Tag Archive: alex shuster


 

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The Phoenix man involved in a murder suicide had lost his mother and brother to murder at the hands of his father.  Phoenix police say officers were doing a welfare check at a home on December 23rd at around 7:15 p.m. and forced their way inside after nobody came to the door.  Sgt. Tommy Thompson says they found 36-year-old Jocelyn Casdorph and 47-year-old Victor Issa dead.  A preliminary investigation indicates Victor Issa shot Casdorph and then himself.

Authorities say Victor Issa’s family had a history of domestic violence that resulted in the incarceration of his father and brother and the deaths of his mother and the same brother in California.  In 2010, his brother Amier Rocky Issa was convicted of slashing a former boyfriend’s face with a knife.  During jury deliberations, he fled to Las Vegas and was rearrested at the MGM Grand hotel with medications, large quantities of salt he had been eating, a rope and a tent, court records show.  Amier was sentenced to treatment at a state mental hospital and then to three years’ probation with further mental-health treatment and a domestic-violence class.

Six years later, between March 27 and 29, 2016, Shehada Issa fatally stabbed his wife inside their LA home and on March 29, 2016, fatally shot Amier Rocky Issa, 38 on the front lawn of the home.  The case drew national attention as family members said Shehada Issa wanted to kill his son because he was gay.

When police arrived at the family’s home, officers found the son’s body outside and the mother’s body was found inside a bathroom, according to evidence presented at trial.  Police said the father admitted to shooting his son with a shotgun, but said that it was in self-defense. His defense attorney argued that Amier Issa had killed his mother and threatened to kill his father with a knife, causing Issa to shoot his son in self-defense.   Detectives said Shehada’s story did not match with evidence at the scene, saying there was no knife found near his son’s body.

Prosecutors in the case told jurors that Issa thought he had committed the “perfect crime” by killing his wife and blaming it on his gay son, whom he claimed to have shot to death in self-defense.  According to prosecutors, Issa had a longtime gambling problem that caused him to have a constant need for cash and that Issa’s wife didn’t want to put their North Hills home up for sale.  The woman had told her husband that she would not sign home sale papers, and he responded by threatening her life and listing the home anyway.  During the trial, Victor Issa testified that his father was a troubled gambler who had a violent, abusive relationship with his mother Rabihah and an ever-increasing hatred for his gay son.  He told jurors about constant money problems and squabbles within the home as a result of his father’s gambling. He also said that when the defendant found out that Rocky was gay, “their relationship changed” and his father nursed a growing hatred for Amier Rocky.  He testified that his father detested the fact that his son was gay and was ashamed of him.  Victor said “He called him things like ‘whore of Babylon.’  It was constant for years. It was, ‘He deserves to die.’ ”   Shehada Issa was sentenced in 2017 to two consecutive life sentences plus 26 years in the murders.

Amier Rocky posted a message to Facebook ten days before the murder suicide saying he was worried that his parents, brother and sister were “literally controlling me in my sleep.  If there is a devil or evil spirit, I truly believe it manifests itself in my family.”

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In France, the “yellow vest” protests continued for a fourth consecutive week with an estimated 130,000 people taking to the streets across the country.  Protesters and police clashed again in the capital and other cities with police firing rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas at crowds, and some protesters smashing windows and setting vehicles on fire resulting in over 1,700 arrests.

Civil unrest began on November 17th and have continued over the four weeks with little signs of slowing.  The protesters were dubbed “Les gilets jaunes” (the yellow vests) after the high-visibility jackets they adopted as a symbol of their complaint, blocked roundabouts, burned effigies and clashed with the police. They were objecting the almost 20 percent increase in the price of diesel since the start of the year, as well as the planned fuel tax hike President Emmanuel Macron had recently announced.  The demands have also expanded, with even students taking part, calling for changes to the French high school examinations and university entrance procedures.

The intensity of the protests forced the government to halt the plans for the fuel tax hike but demonstrators are calling for additional economic reforms, and many for the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron.  While Macron said the tax was necessary to “protect the environment” and “combat climate change”, protesters claimed the decision was yet another sign that the “privileged” president is out of touch with regular folk struggling to make ends meet.

In Paris, major attractions, including the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, are closed in anticipation of the demonstrations.  After images of police using tear gas and tanks against protesters in Paris hit newspapers worldwide, President Emmanuel Macron delivered a national address announcing he would raise the minimum wage and cancel a tax increase on low-income retirees.  In his address to the nation, Macron said the violent protests — which have morphed from a grassroots movement against fuel tax hikes into disparate demonstrations against his presidency — have been “unacceptable” and “will not be in any way indulged.”

