Tag Archive: hi4e


 

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Three men and a teen were arrested for allegedly plotting to attack Islamberg, a small predominantly Muslim community near Binghamton, New York.  Brian Colaneri, 20, Vincent Vetromile, 19, Andrew Crysel, 18, were arrested along with a 16-year-old in connection to the alleged plot.  The suspects were said to be in possession of multiple improvised explosive devices and firearms, and were charged with criminal possession of a weapon and conspiracy.

Police uncovered the plot when the 16-year-old boy was reported to police in Greece, New York, for  making a lunchroom comment.  He allegedly showed another student a photo of a schoolmate who, he told others, looked “like the next school shooter.”  While interviewing the boy about the comment he made investigators were told that he was allegedly working with three men to attack Islamberg.  Greece Police Chief Patrick D. Phelan said “The initial investigation was about the comment made by the student and then our investigation took us to this plot that we had no idea about.  I don’t know that there was a specific date. They had a plan in place,” Phelan said.

Phelan told reporters that three improvised explosive devices in the shape of mason jars wrapped in duct tape were found at the home of the juvenile.  “They were homemade bombs with various items – black powder, BBs, nails, inside a container,” Phelan said.  The bombs are currently being examined by the FBI to see if they would have been capable of detonating.  Police searched five locations and seized 23 weapons and numerous electronic devices, including phones and computers.   Some of the guns were owned by the suspects and others were owned by family members but the suspects had access to them.

Colaneri, Vetromile and Crysel are each charged with three counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree and one count of conspiracy in the fourth degree. Information about the 16 year old was not released by police due to his age.  Phelan credited the students who reported the lunchroom comment with saving lives.  “If they had carried out this plot, which every indication is that they were going to, people would have died,” the chief said. “I don’t know how many and who, but people would have died.”

Islamberg is a rural community in Delaware County that is operated by The Muslims of America, an indigenous American Muslim organization based in the U.S.  It was settled by followers of Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarik Gilani in the 1970s to escape crime and crowding in New York City.  It’s a gated community with dirt roads and several dozen small homes in New York’s Catskills Mountains.  There are  200 or so members of the community, where children are home-schooled and residents worship at a mosque built on the 70-acre property.   Police and analysts have dismissed accusations that the community is a terrorist training ground, but the claims have persisted for decades.

This is not the first time Islamberg has been the target of an alleged hate crime plot.  In 2017, a Tennessee man was convicted on federal charges for what authorities called plans to burn down Islamberg’s mosque in 2015. Robert Doggart, now 67, is serving a 20 year sentence in federal prison.  Doggart was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in April 2015 after saying in wiretapped telephone calls that he planned to recruit a militia and travel to Islamberg for an attack.  While there, he intended to “carry out an armed attack” that included burning down a mosque or “blowing it up with a Molotov cocktail or other explosive device.” The wiretaps also recorded him saying “I don’t want to have to kill children, but there’s always collateral damage.”

 

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A Chicago judge has acquitted three police officers accused of covering up the 2014 murder of 17 year old Laquan McDonald by a fellow officer Jason Van Dyke.  Van Dyke was convicted in October of the second-degree murder of Laquan McDonald, which was captured on an infamous police dashboard camera video.  McDonald was shot 16 times, including numerous times as he lay wounded in the street.  The three police officers — David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney — contradicted what the video showed and prosecutors alleged it was part of a cover-up.  None of them fired any shots that night. Several other officers had witnessed the shooting and given questionable accounts, but a grand jury declined to indict any others.

The acquittal came despite discrepancies between the three officers’ police reports and dash cam video showing that McDonald posed no threat and walked away from officers before he was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke.  Associate Judge Domenica Stephenson rejected the prosecutors’ arguments that the officers had shooed away witnesses and then created a narrative to justify the 2014 shooting, which prompted citywide protests, the firing of the police chief and a wide-ranging federal investigation into the police force.  Prosecutors repeatedly cited the footage as they built a case against the officers on charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice.

