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History > 2009 > USA > Gun violence (I)





Off-Duty Officer Fatally Shot by Police


May 29, 2009
The New York Times


A New York City police officer who had just gotten off duty was fatally shot late Thursday in East Harlem by a fellow officer who mistook him for an armed criminal, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said.

The officer who was killed, Omar J. Edwards, 25, a two-year veteran who was assigned to patrol housing projects and was wearing plain clothes, was shot in the arm and chest after a team of three other plainclothes officers in a car came upon him chasing a man on East 125th Street between First and Second Avenues with his gun drawn, Mr. Kelly said.

The team’s members, assigned to the anticrime unit in the 25th Precinct, got out of their vehicle and confronted Officer Edwards. The police were investigating whether the officers had identified themselves or demanded that Officer Edwards drop his weapon before one of them opened fire.

Mr. Kelly identified the officer who fired the shots only as a four-year veteran of the department, and said he had fired six rounds from his 9-millimeter Glock. Two bullets struck Officer Edwards.

Officer Edwards, a recently married father of two from Brooklyn, was taken to Harlem Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead at 11:21 p.m. No one else was injured.

"While we don’t know all of the details of what happened tonight, this is a tragedy,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said during an early morning news conference at the hospital. “Rest assured we will find out exactly what happened here and see what we can learn from it so it can never happen again.”

The shooting is likely to raise questions again about departmental procedures involving communications among plainclothes officers — particularly those in different units — as well as issues of race. Officer Edwards was black; the officer who shot him was white.

Mr. Kelly said the tragic string of events began when Officer Edwards, a member of the Housing Bureau Impact Response Team, left duty about 10:30 p.m., approached his car and saw that a man had broken the driver’s side window and was rummaging through the vehicle. The two scuffled, and the man escaped Officer Edwards’s grip by slipping out of his sweater.

A police official said officers at the scene learned that Officer Edwards was a colleague only when they ripped open his shirt in an effort to revive him and saw a Police Academy T-shirt. They then searched his pants pockets and found a badge.

Investigators were interviewing the two officers in the car who did not fire at Officer Edwards. The department does not interview officers involved in fatal shootings until a prosecutor determines whether criminal charges will be brought.

The man who apparently broke into Officer Edwards’s car, Miguel Santiago, was also being interviewed by investigators, officials said. The police said his five prior arrests include charges of robbery, assault and drug violations.

There have been at least two cases of off-duty police officers being shot by colleagues in the New York region in recent years.

In January 2008, a Mount Vernon officer, Christopher A. Ridley, 23, was killed by Westchester County police officers in downtown White Plains as he tried to restrain a homeless man whom he had seen assault another person.

And in February 2006, a New York City officer, Eric Hernandez, 24, was fatally shot by a fellow officer while responding to a 911 call about a fight at a White Castle restaurant in the Bronx.

Thursday night’s shooting occurred near the approach to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough).

Maalik Lane, 20, was waiting for a bus nearby at 125th Street and Third Avenue when, he said, he heard more than five gunshots.

“I saw police, up to 20 police cars,” driving by at high speeds, said Mr. Lane, who lives on Wards Island. “I was, like, someone is having a shootout with police. The bus driver said, ‘Somebody shot the police.’ ”

Mr. Lane added, “I feared for my life.”

Just before 1 a.m. Friday, the ambulance parking bay at the hospital had been roped off, with six police officers standing sentry. More than a dozen officers, some in uniform, others in plain clothes, paced and waited for news.

After the news conference, about 3 a.m., officers left the hospital, several in tears and consoling one another.


Jason Grant, Jennifer Mascia and Mathew R. Warren contributed reporting.

    Off-Duty Officer Fatally Shot by Police, NYT, 29.5.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/29/nyregion/29cop.html






3-year-old girl accidentally shoots and kills brother

California boy shot with .45-calibre semi-automatic handgun found under parents' bed


Thursday 28 May 2009 16.08 BST
Daniel Nasaw in Washington


A 3-year-old California girl accidentally shot and killed her two year old brother after finding a pistol under her parents' bed.

Police said the children's mother was in another part of the apartment when the shooting took place Wednesday, and their father was at work. The boy, who was shot with a .45-calibre semi-automatic handgun, was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

According to the US centres for disease control, American children 14 or younger are nine times more likely to die in a gun accident than children in Britain and 24 other industrialised nations combined. In 2006, at least 32 American children three years old or younger were killed with firearms, according to the agency.

In the past six weeks, a 3-year-old Chicago boy was shot in the chest and killed at a relative's home in what officials called a homicide, a 2-year-old Jacksonville, Florida boy was accidentally shot in the stomach by a teenager who was showing off a handgun to a friend and thought it was unloaded, and a 2-year-old Milltown, Indiana girl shot herself in the head with a gun she found in her parents' bedroom.

An estimated one in ten American households with children contains a loaded firearm, and conservative fears that President Barack Obama harbours secret plans to restrict gun ownership has provoked an increase in new firearm and ammunition purchases since his election. The FBI says that since November more than seven million people have applied for criminal background checks in order to buy weapons.

    3-year-old girl accidentally shoots and kills brother, G, 28.5.2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/28/girl-shoots-kills-brother-california






Rape Suspect Killed Self After Upstate NY Standoff


May 28, 2009
Filed at 12:11 p.m. ET
The New York Times


POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (AP) -- Authorities say the man who killed himself after a standoff in a sheriff's office in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was a registered sex offender who had been brought in for questioning about a rape.

They say Ken-Tweal Catts grabbed a detective's pistol in a Dutchess County Sheriff's office interview room, fired a shot that grazed the officer's head and then holed up in an empty office before shooting himself.

The building was evacuated during the three-hour standoff that began at about 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Sgt. Michael Danpf says Catts was released from prison in 2007 after serving three years for sexual abuse.

The detective was treated and released from a hospital. His name isn't being released.

Poughkeepsie is about 70 miles north of New York City.

    Rape Suspect Killed Self After Upstate NY Standoff, NYT, 28.5.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/05/28/us/AP-US-Sheriffs-Office-Evacuated.html






SoCal Gang Members Indicted in Racist Shootings


May 21, 2009
Filed at 2:13 p.m. ET
The New York Times


LOS ANGELES (AP) -- About 150 members and associates of a predominantly Latino street gang have been indicted in the shootings of black victims and other crimes, authorities said Thursday.

Federal and local agencies were conducting a series of arrests targeting members and associates of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens street gang, U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Thom Mrozek said.

A series of federal racketeering indictments due to be unsealed later Thursday will detail the attacks on several black victims and specify firearms, narcotics and other charges related to the attacks, Mrozek said. Further details were not released.

The indictments mark at least the second time in less than two years that federal authorities have accused Latino gang members of attacking black residents because of their race. Local officials have tried to downplay racial tensions.

The investigation of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang was triggered in June 2005 by the murder of Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Luis Gerardo ''Jerry'' Ortiz. Jose Luis Orozco, a member of the gang, was sentenced to death in 2007 for the killing.

Ortiz, 35, died as he searched for Orozco, who had shot and wounded a man while he did yard work. Orozco was later found guilty of attempted murder in that case.

The gang primarily operates in Hawaiian Gardens, a city of about 15,000 residents 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

    SoCal Gang Members Indicted in Racist Shootings, NYT, 21.5.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/05/21/us/AP-US-Racist-Gang-Shootings.html






Cops: 1 Son Escapes as Fla. Dad Kills Family, Self


May 4, 2009
Filed at 10:33 a.m. ET
The New York Times


LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) -- A 13-year-old boy ran through a garage to escape his family's slaughter at the hands of his father, who then took his own life on their front lawn, authorities said.

Investigators were still searching for a motive for the slayings late Sunday. They said Troy Ryan Bellar, 34, shot and killed his wife, Wendy Bellar, 31, and two young sons before killing himself outside their home in Lakeland, located between Tampa and Orlando.

Wendy Bellar tried to leave the home with two of the children after a fight with her husband, Polk County Sheriff's Department spokesman Scott Wilder said in a statement.

But Troy Bellar opened fire with a 7.62 mm rifle and killed his wife, 5-month-old Zack James Bellar and 8-year-old Ryan Patrick Bellar in the front porch area.

Another son, 13-year-old Nathan Bellar, was pursued through the garage by his father, evaded several gunshots, and made it safely to a neighbor's house. The boy was being placed with family members.

Investigators were still trying to determine the sequence of the shooting.

No neighbors were injured by gunfire, according to a canvass by deputies.