He proposed some social reforms, including an increase in the minimum wage by 100 euros ($113) a month beginning in January that will not cost employers extra and a promise that overtime hours will not be taxed. Macron also remained defiant and said he would not reinstate the wealth tax but would fight tax fraud.  The reforms are expected to cost the government between $8.1 billion and $10.1 billion, according to Olivier Dussopt, France’s secretary of state to the Ministry of Public Action and Accounts.

While Macron’s announcement has appeased some demonstrators, some 77,000 people still turned out across the country, including 10,000 in Paris.  On December 8, many Paris tourist hot spots and stores were shuttered in anticipation of violent protests after the previous week’s demonstrations resulted in the worst riots to hit the French capital in decades. By the end of the week, 1,723 people had been taken in for questioning and 1,220 into custody, according to the Interior Ministry. Across the country, 135 people were reported injured.

 

 

 

 

 

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Famed comic book writer Stan Lee, creator or co-creator of some of Marvel’s most well-known and beloved characters, died at the age of 95 on November 12th in Los Angeles.  Lee died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after being rushed there in a medical emergency earlier in the day.  Earlier this year, Lee revealed to the public that he had been battling pneumonia and in February was rushed to the hospital for worsening conditions at around the same time.  Lee was predeceased by his wife 0f 69 years Joan, who passed away in July 2017 at the age of 95.  He leaves behind two daughters, Joan Ceclia and Jan Lee.

Lee has been credited with helping to propel Marvel Comics to the world’s top publisher of comics.  Lee became an assistant in 1939 at the new Timely Comics division of pulp magazine and comic-book publisher Martin Goodman’s company. By the 1960’s, Timely Comics evolved into Marvel Comics and Lee rose through the ranks of a family-run business to become Marvel Comics’ primary creative leader for two decades.  He is credited with leading its expansion from a small division of a publishing house to a multimedia corporation that dominated the comics industry.

Lee became a figurehead and public face for Marvel Comics, making appearances at comic book conventions around America, lecturing at colleges and participating in panel discussions. He served as editor-in-chief and later publisher for Marvel and created or co-created the widely popular characters Black Panther, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and Ant-Man.  Following his retirement from Marvel in the 1990s, he remained a public figurehead for the company, and frequently made cameo appearances in movies based on Marvel characters, on which he received an honorary “executive producer” credit.

In April 2018, The Hollywood Reporter published a report claiming Lee was a victim of elder abuse.  The report alleged that Keya Morgan, business manager of Lee and a memorabilia collector, had been isolating Lee from his trusted friends and associates following his wife’s death.  The report alleges she was attempting to get access to Lee’s wealth, an estimated $50 million.  In August 2018, Morgan was issued a restraining order to stay away from Lee, his daughter, or his associates for three years.

He continued independent creative ventures until his death.  Roy Thomas, who succeeded Lee as editor-in-chief at Marvel, had visited Lee two days prior to his death to discuss the upcoming book The Stan Lee Story.  Thomas said “I think he was ready to go. But he was still talking about doing more cameos. As long as he had the energy for it and didn’t have to travel, Stan was always up to do some more cameos. He got a kick out of those more than anything else.”

 

 

 

 

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Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, 40, was convicted of second degree murder in the 2014 shooting death of 17 year old Laquan McDonald.  Van Dyke is the first Chicago officer to be charged with murder for an on-duty shooting in about 50 years. Second-degree murder usually carries a sentence of less than 20 years, especially for someone with no criminal history but probation is also an option. Van Dyke was also convicted of 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each bullet.

The second-degree verdict reflected the jury’s finding that Van Dyke believed his life was in danger but that the belief was unreasonable. The jury also had the option of first degree-murder, which required finding that the shooting was unnecessary and unreasonable.  Legal experts say Van Dyke will likely be sentenced to no more than 6 years but that because he is an officer, it will likely be in isolation.

The verdict was the latest chapter in a story that shook Chicago residents soon after a judge ordered the release of the video in November 2015.  Protests erupted and continued, demanding accountability for the shooting.  The city’s police superintendent and the county’s top prosecutor both lost their jobs — one fired by the mayor and the other ousted by voters. It also led to a Justice Department investigation that found a “pervasive cover-up culture” and prompted plans for far-reaching police reforms.