Judge Stephenson said that even though the officers’ accounts of the shooting differed from the video, that it did not amount to proof that they were lying. “Two people with two different vantage points can witness the same event,” she said, and still describe it differently.  The judge said that key witnesses for the prosecution had offered conflicting testimony, and said there was nothing presented at trial that showed that the officers had failed to preserve evidence, as prosecutors allege.  Challenging the point that officers had shooed away a witness as part of a cover-up, the judge said it was not obvious that the police had known the witness had seen the shooting.

The witness in question, Alma Benitez, had stopped for a bite to eat at a nearby Burger King, on her way home from her night shift at a sandwich shop.  Benitez was interviewed by television news crews at the scene and featured in several news reports the next day saying McDonald was clearly not a threat to the officer. She told new crews that Van Dyke had no reason to open fire.  “It was super-exaggerated, you didn’t need that many cops to begin with. They didn’t need to shoot him. They didn’t. They basically had him face to face. There was no purpose why they had to shoot him.”

In a federal lawsuit filed in September 2016, Benitez alleges she had tried to take photos and video of the scene with her cellphone but wasn’t sure the recordings worked.  Once police “became aware” she was trying to record the incident, they demanded she surrender her phone and accompany officers to the detective headquarters, where she was detained and questioned for six hours.  Benitez claims she was allowed to leave the station around 4am, only after she demanded to see a lawyer and that she was “threatened and harassed” on multiple occasions after she was featured in news reports.  The suit accuses several officers and detectives of then writing false reports misstating what Benitez and other witnesses at the scene had told them.

Weeks before the city agreed to pay $5 million to McDonald’s estate, a letter written by lawyers representing McDonald’s family alleged that at least two other witnesses to the shooting were treated in similar fashion.  The letter alleged that all three were questioned for hours at the Area Central police headquarters and pressured into changing their accounts to match the official police version.  The letter also reported that Benitez was so appalled by what she witnessed that she actually screamed out ‘stop shooting!’ as Officer Van Dyke continued to discharge his weapon while Laquan was laid in the street.”

 

 

 

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Two arrests have been made in the killing of 7 year old Jazmine Barnes in Houston, TX.  Eric Black Jr., 20, and Larry Woodruffe, 24, have both been charged with capital murder.  Police say the shooting was a case of mistaken identity after both men mistook the family’s car for that of someone they had gotten into an argument with at a club the night before.  Police say Black was the driver and Woodruffe fired the shots.

On the morning of December 30th 2018, the shooting occurred around 6:50am as LaPorsha Washington, was pulling out of a Wal-Mart parking lot in Cloverleaf, Texas onto a highway road when someone shot into their vehicle.  Jazmine was riding in a car with her mother and three sisters when she was shot in the head.  Washington was shot in the arm, the youngest was injured by shattered glass and the other two girls were physically unharmed.

The shooting was originally feared to be a hate crime because Jazmine’s mother, LaPorsha Washington, identified the shooter as a white male in his 30’s or 40’s with piercing blue eyes who was driving a red pickup truck.  Investigators distributed a sketch of the shooter based on Washington’s description and the killing was initially investigated as a possible hate crime.  Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez had said he was aware of these concerns and investigators looked into the possibility that race could have played a role.  Gonzalez declined to state a specific motive for the shooting before any arrests were made.

Police say they apprehended Black after receiving a tip from journalist and civil rights activist Shaun King that sent the investigation in a new direction.  The tip implicated two black men in the shooting.  Prosecutors allege that Black told investigators he was driving the SUV from which an unidentified passenger fired the shots.  Black implicated Woodruffe and he was arrested on an unrelated drug charge.  Woodruffe denied involvement, but his phone records put him “in close proximity” to the scene of the shooting, according to court documents.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said there was, in fact, a red pickup truck driven by a white man seen at a stoplight just before the shooting, but the driver didn’t appear to have been involved. The sheriff said it was dark, the shooting happened quickly, and the red truck was probably the last thing seen by Jazmine’s family. He said authorities believe Jazmine’s family has been truthful during the investigation.  Several other witnesses placed a red pickup truck at the scene during the shooting.

On Woodruffe’s now-deleted Instagram, a photo was posted after the deadly shooting of the co-defendants. In it, Woodruffe is showing off a fan of cash. Black is flashing gang signs.  Texas Gov. Greg Abbott retweeted Houston Police Officers Union President Joe Gamaldi saying, “There are too many gangs in Houston. We must expand the Texas Anti-Gang Task Force in Houston to clean our streets of this trash and restore safety.”

