Archive for September, 2018


 

 

 

 

 

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A Maryland father will not be charged for protecting his daughter from what he thought was a home invasion when he shot two police officers who mistakenly entered his District Heights apartment while serving a drug related search warrant.  Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski said the department will do a review of all search warrants that are pending and issued a moratorium on search warrants for at least 24 to 48 hours to make sure a similar incident doesn’t happen again.

The officers and their nine-member special operations team went to the complex in the 2700 block of Lorring Drive to serve a warrant about 10:30 p.m. on September 19.  A confidential informant told police a drug dealer lived there, but the resident was actually a father who didn’t know officers were trying to get in his home.  Police believe he had fallen asleep while watching television.

The team knocked on the door of the top-level unit and announced they were there but there was no response.  Despite the silence, the team had a feeling someone might be inside the apartment, so they used a device to open the door.  Inside the apartment, they found the father armed with a shotgun. Police say the man fired a single shot as the door opened, striking two officers.  As soon as the door opened enough, he realized that the intruders were police officers. According to police, he immediately dropped his weapon and told police “You’ve got the wrong address. Don’t shoot my daughter,” whom he had told to go to the back of the apartment.

Another officer returned fire, but no one was hit.  The injured officers were flown to a shock trauma center in Baltimore.  One officer has been treated and released, the other required surgery on his arm.  Police say the man was shaken and highly concerned about the injured officers immediately after the shooting.  During a press conference Police Chief Stawinski said the father was taken into custody and questioned, along with his daughter.  “This man was devastated when he realized that he had fired upon police officers,” he told reporters. “He was as worried about their safety once he realized that had happened as he was worried about the safety of his own daughter.”

I am convinced that he did not intentionally fire that weapon at police officers because they were police officers,” the police chief said. “I believe he fired that weapon because he felt he was defending himself and his daughter.  The investigation corroborates his account that he did not know that there were police officers trying to enter his residence. I believe that and I know that to be true,” Stawinski said.  “I am not satisfied that we had done enough to corroborate the information we had in the obtaining of that search warrant,” he added.

As a result, the department will impose a moratorium on serving warrants until they’re certain each has been thoroughly vetted.  Stawinski wouldn’t rule out disciplinary action or structural changes in the department.  “I’m not going to put another father like myself in that position,” Stawinski said. “I refuse to.”

 

 

 

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A Texas Supervisory Border Patrol agent has been arrested for murder after authorities say he confessed to killing four women.  Agent Juan David Ortiz is being held on $2.5 million bond, accused in the killing of at least four women and of injuring a fifth who managed to escape. Ortiz, 35, has worked as a Border Patrol agent for 10 years and is a U.S. Navy veteran.

Investigators have called the case a two week string of violence with the Customs and Border Patrol intel supervisor continuing to go to work as usual throughout that time.  Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said Saturday that investigators “consider this to be a serial killer” whose victims were believed to be prostitutes.  Ortiz is being held in Laredo on four counts of murder along with charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful restraint.

On Sept. 4th of the body of 29-year-old Melissa Ramirez, a mother of two, was found on a rural road.  Ramirez had been shot in the head.  Days later, 42-year-old Claudine Anne Luera, a mother of five, was found shot and left in the road.  Badly injured but still alive, Luera was rushed to the hospital but died later that day.

On September 14th, at around 9 p.m. Ortiz picked up a woman named Erika Pena. She told police she struggled with Ortiz inside his truck after he pointed a gun at her but that she was able to flee.  She ran to a gas station where she found a state trooper and asked for help.  Police were on the lookout for Ortiz when officers approached him after he stopped for gas around 1 a.m.  He left his gun in his truck and fled on foot. He was captured at 2:30 a.m., when police found him hiding in a hotel parking garage, where he unsuccessfully attempted to draw the gunfire of the arresting officers.

According to the affidavit, Ortiz told investigators that after Pena ran off, Ortiz returned home to load several firearms in anticipation of a confrontation with police.  He then picked up a woman in Laredo, drove her outside of town and shot her in a remote area of the county.  He returned to Laredo, picked up another victim and repeated the process.  The identities of his last two victims have not yet been released by authorities.

