TIME Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Says the Chapel Hill Shootings Were a ‘Terrorist’ Act

Namee Barakat, center, watches during funeral services for his son, Deah Shaddy Barakat, Feb. 12, 2015, in Wendell, N.C.
Chuck Liddy—The News/ Observer/AP Namee Barakat, center, watches during funeral services for his son Deah Barakat in Wendell, N.C., on Feb. 12, 2015

Thousands also march in Qatar to show solidarity with victims

Saudi Arabia has condemned the killing of three American Muslims in North Carolina as “heinous” and a “terrorist” act.

A statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency on Sunday also called for an end to incitement against Muslims, the Associated Press reports.

On Sunday, several thousand people took part in a march in neighboring Qatar to show solidarity with the families of the North Carolina victims.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which is made up of 57 Muslim countries, also expressed concern, saying the murders reflected “rising anti-Muslim sentiments and Islamophobic acts” in the U.S.

Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Abu-Salha were killed last Tuesday by their neighbor Craig Hicks. The FBI is now investigating whether their deaths were the result of a hate crime.

[AP]

 

TIME Crime

North Carolina Shooting Suspect Had Threatened Neighbors Before

Hicks was a "self-appointed watchman" of his apartment complex

The man accused of killing three Muslim students in North Carolina this week had threatened his neighbors before, according to a new report.

Craig Stephen Hicks was a “self-appointed watchman” of his Chapel Hill apartment complex, the New York Times reports. Hicks knocked on the door of two of the future victims—Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Deah Shaddy Barakat— last fall to complain about the the amount of noise they made while playing the board game risk Risk, neighbors recalled, and was holding a rife at the time—though he wasn’t pointing it at anyone.

The shooting ignited outrage and suspicion that it was motivated by anti-Muslim bias, though authorities have said preliminary investigation indicates it may have been sparked by an ongoing parking dispute. Hicks has been charged with three counts of first degree murder.

[NYT]

TIME Crime

3 Suspects in Custody for Shooting of NYPD Officers During Robbery Call

The Bronx attack occurred just one day after the funeral for Officer Wenjian Liu, one of two officers gunned down in Brooklyn in December

Three suspects were in custody Tuesday in connection with the shooting of two plainclothes police officers in New York City’s Bronx borough on Monday night, as the city reels from last month’s fatal shootings of two on-duty officers.

The alleged shooter, whose identity has not yet been released publicly, is one of the three men held in custody, CNN reports, citing an unnamed law enforcement official.

The two officers, Andrew Dossi, 30, and Aliro Pellerano, 38, were out of uniform at the time of the shooting Monday night and were among five “anti-crime officers” responding to a call about an armed robbery, NBC New York reported. Dossi is reportedly in critical condition following surgery, while Pellerano is in stable condition.

Mayor Bill de Blasio held a joint news conference with New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton early Tuesday morning, praising the officers for their service to the city.

He called the shootings “another indicator of the dangers our officers face while they’re on duty” and said the city would support them as they recover.

“As always, the city of New York and the NYPD will be with them through this challenge and as these officers recover,” de Blasio said.

The shooting comes as the city and its police force are still reeling from the slayings of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were gunned down in their vehicle in Brooklyn last month. Since that shooting, police union leaders and some officers have accused the Mayor of stoking anti-police sentiment. At the funerals for both Liu and Ramos, officers turned their backs on de Blasio as he spoke.

[CNN]

TIME Crime

Death of 12-Year-Old Shot By Cleveland Police Ruled a Homicide

Tamir Rice was playing with a toy gun when he was shot and killed

An autopsy of the 12-year-old black child shot by Cleveland police last month after they saw him holding a toy pistol has been ruled a homicide, authorities said Friday.

Tamir Rice died of a “gunshot wound of torso with injuries of major vessel, intestines, and pelvis,” according to the autopsy. Rice was shot by police on Nov. 22 after he was witnessed playing with a pellet gun near his home. He died the next day. The police were responding to a 911 call in which the caller said that “a guy” was pointing a pistol at people and scaring them, but the caller noted twice that the gun was “probably fake.” Police are investigating what portion of the 911 call was relayed to the responding officers who shot Rice.