“The family wants to thank all of those that helped capture the suspects, all police agencies and the general public whose tips lead to their capture,” said Dr. James Dixon II of Community of Faith Church.

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The actor Kevin Spacey has been charged with felony sexual assault for allegedly sexually assaulting a teenager in a bar in Massachusetts in 2016.  A public show-cause hearing was held for the case Dec. 20 where Clerk Magistrate Ryan Kearney issued a criminal complaint for the charge against Kevin S. Fowler, also known as Kevin Spacey.  Spacey is due in court on January 7 to face the felony charge that could bring him up to five years in prison. Spacey has denied the charges.

The alleged assault on a male victim took place at a Nantucket bar in July 2016.  Last year, former Boston TV news anchor Heather Unruh held a press conference to share her son’s allegation of sexual assault against Spacey.  She stated that her then 18-year-old son said was sexually assaulted by Spacey inside the Club Car Restaurant on Nantucket. Unruh says her son was not of legal drinking age but had told Spacey he was and that the actor bought him drink after drink after drink.  “My son was a starstruck, straight 18-year-old young man who had no idea that the famous actor was an alleged sexual predator or that he was about to become his next victim,” she said at the time. “When my son was drunk, Spacey made his move and sexually assaulted him.”

The Nantucket Police Department began its criminal investigation in November 2017, said Massachusetts attorney Mitchell Garabedian, the attorney for the alleged victim.   The department has since transferred the case to the district attorney’s office.  Garabedian said in a statement, “The complainant has shown a tremendous amount of courage in coming forward. Let the facts be presented, the relevant law applied and a just and fair verdict rendered.”  Multiple men have come forward with accusations of sexual assault and harassment against Spacey since October 2017, which prompted Netflix to abruptly cut ties with and drop the actor from its hit political drama House of Cards.  Spacey is still under investigation in Los Angeles and in England for other alleged sexual assaults.

Soon after the charges were filed against Spacey, the actor posted a bizarre video to his Twitter account where he portrays his House of Cards character Frank Underwood.  The actor addresses his House of Cards fate while also saying that he knows his fans want him back.  “I know what you want,” Spacey begins in Frank’s accent. “Oh sure, they may have tried to separate us, but what we have is too strong, too powerful. After all, we shared everything, you and I. I told you my deepest, darkest secrets. I showed you exactly what people are capable of. I shocked you with my honestly, but mostly I challenged you and made you think. And you trusted me, even though you knew you shouldn’t. So we’re not done, no matter what anyone says. And besides, I know what you want. You want me back.”

“Of course, some believed everything and have been just waiting with bated breath to hear me confess it all. They’re just dying to have me declare that everything said is true and that I got what I deserved. Only you and I both know it’s never that simple, not in politics and not in life,” he says. “All this presumption made for such an unsatisfying ending, and to think it could have been such a memorable sendoff.” He goes on to say that in both life and in art, nothing should be off the table: “I can promise you this. If I didn’t pay the price for the things we both know I did do, I’m certainly not going to pay the price for the things I didn’t do.”  Spacey ended the 3 minute video by directly calling out his death on House of Cards.  The actor puts on Frank’s signature ring before walking off. “My confidence grows each day that soon enough, you will know the full truth,” he says. “Wait a minute, now that I think of it, you never actually saw me die, did you? Conclusions can be so deceiving.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Satellite images show North Korea has taken the first steps toward its commitment to nuclear disarmament.  Images show they have begun dismantling a missile-engine test site, fulfilling one of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s promises during the historic summit in Singapore in June.  The site is believed to play a role in North Korea’s development of liquid-fuel engines, although it’s unclear how much the site’s facilities were still being used.

Images published by a leading think-tank on North Korea show activity at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, located among dense forest and hills close the northern border with China.  Workers are believed to be dismantling a building used to assemble space-launch vehicles and a nearby rocket engine test stand used to develop liquid-fuel engines for ballistic missiles and space-launch vehicles, the 38 North think-tank said.

