Tag Archive: hi4e.org


 

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An Arizona jury has found Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz not guilty of involuntary manslaughter for shooting and killing 16-year-old José Elena Rodríguez through the U.S.-Mexico border fence in 2012.  The jury hung on whether to bring a charge of voluntary manslaughter, leaving it unclear whether prosecutors would seek to try Swartz a third time. A previous jury acquitted Swartz on murder charges but deadlocked on lesser manslaughter charges.

Authorities claimed José Elena Rodríguez was throwing rocks at agents over the border fence before Swartz opened fire.  Medical examiners say José was shot 11 times with all but one of the bullets striking from behind, leading them to conclude the teen was shot in the back as he lay on the ground.  An autopsy revealed that gunshot wounds to the head, lungs, and arteries killed him.

The incident occurred around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday 10 October, 2012.  Nogales police received a call reporting “suspicious activity” on International Street, a road running directly along the border.  Officers on scene were investigating a report that two men carrying “bundles taped to their backs” had climbed the fence into the United States.  Identifying the bundles, on the basis of similar incidents in the past, as most probably containing marijuana, they called for back-up.  After several Border Patrol and Customs agents arrived, they saw the two men scaling the fence back into Mexico, empty-handed and with nothing on their backs. They commanded the two men to climb back down.  Officers reported seeing “rocks flying through the air” at the agents and also heard “gunfire,” although they were unable to identify its source.

After verbal commands from agents to cease throwing rocks were ignored, Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz then discharged his service weapon.  Swartz fired 16 rounds, hitting Rodríguez 11 times.  Rodríguez was unarmed, standing on the Mexican side of the border on a sidewalk on Calle International street, in front of a doctor’s office.  U.S. Border Patrol agent Lonnie Ray Swartz was charged with second degree murder for the killing.  Border Patrol agents are rarely criminally charged for using force but the killing sparked outrage on both sides of the border and came as the agency was increasingly scrutinized for its use of force.

Prosecutors said Swartz was frustrated over repeated encounters with people on the Mexico side of the border fence who throw rocks at agents to distract them from smugglers. They say he lost his cool when he fatally shot Rodriguez. Prosecutors acknowledge that the teen was throwing rocks at the agents but that wasn’t justification for taking his life.  A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office said prosecutors haven’t decided whether to try Swartz again on the voluntary manslaughter charge.

Swartz still faces a civil rights lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the teen’s mother.  Attorneys for Rodriguez’s mother filed the suit in federal district court in Tucson, seeking civil damages against the agents involved in what their lawsuit terms the “senseless and unjustified” death.  The suit alleges that in shooting and killing the teenager, agents “used unreasonable and excessive force” in violation of Jose Antonio’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights and that their actions were not legally justifiable or necessary. The suit doesn’t specify an amount sought in damages.

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This year, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed 116 cases of a rare polio-like disease, Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM).  An additional 170 possible cases of AFM are still under investigation.  The condition, which mostly affects children, causes muscles and reflexes to weaken and in some cases become paralyzed.  Most of the children with confirmed cases experienced a viral illness with symptoms including fever and cough about three to 10 days before the onset of paralysis.  It is recommended to see a doctor right away if you or your child notice a sudden weakness or loss in muscle tone, especially in the arms or legs.  Symptoms may also include a drooping face or eyelids, trouble with eye movement or swallowing, slurred speech, and in severe cases trouble breathing requiring a ventilator.

The FDA has launched a task force to further investigate and combat the spread of the illness.  Since 2014, there have been 440 confirmed cases of AFM.  More than 95% of the patients with AFM this year have been children younger than age 18 with the average age of those infected being 5 years old.  The CDC released the information to help parents identify what symptoms to look out for.  While there is no known cure, children who are diagnosed earlier on have been able to gain at least some movement with intense physical therapy.  Officials say that parents can try to prevent the disease by making their kids regularly wash their hands, keep them up to date on their vaccinations and spray them with insect repellent when they go outdoors to prevent mosquito bites.

