Gun Violence

Gun Violence

Killing of Two Baton Rouge Men Probably “Racially Motivated” According to Police

0

23-year-old Kenneth Gleason has been arrested and charged with two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder after a string of what police called probably “racially motivated” attacks. 59-year-old Bruce Cofield, a homeless man, was shot by Gleason in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, while 49-year-old Donald Smart was shot in a separate incident as he was walking to his workplace, a local cafe near Louisiana State University where Smart washed dishes. In both cases, it is believed that Gleason shot them from a car and then finished the job by getting out and firing subsequent bullets as the victims were already on the ground. In a third incident, police suspect he was responsible for shots fired at a home of an African-American family, although no one was injured in that particular incident.

Baton Rouge Interim Police Chief Jonny Dunnam talked about Gleason’s capture, essentially calling him dangerous and expressing his fear that, had Gleason not been captured, “[he] could have potentially created a tear in the fabric that holds this community together.” The Baton Rouge police specifically charged Gleason with two counts of first degree murder, two counts of attempted first degree murder, aggravated criminal damage to property and the illegal use of a firearm. According to East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore, the prosecution is aiming to have the death penalty brought upon Gleason for his crimes. Tensions are high in Baton Rouge since last year, where Baton Rouge resident Alton Sterling, a black man, was shot dead by police, which led to a retaliatory attack of three police officers two weeks later.

Gleason’s lawyer, Christopher Alexander, has released a statement denying guilt, while saying that they “look forward to complete vindication” as his case goes to court. Gleason had just left jail after posting bail for theft charges when he began his string of attacks. The 23-year-old, whose DNA was found on shell casings at the two major crime scenes, was later discovered to have literature on Nazi leader Adolf Hitler as well as a stash of cannabis. Despite what was found in his apartment, those who knew Gleason were surprised to find that Gleason committed these crimes, as most characterized him as a quiet individual who never really showed anger outwardly. Those who knew him intimately, including Matthew Drago, a former roommate of Gleason’s, did note that he occasionally displayed impulsive behavior. However, Drago also notes that, while his studies of the German language led to accumulation of German literature, Gleason was also a connoisseur of literature relating to Eastern and Buddhist philosophy. As for more recently, he was spotted shoplifting $30 worth of merchandise from a Target in Phoenix, Arizona, although those charges were dismissed. In the last couple of months, local Baton Rouge residents had spotted Gleason intermittently living out of his car, parked outside his parents’ house.

4 Year Old Shot – Virginia Man Arrested

0

In Opal, Virginia, a 26-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman were arrested after being found guilty of child neglect. Isaiah Marshall Davis reportedly left a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old and a third toddler in a car by themselves as he and Destinie Rochelle Beach, the children’s mother, entered Quarles Truck Stop. The 2-year-old, who was a boy, was able to access a gun and shot the 4-year-old, who was a girl. The wound was in the girl’s upper body The situation was worsened by the fact that the adults did not look for medical treatment in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. Instead, according to a clerk at the truck stop, the couple brought the bloodied child in and claimed she had been bitten by a dog. The clerk later witnessed Beach taking the girl to a bathroom with peroxide and bandages. However, they left the scene before authorities could arrive. Eventually, authorities  received a call asking for medical attention from a motel in Colonial Beach, Virginia, about 65 miles away from where the accident occurred; this was where police found the child. The child was later treated and released from the local hospital’s trauma center. The other two children were unharmed from the incident.

 

Davis in particular was charged with three counts of abuse and neglect of children, as well as reckless handling of a firearm and allowing access to a firearm by children. As to the latter charge, it should be noted that leaving any firearm unsecured so that it is accessible by a child 14 years of age or younger is illegal in the state of Virginia. The crimes were made worse by the fact that Davis is a convicted felon, which means that according to Virginia law he was not allowed to own a firearm. Davis is currently waiting for a trial at Northern Neck Regional Jail. Beach turned herself in later, and was charged with abuse and neglect of children, as well as possession/transport of a firearm by a non-violent felon.

 

In the press release announcing Davis’ arrest, the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office expressed a strong encouragement to the local community to keep their firearms safe at home and in transport. In fact, the Sheriff’s Office has offered to provide cable locks if requested by local residents via their administrative phone line. Other organizations that support child gun safety recommend keeping firearms unloaded and stored in a proper storage case. Gun locking devices are also available, and some gun owners go as far as to disassemble firearms and keep the parts in separate locations during transport.

Escambia County Gang Violence Rising

0

After the death of a 22-year-old gang member in a case of friendly fire in Pensacola, Florida in June, a spotlight has been put on the increase in gang violence in Escambia County, the northwestern-most area of the state of Florida. Juston Donson was shot in the head after he and four of his friends confronted an 18-year-old male who had threatened Donson with a gun earlier that night. The 18-year-old, who had been arrested in the month prior to this incident due to illegal carrying of a concealed weapon, holed himself up in his home for hours after the shooting out of fear. Meanwhile, the four friends of Donson were later charged with murder.