The work started at some point in the past two weeks, after the last visit to North Korea by the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.  White House officials have stated that the trip made by Pompeo to Pyongyang went “as bad as it could have”.  Jenny Town, the managing editor of 38 North, which is based at the Stimson Center in Washington DC, said the work at Sohae could be an important move to keep negotiations going.  “Since these facilities are believed to have played an important role in the development of technologies for the North’s intercontinental ballistic missile program, these efforts represent a significant confidence-building measure on the part of North Korea,” 38 North said in a report.

South Korean officials have also said they detected dismantlement activities at the site, though didn’t specify the exact nature of the activities.  The South Korean foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, at a briefing in London, said its reports suggested North Korea was preparing for disarmament in return for a lifting of economic sanctions.  The satellite image analysis leaves it unclear whether North Korea planned to demolish the entire Sohae site, which has been vital to its space program. Other important facilities such as fuel bunkers, a main assembly building and the gantry tower appear untouched.

Senior US officials called on Mr Kim to act on his promise to give up his nuclear weapons and said the world, including China and Russia, must continue to enforce sanctions until he does so.  The US State Department issued an advisory together with the departments of Treasury and Homeland Security alerting businesses to North Korea’s sanctions-evasion tactics.  It said they should “implement effective due diligence policies, procedures, and internal controls to ensure compliance with applicable legal requirements across their entire supply chains.”

While the images are encouraging, experts urge caution until the North completely abandons the area.  “If North Korea goes further and dismantle the entire Sohae site, that would meaningfully reduce the country’s long-range missile capability by eliminating a facility where it could fire multiple ICBMs in succession,” said Lee Choon Geun, a missile expert at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute.  He added, however, that while the first steps in dismantling the site are important, in reality, Pyongyang is giving up little as it appears the country is content with the current long-range weapons in its possession.

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A string of suicides by New York City taxi drivers in the last several months has advocates concerned about the impact of Uber and Lyft, as well as the loans cabdrivers have relied on to purchase taxi medallions.  Taxi medallions are permits that cities issue to cap the number of cabs on the road. Until the past several years, the value of the medallions seemed to keep rising as large taxi companies, individual operators and other investors bought them up.

The latest suicide that has shaken the cab industry is that of fifty-nine-year-old Abdul Saleh, a Yemeni immigrant who had been a taxi driver for 30 years. He was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment on Friday morning.  On March 16, Nicanor Ochisor, a 65-year-old yellow cab driver, took his own life in his Queens home. According to his family and friends, he had been drowning financially as his prized taxi medallion, on which he had hoped to retire, plummeted in value. In February, driver Douglas Schifter shot himself outside City Hall after posting a lengthy statement to Facebook blaming politicians for letting the streets get so saturated.

Another driver, Yu Mein Chow, 56, disappeared on May 11 and his body was found floating in the East River about nine miles south, near the Brooklyn Bridge, on May 16th.  Chow, had taken out a loan seven years ago to buy a $700,000 medallion that gave him the right to operate a cab.  It’s believed that he jumped to his death after being unable to make a payment on the $700,000 medallion loan.  According to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, at least two other drivers have killed themselves since December in response to mounting financial pressures.

Many saw securing a taxi medallion as the fulfillment of their American Dream, and they financed them as they would a mortgage, assuming they would only grow in value over time.  In 2014, the price of a New York City medallion topped $1 million. That year, they went for $700,000 in Boston, $400,000 in Philadelphia, and $300,000 in Chicago.  As competition from ride-hailing services intensified, loans for medallions have dried up across the country and their values have plummeted.   In January, seven medallions in NYC sold for under $200,000 each at auction-leaving many drivers deeply in debt.  Though New York City had used taxi medallions to cap the number of yellow cabs at just over 13,600, it doesn’t limit the number of drivers for Uber, Lyft, or other services.  The lack of regulation has led to rapid growth.   Uber launched in the city in 2011 with just 105 cars on the road and grew to to 20,000 by 2015.  Today, there are more than 63,000 black cars providing rides through various ride-hailing apps, 60,000 of which are affiliated with Uber.

John Boit, spokesman for the national group, Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association, said operators like Uber aren’t solely to blame for undermining what had been a respectable living for generations of drivers.  He said New York’s City Hall also deserves blame for not protecting those who had invested in driving careers.  “The city enriched itself with billions of dollars in medallion sales and then allowed a massive influx of new drivers, clogging the streets and bringing down income industrywide,” he said. “The current situation makes it impossible for many to repay their debts. What the drivers need now is a fair solution for their investment in city medallions and a level playing field for the future.”