MORE: Body cameras poised to become standard after Ferguson

Rice’s shooting death came amid growing national scrutiny into police use-of-force against unarmed black men who have died in recent months. The deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City sparked nationwide protests this month after grand juries declined to indict the police officers in both cases.

Read Tamir Rice’s full autopsy here:

 

TIME Law

Pet Owners Look to Muzzle Police Who Shoot Dogs

Brittany Preston

Bereaved owners argue that when police shoot dogs it a violates their Fourth Amendment rights

Correction appended, Sept. 26

Lexie, a Labrador mix, was barking in fear when the police arrived at her owner’s suburban Detroit house early in the morning last November. The officers, responding to a call about a dog roaming the area, arrived with dog-catching gear. Yet they didn’t help the one-year-old dog, who had been left outside the house, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court: Instead, they pulled out their guns and shot Lexie eight times.

“The only thing I’m gonna do is shoot it anyway,” the lawsuit quotes an officer saying. “I do not like dogs.”

Such a response, animal advocates say, is not uncommon among law enforcement officers in America who are often ill-equipped to deal with animals in the line of duty. And now bereaved owners like Brittany Preston, Lexie’s owner, are suing cities and police departments, expressing outrage at what they see as an abuse of power by police. Animal activists, meanwhile, are turning to state legislatures to combat the problem, with demands for better police training in dealing with pets.

There are no official tallies of dog killings by police, but media reports suggest there are, at minimum, dozens every year, and possibly many more. When it comes to Preston’s dog, officials from the city of St. Clair Shores and the dog owner agree on little. City police say the dog attacked, prompting officers to open fire in self-defense. But the lawsuit filed by Preston cites police audio recordings to argue that the November 2013 shooting was premeditated, prompted by officers eager to kill a dog. Preston is suing the city for violating her Fourth Amendment right to protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

“We want whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Christopher Olson, Preston’s lawyer. “Before this case I wasn’t a dog shooting lawyer, but I am now.”

St. Clair Shores defended the officers’ actions.

“The animal was only put down after a decision was made that it was in the best interest of the residents,” said city attorney Robert Ihrie, who is defending the city in the lawsuit. “Sometimes police officers are in a position where they need to make very quick decisions for the protection of themselves and others.”

The Fourth Amendment argument gained traction in 2005, when the San Jose chapter of the Hells Angels sued the city and the police department because officers had killed dogs during a gang raid in 1998. A federal appeals judge found that “the Fourth Amendment forbids the killing of a person’s dog… when that destruction is unnecessary,” and the Hells Angels ultimately won $1.8 million in damages. In addition to the St. Clair lawsuit, other lawsuits stemming from police shootings of dogs are being planned or filed in Idaho, California, and Nevada.

At the same time, animal-rights activists are lobbying police departments to implement pet training for all officers. Several states including Illinois and Colorado have enacted measures to reduce dog shootings, and others states are considering legislation. In 2011, the Department of Justice published a report on dog-related police incidents, which included advice on how to handle dogs without killing them.

“It’s much more likely that a cop is going to encounter a dog than a terrorist, yet there’s no training,” said Ledy Van Kavage, an attorney for the advocacy group Best Friends Animal Society. “If you have a fear or hatred of dogs, then you shouldn’t be a police officer, just like if you have a hatred of different social groups.”

Brian Kilcommons, a professional dog-trainer who has trained more than 40,000 dogs and published books on the subject, said some police officers accidentally antagonize dogs right from the start, without even trying. “Police officers go into a situation with full testosterone body language, trying to control the situation,” he said. “That’s exactly what will set a dog off.” Kilcommons is developing an app that could help police officers evaluate the best way to handle a dog, including tips on reading body language and non-lethal strategies for containing them. “A bag of treats goes a long way,” he said.

But Jim Crosby, a retired Lieutenant with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida who now works in dog training, said there are sometimes cases that require police force.

If you’re executing a high-risk, hard-going entry with an armed suspect, the officers don’t have time to play nice and throw cookies at the dog,” said Crosby, who was commenting on police handling of dogs in general and not any specific case. But he emphasized that such situations are few and far between: “Police absolutely have the right to protect themselves against a reasonable and viable threat—but the presence of a dog is not necessarily a reasonable or viable threat.”