''You don't have stuff like that in this neighborhood,'' neighbor Tammy Womble told The Ledger newspaper in Lakeland.

''It was just gunshots going off. We didn't hear screams or anything,'' she said.

Wilder said the husband had been arrested twice in the county, on suspicion of aggravated assault in 1994 and suspicion of driving under the influence in 1999. Wendy Bellar was arrested in March on suspicion of domestic battery.

''This is one of the most tragic, senseless and horrific crimes we have investigated,'' Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement.

(This version CORRECTS age of middle child killed from 7 to 8, based on new police information.)

    Cops: 1 Son Escapes as Fla. Dad Kills Family, Self, NYT, 4.4.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/05/04/us/AP-US-Florida-Slayings.html






Man Held in Boston Hotel Killing


April 22, 2009
The New York Times


BOSTON — The police here arrested a 22-year-old medical student on Monday and charged him with killing one woman and attacking another who had advertised massage services on Craigslist.

Law enforcement officials identified the man as Philip Markoff of Quincy. He is a second-year student at the Boston University medical school, and is engaged to be married in August to a fellow student he met as an undergraduate at SUNY Albany, according to a Web site the couple created.

Mr. Markoff is charged with fatally shooting Julissa Brisman, 26, on April 14 in her room at the Boston Marriott Copley Place and with robbing another woman at gunpoint on April 10 in her room at the Westin Copley Place. Mr. Markoff’s arraignment in Boston Municipal Court, scheduled for Tuesday morning, was pushed back until noon to give Ms. Brisman’s relatives time to attend, said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.

The crimes, widely publicized after the police released photographs from security cameras showing a “person of interest” leaving the hotels shortly after the attacks, have riveted this city in recent days. Daniel F. Conley, the Suffolk district attorney, said that more than 150 people had called in with tips but that “high-tech leads” had been as important as “old-fashioned shoe leather” in the investigation.

“Our top priority is holding Philip Markoff accountable as a predator and strengthening the case against him,” Mr. Conley said.

Law enforcement officials were executing a search warrant at Mr. Markoff’s apartment on Tuesday morning, and police officials said they hoped other potential victims would come forward. Friends of Mr. Markoff’s said they were stunned that the clean-cut medical student they knew could have anything to do with the crimes. And on Tuesday morning, Mr. Markoff’s fiancee, Megan McAllister, told ABC’s Good Morning American that police had arrested the wrong man.

“Unfortunately, you were given wrong information as was the public,” she wrote, according to the network. “All I have to say to you is Philip is a beautiful person inside and out and could not hurt a fly!”

According to the couple’s Web site, the two met in 2005 while volunteering together at a medical center near SUNY Albany, and were engaged in May 2008. They had planned to marry on August 14 on a beach in Long Branch, N.J.

Edward Davis, the Boston police commissioner, said Mr. Markoff had come to Boston from upstate New York and did not have a criminal record. Mr. Davis said that the police had stopped Mr. Markoff on a highway in Walpole, and that he had voluntarily accompanied them back to police headquarters in Boston.

Mr. Conley said that the arrest was based on “a myriad of evidence,” and that the investigation involved connecting IP addresses — unique identifying numbers for computers and devices linked to the Internet — to physical locations. He would not elaborate, saying more details would emerge at the arraignment.

Law enforcement officials are continuing to investigate whether Mr. Markoff also tried to rob a woman at gunpoint on Thursday at the Holiday Inn Express in Warwick, R.I. That person fled when the woman’s husband returned to the room; she, too, had advertised massage services on Craigslist, the police said.

Mr. Markoff and his fiancée had a Web site detailing plans for an August wedding in Long Branch, N.J. The site said he went to the State University at Albany and had volunteered at a local hospital, where he met his fiancée.

Earlier on Monday, the police in Warwick released frames from a security camera that showed a man in a dark jacket and a baseball cap walking through that hotel on the night of the crime.

The man appeared to resemble one captured on security cameras at both the Marriott and the Westin hotels on the nights of the Boston crimes. In those videos, a tall, blond and clean-cut man calmly peered at his cellphone as he exited the hotels.

    Man Held in Boston Hotel Killing, NYT, 22.4.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/22/us/22CraigsList.html?hp






Man Held in Killing at a Hotel in Boston


April 21, 2009
The New York Times


BOSTON — The police here arrested a 22-year-old medical student on Monday and charged him with killing one woman and attacking another who had advertised massage services on Craigslist.

Law enforcement officials identified the man as Philip Markoff of Quincy. He is a second-year student at the Boston University medical school, a university spokesman said.

Mr. Markoff is charged with fatally shooting Julissa Brisman, 26, on April 14 in her room at the Boston Marriott Copley Place and with robbing another woman at gunpoint on April 10 in her room at the Westin Copley Place.

The crimes, widely publicized after the police released photographs from security cameras showing a “person of interest” leaving the hotels shortly after the attacks, have riveted this city in recent days. Daniel F. Conley, the Suffolk County district attorney, said that more than 150 people had called in with tips but that “high-tech leads” had been as important as “old-fashioned shoe leather” in the investigation.

Mr. Conley said that law enforcement officials would execute a search warrant “in the hours to come” and that Mr. Markoff would be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on Tuesday morning. At a news conference at the Boston Police Department headquarters, he said he hoped other potential victims would come forward.

“Our top priority is holding Philip Markoff accountable as a predator and strengthening the case against him,” Mr. Conley said.

Edward Davis, the Boston police commissioner, said Mr. Markoff had come to Boston from upstate New York and did not have a criminal record. Mr. Davis said that the police had stopped Mr. Markoff on a highway in Walpole, and that he had voluntarily accompanied them back to police headquarters in Boston.

Mr. Conley said that the arrest was based on “a myriad of evidence,” and that the investigation involved connecting IP addresses — unique identifying numbers for computers and devices linked to the Internet — to physical locations. He would not elaborate, saying more details would emerge at the arraignment.

Law enforcement officials are continuing to investigate whether Mr. Markoff also tried to rob a woman at gunpoint on Thursday at the Holiday Inn Express in Warwick, R.I. That person fled when the woman’s husband returned to the room; she, too, had advertised massage services on Craigslist, the police said.

Mr. Markoff and his fiancée had a Web site detailing plans for an August wedding in Long Branch, N.J. The site said he went to the State University at Albany and had volunteered at a local hospital, where he met his fiancée.

Earlier on Monday, the police in Warwick released frames from a security camera that showed a man in a dark jacket and a baseball cap walking through that hotel on the night of the crime.

The man appeared to resemble one captured on security cameras at both the Marriott and the Westin hotels on the nights of the Boston crimes. In those videos, a tall, blond and clean-cut man calmly peered at his cellphone as he exited the hotels.

    Man Held in Killing at a Hotel in Boston, NYT, 21.4.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/us/21killing.html






DA Calls Craigslist Slaying Suspect a 'Predator'


April 21, 2009
Filed at 3:32 a.m. ET
The New York Times


BOSTON (AP) -- The man accused of fatally shooting a woman who placed an ad on Craigslist was someone who was ''preying on people who were in a vulnerable position,'' the police commissioner said.

Police on Monday arrested Philip Markoff, 22, of Quincy, in the woman's death last week at a luxury hotel. Markoff is to be arraigned Tuesday morning in Boston Municipal Court on charges of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm.

But police believe Markoff may have been involved in other crimes against women who also posted ads on Craigslist.

''There may be other victims out there, and if you are, we want you to come forward,'' Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said. ''Our top priority is holding Philip Markoff accountable. He's a predator.''

Markoff is charged with killing Julissa Brisman, 26, who was found dead April 14 at the Boston Marriott Copley Place. The New York City woman advertised massage services on Craigslist and had a massage table set up in the room where she was shot Tuesday, police said.

In addition, Markoff is charged with kidnapping and armed robbery in a separate case involving another woman he met on Craigslist.

Police said they had long suspected that Brisman's killer was connected to a robbery at the Westin Copley Hotel in Boston.

Authorities believe Markoff also may be connected to the attempted robbery Thursday in Warwick, R.I., of an exotic dancer who had posted an ad on Craigslist. She was held at gunpoint before her husband entered the room and her attacker fled.

Boston police are working with Warwick authorities in that case, Davis said.

Markoff, a Boston University graduate student, was arrested by Boston police after he was stopped south of Boston on Interstate 95 in Walpole, Police Commissioner Ed Davis said at a news conference.