The city had been preparing for possible demonstrations in a case that already sparked protests with many downtown businesses and City Hall closing early in anticipation of protests.  Groups of demonstrators took to the streets for several hours after the verdict, chanting, “The people united will never be defeated,” and “Sixteen shots and a cover up.”

Prosecutors in Van Dyke’s trial called on multiple officers who were there that night in an effort to penetrate the “blue wall of silence” long associated with the city’s police force and other law enforcement agencies across the country.  Three officers, including Van Dyke’s partner, have been charged with conspiring to cover up and lie about what happened to protect Van Dyke. They have all pleaded not guilty.

According to testimony, on the night of the shooting, officers were waiting for someone with a stun gun to use on the teenager when Van Dyke arrived.  Former Police Officer Joseph Walsh, Van Dyke’s partner the night of the shooting, testified that Van Dyke said to him “Oh my God, we’re going to have to shoot that guy,” before arriving at the scene.  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.

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.  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.  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.

Assistant special prosecutor Jody Gleason told the jury that Van Dyke contemplated shooting McDonald before he even encountered the young man, referring to testimony about what Van Dyke told his partner before arriving at the scene.  “It wasn’t the knife in Laquan’s hand that made the defendant kill him that night. It was his indifference to the value of Laquan’s life.”   Van Dyke was taken into custody moments after the verdict was read.  He is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on October 31.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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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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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Pennsylvania a grand jury report revealed how more than 300 Catholic priests sexually abused over 1,000 children and possibly thousands more over seven decades and that the church leadership covered up the abuse. The report chronicles how the church used an array of tactics to conceal the abuse, including lying to the community about why a priest was removed from the parish, transferring pedophile priests rather than firing them, and locking abuse complaints away in a “secret archive.”

The report also details how priests raped young girls and boys, including one priest who raped a young girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils out. Another priest impregnated a young girl and then arranged for her to have an abortion. One priest who had been repeatedly accused of child abuse asked for—and received—a letter of recommendation to work at Disneyland.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said “Today, the most comprehensive report on child sexual abuse within the church ever produced in our country was released,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Pennsylvanians can finally learn the extent of sexual abuse in these dioceses. For the first time, we can all begin to understand the systematic cover up by church leaders that followed. The abuse scarred every diocese. The cover up was sophisticated. The church protected the institution at all costs.”  “The term ‘secret archives’ is not my term. It is how the church officials themselves refer to the troves of documents sitting in filing cabinets, just feet from the bishops’ desks. In each diocese, the bishops had the key to the secret archives, which contained both allegations and admissions of the abuse and the cover-up.”

The 884-page document, two years in the making, exposed the predators and the efforts of their bishops to protect them.  Several clergy abuse victims who had testified before the grand jury attended Shapiro’s news conference and at least one of them could be seen breaking down in tears.

In a statement issued Thursday—two days after the grand jury delivered its report—Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke described the abuses as criminal and morally reprehensible.  “There are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow. The Holy See treats very seriously the work of the grand jury and the report it has produced. The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors. The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible. The acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and, in many cases, also their faith. The church must learn hard lessons from the past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur.”

The Vatican told victims Pope Francis “is on their side” and promised action to “root out this tragic horror.” The statement came just months after the pope said he mishandled a Vatican investigation into widespread sexual abuses by clergy in Chile, and less than two months after a Vatican court sentenced the church’s former ambassador to Washington, D.C., to five years in prison on a child pornography charge.

 

 

 

 

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The airline industry is re-examining security protocols after an airport worker at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport stole a plane on Friday night, took off without permission, then flew it for about an hour before crashing the plane into an island on Puget Sound.  Richard Russell, a ground service agent, was the only person on board when he crashed the 76-seat Horizon Air plane.

Russell took off around 7:30 p.m. on August 10th, according to the authorities. He chatted with air traffic controllers who tried to guide him to a safe landing, as jets from the Air National Guards of Washington and Oregon flew alongside him, ready to take action. In recordings of Mr. Russell’s conversation with air traffic controllers, he speaks admiringly of the Olympic Mountains at sunset, complains of lightheadedness and muses about potential prison time if he were to land the plane safely.

At one point, an air traffic controller asked if Mr. Russell felt comfortable flying.  “It’s blast, man,” Mr. Russell replied. “I played video games before so, you know, I know what I’m doing a little bit.”  At times, Mr. Russell was contrite.  “Man, I’m sorry about this. I hope this doesn’t ruin your day,” he said to the controller, adding that he was grateful to be kept away from other aircraft. “I’m glad you’re not, you know, screwing up everyone else’s day on account of me.”  He said he hoped to have a “moment of serenity” in the air but lamented that the sights “went by so fast.”