Medical experts still don’t know much about the rare disease, which strikes just one in 1 million Americans. It’s believed that viruses like polio, West Nile, and various enteroviruses (which cause the common cold) may be linked to AFM.  The children involved in this outbreak have tested negative for polio and West Nile.  Medical experts who have been treating patients with AFM in the latest outbreak say they believe a virus called EV-D68 may be responsible for the recent uptick in cases.

According to the CDC, the patients with confirmed AFM are in 31 states.  The two states with the most confirmed cases are Colorado with 15 cases and Texas with 14 confirmed cases.  Washington, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania each have 8 confirmed cases.  Illinois has 7 confirmed cases while New Jersey and Wisconsin each have 6 confirmed cases.  Alabama, Georgia, Maryland and Arkansas each reported 3 cases.  South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Iowa, New York and Massachusetts each have 2 confirmed cases.  Rhode Island, Virginia, Indiana, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, Nevada and Montana each have 1 confirmed case.

Nineteen states have no confirmed cases.  The CDC has encouraged doctors to report cases although there is no requirement to do so.  It is not clear whether there is more of a risk of AFM in states that have a higher number of cases or if those states are just better at identifying and reporting patients.

 

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In Chicago, a gunman shot and killed three people at Mercy Hospital. The victims include a doctor, a police officer and a pharmacy technician. The gunman, identified as Juan Lopez, 32, was also killed at the scene by police gunfire.  Police say the shooting was a domestic violence incident and the shooter was in a previous relationship with the first victim.  The victims were identified as Dr. Tamara O’Neal, 38, an emergency room physician, pharmacy resident Dayna Less, 25, a recent graduate of Purdue University and Police Officer Samuel Jimenez.

Police say that at around 3:30 p.m. Monday, the gunman approached ex-fiancé Dr. Tamara O’Neal in the hospital parking lot.  As they started arguing, a friend of O’Neal attempted to intervene.  The gunman lifted his shirt and revealed a handgun, prompting the friend to flee.  O’Neal called 911 and reported the gun, bringing Chicago police to the scene. Police say two additional 911 calls in rapid succession reported an assault and then gunshots.  Lopez shot Dr. O’Neal in the parking lot and then he ran inside the hospital.  Lopez shot at two women getting off an elevator, killing pharmacy resident Dayna Less.

He then went back outside, fired at squad cars that were shielding Dr. O’Neal’s body.  Lopez then headed back inside and officers followed him inside.  Lopez exchanged gunfire with police and was struck twice in the shootout.  Officer Samuel Jimenez was also fatally wounded during that exchange.

Dr. O’Neal was rushed to the University Of Chicago Hospital where friends and colleagues were waiting on the shooting victims, unaware that she was one of them.  Friends said they were unaware of Juan Lopez’s troubled history when the two met a little over a year ago.   As recently as September, Lopez and O’Neal were engaged but O’Neal had broken it off just weeks before she was to exchange vows with Lopez, said her aunt, Vickie O’Neal.  O’Neal’s family members said it was unclear why the engagement was called off but they never could have imagined that the relationship would come to such a violent end.

Police say Lopez had a history of threatening domestic violence and in 2014, a judge granted a restraining order against him for his ex-wife.  Court records show Lopez’s ex-wife accused him of sleeping with a gun under his pillow, brandishing a weapon against a realtor and again against a neighbor.  She also said he began threatening to show up at her workplace and cause trouble. In the 2015 divorce filing, De Asa accused her husband of “constant infidelity and abuse.”  Lopez also had ongoing child support issues according to court records. Documents state that he had a difficult time keeping a job and refused to inform De Asa where he was working or living.  Lopez was currently enrolled as graduate student at DePaul University seeking a master’s degree in public service, after earning a bachelor’s degree in 2013.

The Chicago Fire Department released the personnel file of Juan Lopez.  The summary of the report says that four years ago he was terminated less than 2 months after being hired by the Chicago Firefighter Academy.  The general consensus was that Lopez was disliked.  Of the 11 female trainees interviewed by the CFD investigator, 10 had “negative remarks” about Lopez, and four “had some sort of incident” with him. All nine male trainees interviewed agreed Lopez “was a bad candidate with a bad attitude.”

