TIME Crime

At Least 22 Injured in Mass Stabbing at Pa. High School

Parents and students embrace near Franklin Regional High School after more than a dozen students were stabbed by a knife wielding suspect at the school in Murrysville, Pa., April 9, 2014.
Parents and students embrace near Franklin Regional High School after more than a dozen students were stabbed by a knife wielding suspect at the school in Murrysville, Pa., April 9, 2014. Sean Stipp—Tribune Review/AP

A 10th-grader suspected in the slashing spree at a high school near Pittsburgh, Pa., on Wednesday has been charged with four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault

Updated at 8:12 a.m. ET

A 10th-grader suspected of committing a stabbing rampage at a Pennsylvania high school on Wednesday has been charged as an adult with four counts of attempted homicide and 21 other counts.

The suspect, identified as 16-year-old sophomore Alex Hribal, injured at least 22 people before being taken into custody, the Associated Press reports. The teenager reportedly had a “blank expression” on his face as he slashed at his victims. He was being held without bail Thursday in a juvenile detention center.

Many of the victims—at least 21 students and a security guard—were critically wounded and hospitalized, though there were conflicting reports about how many. No deaths had been reported by Thursday morning. Several of the victims from the Franklin Regional High School outside Pittsburgh suffered life-threatening injuries, health officials said, but all were expected to survive. Eight patients were transported to nearby Forbes Hospital, including three male students between 15- and 17-years-old who suffered relatively deep single stab wounds with a wide knife. One of the three was in stable condition while the two others the hospital described as “critical but stable.”

“It was penetrating enough to damage multiple organs,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mark Rubino said. Four more male students at the facility suffered superficial injuries and one 60-year-old adult was treated for a non-stabbing medical issue and released.

Police said the suspect used kitchen-style knives between eight and 10 inches long in the attack. A motive for the attack at the school, about 18 miles east of Pittsburgh in Murrysville, was not yet known. Officials said the student brought two knives into the school. Mark Drear, the vice president of a security company with personnel at the school, said on CNN that the suspect “was just running down the hall stabbing kids as they were going by.”

One student described Hribal as introverted, but claimed she was unaware of him exhibiting violent tendencies in the past.

“He didn’t talk to many people,” Mia Meixner, a sophomore, told USA TODAY. “He wasn’t mean or anything, he just wasn’t outgoing.”

Police said the school’s principal tackled the suspect and helped with the arrest, along with security guards on the premises. The stabbing took place in several classrooms and hallways as the school day began.

“I was shocked and saddened upon learning of the events that occurred this morning as students arrived at Franklin Regional High School,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said in a statement. “As a parent and grandparent, I can think of nothing more distressing than senseless violence against children. My heart and prayers go out to all the victims and their families.”

Victims were being treated for stab wounds to their torso, abdomen, chest and back areas. Three medical helicopters and dozens of ambulances were dispatched to the scene, the local CBS affiliate reports. The stabbings occurred in the science wing of the school building at 7:13 a.m., people on the scene said, and lasted for about 15 minutes before the student was apprehended.

Franklin Regional school district canceled all elementary classes.

[AP]

TIME Healthcare

Tiny Share of Doctors Get Big Slice of Medicare Pie

Newly released data that details how Medicare pays doctors for specific procedures shows the top 2% of the highest-paid doctors who accept Medicare accounted for a significant portion of the federal program's costs, likely leading to changes in insurance practices

A single Florida ophthalmologist was paid $21 million by Medicare in 2012, according to federal data released Wednesday that shows a tiny sliver of U.S. doctors who accept Medicare account for an outsize proportion of the insurance program’s costs.

Medicare payments to 880,000 doctors nationwide totaled roughly $77 billion in 2012. But the top 2 percent of highest-paid doctors who accept Medicare accounted for about $15 billion in payments under the system, almost a quarter of the total not including commercial entity payments, according to data analyzed by the New York Times.

The data shows in detail for the first time how Medicare pays doctors for specific procedures. Fraud investigators, health insurance plans and researchers will sort through the new data with a fine-tooth comb in the upcoming weeks, likely leading to lawsuits and changes in insurance practices.