Police said the dead are believed to have been prostitutes and that one of them was a transgender woman. At least two were U.S. citizens; the nationalities of the others were not known.  Police say Ortiz has a a “dislike” of the sex-worker community and appears to have targeted his victims deliberately after gaining their trust.  He shot all four execution-style in the head after forcing them out of his truck in rural parts of Webb County, outside the city limits of Laredo.  Investigators believe Ortiz acted alone and are still working to determine a motive.

 

 

 

 

 

A Texas Supervisory Border Patrol agent has been arrested for murder after authorities say he confessed to killing four women.  Agent Juan David Ortiz is being held on $2.5 million bond, accused in the killing of at least four women and of injuring a fifth who managed to escape. Ortiz, 35, has worked as a Border Patrol agent for 10 years and is a U.S. Navy veteran.

Investigators have called the case a two week string of violence with the Customs and Border Patrol intel supervisor continuing to go to work as usual throughout that time.  Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said Saturday that investigators “consider this to be a serial killer” whose victims were believed to be prostitutes.  Ortiz is being held in Laredo on four counts of murder along with charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful restraint.

On Sept. 4th of the body of 29-year-old Melissa Ramirez, a mother of two, was found on a rural road.  Ramirez had been shot in the head.  Days later, 42-year-old Claudine Anne Luera, a mother of five, was found shot and left in the road.  Badly injured but still alive, Luera was rushed to the hospital but died later that day.

On September 14th, at around 9 p.m. Ortiz picked up a woman named Erika Pena. She told police she struggled with Ortiz inside his truck after he pointed a gun at her but that she was able to flee.  She ran to a gas station where she found a state trooper and asked for help.  Police were on the lookout for Ortiz when officers approached him after he stopped for gas around 1 a.m.  He left his gun in his truck and fled on foot. He was captured at 2:30 a.m., when police found him hiding in a hotel parking garage, where he unsuccessfully attempted to draw the gunfire of the arresting officers.

According to the affidavit, Ortiz told investigators that after Pena ran off, Ortiz returned home to load several firearms in anticipation of a confrontation with police.  He then picked up a woman in Laredo, drove her outside of town and shot her in a remote area of the county.  He returned to Laredo, picked up another victim and repeated the process.  The identities of his last two victims have not yet been released by authorities.

Police said the dead are believed to have been prostitutes and that one of them was a transgender woman. At least two were U.S. citizens; the nationalities of the others were not known.  Police say Ortiz has a a “dislike” of the sex-worker community and appears to have targeted his victims deliberately after gaining their trust.  He shot all four execution-style in the head after forcing them out of his truck in rural parts of Webb County, outside the city limits of Laredo.  Investigators believe Ortiz acted alone and are still working to determine a motive.

 

Let us know what you think of this story in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Enfield, CT Police have made a second arrest in connection with the death of 16-year-old Justin Brady, who was fatally stabbed during a fight with another teen outside an Enfield home late Sunday evening.  Police have charged 20-year-old Michael Joseph Cerrato, who lives at the home where Brady was killed, with hindering prosecution in connection with the murder.  On September 11th, an 18-year-old Hartford teen identified as Shyheim “Trey” Adams was charged with manslaughter in the first degree and is being held on $1 million bail.  The most profound question is why no one called 911 sooner.

Shortly after midnight on September 10th, Enfield Police responded to calls of several teens standing around someone laying on the ground.  In one call, a neighbor tells the dispatcher that some of the teens kept going in and out of the house next door.  Officers found Brady bleeding from multiple stab wounds, clinging to life in a front yard near 15 Hoover Lane.  Brady, who was a junior at Enfield High School, where he played football and basketball, was rushed to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Michael Cerrato’s father, the Enfield Assistant Town Attorney, Mark Cerrato, who lives at 15 Hoover Lane where the killing took place, was placed on indefinite paid leave pending the investigation.  Mark Cerrato told police he went to bed around 11pm just after telling his son, his son’s girlfriend and a friend he knows as “Trey” to keep the noise down as they were playing video games.  In his first interview, Cerrato told police he was awakened shortly after by a knock at the door and a “tall kid was at the door holding 2 phones in his hand saying that his friend needed a doctor and asked Mark if he could bring him.”   Cerrato told police he tried to use one of the phones but couldn’t dial because it was locked.  In his second interview he told police that he was awakened when he heard the garage door open and saw his son taking his Toyota Rav4.  Police searched the home and removed blood stained clothing found in the basement and a knife that was hidden under a mattress in a bedroom.

