TIME Crime

Man Shoots Defendant Waiting at Mississippi Courthouse

Mississippi Courthouse Shooting
Jeff Amy—AP Authorities investigate a shooting outside a courthouse in Canton, Miss. on Aug. 3, 2015.

The victim was expected to appear for a status conference on a case for which he'd been indicted on drug charges

(CANTON, Miss.) — A man fatally shot a defendant waiting in a small courtyard outside a criminal courthouse in Mississippi on Monday morning, and a suspect is in custody, law enforcement officials said.

The suspect has been arrested and is in jail, Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker said, but he declined to identify him or the victim.

Tucker and Madison County District Attorney Michael Guest said they don’t know why the suspect would have shot the other man. The victim was expected to appear in court on drug charges, but he was not a witness or a suspect in other current criminal cases, Guest said.

The shooting happened outside Madison County’s criminal courthouse in Canton, a historic antebellum town known for its Christmas light festival on the town square.

The suspect got out of a car, walked up and shot the victim once with a semiautomatic handgun, Tucker said. Deputies emerged from the courthouse, and the suspect laid down the handgun and was arrested without a struggle, Tucker said.

The victim was hit once in the chest and died on the scene, Tucker said. He described the shooting as unfolding quickly.

In the courtyard, two semicircles of four benches surround a flagpole. Law enforcement officials searched with metal detectors under crepe myrtle trees, looking for the shell from the handgun. But despite an hour of sifting through pine straw, Tucker said, authorities had not yet found the shell.

There are metal detectors inside the courthouse door, but the parking lot is open to the public and unguarded. The Canton Police Department sits at the rear of the parking lot, less than 200 yards from the front door of the courthouse.

District Attorney Michael Guest said the victim had been waiting outside the courthouse with his lawyer, Rusty Willard. Guest said the victim was expected to appear for a status conference on a case for which he’d been indicted on drug charges. Prosecutors expected that the victim would reject a plea offer and the judge would then set the case for trial, Guest said.

Guest said he thought there was little that deputies could have done to prevent the shooting. “There would have been, in my opinion, no way this could have been stopped,” Guest said.

Canton is the seat of Madison County, just north of Jackson. The south end of the county is a rapidly growing suburb, while the northern half is poorer and a more traditional part of the South. Canton also is the home of a Nissan assembly plant that employs more than 6,000 people. Canton’s population is about 13,000.

The 1996 movie “A Time to Kill,” based on John Grisham’s novel, was filmed in part at the courthouse. In the movie, a father played by Samuel L. Jackson goes to court and kills two men on trial over the rape of his daughter.

TIME Crime

No Charges Against University of Cincinnati Cops Who Were at Scene of Fatal Shooting

Phillip Kidd and David Lindenschmidt were at the scene just after the shooting

(CINCINNATI)—Two University of Cincinnati police officers who were at the scene just after a fellow officer fatally shot a driver are not being charged, a prosecutor said Friday.

The Hamilton County grand jury did not return indictments against Phillip Kidd and David Lindenschmidt. The announcement that they wouldn’t be charged came a day after former Officer Ray Tensing pleaded not guilty to murder and voluntary manslaughter in the July 19 shooting of Samuel DuBose.

Kidd and Lindenschmidt were put on administrative leave this week during a university investigation. The officers haven’t responded to messages left at the school’s police department and at a possible home number for Lindenschmidt. No home number could be found for Kidd.

A police report and body camera video from the two officers showed they were on the scene just after the shooting. Footage showed Tensing getting up from the ground after DuBose had been shot.

Tensing’s attorney has said Tensing fired at DuBose because he thought he was going to be dragged under the motorist’s car.

Kidd can be heard on body camera video saying “yes” to another officer’s question on whether he saw Tensing dragged. Prosecutors have said Tensing was not dragged and Tensing’s own body camera video doesn’t show any dragging.