“There’s a lot of potential for whistle-blowers and justified worry for fraudsters,” Steven F. Grover, a lawyer who represents whistle-blowers who sue doctors they claim have committed Medicare fraud, told the Times. “There’s going to be a lot of litigation over this.”

In 2012, 100 doctors received a total of $610 million from Medicare payouts, and about 3,300 ophthalmologists were paid $3.3 billion from Medicare, the Times reports. Medicare paid $12 billion for 214 million office and outpatient visits—most of them outpatient visits between 15 and 25 minutes long. The doctors and nurse practitioners were paid an average of $57 per visit.

Ophthalmology and oncology both accounted for a large chunk of Medicare spending.

The doctor’s group the American Medical Association has withheld Medicare data for decades, but a federal judge ruled last year the information could be made public. This release marks the first time since the 1970s that detailed figures on Medicare reimbursements have been made available.

[NYT]

 

TIME cities

Retired Nurse Saves Driver From Attacking Mob

A pickup driver under attack after running down a 10-year-old was saved by a retired nurse who stepped in and shielded him from the frenzied mob, local police say. Both the child and the driver have been hospitalized

A retired nurse may have saved a man’s life when she courageously stepped in to protect him from an enraged mob, Detroit Free Press reports.

Steve Utash found himself attacked by a crowd of around a dozen enraged bystanders after his truck struck a 10-year-old child in the Motor City’s east side. Retired nurse Deborah Hughes, who saw the accident from her home and rushed to care for the child, shielded the driver from attack.

“She’s a hero for it,” said Sgt. Michael Woody, Detroit police spokesman. “She saved that man’s life.”

Steve Utash is currently receiving treatment in hospital for critical head injuries, while the child has also been admitted, but is expected to make a full recovery. Three individuals have been charged with assault.

[Detroit Free Press]

 

TIME Crime

FBI Called In After Random Cars Shot at In Kansas City

Triangle
Concerned that the apparently random shootings will continue, Kansas City police urged drivers Monday to be vigilant, asked for help from federal agents and announced plans to strategize and share information among investigators daily. A view of the Grandview triangle where many shootings have happened. Rich Sugg—Getty Images

Investigators have been called in to connect the dots between at least 13 cases of vehicles in or around the Missouri city being targeted by an unknown and perhaps motiveless criminal who has injured three people so far

Following a rash of shootings targeting vehicles on the roads and highways in and around Kansas City, municipal officials are hoping the F.B.I. will help connect the dots behind the mysterious melee.

On Monday, Kansas City’s Chief of Police Darryl Forté sat down with representatives from the FBI to discuss the 13 reported cases of vehicles being targeted by unknown gunmen. Although three people have been hurt so far, none of the injuries were life threatening, according to the Associated Press.

“Some of the people didn’t realize they were being shot at, so when the incidents were reported they were taken down as possible property damage,” Capt. Tye Grant told the AP.

The incidents share similarities in location, timing and circumstances, but officials have been unable to retrieve any physical evidence that could connect them.

Forté is set to continue meeting with representatives from the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is offering a $7,000 reward for information leading to arrests.

[AP]

TIME shooting

Shooting at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina Leaves 1 Marine Dead

Authorities say the shooter at the Marine Corps base camp is no longer active

Updated 3:30 a.m. E.T. on Wednesday

A Marine fatally shot a fellow service member at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina Tuesday, the base said in a statement on Tuesday. The shooting occurred at around 5:30 p.m.

The gunman, a Marine standing guard at the base’s main gate, discharged an M4 rifle, killing another sentry, who was stationed inside a nearby guard shack.

Camp Lejeune’s provost marshal said the shooting is not thought to be an act of terrorism and that the shooter is no longer active. The guards’ identities have not yet been released, as the relatives are still being notified.

The incident at the marine base comes just days after a former solider went on a shooting spree at Fort Hood in Texas, killing four people, including himself, and injuring 16 people.

The camp’s spokesperson was quick to snub any comparison between today’s violence and the melee at Fort Hood last week.