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The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month, contradicting the Saudi government’s claims that he was not involved in the killing.  Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2 and was never seen again.  An investigation found that a team of 15 Saudi agents flew to Istanbul on a government aircraft and killed Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate, where he had gone to pick up documents that he needed for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman.

The CIA examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that was intercepted by U.S. Intelligence, that the prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi.  Khalid told Khashoggi that he should go to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so.  It is not clear if Khalid knew that Khashoggi would be killed, but he made the call at his brother’s direction.

The CIA’s conclusion about Mohammed’s role was also based on the agency’s assessment of the prince as the country’s de facto ruler who oversees even minor affairs in the kingdom. “The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,” said a U.S. official familiar with the CIA’s conclusions.  CIA analysts believe he has a firm grip on power and is not in danger of losing his status as heir to the throne despite the Khashoggi scandal.

The Saudis have offered multiple, contradictory explanations for what happened at the consulate, after initially denying any knowledge of his whereabouts.  Their latest explanation was that a rogue band of operatives who were sent to Istanbul to return Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, in an operation that veered off course when the journalist “was forcibly restrained and injected with a large amount of a drug resulting in an overdose that led to his death.”

Among the intelligence collected by the CIA is an audio recording from a listening device that the Turks placed inside the Saudi Consulate.  The Turks gave the CIA a copy of that audio which shows that Khashoggi was killed within moments of entering the consulate.  According to officials who have listened to the recording, Khashoggi died in the office of the Saudi consul general, who can be heard expressing his displeasure that Khashoggi’s body now needed to be disposed of and the facility cleaned of any evidence.  The CIA also examined a call placed from inside the consulate after the killing by an alleged member of the Saudi hit team, Maher Mutreb.  Mutreb called Saud al-Qahtani, then one of the top aides to Mohammed, and informed him that the operation had been completed.

CIA analysts also linked some members of the Saudi hit team directly to Mohammed himself as they have served on his security team and traveled in the United States during visits by senior Saudi officials, including the crown prince.   After Khashggi disappeared on Oct 2, U.S. intelligence agencies began searching archives of intercepted communications and discovered material indicating that the Saudi royal family had been seeking to lure Khashoggi back to Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb issued a statement saying that his office has indicted 11 suspects and has requested the death penalty for (5) individuals who are charged with ordering and committing the crime.  According to the office, the five members of the team “have confessed to the murder.”  The Saudi prosecutor’s office says that Khashoggi’s killers planned his death 3 days before prior to him entering the consulate and that the highest-level official behind the killing is Ahmad al-Assiri, an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

 

 

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A 26 year old security guard was shot and killed by a police officer outside a bar in the Chicago suburb of Midlothian.  Jemel Roberson was working at Manny’s Blue Room Bar, in Robbins, Illinois, when a fight broke out and security personnel asked a group of men to leave.  Soon after, at least one man returned to the bar and began shooting, injuring some of the people in the bar. Security returned fire and Roberson detained the man.

Jemel Roberson reportedly grabbed and held the suspected shooter to the ground, with his gun in his back.  When police officers from the Robbins and Midlothian police department arrived on the scene around 4am, witnesses say Roberson was immediately shot, despite people at the bar screaming that he was a security guard. According to witness statements given to local outlets, the officer fired even as witnesses were screaming that he was security.  Four other people, including a man believed to be the suspect behind the bar shooting, were injured in the incident.

At the time, Roberson was armed and held a valid gun owner’s license. One patron who witnessed the killing said the cops “saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him.” An autopsy concluded that Roberson’s death was a homicide. Roberson was father of a 9-month-old son named Tristan; his partner, Avontea Boose, is pregnant with their second child. Roberson’s family has filed a federal lawsuit seeking $1 million dollars, calling the fatal shooting “excessive and unreasonable” and says it violated Roberson’s civil rights.