County Prosecutor Joe Deters says Kidd and Lindenschmidt arrived as Tensing reached into DuBose’s car. Their official statements about what happened matched what was shown on Tensing’s body camera, and neither officer said in official interviews that he saw Tensing being dragged, according to Deters.

Both officers made comments at the scene but later were interviewed in depth by Cincinnati police about what they had witnessed, according to Deters.

“These officers have been truthful and honest about what happened and no charges are warranted,” Deters said.

DuBose’s family had asked prosecutors to investigate the other officers. The family’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, said in email Friday that they are “still concerned with the initial rendition of facts given by the officers,” but he said the family respects the grand jury’s decision.

Also Friday, the county coroner released preliminary autopsy findings showing that DuBose died of a single gunshot wound to the head.

Meanwhile, Tensing is trying to get his job back. He was fired shortly after his indictment Wednesday and released on bail Thursday.

The executive director of the FOP Ohio Labor Council, a division of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, said Friday that the union filed a grievance on Tensing’s behalf Wednesday to try to get him reinstated. The union said the university violated Tensing’s employment contract by not giving him a pre-disciplinary conference and a copy of the formal charges, executive director Catherine Brockman said.

University spokeswoman Michele Ralston said it stands by its decision to terminate Tensing.

TIME

Former University of Cincinnati Cop Pays Bond And Is Released From Jail

Ray Tensing
John Minchillo—AP Former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing appears at Hamilton County Courthouse for his arraignment in the shooting death of motorist Samuel DuBose on July 30, 2015, in Cincinnati.

Former university police officer Ray Tensing reportedly left the jail Thursday evening

The former University of Cincinnati police officer charged in the shooting death of an unarmed black man is out of jail on bond.

Ray Tensing posted 10 percent of his $1 million bail—just over $100,000—on Thursday evening, according to the Hamilton County Clerk’s office, not long after pleading not guilty to murder and involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of 43-year-old Sam DuBose.

Representatives from the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department told the Cincinnati television station WCPO that the 25-year-old officer left the jail at about 6:45 p.m. on Thursday. TIME could not immediately reach the office for comment. Tensing’s lawyer, Stewart Mathews, said Thursday that people across the United States were offering to help pay Tensing’s bond.

The former campus cop was indicted Wednesday in the shooting death of DuBose, who the officer said he was “forced to shoot” in an initial report that alleged the unarmed man had attempted to run the officer over after failing to meet the officer’s request to produce his license.

The local prosecutor, however, felt a recently released body-camera video told a different story. In it, the officer can be seen shooting DuBose in the head and then falling backward. The Hamilton County prosecutor called the shooting the “most asinine act that I’ve ever seen a police officer make.”

Tensing’s lawyer maintains that there are “two sides” to the story. “The case will be tried and decided in court,” Mathews said.

DuBose is one of 669 people who have been killed by police so far in 2015, according to a database by the Guardian newspaper, and 175 of those killed have been black.

 

TIME Crime

Why Universities Have Their Own Armed Police Forces

The arrangement has a long history

After a white University of Cincinnati police officer was charged with murder this week for shooting a local black man during a routine traffic stop, many have raised questions about why the university has an armed police force at all.

Ray Tensing, the officer who killed 43-year-old Samuel DuBose, was one of 72 gun-carrying members of the University of Cincinnati’s police department, until he was fired following his indictment on Wednesday. His fellow UC police officers have the authority to make arrests and to patrol both the university’s campus and the surrounding area—an arrangement that is common among other public universities across the country.

One of the critics of the university’s police force in the wake of DuBose’s death is Joe Deters, Cincinnati’s prosecutor, who is calling for the school’s police department to be eliminated.

“They’re not cops, and we have a great police department in Cincinnati, probably the best in Ohio,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “And I talked to the [city police] chief about it today and I said, ‘You know, you guys should be doing this stuff,’ and I think he’s in agreement with it.”

University of Cincinnati president Santa Ono said it would be “premature” to discuss shutting down the school’s police department, but the university would be “reviewing comprehensively” the “training policy and procedures of the force.”

Here’s what you need to know about campus police:

What is a university police force?