Authorities said Markoff is originally from upstate New York and lives in Quincy, just south of Boston. A Facebook profile matching Markoff's identity, including his photograph, lists him as a 2007 graduate of State University of New York-Albany and in the 2011 class at BU.

A Boston University spokeswoman told Boston radio station WBZ-AM that Markoff had been suspended from the medical school after his arrest.

Conley said police hope more possible victims who advertised on Craigslist come forward so authorities can build a stronger case against Markoff. ''If you are'' a victim, said Conley, ''we want to help you.''

''He has no criminal record,'' said Davis, who added that the suspect is from upstate New York. ''We are very, very happy to have this off the street in such a timely way.''

Davis would not comment if a weapon has been recovered but said more details on the investigation will be made public at the arraignment. Authorities have also obtained a warrant to search Markoff's home, police said.

Boston police said they've also received more than 150 tips about Brisman's killing.

    DA Calls Craigslist Slaying Suspect a 'Predator', NYT, 21.4.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/04/21/us/AP-US-Craigslist-Killer.html






13 Shot Dead During a Class on Citizenship


April 4, 2009
The New York Times


A gunman invaded an immigration services center in downtown Binghamton, N.Y., during citizenship classes on Friday and shot 13 people to death and critically wounded 4 others before killing himself in a paroxysm of violence that turned a quiet civic setting into scenes of carnage and chaos.

The killing began around 10:30 a.m. and was over in minutes, witnesses said, but the ordeal lasted up to three hours for those trapped inside the American Civic Association as heavily armed police officers, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers threw up a cordon of firepower outside and waited in a silence of uncertainty.

Finally, officers who had not fired a shot closed in and found a sprawl of bodies in a classroom, 37 terrified survivors cowering in closets and a boiler room and, in an office, the dead gunman, identified as Jiverly Wong, 42, a Vietnamese immigrant who lived in nearby Johnson City.

Two pistols and a satchel of ammunition were found with the body. In what the police took to be evidence of preparation and premeditation, the assailant had driven a borrowed car up against the center’s back door to barricade it against escape, then had walked in the rain around to the front to begin the attack.

What motivated the assault remained a mystery. Binghamton officials said the assailant apparently had ties to the center, which helps immigrants and refugees with counseling, resettlement and other issues.

It was the nation’s worst mass shooting since April 16, 2007, when Seung-Hui Cho, 23, shot and killed 32 people in a dormitory and classroom at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va., then killed himself in the largest shooting in modern American history. In the last month, 25 people, including 2 gunmen, were slain in three mass shootings, in North Carolina, California and Alabama.

As city, state and federal officials from numerous agencies began what was likely to be a lengthy investigation, expressions of condolence for the victims and their families were offered by Gov. David A. Paterson and other officials who went to Binghamton; by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., in New York to address a civil rights group; and by President Obama, in Europe for NATO talks.

The vice president said Americans must find a way to prevent the kind of bloodshed that erupted in Binghamton. “We’ve got to figure out a way to deal with this terrible, terrible violence,” Mr. Biden told a meeting in New York.

Binghamton, a city of about 43,000 at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers in the Southern Tier, some 175 miles northwest of New York City, is the home of Binghamton University, part of the State University of New York. It is a working-class town whose population is more than 80 percent white and about 10 percent black, with small percentages of Asians and Latinos.

The American Civic Association, a small nonprofit resettlement agency financed largely by the United Way, has resettled 53 refugees through its Binghamton center since 2004, most of them Vietnamese who studied English as a second language there. It operated quietly for years, its officials said, and seemed an improbable venue for a murderous attack.

Little was known about the assailant Friday night. Cautious officials declined to name the gunman, but there appeared to be little doubt about his identity. The name Jiverly Wong was provided by a law enforcement official who declined to be named because he was not authorized to release information.

But the official said Mr. Wong had a New York State pistol license that listed two handguns, apparently the weapons he used at the immigration services center: a .45-caliber Beretta and a 9-millimeter Beretta. The authorities matched the serial numbers of the two weapons found with the gunman’s body to the serial numbers on the pistol license. Officials said they were trying to trace the histories of the guns. Other public records indicated that Mr. Wong had also lived in California in recent years.

At Mr. Wong’s home in Johnson City on Friday night, the police were seen removing a rifle case, a box with a picture of a rifle on the side, and two black boxes that may have been handgun cases.

Maurice Hinchey, who represents the area in Congress, said he was told by law enforcement officials that the gunman drove to the center in a car registered to his father and barricaded the center’s back door with it. “He made sure nobody could escape,” Police Chief Joseph Zikuski said at a late-afternoon news conference.

It was unclear what connection the gunman previously had with the immigration services center, but there appeared to be no doubt that he was acting alone, Chief Zikuski said.

Armed with the two handguns and wearing a green jacket, the executioner came out of the rain through the glass front doors of the center, entering a reception area where he encountered two secretaries. He said nothing, but shot both. One slumped dead, but the other, Shirley DeLucca, pretended to be dead, and as the gunman walked on, she crawled to a desk and called 911.

Beyond the entryway, about 50 people — Russians, Kurds, Chinese, Arabs, Laotians and others — were arrayed in several classrooms at their desks in language and citizenship classes. The gunman entered the first room, a citizenship class, and resumed firing. As victims wounded and dying crumpled to the floor, students in nearby classrooms heard the shots.

Thanh Huynh, who translated the account of a young Vietnamese woman, said the group fell silent. The teacher called 911, then hurried out with the others, running for the back stairs to the basement. “They heard the continued shooting, very fast,” the translator said, “like 10 bullets, 10 shots together. They tried to hide in the basement anywhere they can, under chair, closet, storage room. Then, after they heard, so quiet.”

Zhanar Tokhtabayeva, 30, from Kazakhstan, told The Associated Press that she was in an English class when she heard the shots. Her teacher screamed for everyone to go into a storage room. “I heard the shots, every shot,” she said. “I heard no screams, just silence, shooting. I heard shooting, very long time. And I was thinking, when will this stop? I was thinking that my life was finished.”

At least 26 people took refuge in a boiler room, the police chief said. The first officers were on the scene within two minutes of the first 911 call, he said. In all, he said, 37 survivors were found.

Meanwhile, swarms of Binghamton police officers and Broome County sheriff’s deputies with rifles and shotguns converged on the scene a block off Main Street, just west of the Chenango River, and took cover behind a tangle of vehicles and the corners of nearby buildings.

Streets were cleared for blocks around. Apartments and homes nearby were evacuated, along with shops and other business establishments in the area. Nearby, Binghamton High School went into lockdown. The ensuing hours were tense, with no further shots fired inside and no information on how many were dead, wounded and trapped.

About 1:30 p.m., police SWAT teams moved into the building methodically, encountering the gunman with his weapons and ammunition satchel. It was unclear in what part of the body he had shot himself. Most of the dead were found sprawled in a classroom — their names were not released — and survivors were found scattered about in closets, storage rooms and the boiler room. Many were too terrified to come out of hiding, the police said.

In addition, the police were unaware at the time that there was only one assailant. On the possibility that others were involved, some of the male survivors were handcuffed when they were brought out. Chief Zikuski later apologized for this.

Four wounded survivors were taken to area hospitals. Two women and a man suffering gunshot wounds were being treated at Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City, and a man was being treated at Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Hospital in Binghamton. The police and other officials called their conditions critical, but hospital representatives gave various reports of conditions.

On Friday night, the scene of the shooting and much of the block around it remained cordoned off with yellow crime-scene tape. Crowds that had milled around throughout the day had dwindled to a group of onlookers who mingled with television news crews, lingering in the ordinarily quiet neighborhood, a mix of homes and small businesses.

Just a few doors down is the First Congregational Church of Binghamton, a local landmark. The pastor, the Rev. Arthur Suggs, said the shooting that had transformed the city was only part of a larger pattern in the nation. “It’s like our number came up,” he said.

Omri Yigal, 53, said in a telephone interview late Friday night that his wife, Doris Yigal, also 53, was taking an English class at the center at the time of the shooting and remained “unaccounted for.” The police told him she was not among the survivors they had interviewed, Mr. Yigal said, adding that he could not find her at the local hospitals.

Ms. Yigal, a homemaker originally from the Philippines, came to the United States about a year ago. She was taking English classes to help her compete in the job market.

“She has always dreamed of coming to the United States,” Mr. Yigal said. “But certainly she had no idea of the kind of dangers that were present in our society.”

She has two sisters, he said, both of whom called wanting to know how she was. “They’re very distraught,” he said.