Illinois State Police are investigating the shooting and have said that the officer gave Roberson “multiple verbal commands” to drop his weapon before opening fire. “According to witness statements, the Midlothian Officer gave the armed subject multiple verbal commands to drop the gun and get on the ground before ultimately discharging his weapon and striking the subject,” state police said in a statement.  The agency added that Roberson was not wearing anything that identified him as a security guard though witnesses say he was wearing a hat with the words SECURITY clearly emblazoned on the front as well as a bright orange vest with the words Security on it.  Multiple witnesses have also contradicted the state police account, saying the officer started firing at Roberson before giving him an adequate chance to respond to his verbal commands.

After learning that its officer had shot a security guard, the Midlothian Police Department issued a statement offering condolences to Roberson’s family and calling the shooting “the equivalent of a ‘blue on blue,’ friendly fire incident.”  Midlothian police Chief Daniel Delaney wrote on the department’s Facebook page “What we have learned is Jemel Roberson was a brave man who was doing his best to end an active shooter situation at Manny’s Blue Room.  The Midlothian Police Department is completely saddened by this tragic incident and we give our heartfelt condolences to Jemel, his family and his friends. There are no words that can be expressed as to the sorrow his family is dealing with.”

 

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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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Twelve people are dead after a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California.  Police identified the gunman as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a Marine veteran who had deployed to Afghanistan and had a history of mental health issues.  Long was found dead inside the kitchen area of the bar when the SWAT team entered the building.  Most of the victims were college students attending country music night.  Authorities said as many as 22 people had been injured and taken to the hospital.  Nine men and three women were killed in the shooting including a 27-year-old Navy veteran who survived the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting during the Route 91 Harvest festival.

Police say that at around 11:20 p.m., Long shot security guard Sean Adler, 48, just outside the bar with a legally purchased .45-caliber Glock 21 semi-automatic pistol with a banned high-capacity magazine.  Long entered the bar and began throwing smoke bombs before firing approximately 30 rounds into the crowd of more than 150 people.  Patrons dropped to the ground, dashed under tables, hid in the bathroom and ran for exits, stepping over bodies sprawled across the floor.

Three minutes after the first 911 calls, 54 year old Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus and a California Highway Patrol officer arrived at the scene.  The officers heard gunshots coming from the building.  Helus ran inside and was immediately shot by the gunman.   The Highway Patrol Officer dragged Helus outside to safety but died from his injuries hours later.  The other victims included Cody Coffman, 22; Alaina Housley, 18; Justin Meek, 23; Daniel Manrique, 33; Noel Sparks, 21; Jake Dunham, 21; Blake Dingman, 21; Kristina Morisette, 20; Marky Meza Jr., 20 and Telemachus Orfanos, 27.  Orfanos’s family said he had survived the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival that left 58 people dead.

In fact, many regular patrons of the Borderline Bar & Grill were survivors of the Route 91 mass shooting.    A regular patron, Brendan Kelly, 22, was among those who survived both the Vegas massacre and the shooting at the Borderline.  “It was our home for the probably 30 or 45 of us who are from the greater Ventura County area who were in Vegas. That was our safe place where we went to the following week, three nights in a row just so we could be with each other.”

Police say that Long frequented the Borderline Bar & Grill and had previous run-ins with the law, including a disturbance in April at Long’s home where he lived with his mother.  Police say he was irate and acting irrationally.  He was evaluated by mental health professionals but was cleared by the specialists.  Long served in the Marine Corps and was on active duty from August 2008 to March 2013, according to Defense Department records.  Long had been married in 2009 in Honolulu, Hawaii, but was divorced in April 2013 in Ventura County, California.

Friends of Long described him as a loner but said he was stable and didn’t show any signs of aggression.  Neighbors tell a different story, with some saying they’d frequently heard him arguing with his mother at all hours and others keeping their distance because he seemed troubled.  Police have not disclosed a motive in the shooting.