“We understand that people are at a state of heightened sensitivity, given what happened over at Fort Hood,” Camp Lejeune spokesman Nat Fahy told the Associated Press and insisted that the camp was never placed under lockdown.

“It’s important that we convey that this is not a Fort Hood-like incident. It was an isolated incident that’s no longer active.”

Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating the incident.

TIME Terrorism

Up in the Sky—It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s the FBI

Members of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team practice their parachuting skills. FBI

About an hour outside its headquarters in Quantico, Va., the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team offers “advanced skydiving techniques and training" so that agents can drop in undetected. (Or just maybe so they can reenact scenes from Point Break)

You never know how and where the bad guys are going to strike next. That explains the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team’s need for “advanced skydiving techniques and training”—so the good guys can also strike in unexpected ways, like from above.

While the HRT doesn’t disclose much about its business, it made clear Tuesday that its special needs require it to train with a Virginia parachuting outfit because no other firm can meet its unusual requirements.

FBI Special Agent Ann Todd declined to discuss the contract. “Due to to the sensitive nature of HRT’s work, we don’t release information involving specific tactical training or capabilities,” she said.

But it’s a nifty option to have when it comes to trying to rescue hostages. Under cover of darkness, for example, highly-trained HRT members could silently swoop in and surround an isolated location without betraying their arrival with the noise that accompanies helicopters.

Skydive Orange is the only available tactical drop zone within a one-hour driving distance from where the HRT is stationed,” the FBI says, referring to the team’s home base at Quantico, Va., about 35 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. “The facility has aircraft and crew on standby 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

Plus, training locally saves money. “The amount of equipment to support the training is in excess of 2000 lbs. and is driven to the site via agency vans,” the FBI says. “The use of other drop zones would require substantial and additional costs including airfare, shipping, lodging, meals, rental vehicles, and related.” The FBI blacked out the value of the contract.

The 31-year old HRT, created to help protect the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, is “federal law enforcement’s only full-time counterterrorism unit,” according to the FBI. The government decided it needed such a unit following the kidnapping and killing of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympics in 1972. It’s ready to deploy anywhere in the nation on four hours’ notice.

“The operational tempo for HRT has been high in the years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01,” says the FBI, which says it has deployed elements of the team 800 times since 1983, both at home and overseas. “For the first time, the FBI is seeking candidates with special tactical qualifications, to become Special Agents, and to serve as HRT Operators.”

The HRT consists of individual “tactical units,” made up of team members specializing as assaulters or sniper/observers, and backed up by transportation, logistics, intelligence, communications, and command personnel.

Since its founding, only about 300 FBI agents have made it through the eight months of training required before joining the HRT. “They are trained to be superior marksmen, proficient in a variety of breaching techniques—including explosives—and experts in close-quarter tactics,” the bureau says. “Each operator’s skill and training ensures that the HRT can launch assaults with speed, precision, and, if necessary, deadly force.”

 

 

TIME Crime

Stiletto Killing Case Ends With Murder Conviction

Prosecutor John Jordan sets down a stiletto shoe entered into evidence during the trial against Ana Lilia Trujillo Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in Houston.
Prosecutor John Jordan sets down a stiletto shoe entered into evidence during the trial against Ana Lilia Trujillo Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in Houston. Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle / AP

Ana Trujillo of Texas faces life in prison after a Texas jury found her guilty of murdering her boyfriend by stabbing him in the face 25 times with a 5.5-inch stiletto heal during an argument after a night of drinking

A jury found a Houston woman charged with stabbing and killing her boyfriend with a 5 ½-inch stiletto heel guilty of murder on Tuesday.

Ana Trujillo, 45, faces up to life in prison for killing Alf Stefan Andersson at his home in June, the Associated Press reports. Andersson, 59, was a professor and researcher at the University of Houston at the time of his death.

Prosecutors said Trujillo hit her then-boyfriend 25 times in the face during an argument that occurred after a night of drinking. Trujillo’s attorney Jack Carroll argued that Trujillo was defending herself, but the prosecution pointed out she had a history of violence and had no injuries herself. James Wells, a former romantic partner of Trujillo’s, testified during the trial that the Mexican native had previously attacked and threatened him unprovoked.