Mr. Yigal said he planned to stay up through the night, calling hospitals and hoping. “Right now, I’m looking at our wedding pictures,” he said.


Reporting was contributed by Ray Rivera in Binghamton, N.Y., Nate Schweber in Johnson City, N.Y., Al Baker, Jack Begg, Nina Bernstein and Anahad O’Connor in New York City, and Francesca Segrè in Inglewood, Calif.

    13 Shot Dead During a Class on Citizenship, NYT, 4.4.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/04/nyregion/04hostage.html






Gang Shooting Claims a Life, 49 Years Later


April 2, 2009
The New York Times


On Oct. 21, 1960, as “West Side Story” was playing on Broadway, a real blood feud was playing out at a youth dance and on the streets of Spanish Harlem between two rival gangs called the Viceroys and the Dragons.

About 8 p.m. that night, William M. Jenkins, 18, was shot through the stomach and back, rendering him a paraplegic. He continued his life of crime, however, becoming known to the police as Wheelchair Willie, while two teenage brothers in the Dragons were arrested and imprisoned for shooting him.

“West Side Story” popped up again on Broadway last month, and, 49 years after it happened, so did the case of the Jenkins shooting. After Mr. Jenkins died on March 13 at age 66, the city medical examiner’s office ruled his death a homicide due to infectious complications caused by the gunshot wounds, making it the oldest reclassified homicide in New York Police Department history, a police official said.

“I can’t believe this,” one of the brothers, George Lemus, now 64, said after he was told the news Wednesday at the computer repair business he runs in Midtown Manhattan. A little while later, he looked down at his arm. “The hair stood up,” he said, holding out the arm, still fresh with goose bumps.

Mr. Lemus’s brother, Robert, died a decade ago at age 58. The shooting haunted him until his death, said his son, Robert Lemus 3rd: “He lived with a level of remorse for the fact that, at his hands, someone had a handicap his entire life over an evening of probable misunderstanding.”

The district attorney’s office said it would not prosecute because the brothers had already served time (Mr. Lemus said he was imprisoned for a year and half and his brother for five years) for the shooting and because witnesses and medical records would be hard to come by, the police official said.

The victim’s brother, Samuel A. Jenkins, even questioned how his brother’s death could be attributed to long-ago violence rather than the myriad medical problems he endured in his life or the recent acute deterioration of his health.

He said the whole matter was better off left in the past.

“It’s kind of old, and it was kid stuff then,” Mr. Jenkins said.

When asked about the Lemus brothers, he said that his family held no grudge: “Willie forgave them and I forgive them, if they are still alive.”

The fights of the 1950s and ’60s between gangs with fanciful names might seem downright quaint compared with the drive-by violence fueled by automatic weapons that would come later. But as the Jenkins case shows, tempers and bullets flew easily even then.

In East Harlem, according to the book “Vampires, Dragons and Egyptian Kings: Youth Gangs in Postwar New York,” by Eric C. Schneider, “dark-skinned Puerto Ricans organized the Viceroys while their light-skinned rivals formed the Dragons.” George Lemus, who said his parents were Cuban, insisted it was geography, not race, that divided them: the Dragons south of 106th Street, the Viceroys north of it.

He said that El Barrio was so crowded the that the gangs were a necessity for protection. Sometimes, he said, the Dragons and Viceroys banded together to fight the Red Wings, an Italian gang that reigned north of 118th Street.

“These gangs go deep,” Mr. Lemus said. “That’s the law of the street.”

On Oct. 21, 1960, he was with Dragons who faced off against some Viceroys on 103rd Street, between Park and Madison Avenues, according to old typewritten detective reports.

Samuel Jenkins, who was 11 that night, said the story was told often in his family. He believed some friends came to the dance to get his brother, a big kid known as Husky Willie, “to make sure they had a fair fight.”

William Jenkins’s son, Charles Martinez, 49, picked up the narrative. “My father told me he had fought the two guys, hand to hand,” said Mr. Martinez, who was born in February 1961, four months after the shooting. “And then the guys came back. My dad said ‘Oh, you want some more?’ And they just stood there, so he tried to walk away and they shot him in the back.”

Mr. Lemus said the fight was sparked by something “very, very stupid,” when a Dragon insulted a Viceroy with “something about his mother.” Mr. Jenkins, he said, decided to play the father figure. “He came to reprimand us or something,” said Mr. Lemus, who said he “blanked” the episode out. “He sort of kept looking for me and I guess you could say he found me.”

Samuel Jenkins said the injuries stopped his brother from doing things he loved.

“He was a good boxer, he played baseball and basketball,” he said. “He could have had a good life.”

Police records show the shooting did not curtail William Jenkins’s criminal behavior. Wheelchair Willie was arrested four times from 1971 through 1991, on criminal charges including attempted murder. In 1975, he was accused of robbing someone from his wheelchair, the police said, and was sent to prison for three years on lesser charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

Samuel Jenkins said that his brother lived on disability payments and that he had worked for a time as a drug counselor. He said his brother was “black and Puerto Rican, and he stood with the Puerto Ricans.”

He later became a Muslim, he said. “He was married twice, to Gloria and Beverly,” he said. “He had one kid.”

Though the shooting occurred in 1960, it is counted statistically as one of the 92 homicides in New York City in the first quarter of 2009, among of the lowest numbers in many years. Five other homicides this year were linked to injuries from previous years.

“If someone is shot on New Year’s Eve and dies the next day, it makes sense to record it as a homicide in the new year,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said. But he found the Jenkins reclassification a bit harder to accept. “When shootings and deaths are separated by decades, and now by almost a half century, it’s counterintuitive that they are consistently declared homicides.”

George Lemus, who was 13 at the time, turned his life around after prison, becoming a designer of men’s clothing in a textile firm and, more recently, a computer repair businessman. He said he has been married 40 years, has six children and six grandchildren and even took in foster children, appearing with his wife on city posters advertising for foster parents.

Even still, he said he always worried someone from the Viceroys would come after him. “There’s still retaliation out there,” he said. “As much as you think it couldn’t happen, it could.”

In 1996, his brother and William Jenkins reconciled, spending a few nights sleeping under the same roof and talking about some of what happened.

“It didn’t happen because we hated each other, it happened because of the situation we were in,” said Mr. Lemus, who added that he was scared to meet with Willie.

“I’ve thought about the fact that I felt sorry for Willie,” Mr. Lemus said. “It wasn’t really personal. It was gang-related.”

He paused for a moment, then looked up. “Even though the guy was in a wheelchair, he wasn’t doing the nicest things.”


Colin Moynihan, Joel Stonington and Carolyn Wilder contributed reporting.

    Gang Shooting Claims a Life, 49 Years Later, NYT, 2.4.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/nyregion/02homicide.html






Gunman’s Wife Worked at Nursing Home He Attacked


March 31, 2009
The New York Times


CARTHAGE, N.C. — The wife of the gunman who killed seven elderly patients and a nurse at a nursing home here on Sunday worked at the nursing home, the police said Monday morning.

Although the precise motive for the shooting remains unclear, her employment at the nursing home is the first link to the site of the shooting that investigators have disclosed.

“It is my understanding that he had one wife that he may have been separated from,” said Chief Chris McKenzie of the Carthage Police Department, “but the details as to whether or not she was there or if that was part of the motive has yet to be determined.”

The shooter, identified as Robert Stewart, 45, was apprehended after Justin Garner, the only police officer on duty that morning in Carthage, responded to an emergency call and entered the building alone, exchanging fire with the gunman, Chief McKenzie said at a news conference.

Quoting a neighbor, The Associated Press identified the shooter’s wife as Wanda Luck, who worked at the nursing home as a certified nurse assistant.

Mr. Stewart suffered one gunshot wound to the upper torso, Mr. McKenzie said, and Officer Garner was wounded by three pellets in the foot and leg.

“Whether or not he realizes it now, he will hopefully someday realize how many lives he actually saved,” Chief McKenzie said, speaking of Officer Garner. He added that the police recovered several weapons that the shooter brought into the building.

The shooting began around 10 a.m. at Pinelake Health and Rehab, a one-story brick building with white rocking chairs out front.

The patients were identified by the authorities as Louise Decker, 98; Lillian Dunn, 89; Tessie Garner, 88; John Goldston, 78; Bessie Hendrick, 78; Margaret Johnson, 89; and Jessie Musser, 88. All were residents. The nurse was identified as Jerry Avant Jr., 39.

Frances Green, the sister of Mr. Avant, said the authorities believed that her brother was shot while trying to stop the gunman.