 

 

 

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A 24-year-old woman is facing 3 counts of reckless homicide and one misdemeanor count of disregarding a stop sign and causing injury after the pickup truck she was driving struck and killed three siblings who were crossing the road to get to their school bus in rural Rochester, Indiana.  Six-year-old twin brothers Xzavier Ingle and Mason Ingle, and their 9-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl, died at the scene Tuesday morning.  The children’s classmate and neighbor, 11-year-old Maverik Lowe, was also hit.  He was airlifted to the hospital and remains hospitalized in critical condition.  The children were crossing State Route 25 to get to their school bus when they were hit at about 7:15 a.m. in front of the Meiser mobile home park where they lived.

The Tippecanoe Valley School Corp. bus had stopped on the two lane road, lowered its stop-arm and had the emergency lighting activated just before the northbound Toyota Tacoma pickup truck slammed into the children as they crossed the southbound lane.  Alyssa L. Shepherd, of Rochester, was arrested at her workplace, was charged and released on a $15,000 bond.  Shepard told an Indiana State Police detective that she saw flashing emergency lights on the rural highway but didn’t realize it was a school bus picking up the children until it was too late.  By the time she realized a bus was stopped, the children were already in front of her vehicle.  Their father rushed out of their home and identified them after police arrived to investigate, officials said.  State Police Detective Michelle Jumper testified at a probable cause hearing into charges against Alyssa Shepherd, the bus driver told investigators he saw the oncoming truck’s headlights. The bus driver stated that because the truck was far back and had plenty of time to slow, the driver waved to the children, telling them to cross.  The bus driver honked the horn when it was clear the truck wasn’t stopping.  Jumper testified that Shepherd told her she typically did not drive on the route where the crash occurred and that she had three children in the back seat of her truck when she allegedly struck and killed the three siblings.

A witness driving behind Shepherd said she and Shepherd were traveling 45 mph. The witness said the truck’s headlights illuminated the children as they were crossing the road and she said she started to freak out as she realized ‘I’m slowing down, but that truck in front of me is not slowing.”  Shepherd remained at the scene after the crash, cooperating with investigators. She was given a blood test as is standard in all fatal crashes, but police said they do not think alcohol or drugs were a factor.  Shepard who works as children’s director at Faith Outreach, a Foursquare Gospel Church in Rochester then went to work to pray.

Parents who live in the mobile home park had previously asked the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation to change the bus route so the children didn’t have to cross State Route 25 to catch the bus. Parents complained that it was dangerous for children to cross a highway where vehicles routinely travel at 50 to 60 mph.  Elgin Ingle, the uncle of the children who died said “There’s plenty of room for the school bus to pull into the mobile home park and pick up these kids.  This school has been warned that this is an issue.  My brother is torn apart, he didn’t lose one kid, he lost all his kids,” Ingle said. “How do you tell your little brother it’ll get better? You can’t. My brother, the most loving man in the world and the best father I’ve ever known, now is a father to no one.”  Blaine Conley, superintendent of the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation, released a statement that stating that the bus stop will be relocated from State Road 25 into the mobile home park where the children lived.

 

 

 

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A Kentucky man was charged with two counts of murder and 10 counts of wanton endangerment for killing two African-American customers at a Kroger grocery store. He is being held in jail with bail set at $5 million. Police say 51-year-old Gregory Bush was captured on a surveillance camera trying to force open the doors of the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown for several minutes, before turning his attention to a nearby Kroger supermarket. He was charged with killing Maurice Stallard, 69, and Vickie Lee Jones, 67, at the supermarket in Jeffersontown, Ky., a suburb of Louisville.

Bush allegedly walked into the Kroger, pulled a gun and shot Stallard in the back of the head, then shot him several more times. Then he went outside and killed Jones, who also died from multiple gunshot wounds.  Bush exchanged gunfire in the parking lot with an armed bystander who saw him shoot Jones.  Another armed bystander, Louisville resident Ed Harrell told reporters that as he crouched in the Kroger parking lot clutching his own revolver, the gunman walked by him and said, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”

Prosecutors are investigating the murders as a “possible hate crime” because Bush had no known connection to either victim, or to the store, and had tried and failed to enter a nearby black church moments earlier.  Any charges related to hate crimes would be federal charges and separate from the state charges against Bush.  Officials have said they believe the crimes may fit that definition. Hate crimes are defined by the FBI as a traditional criminal offense but with an added element of bias.