Police said Brady and Adams had been arguing on social media throughout the day and eventually met outside the Hoover Lane residence to fight.  In initial interviews, Michael Cerrato claimed he didn’t see anything and left the house around 11pm.  He later admitted that Trey and Brady had been arguing over the phone and thru Snapchat.  Trey left the room to take a call and returned saying Brady was on his way over to fight.  Cerrato stated that he didn’t believe Trey because he lies a lot and that Justin Brady had previously called him out on it.  Cerrato said Brady arrived 15 minutes later and they went outside.  Brady and Trey were in the street yelling at each other when Brady hit Trey in the chest.  They were wrestling and ended up on the ground.  Cerrato says that he heard Brady yell “he’s cutting me” and witnessed his friend stabbing Brady fast from about 10 feet away.  Trey took a step back and Justin looked down and was covered in blood, yelling to call 911.  Trey ran inside the house and Cerrato followed and saw him washing his hands.  Cerrato, who never called 911, says the knife came from inside his home but he did not know Trey had it until the stabbing occurred.  Cerrato and his girlfriend left in his father’s SUV and dropped Trey off in Hartford.

Another witness says that after the fight he went into the house through the garage and witnessed Trey and Mike in a room, Trey was changing his pants and Mike kept saying “we gotta get out of here”.  The witness went back outside to check on Justin and that Tre, Mike and his girlfriend came out saying to get Justin out of there.  After they left the witness started banging on the front door of the home for help after he saw Mike’s father close the garage door.  He says Mike’s father came to the door and when he asked for help, Cerrato’s father told him “I don’t know what to tell you.”  He says Cerrato’s father started to call 911 but stopped halfway thru.  Thirty minutes had elapsed between the time the trio left the scene and officers arrived and found Brady.

What are your thoughts on this tragic story?  Let us know in the comments.

 

 

 

 

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Many are outraged after a Dallas police officer has only been charged with manslaughter after shooting and killing 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean in his own apartment.  Police Officer Amber Guyger, who was off-duty at the time of the shooting, says she thought she was in her own apartment and fired after thinking she was confronting an intruder in the dark apartment.  She turned herself in and was released on $300,000 bond.  Investigators have taken a blood sample from the officer to test for drugs and alcohol but the results have not been released.

As more details of what happened that night are released, the incident seems more and more confusing, adding to the mystery of the case.  According to Guyger’s account, she arrived home around 10pm after working a 15-hour shift to the South Side Flats apartments on September 6th.  She didn’t realize she had parked her car on the wrong level of the parking garage and entered the wrong floor of her building.  Guyger lives on the fourth floor while Jean lived on the third floor.  Once she entered what she thought was her own apartment, she says she saw a “large silhouette” in the dark apartment and she thought she had walked in on a burglary.  She fired, hitting Jean in the chest, ultimately killing him and only realized that the apartment was not hers when she turned on the lights in the apartment.  She then called 911 and checked the apartment number outside the door as she explained what occurred to the dispatcher.

Details of a September 9 arrest affidavit filed after Guyger turned herself in only add to the confusion.  The affidavit, which was written after an interview with Guyger, states that Jean was actually shot farther into his apartment.  In that account, after Guyger returned home and entered the wrong floor of the building, she attempted to use an electronic key to open the apartment front door. However, the door was slightly ajar and the force of using her key pushed the door open, despite the fact that her key did not open the lock.  Guyger then entered the apartment and after seeing a “large silhouette” issued verbal commands and then fired twice.

Attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing the family, said they are skeptical that Jean would have left the door to his apartment ajar, saying the PricewaterhouseCoopers worker was a “meticulous” person who would have made sure his door was locked for his own safety.  Merritt also said that two sisters who live in the building had come forward giving details that contradict the affidavit.  The sisters claim that before the shooting, they heard knocking followed by a woman’s voice saying, “Let me in. Let me in.” Then they heard gunshots, followed by a man’s voice saying, “Oh my God, why did you do that?”  One of the women also took a video after the shooting, which shows what appears to be Guyger pacing outside the apartment as emergency responders arrive.