Ronald Janota, a retired Lieutenant Colonel with the Illinois State Police who now serves as an expert witness on use of force, acknowledged that officers are often at “heightened awareness” when confronting dogs. “If you’re the first or second through the door, you don’t have time to put a collar on the dog if the dog is literally lunging at you,” he said. “If you’re entering the house legally, you have the right to protect yourself.”

Regardless of the circumstances, a dog’s death at the hands of police can be devastating to owners.

“People are getting married later, if at all, people are having children later, if at all, and pets are filling an emotional niche,” Kilcommons said. “Before, if you had a dog and it got killed, you got another one. Now dogs are in our homes and in our hearts. They’re not replaceable. So when they’re injured or killed, people are retaliating.”

In St. Clair Shores, where Lexie died, the city is fighting the lawsuit but the police department now requires its officers to undergo animal control training.

Van Kavage said that kind of training is crucial, even if just to instill a sense of trust in the police.

“If a cop shoots your pet, do you think you’re ever going to trust a cop again?” she said. “To control a dog, 99% of the time you don’t need a gun. You just need to yell ‘sit!’ ‘stay!’”

Correction: The original version of this story misidentified the person who said, “To control a dog, 99% of the time you don’t need a gun. You just need to yell ‘sit!’ ‘stay!’” It was Ledy Van Kavage.

TIME Crime

FBI Study Confirms Rise in Active Shootings Over the Past Decade

Members of a Federal Bureau of Investigation SWAT team are seen during an FBI field training exercise at the Landmark Mall on May 2, 2014 in Alexandria, Virginia.
Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images Members of an FBI SWAT team are seen during a training exercise in Alexandria, Va., on May 2, 2014

Between 2007 and 2013, about 16.4 active shooter events occurred every year

Mass shootings have increased steadily in the U.S. in recent years, a new study by the FBI found.

The FBI identified 160 “active shootings” in the past seven years, which are defined as incidents in which an individual killed or attempted to kill people in a confined or populated area. The study looked reported shootings between 2000 and 2013. The data, released Wednesday, showed that from 2000 to 2007, there was an average 6.4 active shooter incidents per year. From 2007 to 2013, however, the rate of incidences more than doubled, with an average of 16.4 events annually.

All of the deadliest mass shootings — including the tragedies of Aurora, in Colorado; Virginia Tech; Fort Hood, in Texas; and Sandy Hook, in Connecticut — occurred during that period. About 64 of the events tallied were identified as “mass killings,” given that three or more people died in a single event.

Though the study was not designed to identify motive in the incidences, it did reveal a number of “shooter characteristics.” According to the FBI, the mass shootings were carried out by one person in all but two incidents; the vast majority of school shootings were carried out by students, and only six of all the shooters were women.

The study’s authors noted that the data should be used to help aid law-enforcement agents and the public in responding to such incidents, which have occurred in 40 out of 50 states and D.C. Though proper police response can save more lives, about 60% of the incidents studied were over before officers even arrived on the scene. The shootings in the study resulted in 1,043 people who were killed or wounded.

TIME Crime

Gunman Among Four Dead in Jonesboro, Arkansas Shooting

Arkansas Shooting
Sarah Morris—AP Drug Task Force Detective Josh Talbott, left, and Jonesboro Police Department Patrolman First Class Duane Busby run across a field adjacent to Moore Road while responding to a May 3, 2014 shooting in Jonesboro, Ark.

Authorities say a weekend shooting in Jonesboro left four dead and four others injured after a gunman, later identified as a man newly released from a mental health treatment facility, opened fire at a home and business before later dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound

A mass shooting left four dead and four others injured on Saturday after a gunman opened fire at a home and a business in Jonesboro, Ark., before later dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Police identified 40-year-old Porfirio Hernandez as the shooter, and said he had been recently released from a mental health treatment facility.

Hernandez first killed a 31-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl and injured several others at home where a family gathering or party was taking place, the Associated Press reports. He then moved on to a nearby business, where he shot another 31-year-old man to death.

Authorities say they Hernandez knew his victims, though a motive is unclear. It also wasn’t clear how he had obtained a weapon, as a former mental health patient.