According to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, a majority of the violent crimes that take place in the county are gang-related. “Whether it’s a petty theft at Walmart… or whether it’s a gang-motivated crime… one gang member shooting a rival gang member… one way or another we can relate 80 percent of the crime in this county to gangs,” Sergeant Jon Pinney says. Local authorities say that the gang system in the community is fairly disorganized compared to national networks, which explains the higher frequency of friendly fire incidents such as that which claimed the life of Donson. This also results in more gruesome outliers, such as rape and kidnapping, due to not having to run ideas through a hierarchy as is commonly done in larger gang networks such as the Bloods and the Crips. It doesn’t help matters that the size of these loosely organized gangs has greatly increased in northern Florida, from 161 gangs and 565 members in 2010 to 201 gangs and 1472 members in 2013. Specifically, in Pensacola, an estimated 20 gangs are currently active, although because of their size they only make up a negligible percentage of the local prison population.

The situation in Escambia County is further exacerbated by the lack of qualified personnel to handle gang-related violence. Only three investigators are assigned to the Sheriff’s Office gang unit, which has been an official division of the department since 2014. The unit is charged with handling these sorts of issues, the highest frequency crime dealt with being illegal possession of firearms. Prevention, which is also a goal of the county police department, is made more difficult by the fact that younger members in disorganized gangs have less fear of arrest and a stronger desire to prove themselves. Pinney says that he’s found that gang initiations have begun as early as 11 years old, usually involving breaking into cars and homes. Gang members as young as 13 years old have been captured with illegal firearms. Currently, the strategy taken by the gang unit is to pursue stricter punishments and hoping that being a member of a gang ceases to be a source of pride in the community.

15 shootings in Chicago over 11-hour span

0

Over the course of the night of Wednesday, August 30th, 13 people were shot in Chicago over an 11-hour span. That death toll included two triple shootings on the West Side of the city. This is not an uncommon number for Chicago unfortunately, as similar headlines are published by The Chicago Tribune and other local newspapers frequently. For example, on July 9th, 15 people were injured and two killed in a six-hour span. More recently, the weekend of August 18th, which saw 63 shootings and eight dead, was called the worst weekend since Independence Day weekend, which saw 102 people shot.

Compared to those weekends, this Wednesday was relatively tame, with only one man dead during this stretch of violence. A man in his late 40s was found dead in a vacant residential lot in Morgan Park around 5 AM on Thursday. His body had several bullet wounds and officials declared him dead at the scene.

The two triple shootings on Wednesday night did not result in such a morbid ending. The first one occurred at 7:35 PM in the Austin neighborhood. Whoever began the shooting walked up to the front of a home and began the firefight. By the end of it, the worst damage was done to a 37-year-old man, who was shot in the face and was last reported in serious condition. A 51-year-old male got shot in the knee and has since been stabilized, while a 65-year-old male was grazed in the abdomen but did not feel the need to be taken to a hospital.

The other triple shooting of the night occurred at 11:30 PM in Lawndale, with a 38-year-old male shot in the left shoulder, a different 38-year-old male shot in the right arm, and a 33-year-old male shot in the right foot. All three were able to reach stable condition after a trip to the hospital. Since then, police have tried to ascertain why the shooting occurred, but none of these men have been cooperative with the investigation at last report.

One of the more worrying shootings happened in the Pilsen neighborhood, where a 41-year-old male was wounded around 1 AM on Thursday. A woman reported the shooting after she woke up to the gunfire. As she waited for police to arrive, she reportedly gave the victim a glass of water to keep him conscious. Paramedics arrived and took him away on a stretcher. Due to getting shot in the chest, he is currently in serious condition. A similarly troubling incident occurred in Englewood, where a 60-year-old man who was walking home at 6:20 PM was shot in the leg after a van pulled up alongside the victim. The 60-year-old has since been stabilized.

While the major shootings involved older males, there were several youths affected in the night of violence as well. An 18-year-old man in South Austin was shot in the abdomen at 9:20 PM after a hand-to-hand struggle; he is currently in stable condition. Meanwhile, a 22-year-old man in Lawndale was grazed in the left hand. His shooter is currently suspected to have perpetrated the crime in a drive-by.

Two Months On, “Campus Carry” Goes Off in Georgia Without a Hitch

0

 

Updated 8/28/17

Original story posted 7/2/17

A new “campus carry” bill became valid as of July 1st in the state of Georgia, and while the law was expected to cause some level of controversy, university students seem to have accepted the new law for the most part. For example, a forum organized by Augusta University on Tuesday, August 29th to discuss the new law was only attended by one person. In the wake of that news, the university’s chief of police James C. Lyon noted that he actually hasn’t fielded a single call from fears concerning the new bill, despite initial worries that it would cause controversy.

Georgia House Bill 280 allows people to carry a concealed weapon at public colleges and universities in the state. The bill requires that only those with a state weapons license can carry, and the state emphasized that to acquire a license, you still need to be older than 21, submit your fingerprints and pass a background check. The bill also prohibits concealed weapons from being carried into athletic venues, student housing, faculty offices and areas where high school students are present. With regard to the athletic venue prohibition, due to the popular football atmosphere in the state, the bill allows for concealed carry to happen in venue parking lots, as the practice of tailgating is especially common in the state.