“He just lay down his life to protect the residents and employees there,” Ms. Green said. “Unfortunately he lost his life. But he was a hero.”

The A.P. reported that while the authorities declined to comment on a possible motive, Mr. Stewart’s ex-wife from a previous marriage said he had recently been reaching out to family members, telling them that he had cancer and that he was preparing to “go away.”

The ex-wife, Sue Griffin, told The A.P. that she had been married to Mr. Stewart for 15 years. They had not spoken since divorcing in 2001, she said, but he had been trying to call her over the past week through her son, mother, sister and grandmother.

Ms. Griffin said Mr. Stewart had once been a painter. She said she had no idea whether her ex-husband was connected to the nursing home.

“He did have some violent tendencies from time to time,” Ms. Griffin said. “I wouldn’t put it past him. I hate to say it, but it is true.”

Mr. Stewart is charged with eight counts of first-degree murder and a single charge of felony assault of a law enforcement officer.

Bobby Hyman, 48, who lives a half-mile from Mr. Stewart’s residence, said Mr. Stewart rented the house and 10 acres of land and moved in about a year ago.

Mr. Hyman described Mr. Stewart as “just a good old country farm guy.” “He’d let me know if anybody went on my property he didn’t recognize,” Mr. Hyman said.

Families of victims spent much of the day gathered at the nearby First Baptist Church. Many people streamed into the nursing home, on the outskirts of Carthage, to check on loved ones.

Michael Maness, 53, showed up at the home after learning about the shooting while at a church in a nearby town. His sister is a resident of the home. “She’s just a little shook up,” Mr. Maness said.

Bernard Bryant, the administrator of the facility, declined to answer questions. “Our concerns are with our residents, our families and our staff,” Mr. Bryant said.

According to the home’s Web site, it is a 120-bed facility that offers rehabilitation therapy, nursing care and hospice care and has a special Alzheimer’s unit. The site says it is one of several homes run by Peak Resources, a North Carolina company founded in 1999.

After the attack, six people were taken by ambulance to the nearby FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said. By early evening, three had been released, one was still being treated and two had died.

Officer Justin Garner was shot in the leg while responding to the shooting. “But for his action we certainly could have had a worse tragedy,” said Ms. Krueger, the district attorney.

Officials in this south-central North Carolina town were stunned by the violence.

“This doesn’t happen in Carthage; this is brand new to us,” said Carol Sparks, the town manager. “Everybody right now is in a state of shock. I am too.”

Chief McKenzie said, “This is a small community built on faith, and faith will get us through.”

State Senator Harris Blake of Moore County said the nursing home was a pillar of the community.

“I would predict that almost everybody in this area knew someone who knew someone at that center,” Mr. Blake said. “We hear about tragedies like this all over the country, and we say, ‘Oh, that’s bad.’ Until it hits home, you don’t get a full picture.”


Contributing reporting were Mark Binker in Carthage, N.C., Robbie Brown in Atlanta, and A. G. Sulzberger in New York.

    Gunman’s Wife Worked at Nursing Home He Attacked, NYT, 31.3.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/31/us/31shooting.html?hp






Oakland Cop Shot by Parolee Taken Off Life Support


March 24, 2009
Filed at 11:12 a.m. ET
The New York Times

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- A hospital spokeswoman says a fourth Oakland police officer who was shot by a 26-year-old man wanted on a parole violation has been taken off of life support.

Spokeswoman Andrea Breaux of Alameda County Medical Center said Officer John Hege was taken off life support Monday night. The 41-year-old Concord resident's family had kept him alive so his organs could be donated, in keeping with his wishes.

Breaux said the process of harvesting the officer's organs started just after 8 p.m. and was completed by 2 a.m.

Police say Hege and a partner were gunned down when they pulled the parolee over on Saturday. A manhunt ensued and two more officers died when the city's SWAT team stormed an apartment where the suspected gunman, Lovelle Mixon, was hiding.

    Oakland Cop Shot by Parolee Taken Off Life Support, NYT, 24.3.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/03/24/us/AP-Police-Shot-Calif.html






3 Officers Are Dead After Shootings in Oakland


March 22, 2009
The New York Times


Three police officers in Oakland, Calif., were gunned down on Saturday and a fourth was critically wounded in an afternoon of violence that began with a routine traffic stop and ended with a grim 9 p.m. news conference to announce the toll of one of the worst days in the police department’s history.

The police said a 27-year-old gunman shot two motorcycle officers after being pulled over at 1:15 p.m. Saturday, killing one and wounding the other. The gunman then fled to a nearby apartment.

A manhunt ensued through the streets of the East Oakland section of the city. When the police tracked down the gunman and burst into the apartment, he shot two more officers with an assault rifle, killing them both, before he was shot dead by the police.

The two officers who were shot at the scene of the traffic stop were identified as Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, and Officer John Hege, 41. The police said Mr. Dunakin was killed and Mr. Hege was in “grave condition” at Highland Hospital on Saturday night.

The two Special Weapons and Tactics officers who were killed in the apartment were identified as Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, and Sgt. Dan Sakai, 35.

The police said the gunman was Lovelle Mixon, of Oakland, and said he was on parole for assault with a deadly weapon. They had a warrant out for his arrest.

They did not say why officers pulled over Mr. Mixon to begin with, but said it appeared to be a routine traffic stop.

They said he appeared to be the only suspect.

In a somber news conference at police headquarters in Oakland, police officials struggled to describe the enormity of the violence.

“I’ve been to a lot of police funerals,” said Howard A. Jordan, the acting police chief. “This will be a pretty traumatic and daunting task for us as a department. It’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to happen tomorrow, but in the end, I think we will move on from this.”

The news conference was attended by most members of the Oakland City Council as well as the former mayor, Jerry Brown, who is now the state’s attorney general.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California released a statement Saturday lamenting the deaths. “This is a tragic day for law enforcement officers everywhere,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “All four officers dedicated their lives to public safety and selflessly worked to protect the people of Oakland.”

A man who works at a barbershop near the site of the traffic stop told The Oakland Tribune that the two officers had wounds to their faces.

“I went over to one officer and saw he was bleeding from his helmet pretty bad,” the witness said. “The other officer was laying motionless.”

Tension between police and the community has escalated since the fatal shooting of an unarmed 22-year-old, Oscar Grant III, by a transit police officer on New Year’s Day.

Mr. Grant was shot at close range while lying face down on a train platform. He was among several people who had been removed from the train by police officers investigating a fight. The former Bay Area Rapid Transit officer accused in the shooting, Johannes Mehserle, has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge.

Violent protests hit the streets in the weeks after Mr. Grant’s death. On Jan. 7, more than 100 people were arrested after protesters marched through the city breaking store windows and setting cars and trashcans on fire.

Oakland’s black community and law enforcement have had a tense relationship for years, including a corruption case known as the Riders case in which a group of police officers were accused of abusing and falsely accusing suspects. Three of the officers were acquitted, but the case nevertheless damaged the department’s reputation.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that people lingered at the scene of the traffic-stop shooting. About 20 bystanders taunted the police.


Jesse McKinley contributed reporting from Oakland, Calif.

    3 Officers Are Dead After Shootings in Oakland, NYT, 22.3.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/22/us/22oakland.html







Few Ripples From Supreme Court Ruling on Guns


March 17, 2009
The New York Times



About nine months ago, the Supreme Court breathed new life into the Second Amendment, ruling for the first time that it protects an individual right to own guns. Since then, lower federal courts have decided more than 80 cases interpreting the decision, District of Columbia v. Heller, and it is now possible to make a preliminary assessment of its impact.

So far, Heller is firing blanks.

The courts have upheld federal laws banning gun ownership by people convicted of felonies and some misdemeanors, by illegal immigrants and by drug addicts. They have upheld laws banning machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. They have upheld laws making it illegal to carry guns near schools or in post offices. And they have upheld laws concerning concealed and unregistered weapons.

“The Heller case is a landmark decision that has not changed very much at all,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who keeps a running tally of decisions based on the case. “To date, the federal courts have not invalidated a single gun control law on the basis of the Second Amendment since Heller.”

Heller itself struck down parts of the District of Columbia’s gun control law, the strictest in the nation. The case was brought by law-abiding people who wanted to keep guns in their homes for self-defense. The cases that have followed it tend to concern more focused laws and less attractive gun owners.

Harvey C. Jackson IV, for instance, argued that he had a constitutional right to carry a gun while selling drugs in a dangerous neighborhood in East St. Louis, Ill. The federal appeals court in Chicago was unimpressed.