The New York City Taxi Workers Alliance, the local yellow cab union, has also called for changes including capping the number of for-hire vehicles operating in the city.  The New York City Council is considering several bills that would curb the expansion of ride-sharing services — by charging annual fees to drivers, limiting how many apps one person can drive for or limiting the number of cars each company can have in operation.

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Ohio raided another company and said 146 workers were arrested as part of a year-long investigation into Fresh Mark, a northern Ohio meat supplier.  ICE officials raided the company’s plant in Salem, Ohio, about 4 p.m. Tuesday. Search warrants also were served at three other locations in the state.  An ICE spokesman said the investigation continues and could result in additional charges. He did not rule out charges against Fresh Mark employees who may have hired workers in the country illegally.

Fresh Mark was once touted by the government as a partner in preventing hiring undocumented workers. Under the Obama administration, ICE announced the supplier was the first Ohio company to partner with a program meant to “curtail the employment of unauthorized workers,” according to a 2012 news release announcing ICE’s partnership with Fresh Mark. “We are honored to be selected by ICE to participate in this program,” Fresh Mark human resources director Mark Sullivan said in the news release. “For nearly a decade, Fresh Mark has proactively partnered with the government to ensure the integrity of our workforce and the IMAGE program will be a tremendous addition to our future employee verification process.”

Under the program, called the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, or IMAGE, employers can voluntarily partner with the agency by taking steps to weed out undocumented workers. They must use the government’s E-Verify system, which checks employees’ I-9 employment eligibility status and create hiring policies.  After the June 19th raid, ICE said the company may have knowingly hired undocumented workers and many are using fraudulent identification belonging to U.S. citizens.

Immigration officials lined up dozens of workers, many dressed in white helmets and smocks, outside the meat-processing plant in rural Ohio.  An ICE spokesman confirmed that about 60 workers at the Fresh Mark plant in Salem who were detained have been released.  Workers who are in the country legally but did not have proper documentation with them at the time of the raid were released after officials determined they are authorized to work in the United States.  ICE officials said they also released several workers for health and family reasons and other humanitarian concerns.

The remaining 86 workers detained in the raid are being held at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road and the Geauga County jail while they await deportation proceedings.  The men were sent to the East Side private prison and the women were sent to Geauga County.  Sister Rene Weeks, of St. Paul Parish in Salem, said the majority of those detained in the raid were Guatemalan nationals who fled violence in that country and they comprise a large percentage of Salem’s immigrant community.  She added that those released for humanitarian reasons included parents who had children left behind after the raid as well as one woman who is several months pregnant and another who has leukemia.  “They were pretty terrified when the raid happened and relieved to be back with their families, but they are also worried about what comes next,” Sister Rene said.  Sister Rene said many of those who were released met with immigration lawyers Wednesday at St. Paul Parish.

ICE has carried out several such raids in recent months. Two weeks ago, it arrested 114 workers at a gardening company’s two Ohio locations. In April, ICE raided a meatpacking plant in rural Tennessee and arrested 97 immigrants. In January, ICE raided dozens of 7-Eleven stores nationwide, arresting 21.

 

 

 

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The off-duty FBI agent who accidentally shot a man while doing a back flip on the dance floor of a Denver bar has been charged.  Chase Bishop, 29, whose gun went flying out of his holster at Mile High Spirits bar in Denver, was charged with second-degree assault. The incident was captured in a viral video with many outraged that he had not been charged by the Denver Police.  Police had initially released Bishop to an FBI supervisor while awaiting toxicology results before deciding whether to charge him.

A spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney’s Office said Bishop turned himself in after a warrant for his arrest was issued on Tuesday.  He was being held in Downtown Detention Center in Denver but jail records say Bishop posted a $1000 bond and was released.  Additional charges could be filed based on the results of a blood alcohol content test, which has not yet been received, authorities have said.  Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said the assault charge was filed before that report comes back “because sufficient evidence has been presented to file it.  If an additional charge needs to be filed after further evidence is received, we can file those charges then.”  Results from the BAC test are expected within a week.