[AP]

TIME 2016 Election

Republican Presidential Hopefuls See Possible Upside in 2014 Failure

NJ Gov Christie Holds News Conference At Statehouse
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is among a host of Republicans whose 2016 hopes could get a boost if their party falls short of taking back the Senate this year Jessica Kourkounis—Getty Images

While most Republicans see 2014 as a chance to win the Senate, some of the party's White House contenders-to-be are worried that a fully Republican-dominated Congress would dim their chances of winning the keys to the Oval Office in 2016

Republicans are increasingly looking at 2014 as a golden opportunity for the party to retake the Senate. Donors are pouring tens of millions of dollars into races across the country, the Republican National Committee is doubling down on investments in campaign technology, and outside groups are investing heavily in an all-out bid to regain the majority for the first time since 2007.

But there’s a dirty little secret: not every Republican is rooting for the party to succeed.

Behind closed doors and in private conversations with reporters and donors, Republicans eyeing the White House in 2016 are privately signaling they wouldn’t mind seeing the party fall short in this year’s midterm elections. For all the benefits of a strong showing in 2014 after resounding defeat in 2012, senior political advisers to some of the top Republican presidential aspirants believe winning the Senate might be the worst thing that could happen.

The opinion is most strongly held by Republican governors, who are hoping to rise above the Washington political fray. Already the central theme adopted by governors like Chris Christie of New Jersey, Rick Perry of Texas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Scott Walker of Wisconsin is their ability to cut through partisan gridlock to lead their states. A dysfunctional Washington hamstrung by ideological division accentuates their core argument.

“They’re going to run against Washington,” says Ray Scheppach, the former longtime executive director of the National Governors Association. “Their argument is, ‘Nothing happens in Washington, people don’t do anything there. But I’ve created jobs, I’ve balanced budgets for X number of years, I’ve worked across the aisle bringing people together.’ They’re better off painting that picture with a divided Congress.”

But even for Senators like Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida, winning the majority brings the expectation of performance in a climate where President Barack Obama’s veto pen will certainly get a workout, not to mention the fact that they lack the seniority to guide legislation through committees.

For candidates from either category, a GOP-controlled Senate and House would mean having to answer for their party’s legislative agenda in both a primary and a general election. Whether it be new fiscal deals struck with Obama or continued votes to repeal Obamacare, aides to potential candidates fear that congressional action may put a damper on their boss’s future campaigns by forcing them to either embrace or break with specific legislative proposals as opposed to general policy ideals.

“It’s a lot easier to explain your principles to the American people than it is to explain your position on a piece of legislation that will always have some flaws,” said one 2016 hopeful’s top political aide. “And let’s not forget that Congress’s approval rating is at 9%. I think all of those looking at 2016 would rather the two parties share the blame than Republicans alone.”

The White House aspirants are careful to avoid sharing their views publicly, wary of insulting a party energized by a tantalizingly close chance at the majority thanks to the still sluggish economy and the initially botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act. But by and large, their priorities are apparent in how and for whom they fundraise. Republican governors uniformly talk up their colleagues but avoid mention of the Senate. Senators eyeing the White House have focused on building their own war chests and political organizations.

Several Republican governors are up for re-election this year, and Christie and Jindal are the chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the Republican Governors Association. But Christie drew the ire of many Republicans last year when he called a special election to fill the seat of Senator Frank Lautenberg, who died in office, just two weeks before his own re-election. The move kept popular Democrat and now Senator Cory Booker off the ballot when Christie was seeking to run up the score at the polls, but it also made it virtually impossible for his own party to contest the seat. Even more Republicans blame Cruz’s shutdown strategy with making their case more difficult this fall, even as it boosted his position among the Tea Party grassroots.

The GOP establishment, though, is worried about anyone in the party taking their eye off the ball. The 2016 map is as unfavorable to the GOP as it is favorable in 2014, with a presidential-year turnout raising the likelihood that even if Republicans manage to take the Senate this year, they will lose it two years later.