A university police force is much like any other police force, except the officers are employed by the university or a private contractor, not the city or state, and the police force’s jurisdiction that is largely campus based.

There are generally three types of campus public safety departments, says S. Daniel Carter, the director of the 32 National Campus Safety Initiative at the VTV Family Outreach Foundation, founded by families and survivors of the 20007 Virginia Tech shooting. The first type of force is composed of “sworn” officers—officers with the power to make arrests. The second type is made up of unsworn security officers, who can be employed either by the university or a private contractor. The third is a hybrid of the two. A small number of colleges and universities don’t have their own force and rely on local law enforcement agencies to do their policing.

While some were surprised to learn that Tensing, the University of Cincinnati police officer, had the authority to carry a gun and make arrests off campus, that’s actually the norm among university police forces, according to the most recent survey of campus law enforcement by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011-2012.Three quarters of the 905 traditional four-year institutions surveyed used sworn officers—the kind that can make arrests. And three-quarters also used armed officers. Arming officers was much more common in public institutions—9 in 10 public institutions employed armed officers, compared with only 38% of private campuses.

Can a university police force patrol outside the boundaries of a campus?

That question was raised in the case of DuBose’s death, since he was stopped by a University of Cincinnati police officer close to the school’s campus but outside of it. At a press conference this week, UC president Ono told a reporter who asked about the location of the arrest that “yes, it was legal,” but the university planned to review the whole incident and potentially make policy changes.

The fact that a university police officer would stop a non-student in an area outside of campus is not unusual across the country. The vast majority of sworn campus police officers, or more than 80%, had patrol and arrest jurisdictions that extended beyond the campus boundaries, according to the Justice Department survey in 2011-2012.

What is the history of the university police force?

According to experts, the first example of a sworn university police department with arms and arresting power was at Yale in 1894, when two local New Haven, Conn. cops asked to be assigned exclusively to the school to stem tensions over a scandal in which Yale medical students were accused of stealing recently buried cadavers from local cemeteries, according to Yale’s website. University police departments became much more prevalent and important in the 1960s and 1970s after the Vietnam era protests, and the forces have continued to grow. In 2004, 68% of the four-year universities surveyed by the Justice Department used armed officers; by 2011, that number had grown to 75%.

How are university police officers recruited and trained?

The recruitment, training and rules governing university police departments vary widely depending on the state, said Dolores Stafford, executive director of the National Association of Clery Compliance Officers & Professionals. In some states, university and campus police officers go to the same police academy as the state and city officers. In other states, they go to their own academy. Campus police officers also typically go through other training in regulations like the Clery Act, which governs federal reporting requirements of campus crime, and issues particularly pertinent to campus safety, such as sexual assault. Stafford said that use of force training is common among campus police officers, even those who are not sworn.

Though it was more common 30 years ago for campus forces to be made up of former municipal police officers, said Stafford, campus law enforcement is now a career path in its own right, employing hundreds of people across the country.

TIME Crime

Louisiana Shooter Was Disturbed but Politically Ambitious

He ran for office but dropped out after he was caught stealing his opponent's signs

Long before he opened fire in a crowded Louisiana movie theater this week, John “Rusty” Houser had a history of erratic behavior that scared his family—but he also had a strong interest in local politics, running for office in Georgia in the 1990s in an attempt to follow in his father’s footsteps.

People who knew Houser over the past two decades described a man who at times seemed untethered. He was easily excitable and passionate about political issues, and often highly critical of the local government. He also suffered from bipolar disorder and had a dark and unpredictable streak, leading many who knew him to be wary of him.

On Thursday, Houser stood up at a showing of Trainwreck in Lafayette, La. and, giving no explanation, fired 13 shots, killing two people and injuring nine others, before turning the gun on himself. He was living out of a motel for the months leading up to the shooting, and police described him as a lone drifter.

