay Marriage Ban

The Saturday marriage of Canon Jeremy Pemberton to Laurence Cunnington marked the first time a priest had defied the Church of England’s ban on gay marriage.

Pemberton, a 58-year-old hospital chaplain and member of the Church’s Lincoln diocese, could not have wed his longtime partner in an Anglican church. The Church refused to support the government's upholding of gay marriage legislation last month. It bans clergy both from being part of same-sex unions and presiding over them.

The House of Bishops’ guidance on same-sex marriage, signed by Archbishop Welby and the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, said after the change in U.K. law: “We are all in agreement that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged.”

Pemberton signed a 2012 letter to the Telegraph stating that he, among other clergy, would encourage gay couples to marry elsewhere if the Church did not allow it.

The chaplain married his 51-year-old partner outside a local hotel in a ceremony he described to the Daily Mail as “very joyous, very happy.” The divorced father of five told the Bishop of Lincoln about his intentions to defy the church, but the only comment he made about how he and his husband would feel after the ceremony was, “We will feel married.”

Some more liberal senior members of the clergy congratulated the couple on their nuptials.

“I’m really, really happy for Jeremy and his partner that they are finally able to get married after a long time of being together as a couple,” said Rev. Colin Coward, a friend of Pemberton’s and director of the Changing Attitude campaign group.

“I hope the bishops find a way to affirm and bless their relationship rather than taking action against them.”

Sources: Independent, Daily Mail, Telegraph


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11Suspect in Kansas Jewish Center Shootings was Known White Supremacist, Yelled 'Heil Hitler!' Out Squad Car

Frazier Glenn Cross, suspected of killing three people at two Jewish centers on Sunday, was heard spouting a white supremacist rant from the back of the police squad car as he was being taken into custody. 

Cross is the suspected gunman in two shootings that occurred yesterday at a Kansas Jewish community center and Jewish retirement home. A 14-year-old Eagle scout and his grandfather were shot outside the Overland Park Jewish Community Center. The third victim, a woman, was slain outside the Village Shalom retirement community.

In a video of Cross in the back of a squad car being taken into custody in the parking lot of an elementary school near the shootings sites, the suspect can be heard yelling what sounds like “Heil Hitler!”

Cross, of Aurora, Mo., is a well-known white supremacist, according to the Associated Press. The 73-year-old was a former Ku Klux Klan leader or “Grand Dragon,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The man booked under the name Frazier Glenn Cross is also known as Frazier Glenn Miller, and has used both names publicly. He refers to himself as Glenn Miller on his personal website and ran for public office in 2006 and 2010 under the name Frazier Glenn Miller, both times under a white supremacist platform.

Miller has been a white supremacist for most of his life, founding the Carolina Knights of the KKK in the 1980s. He also founded the White Patriot Party, another supremacist group, according to the center.

Miller was the target of a national manhunt in 1987, eventually found by federal agents in a mobile home filled with grenades, guns, and ammo. Miller had violated the terms of his bond when he appealed a conviction for operating a paramilitary camp in North Carolina.

Cross was booked on a preliminary charge of first-degree murder. He is being held at Johnson County jail.

"We're investigating it as a hate crime. We're investigating it as a murder," Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said at a news conference shortly after the shootings. 

The shootings, which occurred just before the Jewish holiday of Passover, rocked an otherwise peaceful community. 

"Today, on the eve of Pesach, we are left to contemplate how we must continue our work building a world in which all people are free to live their lives without the threat of terror," Michael Siegal, chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, said in an emailed statement to the Associated Press.

Sources: ABC, USA Today, Associated Press, KMBC


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11Florida Family Greets Home Intruder in Kitchen and Shoots

A Florida family killed a home intruder trying to break into their house on Monday.

The Winter Haven family woke early in the morning to the sound of someone trying to get in. Luis Pena, the father, fired a warning shot.

"[A resident] fired a warning shot above the door," Police Chief Gary Hester told My Fox Tampa. "That warning shot did not deter the intruder. The intruder didn't retreat."

All three family members appeared armed and ready to meet the would-be robber, identified by police as Mitchell Large, in the kitchen.

"It appears at least two of the family members fired in defense of themselves and their property," said Hester.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Large charged at the elder Pena, who fired the deadly shot into his torso.

Large was dead when police arrived.

The family’s daughter was also at home but wasn’t a part of the incident.