“The Constitution does not give anyone the right to be armed while committing a felony,” Chief Judge Frank H. Easterbrook wrote last month in Mr. Jackson’s case.

Professor Winkler summarized the impact of Heller in an article to be published in The U.C.L.A. Law Review in June. “So far,” he wrote, “the only real change from Heller is that gun owners have to pay higher legal fees to find out that they lose.”

There is one arguable exception to this trend. Two judges have struck down a part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, named after the murdered son of John Walsh, the host of the television show “America’s Most Wanted.” The act says that people accused of child pornography offenses must be prohibited from possessing guns while they await trial.

That provision may well have been unconstitutional as a matter of due process even before Heller, as it seems to impose a punishment before conviction. But two courts have struck down the provision based partly on the fact that a fundamental constitutional right is at stake.

“A year ago, I might well have taken for granted the authority of Congress to require that a person charged with a crime be prohibited from possessing a firearm,” Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV of the Federal District Court in Manhattan wrote in December. Heller changed that, he said.

“The right to possess a firearm is constitutionally protected,” Judge Francis wrote. “There is no basis for categorically depriving persons who are merely accused of certain crimes of the right to legal possession of a firearm.”

The cases discussed so far all concerned federal laws, and there is no question that the Second Amendment applies to the federal government. The great open question after Heller is whether the Second Amendment also applies to the states or, in the legal jargon, whether the amendment is incorporated against them.

The Supreme Court has said that most but not all of the protections of the Bill of Rights are incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment, one of the post-Civil War amendments.

The consensus among most legal scholars is that incorporation of the Second Amendment is likely. True, the Supreme Court has said in some past cases that the Second Amendment applies only to the federal government. But a footnote in Heller cast doubt on those decisions. For now, lower courts probably have to follow the older decisions until the Supreme Court says otherwise.

There are cases in the pipeline, notably in the federal appeals courts in Chicago and San Francisco, that could give the court an opportunity to answer the question in its next term.

Even if the court applies the amendment to the states, though, little may change. Most state constitutions already protect an individual right to bear arms, and federal protection, depending on its form, could well be merely duplicative.

But some liberal lawyers and law professors sense an opportunity, and they have urged courts to incorporate the Second Amendment in a novel way, one that might help liberal arguments for protecting rights not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. Abortion and gay rights come to mind.

In a supporting brief filed in the Chicago case, lawyers for the Constitutional Accountability Center, a liberal group, urged the court to bypass the usual way that amendments are applied to the states, through the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause. Using that clause to guarantee fundamental rights has always seemed a little curious, as “due process” would seem to protect only fair procedures and not substance.

Another possibility, and the one urged by the center’s brief, is the Fourteenth Amendment’s “privileges and immunities” clause, which says that “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States.” The virtues of that clause are it makes sense by its terms and there is some evidence that its framers specifically wanted it to apply to allow freed slaves to have guns to defend themselves.

All of this is awfully technical, of course, and it may have no practical consequences at all.

“My own bet,” said Sanford Levinson, a law professor at the University of Texas, “is that Heller will more likely than not turn out to be of no significance to anyone but constitutional theorists.”

    Few Ripples From Supreme Court Ruling on Guns, NYT, 17.3.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/17/us/17bar.html?hp






Police: Gunman in Ala. kills 9, then himself


10 March 2009
USA Today


SAMSON, Ala. (AP) — A gunman killed at least nine people on a terrifying rampage across two Alabama counties, burning down his mother's home, killing members of his own family on their porch and shooting apparent strangers as he drove by, authorities said. He then fatally shot himself.

Police were investigating shootings Tuesday in at least four different locations in three neighboring communities, all of which were believed to be the work of a single gunman named Michael McLendon. Investigators declined to comment on a motive for the shootings, in which at least four other people were injured, including a child.

The afternoon of bloodshed began when McLendon burned down the house in Kinston where he lived with his mother, Lisa McLendon, according to Coffee County Coroner Robert Preachers. Officials located Lisa McLendon's body inside the house, but they had not been able to get inside the still-burning house to determine a cause of death or whether she was a 10th victim of her son's killing spree.

He then headed about 12 miles southeast to Samson, in Geneva County, where he shot and killed five people — four adults and a child — at a home. He killed one person each in two other homes.

The identities of all the victims were unknown, but Preachers said they included other members of the shooter's family.

"He started in his mother's house," Preachers said. "Then he went to Samson and he killed his granny and granddaddy and aunt and uncle. He cleaned his family out."

"We don't know what triggered it," Preachers added.

McLendon also shot at a state trooper's car, striking the vehicle seven times and wounding the trooper with broken glass.

He then killed someone at a Samson supply store, and another person at a service station.

Samson contractor Greg McCullough said he was pumping gas at the station when McLendon opened fire, killing a woman coming out of the service station and wounding McCullough in the shoulder and arm with bullet fragments that struck his truck and the pump.

"I first thought it was somebody playing," he said. He said the gunman roared into the parking lot and slammed on his brakes. Then he saw the rifle.

He said the gunman fired and the rifle appeared to jam, then he "went back to firing." Then he drove off.

McCullough, a father of two, said he tried to help the woman who was shot and yelled for someone to call an ambulance.

"I'm just in awe that something like this could take place. That someone could do such a thing. It's just shocking," McCullough told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Police pursued McLendon to Reliable Metal Products just north of Geneva, about a dozen miles southeast of Samson, where he fired an estimated 30 rounds from a semiautomatic weapon, the Alabama safety department said. One of the bullets hit Geneva Police Chief Frankie Lindsey, who was saved by his bullet proof vest.

McLendon then went inside the plant and shot himself, according to the safety department's statement.

Reliable Metal Products makes grills and vents for heating and air conditioning systems, mainly for hotels. A person who answered the phone at the plant said no one could talk about the shooting.

State Rep. Warren Beck, a Republican whose district includes Geneva, said the gunman had worked at Reliable Metal.

"My secretary heard gunfire everywhere," he said. "This is one of the most tragic events ever in Geneva County."

State Sen. Harri Anne Smith, R-Slocomb, said some of those killed in Samson were sitting outside.

"He was just driving down the street shooting at people sitting on their porches," she said. "A family was just sitting on the porch and they were shot."

Smith and Beck were at the Statehouse when state troopers came to get them and took them to Geneva County. Smith said the governor's office is sending resources and state troopers are setting up a command post.

A white single-story house where the five people were killed in Samson was cordoned off by police.

Police had hung white sheets to the entranceway to shield the scene where authorities said a black hearse that pulled away late Tuesday was transporting victims' bodies.

Samson Mayor Clay King said he knew the gunman.

"What I'm focusing on is people here in the town, making sure they feel comfortable," said King, who added the town opened a crisis center at the First Baptist Church with counselors available.

King said he's the "most shocked person in the world" about the shooting.

"I've lived here 44 years and never, never dreamed of this happening," he said.

John Rainey, an administrator at Wiregrass Medical Center, in Geneva, said a child was brought in with injuries then flown to another hospital. The staff had geared up to try to help other survivors, but their hopes were dashed when reports of the deaths came in.

"We set up for the worst there for a couple of hours and unfortunately we were getting the same bad reports as everyone else — most people were untreatable," said Rainey "It's something you'd expect in Atlanta or your bigger cities but in a little town it puts a lot of people in stress. Our nursing staff broke down in tears hearing what was going on and realizing they weren't going to be able to help them."

The towns of Geneva and Samson are near the Florida border in southeast Alabama. Geneva's population is about 4,400 and Samson, 2,000.

    Police: Gunman in Ala. kills 9, then himself, UT, 10.3.2009, http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-03-10-alabama-shooting_N.htm






Man, 27, charged in Illinois pastor shooting


8 March 2009
USA Today
By Marisol Bello


Terry Sedlacek was never the same after a tick bite years ago, his mother said. He would forget to go to school. He was often confused.

Sunday morning, authorities said, the 27-year-old outdoorsman's behavior took a violent turn. Illinois prosecutors said he was the man who walked up the center aisle of First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., during the 8:15 a.m. service and shot the Rev. Fred Winters through the heart.

The State's Attorney's Office in Madison County charged Terry Sedlacek with first-degree murder for the death of Winters. They also charged him with aggravated battery; they say he stabbed two church members who tried to disarm him.

Sedlacek's mother and stepfather, with whom he lived, could not be reached. They have not spoken publicly since the tragedy. In an interview with the St. Louis Post Dispatch in August, though, Ruth Abernathy, Sedlacek's mother, described a long illness that began with a tick bite in high school and changed her son forever.