According to court documents, in 2008 his family got a protective order against him, citing mental illness and “various acts of family violence” (a domestic abuse complaint was filed in 2005). His wife, schoolteacher Kellie Houser, was so worried that she removed all the guns from their home and had him temporarily committed to a mental hospital. They later divorced, and he’s been estranged from his family since.

But things weren’t always this way. In the 1990s, Houser was an aspiring city politician in Columbus, Ga., hoping to follow in his father Rembert Houser’s footsteps. He was a fixture at community meetings in Columbus, now a town of about 200,000, and quick to weigh in on whatever topics were on the agenda.

“He did interviews, he ran for office, his dad was an elected official,” local Superior Court Judge Bobby Peters, who was then mayor of Columbus, told TIME. “I think he looked at himself as kind of a citizen’s watchdog, where he kind of kept an eye on government to make sure everything was done correctly.”

Peters added, “He didn’t trust government—he was always questioning everything we do.”

Houser dabbled in real estate development and owned two short-lived local bars, according to a now-deleted LinkedIn page with his name and photo. In 1996, he ran as a Republican for tax commissioner, mostly on the legacy of his father, who had previously held the office, as first reported by the Ledger-Enquirer. “He ran on his father’s name,” said Lula Huff, who won that election and is still serving as Columbus tax commissioner. “It didn’t matter what subject matter he discussed, it would always come back to ‘I’m the son of Rembert Houser.'”

Still, there were flashes of disturbed behavior. Houser was arrested for arson in 1989 or 1990, police said, one of several things that prevented him from being approved for a pistol license in 2006. (Police said late Friday that he bought the gun used legally at a pawn shop in Alabama last year, and that he visited the theater more than once before the shooting). Huff said she never received any threats during the campaign, but “citizens of the community told me to be cautious.”

Houser eventually dropped out of the 1996 race after he was caught removing Huff’s campaign signs from other people’s yards, Huff said. “Wherever I placed yard signs, he physically removed them,” she said. “When he was caught in the act by a police officer, he had more than 25 in his possession.”

Patti Meadows, a tax clerk who works in Huff’s office, knew Houser from when she worked for his father. The younger Houser would occasionally give her then-13-year-old son Darrick rides to church, and would frequently employ him to do odd jobs around the parish. But often Darrick would make up an excuse to avoid working with Houser. “He would come home and say ‘Rusty was not himself today,'” Meadows told TIME. “My son would tell him he had more homework” in order to go home.

Peters, the former mayor, said Houser seemed mentally unstable at times, but he remained ambitious.

“He talked fast, he moved fast, it was hard to keep him focused,” Peters recalled. “He just seemed like he had not found his niche. He was always searching for that niche and he wanted to be involved, he wanted to be in the forefront.”

TIME Crime

Everything We Know About the Lafayette Movie Theater Shooter

Police call him "kind of a drifter"

The man who opened fire on a crowded movie theater in Lafayette, La. Thursday night had a history of erratic and violent behavior, prompting his family to request a protective order against him several years ago.

John Russel Houser, 59, also known as “Rusty” killed two people and himself and injured nine others when he fired his handgun at least 13 times at a showing of Trainwreck, the Amy Schumer comedy.

In a press conference Friday, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said Houser was “kind of a drifter” who had been living in a motel since the beginning of July and apparently did not have close ties to the city, according to NOLA.com. Originally from Phenix City, Ala., Houser was estranged from his family. His only connection to Lafayette was a dead uncle who lived there years ago.

According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, Houser’s family asked for a temporary protective order against him in 2008, because of his “extreme erratic behavior” and “ominous as well as disturbing statements.” The documents say that Houser had committed “various acts of family violence” and that his wife, Kellie Houser, was so worried that she “removed all guns and/or weapons from their marital residence.” The documents also note that Houser has a history of bipolar disorder.

Authorities announced at a press conference Friday that Houser had had numerous other brushes with the law, but was never formally charged with a serious crime. He was arrested for arson in 1989 or 1990, and his wife filed a domestic violence complaint against him in 2005, but he was never formally arrested. In 2014, he allegedly destroyed his own house after he sold it to another man– when the new owner attempted to evict Houser from the property, he “booby trapped” the home, preparing for an enormous gas fire. The police also confirmed Houser’s long history of mental illness.