The case is still under investigation by the Texas Rangers and separately by the district attorney’s office– and will be presented to a grand jury.  A grand jury will decide whether to indict Guyger on a different charge than manslaughter or not to indict her at all.  Jean’s family and community members have raised a number of concerns about the pace of the investigation and how it is being handled.  They argue that Guyger is receiving deferential treatment that a civilian suspect would not receive, noting that she was charged with manslaughter rather than murder and that the charge did not come until three days after the shooting.

 

Do you think this officer received special treatment?  Let us know in the comments section.

 

 

 

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Many are outraged after a Dallas police officer has only been charged with manslaughter after shooting and killing 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean in his own apartment.  Police Officer Amber Guyger, who was off-duty at the time of the shooting, says she thought she was in her own apartment and fired after thinking she was confronting an intruder in the dark apartment.  She turned herself in and was released on $300,000 bond.  Investigators have taken a blood sample from the officer to test for drugs and alcohol but the results have not been released.

As more details of what happened that night are released, the incident seems more and more confusing, adding to the mystery of the case.  According to Guyger’s account, she arrived home around 10pm after working a 15-hour shift to the South Side Flats apartments on September 6th.  She didn’t realize she had parked her car on the wrong level of the parking garage and entered the wrong floor of her building.  Guyger lives on the fourth floor while Jean lived on the third floor.  Once she entered what she thought was her own apartment, she says she saw a “large silhouette” in the dark apartment and she thought she had walked in on a burglary.  She fired, hitting Jean in the chest, ultimately killing him and only realized that the apartment was not hers when she turned on the lights in the apartment.  She then called 911 and checked the apartment number outside the door as she explained what occurred to the dispatcher.

Details of a September 9 arrest affidavit filed after Guyger turned herself in only add to the confusion.  The affidavit, which was written after an interview with Guyger, states that Jean was actually shot farther into his apartment.  In that account, after Guyger returned home and entered the wrong floor of the building, she attempted to use an electronic key to open the apartment front door. However, the door was slightly ajar and the force of using her key pushed the door open, despite the fact that her key did not open the lock.  Guyger then entered the apartment and after seeing a “large silhouette” issued verbal commands and then fired twice.

Attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing the family, said they are skeptical that Jean would have left the door to his apartment ajar, saying the PricewaterhouseCoopers worker was a “meticulous” person who would have made sure his door was locked for his own safety.  Merritt also said that two sisters who live in the building had come forward giving details that contradict the affidavit.  The sisters claim that before the shooting, they heard knocking followed by a woman’s voice saying, “Let me in. Let me in.” Then they heard gunshots, followed by a man’s voice saying, “Oh my God, why did you do that?”  One of the women also took a video after the shooting, which shows what appears to be Guyger pacing outside the apartment as emergency responders arrive.

The case is still under investigation by the Texas Rangers and separately by the district attorney’s office– and will be presented to a grand jury.  A grand jury will decide whether to indict Guyger on a different charge than manslaughter or not to indict her at all.  Jean’s family and community members have raised a number of concerns about the pace of the investigation and how it is being handled.  They argue that Guyger is receiving deferential treatment that a civilian suspect would not receive, noting that she was charged with manslaughter rather than murder and that the charge did not come until three days after the shooting.

We want to hear from you!  Do you think this officer received special treatment in the handling of this case? Let us know what you think in the comments.

 

 

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On September 13, dozens of explosions erupted in three towns in northern Massachusetts.  As many as 70 fires, explosions and suspected gas leaks were reported to state police.  At least 39 homes were affected in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. An 18 year old man was killed when a chimney collapsed on his car and at least 25 more people were reportedly treated for injuries.  The fiery explosions forced residents of the three towns north of Boston to flee for their lives as the rapid-fire explosions took place.

Officer Ivan Soto of the Lawrence Police Department, whose own home went up in flames, tried to save Leonel Rondon, 18, who was killed after a chimney toppled by an exploding house crashed into his car. “We jumped on the car, and we were trying to pull the chimney,” Soto said. “We just want to get it off of him, you know. We wanted to save him.”  Rondon was rushed to a Boston hospital but pronounced dead that evening.

Soon after the first fires, Lawrence City Councilor Marc Laplante was warning residents in the Colonial Heights neighborhood to evacuate but said traffic had become a problem.  “People need to get out of this area safely,” he said at the time. “It’s really difficult because the traffic right now is horrendous.”  Entire neighborhoods in the three towns were evacuated as crews scrambled to fight the flames and shut off the gas.  Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield told reporters “It looked like Armageddon, it really did.  There were billows of smoke coming from Lawrence behind me. I could see pillars of smoke in front of me from the town of Andover.”  Aerial footage of the area showed some homes that appeared to be torn apart by blasts and engulfed in flames.  Authorities believe up to 80 houses were damaged or destroyed.