She said he was misdiagnosed for years, and in 2003 he was so sick that he was given last rites.

Experts are divided over whether Lyme disease can cause mental illness.

Eugene Shapiro, a Lyme disease specialist at Yale University, said people do not get chronic mental illness from Lyme disease, but sometimes they are misdiagnosed and fail to get treatment "for the problems they really have."

"Lyme disease does not cause people to shoot people," he said.

Daniel Cameron, an internist in Westchester County, N.Y., where Lyme disease is common, said it can cause violent behavior. Cameron, president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society, said he has had many patients with Lyme disease who complain of psychiatric problems, including anxiety and aggression.

Sedlacek's lawyer, Ron Slemer, told the Belleville News-Democrat on Monday that he has known Sedlacek's family for a long time. He said the family is "very sorry for the loss of Rev. Winters."

He said Sedlacek's mental and physical condition have been deteriorating.

The shooting created a buzz on the Internet among Lyme disease sufferers and called attention to the need for research to understand how the illness ravages the central nervous system, said Pat Smith, president of the Lyme Disease Association.

Investigators searched Sedlacek's house in Troy, Ill., and found his day planner, in which he had marked Sunday as "death day," state's attorney spokeswoman Stephanee Smith said.

Keith Melton, one of the men who disarmed the gunman, said in an interview that at first no one realized the danger.

The gunman walked in about 20 minutes after the service began as Winters, 45, the senior pastor, was reading from Psalm 128, Melton said. Winters, a married father of two, said to the man, "Good morning."

"Then he started shooting," Melton said. "No one heard him say a word."

Sedlacek fired four shots with a .45-caliber handgun before the gun jammed, the State's Attorney's Office said.

One shot hit Winters' Bible. The pastor called out "Somebody help me" as he ran to a side aisle, the gunman following, Melton said. He grabbed the gunman by the waist and pushed him against a wall. The man raised his arm, now holding a knife, and stabbed Melton in the chest. Melton was treated later for a wound about an inch deep, he said.

The gunman crawled under a pew, where other men quickly held him down. During the struggle, the State's Attorney's Office said, the man stabbed parishioner Terry Bullard and then stabbed himself in the neck.

Bullard, 39, and the suspect remained in serious condition at St. Louis University Hospital on Monday night, spokeswoman Laura Keller said.

Autopsy results showed Winters was hit with one bullet that went through his heart, Madison County coroner Steve Nonn said Monday.

Smith said police found at least 30 rounds of ammunition on Sedlacek.

On Monday, churchgoers and employees celebrated the memory of the popular preacher. Another pastor at First Baptist, Mark Jones, said he received more than 1,000 e-mails of support.

Winters had expanded the church over 21 years from a few dozen members to 1,500. His life's work was spreading the word of God, Jones said.

"He died doing exactly what he believed passionately about."

Contributing: Janice Lloyd; The Associated Press

    Man, 27, charged in Illinois pastor shooting, UT, 8.3.2009, http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-03-08-church-shooting_N.htm






Court Turns Down NYC Case Against Gun Industry


March 9, 2009
Filed at 10:12 a.m. ET
The New York Times


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has turned away pleas by New York City and victims of gun violence to revive lawsuits accusing the firearms industry of selling guns with the knowledge they could be sent to illegal markets.

The justices are not commenting on their order Monday that ends lawsuits first filed in 2000. Federal appeals courts in New York and Washington threw out the complaints after Congress passed a law in 2005 giving the gun industry broad immunity against such lawsuits.

The city's lawsuit asked for no monetary damages. It had sought a court order for gun makers to more closely monitor those dealers who frequently sell guns later used to commit crimes.

The case is City of New York v. Beretta, 08-530.

    Court Turns Down NYC Case Against Gun Industry, NYT, 9.3.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/03/09/washington/AP-Scotus-Gun-Lawsuits.html






Cleveland Man Sought in Deaths of 2 Women, 3 Kids


March 6, 2009
Filed at 12:21 p.m. ET
The New York Times


CLEVELAND (AP) -- Police in Cleveland say they are using tactical teams to search for the newlywed who is suspected of killing his wife, his sister-in-law and her three young children.

At a news conference Friday, police said they were following leads but had not located 33-year-old Davon Crawford.

His wife, Lechea, was among those killed in their house Thursday night. Police say a 2-month-old baby found unharmed in the home is believed to be theirs. A relative said the Crawfords had married on Monday.

The other victims killed were Lechea Crawford's sister Rose Stevens, and Stevens' three children: 4-year-old Destiny Woods and 2-year-old twins Dion and Davion Primm.

A wounded child was being treated at a hospital.


THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.


CLEVELAND (AP) -- Police searched Friday for a newlywed suspected of killing his wife, his sister-in-law and three young children in one of the city's most horrific shootings in years.

The victims were found Thursday night on the top floor a two-family home on the city's west side, police said.

Authorities said they were searching for 33-year-old Davon Crawford, whose wife, Lechea Crawford, 30, was among those killed.

Police identified the other victims as Lechea Crawford's sister Rose Stevens, 25, and her three children: Destiny Woods, 4; and 2-year-old twins Dion and Davion Primm. Another child was being treated at MetroHealth Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Susan Christopher said.

Authorities had previously said the victims were one woman and four children; there was no immediate explanation Friday for the discrepancy.

A police helicopter assisted in the search and authorities were checking transit system buses.

''It's probably one of the worst multiple shootings that I've seen in a long time,'' said Police Chief Michael McGrath. A news conference was scheduled.

Crawford served almost five years in prison for voluntary manslaughter, according to prison records. He was released in 2000, returned to prison on a felonious assault conviction and released again in 2007.

Outside the home, Lamar Arnold told The Plain Dealer that Crawford, whom he recognized from a police photo, was the man who had married his daughter on Monday.

Arnold said his daughter had sent him an unusual cell phone text message at 7:47 p.m. Thursday saying ''Call me, live your life, love it.''

''Then I tried to call her about 12 times, and there never was an answer,'' he said.

Police said there were two rental units in the house, and all the victims were killed in the upstairs apartment. The building is on a tree-lined street of older, mostly two-story frame houses and some apartment buildings.

India Cobb told WJW-TV she saw Crawford, whom she identified as a cousin, earlier Thursday and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

''It didn't seem anything was wrong or anything like that,'' Cobb said. ''He just got married ... He just had a baby girl. I don't understand what went wrong. I don't know what happened. I'm still trying to find out myself.''

While on parole, which ended last year, Crawford passed several urine tests for drugs, paid his child support, had a full-time job and no run-ins with authorities, according to Andrea Carson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

A crowd milled around late Thursday near the home, including some who said they were family and friends of the victims.

Shortly after midnight, about four hours after the shootings, several women whom police had let into the cordoned-off area came back in tears, got into a car and left. Another woman walked away from the scene.

    Cleveland Man Sought in Deaths of 2 Women, 3 Kids, NYT, 6.3.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/03/06/us/AP-Cleveland-Five-Dead.html






2 Murders and Suicide Suspected on 93rd St.


February 8, 2009
The New York Times


A man and a woman were shot to death in an Upper West Side apartment by a man who then apparently killed himself on Friday night, the police said. Some neighbors said they heard what sounded like gunshots, and one notified the doorman, but the police were not called until 5 p.m. on Saturday, the authorities said.

Residents of the 10-story co-op building, at 123 West 93rd Street, near Columbus Avenue, said they heard bangs or pops and a scream about 8 p.m. on Friday. Law enforcement officials said that one resident alerted the doorman, who went upstairs to the eighth-floor apartment and knocked on the door, but got no response. The three bodies were not found until after 5:10 p.m. on Saturday, when the building’s superintendent called the police after speaking to the resident who had initially contacted the doorman, the officials said.

Law enforcement officials identified one of the victims as Debra Silver, 46, who was listed in property records as the owner of the apartment. Her body was found on the floor with gunshot wounds to her face and torso, along with the body of a 57-year-old man, who had been shot once in the torso.

The body of a 55-year-old man was found in a chair with a semiautomatic 9 millimeter handgun in his lap, officials said. He had a single gunshot wound to the head, which the police said appeared to have been self-inflicted.

Investigators were looking into what relationship existed among the victims.

William Glenn, who lives on the ninth floor, said he was walking into the building after having dinner at an Indian restaurant with his family on Friday night when his wife heard popping noises. He said they did not think much of it.

“You hear a lot of pop-pops on the Upper West Side, and they’re not always a triple homicide,” Mr. Glenn said.