Houser shot himself in the theater Thursday night as he saw police officers approach, but had apparently intended to escape the scene—Craft said police found wigs and other disguises in his motel room, and that Houser had switched his license plates in an apparent attempt to evade capture. He had a small criminal record, but hadn’t run into trouble with the law in the past decade or so (he had previously been arrested for arson and selling alcohol to a minor).

Witnesses said Houser did not appear agitated, and did not say anything during the shooting that would indicate a motive. “He wasn’t erratic or nervous. Just walking down the aisle randomly firing,” Josh Doggett, who was at the movie with his fiancee, told NBC.

There is a Tea Party Nation page registered under Houser’s name, The Daily Beast reports. The page was registered by a person with his name in 2013, although the Tea Party Nation page spelled the name as “John Russell Houser,” instead of “John Russel Houser,” the spelling the police gave. That person also listed his hometown as Phenix City, Ala.

A LinkedIn page registered in Houser’s name and carrying his picture shows a checkered professional history. According to the page, Houser dabbled in real estate development, and owned two bars: Peachtree Pub in Columbus, Ga. from 1979-1980, and Rusty’s Buckhead Pub in Lagrange, Ga. from 1998-2000. He also appeared several times as a guest on a radio show in 1993, but host Doug Kellet posted on Facebook that he doesn’t remember him.

TIME Crime

Louisiana Shooting Victims Named By Police

Mayci Breaux, 21 and Jillian Johnson, 33, the two victims of the movie theater shooting

The two people killed during a theater shooting in the Louisiana city of Lafayette were identified by police Friday.

Mayci Breaux, 21, was found dead at the scene while 33-year-old Jillian Johnson passed away after being taken to the hospital.

Of the nine people injured, police said two had been released from the hospital and the rest were still being cared for. One of those shot was in critical condition, according to officials.

Teacher Allister Viator Martin was among those taken to hospital, her uncle Durwood Viator confirmed to NBC News. “We don’t know what happened,” he said. “All we know…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

Read next: 3 Dead After Shooter Opens Fire in Louisiana Movie Theater

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TIME Crime

3 Dead After Shooter Opens Fire in Louisiana Movie Theater

At least 9 people were injured

A gunman opened fire at a screening of Trainwreck in a Louisiana movie theater Thursday night, leaving three people dead—including the shooter—and nine others injured, officials said.

About 20 minutes into the 7 p.m. show at the Grand 16 Theater in Lafayette, the shooter, identified by law enforcement officials Friday morning as John Russel Houser, stood up in the theater and began firing a handgun into the audience. The shooter, who authorities said was a white male “drifter” in his late 50s, then turned the weapon on himself.

“We heard a loud pop we thought was a firecracker,” Katie Domingue, who had gone to see Trainwreck with her fiancee, told The Daily Advertiser. “He wasn’t saying anything. I didn’t hear anybody screaming either.”

Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft told reporters that nine people in total were wounded in the shooting. He said at least one of them was in critical condition. “At this point we have three dead, nine wounded and of the three dead one is definitely the shooter,” he said.

Craft said in a separate news conference Friday morning that Houser, originally from Alabama, was “kind of a drifter” who had been staying at a local hotel since the beginning of the month, CNN reports. Disguises were found in his hotel room. Craft praised the “quick law enforcement response” for preventing him escaping.

The White House said President Obama had been briefed on the shooting aboard Air Force One on Thursday by Lisa Monaco, his homeland security adviser, while on his way to Africa for a two-nation visit.

Authorities on Friday were attempting to piece together the sequence of events from eyewitness accounts. “There was a female lying on the ground with blood coming out of her everywhere — she was shot,” Jalen Fernell, who was in the adjacent theater, told CNN. “We’d heard nothing but gunshots — like a war was going on. We didn’t know if the guy was in a car somewhere, if he’s in the parking lot — we didn’t know what to do.”