The injured included a 10-year-old boy and a 8-year-old boy, who were in critical condition at a local children’s hospital on Saturday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

Hernandez was found dead in his vehicle later on Saturday, police said.

[AP]

TIME Crime

Kansas City Shooting Suspect to Face Hate Crime Charges

Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, of Aurora, Missouri, is led to a police car after his arrest following shooting incidents which killed three people at two Jewish centers on Sunday in Overland Park, south of Kansas City, Kansas in a still image from video April 13, 2014.
Reuters Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, of Aurora, Missouri, is led to a police car after his arrest following shooting incidents which killed three people at two Jewish centers on Sunday in Overland Park, south of Kansas City, Kansas in a still image from video April 13, 2014.

Local authorities say they have enough evidence to categorize Kansas City-area shooting spree by a known white supremacist as a hate crime

The suspect accused of killing three people in a shooting rampage outside of a Jewish center and a retirement community Sunday will face hate crime charges, authorities said Monday.

“We have unquestionably determined through the work of law enforcement that this was a hate crime,” Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass told the Associated Press.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder issued a statement earlier on Monday saying federal prosecutors would work with their local counterparts “to determine whether the federal hate crimes statute is implicated in this case.”

Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, was arrested Sunday in an elementary school parking lot after he shot two people at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kan. before driving to a nearby retirement community, where he shot a third. Cross reportedly shouted “Heil Hitler!” while in police custody.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, identified Cross as a well-known white supremacist and a former “grand dragon” of a wing of the Ku Klux Klan. Cross is also known to have contributed writings to the Vanguard News Network, an anti-Semitic organization that he supported financially.

All three people Cross killed were Christians, the AP reports.

[AP]

TIME Crime

2 Dead in Virginia Navy Base Shooting

Security officers killed a male civilian suspect after a shooting Monday night aboard the guided-missile destroyer U.S.S. Mahan at Naval Station Norfolk, the world's largest navy base. Officials say the suspect was allowed on the base but aren't sure he was cleared for the ship

The world’s largest navy base was briefly on lockdown Monday night after a sailor was fatally shot and security forces killed a male civilian suspect on board a guided-missile destroyer at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.

According to a base spokeswoman speaking to the AP, the shooting occurred around 11:20 pm on Monday night on board the U.S.S. Mahan, a guided-missile destroyer that had returned to Norfolk in September after an eight-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea, where it had been positioned for a potential strike against Syria.

Navy officials offered few details about the shooting other than that both the sailor killed and the civilian suspect were men. Officials said the suspect was authorized access to the base; however, the spokeswoman said she could not say whether the suspect had permission to be aboard the ship.

The shooting briefly caused a lockdown on the base, which is home to more than 46,000 military members, 21,000 civilians and contractors, and is the home port for 64 ships. By Tuesday morning, operations on the base had returned to normal, and an investigation into the shooting was ongoing.

[AP]

TIME shootings

Sandy Hook Heals With New School Design After Shooting

More than a year after a gunman killed 26 people and months after the old campus was razed, town officials have selected an architectural plan to rebuild the elementary school further into the woods and away from street traffic

The Connecticut town that endured one of the worst school shootings in American history in 2012 has decided on a design for its new elementary school, which will replace the now-demolished site of the mass shooting with a structure built to be serene, safe and cost-effective.

The new building plan in Newtown, Conn., from the architecture firm Svigals + Partners, portrays a building set further back into the woods, away from street traffic, the New York Times reports. The design was nicknamed “Main Street” for its curving façade and main hallway intended to evoke outstretched arms that “reach out and embrace the children as they come in,” firm-founder Barry Svigals said. Corridors extending off the main hallway end in elevated tree-house-like rooms where children can collaborate or take a moment to reflect alone, the Times reports. The design was conceived to ensure views of the surrounding woods and lots of natural light.

When the new building finally welcomes schoolchildren back to class in what planners estimate will be two-and-a-half years, one last relic of the old building, where Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults in December 2012 before taking his own life, will remain: the old Sandy Hook Elementary flag pole.

The cost of the new structure—which one member of the building commission said was the most cost-efficient of the three final proposals considered—will be covered by $50 million in bonds raised by the state.

[NYT]

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