“I got a lot of people that care about me, and it’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this,” Mr. Russell could be heard saying. “I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess. Never really knew it until now.”  Videos taken by onlookers during Mr. Russell’s flight showed the plane doing deep dives, broad loops and at least one upside-down roll.  The plane came down in a fiery crash on Ketron Island, about 30 miles from the airport and Russell was killed in the crash.

Russell had worked for Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group, for three and a half years and was responsible for handling luggage and cargo and for towing aircraft.  At a news conference the following day, the chief executive of Horizon Air Industries, Gary Beck, said Mr. Russell had cleared all the necessary background checks and was meant to be “on the secure side” of the airport, where the plane was.  Beck said that Richard Russell did not have a pilot’s license “Commercial aircrafts are complex machines,” Mr. Beck added. “I don’t know how he achieved the experience he did.”

The plane was not scheduled for a flight when Mr. Russell commandeered it.  Alaska Airlines officials said it was not clear how Russell had managed to take off in the plane. Debra Eckrote, the chief of the northwest regional office of the National Transportation Safety Board, said that it was conceivable that a ground service agent would be able to start an airplane.   “They don’t necessarily use a key, so there’s switches that they use to start the aircraft,” she said. “So if the person has basic understanding — from what I understand he was support personnel, ground personnel — they probably do have at least a basic understanding on how to start the aircraft.”

At a news conference, Mike Mathews, a family friend, read a statement on behalf of Mr. Russell’s family. “We are stunned and heartbroken,” according to the statement, which described Mr. Russell as a faithful husband, a loving son and a good friend.  “He was right in saying that there are so many people who have loved him.”  Tim Orr, who also works at the Seattle-Tacoma airport said he had known Mr. Russell since they were both 12.  He described Russell as the funniest and nicest person in the room.  Mr. Orr added that Russell and his wife were active church members “so he doesn’t really fit the bill of someone who would steal an airplane.”

 

 

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The father of a missing 3-year-old who was arrested at a New Mexico compound linked to “extremist Muslims” was training children to commit school shootings.  Prosecutors allege Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 39, was conducting weapons training on the compound, where 11 children were found hungry and living in squalor.  Wahhaj, who is being held without bail, is the son of a Brooklyn imam, also named Siraj Wahhaj, who was named by prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.   His father, who heads Masjid At-Taqwa mosque, was also a character witness in the trial for Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the notorious “blind sheikh” who was convicted in 1995 of plotting terror attacks in the U.S.

Authorities raided the compound after a months-long investigating into the disappearance of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, a boy with severe medical issues who went missing from Georgia in December.  Wahhaj told the missing boy’s mother that he wanted to perform an “exorcism” on his then-3-year-old son because he was “possessed by the devil.” The child reportedly suffered from seizures and couldn’t walk.  The child’s remains were found on the property but authorities have not confirmed a cause of death.

The compound was located near the Colorado border shielded by old tires, wooden pallets and other debris. Upon authorities’ arrival, Wahhaj was “heavily armed with an AR15 rifle, five loaded 30 round magazines, and four loaded pistols, including one in his pocket when he was taken down,” Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said.  Lucas Morton, Jany Leveille, 35, Hujrah Wahhaj, 38, and Subhannah Wahhaj, 35, were also arrested on the property and all face child abuse charges.

The search at the compound came amid a two-month investigation that included the FBI. Hogrefe said federal agents surveilled the area a few weeks ago but did not find probable cause to search the property.  That changed when Georgia detectives forwarded a message to the sheriff that he said initially had been sent to a third party, saying: “We are starving and need food and water.”

The sheriff said the children, ages 1 to 15, “looked like third world country refugees not only with no food or fresh water, but with no shoes, personal hygiene and basically dirty rags for clothing.”  Jason Badger, who owned the property where the compound was built, said he and his wife had pressed authorities to remove the group after becoming concerned about the children.  The group had built the compound on their acreage instead of a neighboring tract owned by Lucas Morton, one of the men arrested during the raid.

Documents filed in 8th District Court in Taos County quoted the foster parent of one of the 11 children as having told investigators that Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, was conducting weapons training at the squalid compound.  According to the document, Wahhaj “had trained the foster parent’s child in the use of an assault rifle in preparation for future school shootings.”   The foster parent’s accusations have not been verified and are still under investigation.