Former Mitt Romney adviser Kevin Madden said it would be misguided for potential candidates to ignore the opportunity in 2014 in order to boost their own fortunes, but he acknowledged there may well be some awkwardness.

“After the midterms, we could very well be at a point where the candidate that forces a moment of reckoning within our party eventually becomes its 2016 nominee,” Madden tells TIME. “That may require a showdown between the nominee and their party in the Senate, but it could eventually help both the party and the country.”

TIME Immigration

Barack Obama’s Aunt Has Died

Zeituni Onyango
President Obama's aunt, Zeituni Onyango Josh Reynolds—AP

Zeituni Onyango, the stepsister of the president's father, was born in Kenya and granted asylum in 2010 after years of fighting deportation. She was 61

President Barack Obama’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, who fought deportation and was granted asylum in the United States, died Monday.

Onyango, 61, died Monday at a rehab hospital after being treated for cancer and respiratory illness, her immigration lawyer said. She was born in Kenya and granted asylum in the United States in 2010.

Her first asylum request, however, was denied in 2002 and she was ordered to leave the country in 2004, but she continued to live in Boston public housing, reports WCVB Boston. Her situation was made public days before Obama was elected in November 2008.

Obama said at the time he did not know his aunt was living illegally in the country.

Onyango was the stepsister of the president’s father, Barack Obama Sr.

[WCVB]

TIME Environment

SeaWorld Will Keep Its Orcas for at Least Another Year

Baby Killer Whale Born At SeaWorld San Diego
A newborn baby killer whale swims with its mother on Dec. 21, 2004, at Shamu Stadium in SeaWorld San Diego Getty Images

Lawmakers disappointed animal-rights activists by tabling the so-called Blackfish bill for further study at a committee hearing in Sacramento. The study likely won't conclude for another 12 months

SeaWorld’s San Diego location will get to keep its 10 killer whales for the time being.

At a committee hearing in Sacramento on Tuesday, lawmakers heard impassioned arguments for and against a bill that would force SeaWorld San Diego to stop using orcas in its shows, but the issue never came to a vote. Instead, the committee recommended that the bill go through a detailed study that likely won’t conclude for another year.

The bill, introduced by Los Angeles–area state-assembly member Richard Bloom, would make it unlawful to hold any wild orca in captivity for entertainment or performance purposes, as well as breed orcas in captivity. All orcas held in captivity before the bill was passed would be returned to the wild if possible and to “sea pens” if not.

Hundreds of people flooded the hearing room in support of the bill, having arrived from all over California. Some were associated with groups like the Humane Society or local unions, while others were simply individuals who opposed keeping large mammals in captivity. “We are the voice for the voiceless,” one supporter said, a phrase that was repeated or paraphrased by many at the hearing. “You have the power to free these animals,” another said to the committee members. “Please do so.”

Representatives from SeaWorld and opponents of the bill argued that the money generated from millions of visitors to the parks helps support the much larger population of orcas in the wild and generates interest in marine life, providing close encounters between people and whales that would be unlikely otherwise.

Bloom introduced the bill after seeing the controversial film Blackfish, a 2013 documentary about the consequences of keeping killer whales in captivity, which has led to death in some cases. The team from SeaWorld has fought back against the perspective of the film and at the hearing called it “dominated by falsehoods.” The parks have 29 orcas throughout the world.

The decision to study the bill further was not the desired result for animal-rights activists, but some saw it as only a temporary setback. “The writing is on the sea wall,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement. “The public has learned how orcas suffer psychologically, succumb to premature deaths, and lash out in frustration and aggression in SeaWorld’s orca pits, and they’ve responded with lower attendance levels, public protests, and legislation. SeaWorld can take the year to figure out how to release the orcas into ocean sanctuaries.”

Bloom’s office would have preferred a favorable vote that would keep the bill moving through the California legislature and toward Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, but his chief of staff, Sean MacNeil, says the study period will also allow for more public hearings and discussion about the issue. “The study, in many ways, can serve as an opportunity,” he said.

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