The incident happened at 12:45am on June 2.  Bishop’s gun discharged and struck fellow patron Tom Reddington in the leg.  Bishop immediately picked up the weapon but accidentally squeezed off a single round. He then placed the gun in his waistband and walked off the dance floor with his hands in the air, the video shows.  Reddington said “We sat down at one of those picnic tables — I heard a loud bang and I thought some idiot set off a firecracker.  Then I looked down at my leg and see some brown residue… All of a sudden from the knee down it became completely red. Then it clicked that I’ve been shot.”  Reddington told “Good Morning America” that he asked for someone to call 911 before blacking out. A security guard and fellow club-goers applied a tourniquet to his leg.  “I soaked through several blankets, several towels, a few gauze pads,” Reddington said.  Reddington is expected to fully recover.

Though Bishop offered no assistance to Reddington on the night of the shooting, his attorney said his client would like to meet with the man who was injured and is praying for his recovery.  Attorney David Goddard asked that Bishop be allowed to travel because he lives and works in Washington, D.C. Prosecutors did not object, and Denver County Court Judge Andrea Eddy gave Bishop permission to travel.  Chase Bishop, 29, made his first appearance in a Denver courtroomon Wednesday, where a judge issued a standard protection order stating that he must have zero contact and stay at least 100 yards away from the victim, Tom Reddington.

Bishop did not enter a plea and declined to answer any questions as he left the courthouse.  The FBI field office in Denver declined to comment on the incident “to preserve the integrity of the ongoing investigation,” said Amy Sanders, a spokeswoman.  Sanders said the field office would fully cooperate with Denver police and prosecutors “as this matter proceeds through the judicial process.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Hawaii’s governor has readied plans for a mass evacuation of the state’s Big Island-warning residents to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice, as an eruption at Kilauea volcano strengthened.  Officials say levels of toxic sulfur dioxide are rising, as is the threat of an explosion that could send lava, rocks and even large boulders into residential areas.  Hundreds of residents continue to evacuate the area and more than two dozen homes have been destroyed so far. Geologists say the volcanic eruptions are expected to continue.

Concerns have been mounting since the Kilauea erupted May 3, sending 2,200-degree lava bursting through cracks into backyards in the Leilani Estates neighborhood, destroying 36 structures, including 26 homes. As the magma shifted underground, a magnitude-6.9 earthquake also rocked the Big Island.    A new fissure spewing lava from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano formed in the southeast corner of the Big Island, raising anxieties as the state braces for potentially violent eruptions.

The new fissure, a crack in the ground allowing lava to pour out, appeared to be several hundred yards long and was producing spatter rising “many tens of feet into the air,” the U.S. Geological Survey said.  It was spotted west of state Highway 132 and led state officials to call for some residents along Halekamahina Loop Road to leave their homes.  Steam and lava spatter could be seen from the new fissure, officials said.

Residents have been warned about the possibility of an explosive eruption at the volcano’s Halema’uma’u Crater because of the withdrawal of lava from the Kilauea summit lake.  “This could generate dangerous debris very near the crater and ashfalls up to tens of miles downwind,” the warning said. The danger comes from the lava level that is dropping inside the volcano. If it falls below the water table, water will pour onto the lava, generating steam that will likely explode from the summit in a shower of rocks, ash and sulfur dioxide gases.  Boulders as big as refrigerators could be tossed a half-mile and ash plumes could soar as high as 20,000 feet spread over a 12-mile area, according to the Hawaii Civil Defense.

President Trump declared the Big Island a disaster area. The move will allow federal financial assistance for state and local governments as they repair roads, parks, schools and water pipes damaged by the eruption.  The Big Island, also known as the island of Hawaii, has a population of about 190,000 people.  The Hawaii National Guard has prepared to use ground convoys and even helicopters to pluck hundreds of residents out of danger if necessary.  The Hawaii National Guard is prepared, with only 90 minutes’ notice, to rescue 2,000 people in troop-carrying vehicles and Blackhawk or Chinook helicopters

“We can move 226 people in one convoy. So we could move 226 at once with about an hour and a half notice, and we would drop them off somewhere. The vehicles could come back, and we would just do that round-robin,” Lt. Col. Shawn Tsuha said.