Gregory Bush has a history of mental illness and of making racist slurs.  He also has a long rap sheet of misdemeanor charges, including domestic violence, for punching his father in the face and lifting his mother by her neck.   Records show he attempted suicide in 2001 and convictions for menacing and making terroristic threats.  In 2009, a judge ordered Bush to surrender his guns and undergo mental health treatment, after his parents claimed Bush threatened to shoot them in the head. Bush’s father said his son “carries a gun wherever he goes.” It’s not clear whether Bush’s guns were returned when the court order expired in 2011.

Jeffersontown residents gathered to honor the victims of the senseless shooting.  Maurice Stallard had served in the Air Force and married his high school sweetheart.  He worked in the security department of GE Appliances.  He is survived by his wife, a son and daughter and four grandchildren.

Vickie Lee Jones was a regular churchgoer and breast cancer survivor who had retired from a veteran’s administration hospital to help care for her ailing mother.   She is survived by her mother, four children, 11 grandchildren and 5 siblings.

 

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A 14-year-long oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico is set to become one of the worst offshore disasters in U.S. history. The leak is releasing between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day off the coast of Louisiana.  The spill started in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan battered the area resulting in a mudslide that sank an oil production platform.  The platform is owned by Taylor Energy and the oil wells have not been capped and continue to spill into the Gulf.

Taylor Energy kept the spill a secret for six years until environmental groups discovered it while monitoring the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill just a few miles away.  In 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard estimated that 16,000 gallons were flowing from the well into the surrounding water each day.  Just last month, the Department of Justice submitted an independent study that claims previous evaluations of the damage, submitted by the platform’s owner Taylor Energy Co. and compiled by the US Coast Guard, significantly underestimated the amount of oil being leaked.  The study gave a new estimate of between 10,000 and 30,000 gallons of oil leaking from wells around the platform each day.

In the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, 176 million gallons of oil flowed into the Gulf, contaminating 1,300 miles of shoreline and killed thousands of marine mammals and contaminated their habitats.  The spill lasted 87 days and a range of protected species were exposed to oil during the spill.  If the estimates of the Taylor Energy spill are correct then between 81 and 153 million gallons of oil have leaked into the Gulf of Mexico over the last 14 years.  With no plan to stop the flow of oil, the Taylor Energy spill is threatening to overtake BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster as the largest ever offshore oil spill in US history.

Taylor Energy liquidated its oil and gas assets and ceased production and drilling in 2008.  In 2015, Taylor Energy settled a lawsuit with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN).  A complaint filed in relation to the suit, Taylor Energy claimed the sheen at the site of the Taylor spill was “residual” and “there is no evidence to suggest” an ongoing leak. The company also claimed it had been fully compliant with US Coast Guard regulations regarding the spill.

The Taylor Energy oil spill has been well-known to people in the area for years but has never maintained national conversation because it isn’t as “in your face” as the Deepwater Horizon spill.  This leak has managed to fall through the cracks for over a decade and is set to potentially become the worst leak in US history because its effects are not immediately seen and because of flawed estimates when it was discovered.  Companies responsible for significant spills report them to the National Response Center operated by the Coast Guard.  Mandatory reports from the company are then submitted containing regular aerial measurements showing the iridescent sheen on the water that appears to the naked eye.  Estimates of spills are calculated by calculating those measurements with the estimated minimum thickness the oil needs to be to cast such a sheen.

The initial estimates when the leak was discovered in 2010 are based on the reporting from Taylor Energy.  The Department of Justice findings are based on estimates of satellite imagery.  Some of the resulting measurements of the oil leakage were 17 times larger than Taylor Energy’s initial estimates.  The numbers show the volume of the spill is much higher but the environmental impact remains unknown.  There hasn’t been enough public or political pressure for research to figure out the damage of a long-term, chronic leak.