Large was unarmed, officers say, but that doesn’t mean that Pena was in the wrong for firing. Police spokeswoman Jamie Brown said that charges will probably not be filed against Pena.

"Whether he was armed or not armed, when he failed to retreat they certainly had a right, if it turns out to be this way, would have a right ... to defend themselves," Hester told WTSP.

The 40-year-old intruder had a history of assault and domestic violence.

The Penas’ surprised neighbors described the area as peaceful.

"That's the way that I would react. I'd hate to do that; I'd hate to shoot anybody. But if it comes to me or them, I would," said Denver Kemp, one of the Penas' neighbors. "I hate that he died, but you got to take a stand against this people that's doing this stuff."

Sources: Orlando SentinelMy Fox Tampa, WTSP


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11DEA Raids Illinois Woman's Home After She Buys Organic Fertilizer

An Illinois woman is under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency for buying organic fertilizer for her hibiscus plant.

According to Shorewood Patch, agents stormed the Shorewood home of 46-year-old Angela Kirking and raided her garage after noticing her shopping at an indoor garden center they’d been staking out.  Four DEA agents and five Shorewood police officers invaded at 5 a.m. on Oct. 11, while Kirking was in bed asleep with her terrier.

"They had a gun pointed at me when they said, 'Are there any illegal substances in your house?'" Kirking recalled.

Police claimed there were 9.3 grams of marijuana in Kirking’s “art room.” Kirking does face painting at local art fairs.

The agency had been investigating Kirking for a month, searching her garbage and comparing her electric bill to her neighbor’s. They found and seized a “plant portion” from her patio, in addition to the “marijuana,” as well as three glass pipes and a bag, three scales, two books on how to grow marijuana, a computer, and a zip drive.

Kirking's attorney, Jeff Tomczak, is fighting to get the case thrown out, arguing there was no probable cause for the search, which resulted only in a pair of misdemeanor charges.

"The lady comes under investigation simply because she shopped at a particular store," Tomczak said during a Friday hearing.

In a complaint for a search warrant, a DEA agent wrote that he was staking out the store, Midwest Hydroganics, because previous surveillance there "led to the arrests of subjects for production of cannabis sativa plants and possession of cannabis."

Kirking became a target when she was spied leaving with “a green plastic bag containing unknown items."

Will County Judge Bennett Braun will decide whether to throw out the case later this month. He already expressed doubt for the agent’s argument that the fact that Kirking’s electric bill was higher than her neighbors indicated that she was growing weed. The judge interjected that the electric company informed him of his own higher-than-average bills.

Kirking said she had purchased organic fertilizer for her hibiscus plant, whose petals she eats. She says she’ll continue to shop at Midwest Hydroganics.

"I'd love to," she said. "I'd love to send all my friends there to see how far they take this.

Source: Shorewood Patch


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11Air Marshal Director Retires Amidst Growing Gun Scheme Scandal

Federal Air Marshal Service director Robert Bray is stepping down after a probe revealed his involvement in an operation to acquire guns for officials’ personal use.

FoxNews reports that Bray is retiring and will leave his post in June. His home was raided in December in connection with the investigation, and at least one gun was apprehended. 

Several other officials were also involved in the operation, a Department of Homeland Security investigation reveals. 

Federal Air Marshal supervisor Danny Poulos is accused of using the agency’s federal firearms license, as well as his connection to gun manufacturer Sig Sauer, to get discounted and free firearms. He then gave them out to higher-ups in the agency.

Whistleblowers blew the scandal open, reports FoxNews, which obtained the documents containing the accusations and interviewed people involved.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also believed to be investigating.

A TSA spokesman commented, “We are aware of the allegations and we are looking into them." He said he was not aware of the DHS or ATF’s involvement.

North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson, chairman of the House Homeland Security transportation security subcommittee, expressed his “grave concern” about the claims in a letter to TSA head John Pistole, particularly since Congress was not made aware of the investigation.

"I am extremely concerned about recent allegations of unethical behavior involving firearms within the Federal Air Marshal Service, dating as far back as 2010," Hudson told FoxNews.com.

"The alleged behavior is unbecoming of any official entrusted with the duty to protect and serve the American public. I am outraged at the apparent attempt by TSA and the Federal Air Marshal Service to hide this from Congress. TSA needs to come forward and provide clear and complete answers so that we can conduct a thorough and open review of these alleged activities on behalf of the American people.”


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