Lawrence resident Ra Nam says he was in his yard when the smoke detector in his basement went off around 4:30 p.m.  When he ran downstairs and saw the boiler on fire, he grabbed a fire extinguisher and put it out.  Minutes later, Nam said he heard a loud boom from his neighbor’s house and the ground shook.  Nam said a woman and two kids had made it out of the house but the basement was on fire.  The three communities have more than 146,000 residents about 26 miles north of Boston, near the New Hampshire border. Lawrence, the largest of them has a population of about 80,000.

Officials say the cause of the explosions is still under investigation but that it could have been caused by an over-pressured gas line. Columbia Gas was upgrading the gas lines in the three towns when the dozens of homes suddenly went up in flames.  Governor Charlie Baker has said it may be days or weeks before the 8,600 people displaced could return to their homes.  He added that state and local authorities are investigating and checking each house serviced by Columbia Gas company, to shut off the gas line and make sure the home is safe.  “This is still very much an active scene,” he said. “There will be plenty of time later tonight, tomorrow morning and into the next day to do some of the work around determining exactly what happened and why.”

In a statement, Columbia Gas said a total of 8,600 customers will be without service until safety teams can ensure that their homes and businesses are leak-free.  Around 18,000 customers of National Grid electric company are also without power, after the lines were shut off to prevent any sparks that could ignite stray gas.  By late Thursday, all of the fires had been doused but many areas remained silent and dark after residents fled and power companies cut electricity.  Schools in all three communities were canceled for Friday and some schools were being used as shelters for residents.

 

 

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Jury selection is underway in the murder trial of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who’s charged in the killing of 17-year-old in October 2014. The killing was captured on a police dash cam video released under court order, which contradicted police claims about the shooting. The video shows the teenager posing no threat and walking away from the officers before Van Dyke opened fire 16 times.

On October 20, 2014, just before 10pm, police responded to reports of someone breaking into vehicles in a trucking yard at 41st and Kildare Avenue.  Initial reports said McDonald had been behaving erratically while walking down the street while holding a folding knife with a three-inch blade. When officers confronted McDonald, he used a knife with a 3-inch blade to slice the tire on a patrol vehicle and damage its windshield.  McDonald walked away from police after numerous verbal instructions from officers to drop the knife, at which point responding officers requested Taser backup.

Video of the shooting shows that Officer Van Dyke was advancing on McDonald, while McDonald was walking away from him when the first shot was fired. The first shot hit McDonald, who spun and fell to the ground.  As McDonald lay on the ground, still holding the knife, Van Dyke fired more shots into him from about 10 feet away, expending the maximum capacity of his 9mm semi-automatic firearm. Van Dyke was on scene for less than 30 seconds before opening fire and the first shot he fired was 6 seconds after he exited his patrol car.  McDonald was shot 16 times in 14–15 seconds and 9 of those shots hit his back as he lay on the ground.  Toxicology reports later revealed that McDonald had PCP in his blood and urine.

The first responding officer said that he did not see the need to use force and none of the at least eight other officers on the scene fired their weapons.  Even though McDonald’s death was ruled a homicide due to multiple gunshot wounds, initial police statements of the incident prompted police supervisors to rule the case a justifiable homicide and within the bounds of the department’s use of force guidelines.  The reports did not say how many times McDonald was shot and said McDonald was acting “crazed” and lunged at officers after refusing to drop his knife.  After the shooting a police union representative told reporters that Van Dyke had acted in self-defense after McDonald lunged at him and his partner.

On November 24, 2015, shortly after dashcam video of the incident was released to the public, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced that Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder and he turned himself in to authorities.  He was initially held without bail at Cook County Jail for six days.  On November 30, he was granted bail, set at $1,500,000. He posted $150,000—ten percent of the bail—and was released from jail.  On December 16, Van Dyke was indicted by a grand jury on six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct.  On December 29, 2015, Van Dyke pled not guilty to the charges.  If convicted of first-degree murder, Van Dyke faces a prison sentence of 20 years to life.