Another resident who lives on the ninth floor said she heard two loud bangs on Friday, but did not call 911 or tell the doorman what she had heard.

“I didn’t know what it was,” said the resident, who spoke on the condition that she not be identified. “It was just a loud bang. I’ve never heard a gunshot before. It was just loud.”

Another woman who lives near the apartment where the shooting took place said that she heard a loud bang at 8:07 p.m. on Friday night. She said she knew the exact time because she was working on her computer and was worried the sound would wake up her daughter.

“I thought somebody dropped something very big, and I did hear it twice,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “I don’t know what a gunshot sounds like, especially if it was that close. I thought it was a loud bang. We have heard people drop glass and break above me, and people drop pots.”

A man who answered the phone at 12393 Owners Corporation, the building’s business office, said he could not comment on Saturday and hung up.

By Saturday evening, crime scene investigators were arriving, and police officers were knocking on apartment doors in the building and questioning neighbors. The medical examiner’s office removed all three bodies just before 10:30 p.m.

Reached by telephone, many residents said that the U-shaped building was essentially divided in two, and that they had not heard any shots or noticed anything amiss on Friday night or Saturday. The building is near Central Park. Residents described it as friendly and full of families and children.

“We have a warm, wonderful community here,” said Barbara Sher, who said she had lived in the building for 35 years.

Christine Hauser and Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.

    2 Murders and Suicide Suspected on 93rd St., NYT, 8.2.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/08/nyregion/08triple.html?hp






Police Say 2 Shot Dead, 7 Hurt at Wichita, Kan., Wake


January 25, 2009
Filed at 7:28 a.m. ET
The New York Times


WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- Police say two people were killed and seven wounded in a shooting during a wake at a house in Wichita.

Sgt. Ronald Hunt says all the victims of Saturday night's shooting were adults. He did not know their ages or genders.

Hunt says one victim is in critical condition, while as many as four others are in serious condition.

Police say the shooting occurred around 9:30 p.m. on the ninth day of the wake, which was being held for an elderly woman buried earlier Saturday.

Deputy Police Chief Robert Lee could not say how many shooters were involved but says some of the shots came from outside. Police won't say if they believe the shooting is gang-related.

Officers had trouble communicating because many of those at the house did not speak English.

Police are looking for a pickup truck seen leaving the home.

    Police Say 2 Shot Dead, 7 Hurt at Wichita, Kan., Wake, NYT, 25.1.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/01/25/us/AP-Wake-Shooting.html






Suspect in Montana Slaying Dead


January 18, 2009
Filed at 12:44 p.m. ET
The New York Times


GLASGOW, Mont. (AP) -- Officers following a trail of blood found the body of a man suspected in the killing of a woman who was shot outside a hospital and in the wounding of two others, officials said Sunday.

The man had been fatally shot, but Valley County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Samar Fay said she did not know when he was shot, or who may have been responsible.

No other suspects were being sought, Valley County Sheriff Glenn Meier said Sunday.

At least 50 federal and local agents using tracker dogs followed the suspect to a house just south of town late Saturday, Fay said.

The man was suspected of killing a part-time emergency medical technician outside Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital late Saturday afternoon. He also allegedly fired on two people, a female hospital nurse and her husband, who went to assist the technician. Those victims were in stable condition, hospital spokesman Nickolas Dirkes said.

The gunman was not believed to be a current or former hospital employee, authorities said.

''This has shocked all of us. Glasgow is place you feel comfortable raising your family,'' said Randy Holom, chief executive of the hospital.

Meier and Glasgow Police Chief Lynn Erickson said it was the first homicide in the Glasgow area in at least 11 years.

During the manhunt, the hospital and a basketball game at the high school gym were locked down, and all roads into the town were blockaded for about five hours. People were told to stay at home and lock their doors.

Glasgow is a primarily agricultural community of about 3,100 residents in northeastern Montana, about 50 miles south of the Canadian border.

    Suspect in Montana Slaying Dead, NYT, 18.1.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/01/18/us/AP-Montana-Gunfire.html






Oakland Turns Violent Over Shooting


January 9, 2009
The New York Times


Protesters angry over a deadly New Year’s Day shooting of a young black man by a transit police officer erupted into violence in downtown Oakland on Wednesday night while investigators struggled to determine what prompted the officer to fire his gun into the unarmed man’s back.

After an afternoon of peaceful demonstrations and a memorial service, protests turned chaotic after dark as a small clutch of protesters set trash cans and cars afire and busted windows on police cruisers and storefronts. Police in riot gear responded with tear gas and billy clubs and at least 14 arrests were made, according to local television reports. Several major downtown streets were closed, and helicopter footage showed small groups of protesters roaming through the city’s deserted center. There were no immediate reports of injuries, but sirens continued to echo into the late evening.

Mayor Ron Dellums pleaded for calm as anger continued to build in the city’s black community over the shooting of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old butcher’s apprentice who was shot in the back while lying on the platform at the Fruitvale station of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system.

“We’ve got to have a real investigation that people can have confidence in,” said Mr. Dellums on Wednesday night. “And my sense of it is that part of this reaction is that people have lost confidence.”

Mr. Grant, who had been involved in a scuffle aboard a train after leaving a New Year’s Eve celebration in San Francisco, died at a local hospital several hours after being shot. The bullet, which had passed through his lower back, ricocheted into his lung. The officer, Johannes Mehserle, resigned on Wednesday, but investigators said efforts to interview him about the circumstances of the shooting had been rebuffed by his lawyers and police union leaders, according to Linton Johnson, spokesperson for the transit districtThe incident was captured by at least four cellphone cameras held by passengers on a train idling next to the platform. The videos, which have been widely broadcast and streamed online, show Mr. Grant lying face down when Mr. Mehserle, 27, pulls his gun and fires a single shot. Mr. Mehserle looks stunned for a moment, and then handcuffs Mr. Grant with the assistance of another officer.

John Burris, a lawyer for Mr. Grant’s mother and his live-in girlfriend, said he had asked Tom Orloff, the Alameda County District Attorney, to consider filing criminal charges against Mr. Mehserle.

“If you can’t file charges in a case like this,” said Mr. Burris, “I don’t know what kind of case you can file in.”

Mr. Orloff said he was still investigating the case, as was the BART police department. Federal law enforcement were also reported to be looking into whether Mr. Grant’s civil rights were violated in his killing.

    Oakland Turns Violent Over Shooting, NYT, 9.1.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/09/us/09oakland.html?hp






Fatal Calif. Train Station Shooting Sparks Anger


January 8, 2009
Filed at 2:42 a.m. ET
The New York Times


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Protests over the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer turned violent Wednesday night with windows broken, fires set and train stations closed.

A few hundred protesters took the streets of downtown Oakland to condemn the shooting and call for criminal charges against 27-year-old officer Johannes Mehserle. Oakland police reported at least 14 arrests.

Mehserle resigned from the transit agency shortly before he was supposed to be interviewed by investigators Wednesday.

Mehserle is accused of shooting 22-year-old Oscar Grant of Hayward, who was lying face-down on the station platform when he was shot and killed early New Year's Day. Mehserle was one of several officers responding to reports about groups of men fighting on a train.

Protesters gathered in the afternoon at the Fruitvale BART station where the shooting occurred. It was peaceful at first but began to turn nasty after a splinter group left that site and marched downtown.

Protesters set fire to a trash container and tried to overturn a police car, smashing the front window. Police attempted to disperse the crowd and smaller groups of protesters marched to different areas.

Some protesters threw bottles, a window of a fast-food restaurant and other downtown stores were smashed, at least three cars were set on fire and many other automobiles were damaged. Police in riot gear threw tear gas to try to break up the demonstration.

''The crowd started to become more agitated, more hostile, started throwing stuff at the police,'' Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason said. ''We gave a dispersal order four to five times over a 20-minute period, then we had our officers go in and start making arrests.''

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums went to the protest scene Wednesday night to urge for calm. He and several council members then led a group toward City Hall and further addressed them.

''Even with our anger and our pain, let's still address each other with a degree of civility and calmness and not make this tragedy an excuse to engage in violence,'' Dellums said. ''I don't want anybody hurt, I don't want anybody killed.''

Grant's family has filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against BART and want prosecutors to file criminal charges against Mehserle.


Associated Press writer Evelyn Nieves contributed to this report.

    Fatal Calif. Train Station Shooting Sparks Anger, NYT, 8.1.2009, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/01/08/us/AP-Train-Station-Shooting.html