Clay Henry, an official with a local ambulance service in Lafayette, said that emergency workers were dispatched to the scene at about 7:30 p.m. A schoolteacher pulled a fire alarm in the theater after another teacher jumped in front of her to save her from a bullet, the Associated Press reports.

Authorities arrived quickly, “literally running into the theater as shots were being fired,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a news conference shortly before midnight. Nine people were taken to the hospital with injuries ranging from non-life threatening to critical. At least one victim required urgent surgery.

“The police have closed off all the exits to the parking lot, and they’re questioning the people who were in the theater,” Rebecca Vickers, the manager of Mellow Mushroom, a restaurant close to the theater, told TIME.

Vickers said that the restaurant closed early after two off-duty employees arrived at the theater to see a film, only to be warned not to go inside. She also said that the police were conducting a bomb sweep of the theater. Shortly after midnight, the Associated Press reported that a suspicious package inside the shooter’s car prompted the police to evacuate the area altogether, though Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft later said it was a false alarm.

Local television station KATC also reported a bomb threat at a condominium complex across the street from the Grand 16 Theater, though it remains unclear if it was linked to the theater shooting.

It was, Jindal said after arriving at the scene, an “awful night for Lafayette… for Louisiana… and for the United States.”

“As a governor, as a father, as a husband, whenever we hear about these senseless acts of violence, it makes us sad and furious at the same time,” the governor said. “There’s no reason why this evil should intrude on families just out for a night of entertainment.”

Amy Schumer, who stars in Trainwreck, was quick to express her sympathies to the victims and their loved ones.

TIME Crime

4 Killed in Georgia Shooting, Including 2 Young Children

Fatal Shooting Suburban Atlanta
John Amis—AP Law enforcement investigate the scene of a shooting at a home in Suwanee, Ga. on July 22, 2015.

It appears all the victims lived together

(SUWANEE, Ga.)—Authorities say four were killed, including the shooter and two children under the age of 10, in a domestic-related shooting at a suburban Atlanta home.

Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper says an uninvolved family member called 911 about 6 a.m. Wednesday to report the shooting. Deputies found one man and two children under the age of 10 dead from gunshot wounds. Another man and woman were taken to hospitals with gunshot wounds. Piper says the woman later died and the man is in critical condition.

Piper calls the shooting “domestic-related” and says it all took place inside the home.

He also says it appears all the victims lived at the home. Names haven’t been released.

He says a motive is unknown.

Previously, officials said the shooter was known to officers from past arrest.

TIME National Security

U.S. Officials Probe Why Tennessee Shooting Suspect Visited Qatar in 2014

Four Marines and One Sailor Killed In Military Center Shootings In Chattanooga, Tennessee
Handout/Hamilton County Sheriff's Office/Getty Images Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez poses for a mugshot photo after he was was arrested on April 20, 2015, on a DUI offense

Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez also spent seven months in Jordan last year with his family

The chief suspect in the killing of five U.S. service members in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Thursday had traveled to Qatar at least once during a trip to the Middle East in 2014.

The reasons for Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez’s stopover in the Qatari capital Doha or the duration of his stay are still unknown, reports Reuters. Qatar has both native jihadist supporters as well as a U.S. air base.

Counterterrorism officials are also investigating a seven-month trip Abdulazeez took to Jordan in 2014 with his family. Officials are examining whether he became radicalized during this trip, but there is currently no evidence to suggest the 24-year-old had any contact with militant groups or individuals.

Abdulazeez, a Kuwaiti-born naturalized U.S. citizen of Jordanian descent, opened fire at a military recruiting center in Chattanooga on Thursday, before driving to a naval-reserve facility where he shot and killed four Marines. Three people were injured including a sailor who died the following Saturday. Abdulazeez was killed in a subsequent gunfight with law-enforcement officers.

On Monday, an official close to the investigation told Reuters that there was evidence that the suspect could have had access to jihadist propaganda online.

[Reuters]

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