On June 27, 2017, three Chicago police officers were indicted for charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and official misconduct for allegedly attempting to cover up the events surrounding the shooting.

 

 

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In Cincinnati, a gunman opened fire at a downtown bank, killing three people and injuring two others before he was shot and killed by police. Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said the gunman, who they believe acted alone, fired more than a dozen shots from a legally purchased 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol.  Authorities have identified the gunman as Omar Perez, though a motive for the shooting is still under investigation.  The gun used in the shooting was recovered at the scene along with multiple magazines and around 200 rounds of ammunition.

Police say Perez, 29, of Northbend, Ohio, has no known connection to the bank and it is unclear how he got to Fountain Square but that he entered multiple businesses before going to the bank. He opened fire in the building’s loading dock before continuing into the lobby area and firing more shots.  Officers responded to a 911 call around 9:10 a.m. local time about an “active shooter” at the bank.  Multiple officers then “engaged” the suspect, who was fatally shot multiple times.

Five people were shot, some multiple times, including three who died from their injuries.  One person died at the scene and two victims died at the hospital.  Those killed in the shooting were a grandfather, a father and a son.  Richard Newcomer, 64, a father of 3 and grandfather of 8, who was supervising a construction project on the building’s third floor was shot as he entered the building.  Luis Calderón, 48, a father to a 13 year old and 16 year old, was also killed as he arrived to work.  He had moved to Cincinnati last year to work for the bank and provide a better life for his children.  The third victim was identified as Prudhvi Raj Kandepi, 25, a programmer and consultant for Fifth Third who was described by family as someone who would give everything he could to friends and family.

Police have released security footage of the gunman “firing shots at anyone he sees” while inside the lobby of the building.  The security footage shows Omar Enrique Santa Perez walking in the lobby with his gun held up and carrying a briefcase containing hundreds of rounds of ammunition over his shoulder. A security officer was seen helping people get to a safe location as the gunman was randomly firing shots at anyone he sees. Perez then turns toward the windows and fires shots at approaching officers.   The body camera footage shows officers approaching the gunman and shooting through the glass of the lobby.  The officers on the scene engaged the shooter within three and a half minutes of the first 911 call and fired 11 shots, taking out the gunman.  Police later found that Perez’s gun had jammed during the four-minute rampage.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley praised the officers for ending the shooting quickly.  “You could see in the video … the guy is shooting at the cops, you can see them not being afraid and engaging and ending it.”  “If he had gotten on the elevator, gone up to a floor, if he had been there earlier or a little bit longer, many more people would have been killed.”

Fifth Third Bank is headquartered in Cincinnati but has locations across 10 states.  The company released a statement via Twitter.  “Earlier today, an active shooter entered our headquarters building in downtown Cincinnati. The situation is contained and the shooter is no longer a threat. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone caught up in this terrible event. We continue to work with law enforcement as we ensure the safety of our employees and customers. We are grateful for the support and concerns from our neighbors throughout Cincinnati and the country.”

 

 

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The father of murdered Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts is demanding politicians and white supremacists stop using his daughter’s death to promote hate against immigrants.  In an article for The Des Moines Register, Rob Tibbetts wrote, “Do not appropriate Mollie’s soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist. The act grievously extends the crime that stole Mollie from our family.  The person who is accused of taking Mollie’s life is no more a reflection of the Hispanic community as white supremacists are of all white people.  To suggest otherwise is a lie.  Sadly, others have ignored our request, they have instead chosen to callously distort and corrupt Mollie’s tragic death to advance a cause she vehemently opposed.”

Tibbetts doesn’t want to see his daughter used as a “pawn in others’ debate,” he said.  “She may not be able to speak for herself, but I can and will. Please leave us out of your debate. Allow us to grieve in privacy and with dignity. At long last, show some decency. On behalf of my family and Mollie’s memory, I’m imploring you to stop.”

Rob Tibbetts also addressed animosity towards immigrants at his daughter’s funeral when he said “the Hispanic community are Iowans, they have the same values as Iowans. As far as I’m concerned, they’re Iowans with better food.”  “To the Hispanic community, my family stands with you and offers its heartfelt apology.  That you’ve been beset by the circumstances of Mollie’s death is wrong. We treasure the contribution you bring to the American tapestry in all its color and melody.”

Before she went missing, Tibbetts’ brother dropped her off at her boyfriend’s house so she could dog-sit.  Her family reported her missing the next day after she did not show up for work.  The last time anyone saw Tibbetts, 20, was around 7:30 p.m. on July 18th as she was jogging in Brooklyn, a community of 1,500 people in eastern Iowa.  According to her boyfriend, Dalton Jack, Tibbetts had sent him a message saying she was heading out for some exercise as part of her typical routine.  A massive ground search involving more than 200 people broken up into 37 teams was conducted on July 20 encompassing the farmlands and fields within a five-mile radius of Brooklyn, with helicopters hovering above, according to authorities.  Investigators had received more than 1,500 tips and conducted more than 500 interviews in the case.

The investigation led to 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera of rural Poweshiek County, an undocumented farmworker from Mexico who has been charged with first-degree murder for her death.  Investigators say their search led to Rivera after they acquired surveillance camera footage that showed Mollie running, as well as the travel patterns of a vehicle believed to belong to Rivera. After reviewing the video, they determined that Rivera was one of the last people to see her running.

During the police interview, Rivera said that he had seen Tibbitts before and when he saw her running on July 18th, he began following her.  He parked his car and began running alongside and behind her.  At some point, Mollie took out her phone and told him “You need to leave me alone. I’m going to call the police” and then she took off running.   Rivera told police that he got angry and chased her down but that he blacked out and woke up at an intersection in rural Poweshiek County.  He told investigators he realized he had put the woman in the trunk of his car and when he took her out, he saw blood on the side of her head.  He then drove to a rural cornfield and left the body in the field, covering it with corn leaves.   Investigators said that after the interview, Rivera led investigators to her body.

 

 

 

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Former Balch Springs, TX police officer Roy Oliver, 38, was found guilty of murder in the shooting of Jordan Edwards, an unarmed teen who was a passenger in a car that had left a party.  Oliver was fired by the Balch Springs Police Department just days after the shooting for violating several departmental policies.  A Texas jury sentenced Oliver to 15 years in prison and imposed a $10,000 fine for the murder of the 15-year-old honor student.  The jury found Oliver not guilty on two counts of aggravated assault.

During the trial Oliver claimed that he fired at the car after seeing it move toward his partner, Officer Tyler Gross, and thought Gross’s life was in danger.  Officer Gross testified that he did not fear for his life and didn’t feel the need to fire his own weapon.  Oliver faced up to life in prison on the murder conviction.  Prosecutors were pushing for at least 60 years in prison, while defense argued for 20 years or less.  Oliver’s mother and wife asked for a lenient prison sentence.  His wife, Ingrid Llerena, testified that she’s concerned about their 3-year-old son, who is autistic, and the boy’s future without his father at home.

In April 2017, the police were responding to a call about a house party when they encountered Jordan, his brothers and his friends in their car, attempting to leave. The officers first claimed that the boys were “backing down the street toward officers in an aggressive manner,” before later retracting that statement and acknowledging that the teens had been driving away.

Police body cam video shows Oliver fired his assault rifle into the car carrying the five teenagers as they drove away from the officer, hitting Jordan in the head.  One of the car’s passengers says the officer never even ordered the boys to stop driving before opening fire. Edwards, was shot in the head as he was sitting in the front passenger seat of the car, along with his two brothers and two friends.

Jordan’s father Odell, said that his son Vidal, continued driving away so that no one else would be shot.  He stopped the car two blocks from the party and called his father while his two friends in the back seat called their parents.  “All I could hear was screaming and crying and the boys saying that police had just shot and killed Jordan.   Jordan Edwards was a freshman at Mesquite High School and a straight A student with a 4.0 GPA who played quarterback and receiver on the football team.  He lived in an upper middle class neighborhood in Balch Springs with his parents, two older brothers and younger sister.

Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson described Oliver as a “killer in blue” who violated his oath to protect citizens. Johnson said she wished Oliver’s sentence was much longer, but she respected the jury’s decision and realizes a guilty verdict for an officer is rare in police shootings. Charmaine Edwards said she would have preferred a sentence of 25 to 30 years for the killer of the stepson she raised.  “That was my exact thought: They gave a year for his age,” Edwards, said outside a Dallas County courtroom after the sentence was handed down.  “He can actually see life again after 15 years, and that’s not enough because Jordan can’t see life again.”