While the bill didn’t generate much public grassroots actions, you can find supporters and critics among the individuals. For example, Earl Kang, a graduate student at the University of Georgia, says that there has always been a concern over someone breaking the law in a campus setting, so “campus carry will give us an opportunity to defend ourselves if necessary.” Betty Leigh Miller, a parent of a university student, also supports the bill, defining her position as such: “In the world we’re living in and everything that’s happening right now, the more people that can stop things from happening the better.” On the other side of the aisle, parent Nag Bondada expressed their worry succinctly: “It’s a distraction. You came here for learning, not for carrying arms, right?”

The main point of debate over the bill has centered around whether campus police could be trusted enough to stop a threat on their own. Despite this new allowance for civilian students to carry a weapon, campus police departments are doing their part to educate for the purpose of avoiding misunderstandings in the future. Chief Lyon says that Augusta University is developing a training program for their students and staff in the near future in order to get them more familiar with how to use their weapons properly and how to react to someone who has a concealed weapon on them. Augusta University Dean of Student Life Scott Wallace notes that the administration is modeling most of its policy on the ones implemented by universities in Texas and Colorado, who also have campus carry laws. “Other states have done this. We’re not trailblazers, in the state of Georgia, for this topic,” Wallace concedes.

Two Teens Killed in Montgomery County Day Before Graduation

0

Montgomery County, Maryland police have arrested and charged three Hispanic males with the murder of two local teenagers. 17-year-old Shadi Adi Najjar and 18-year-old Artem Ziberov were shot the night before their high school graduation as they found themselves in a parked car in Montgomery Village. One teen was shot 10 times and the other four times, although the police did not specify which victim was which in that statistic.

The men charged were later identified as 19-year-old Roger Garcia, 24-year-old Edgar Garcia-Gaona and 25-year-old Jose Canales-Yanez. All three were charged with two counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. According to Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger, it is believed that Najjar may have robbed the girlfriend of Canales-Yanez in December of last year. The girlfriend claimed in a police report that a blue Honda Civic approached her as she was walking and forcibly removed her iPad from her hands. Therefore, it’s possible that this killing was retaliatory in nature. As for Ziberov, they are still trying to determine whether he was also involved in the previous incident or if this was just a case of being “in the wrong place at the wrong time”, as Manger put it.  According to a police report, one person with knowledge of the situation said that they were together in a trip to sell graduation tickets to Garcia; Garcia later claimed to not even know who Najjar or Ziberov were and the he attends Northwest High School, the same school Najjar and Ziberoy were graduating from. After the fact, police found that ammunition similar to that found on the crime scene was scattered across the residence of Garcia-Gaona, who lives in Gaithersburg.

Despite this story, Adi Najjar, father of Shadi Adi Najjar, has been vocal calling this version a “big lie”. “He is such a sweet person. Loving, lovable person. He would never try to harm anybody,” is how he responded to the allegations that Shadi Adi Najjar was involved in a robbery. The theory that the father has been espousing was that this was random gang violence. “I know there is more than three because I believe this is a gang… I believe this is a gang and there’s a lot to the story than we know,” Adi Najjar said. He speculated that it could’ve been a situation where they were trying to recruit his son into the gang and he refused. Police are still investigating to confirm motives.

The day after the murder, Northwest High School in Germantown held a moment of silence for Najjar and Ziberoy before the graduation ceremony. The diplomas the two would have received at the ceremony were delivered to their respective families.

North Lake College gunman was stalking the woman he killed

0

A fatal shooting of a 20 year old named Janeera Nickol Gonzalez occurred at a Irving school.  The shooter was a man that had been stalking her and the school immediately went into a lockdown.  The body of the shooter, a 21 year old named Adrian Victor Torres, was discovered with after he committed suicide.  The mother of Gonzalez stated that her daughter knew her stalker but never perceived him as a threat.  There were no signs of the two of them dating or even having a friendship.  It is alleged that the shooter stated, “You know who I am, and you know why I am here” before shooting and killing Gonzalez.

North Lake College immediately went into a lockdown after the situation occurred, warning everyone to stay away from campus if not local and to go to the nearest room if they were in fact already on campus.  Multiple schools in the local area also went into a lockdown.  Students on campus that witnessed this tragic event stated that they saw a man place a girl in a chair and then shot her three times.  Apparently, there were no screams or any attempt of a fight.

North Lake College remained closed the rest of the day and grief counselors were available to anyone who felt they needed help after the horrific situation.  Dallas County Community College District Chancellor Joe May made a grieving statement saying, “Now we must move forward as a community to console each other and to help one another during this difficult time.”  The college is now open and functioning again.

Performance Crime on the Rise with Recent Facebook Live Murder

0

 

A man in Cleveland was brutally killed on a live streamed Facebook video that has gone viral.  Robert Godwin, Sr. was the victim of a man named Steve Stephens who logged online and went live for his alleged slaying of Godwin.  Stephens took his own life after a nationwide search began.

For many years since Facebook has been in existence, the numbers of documented crimes has surged.  Facebook has been forced to reexamine the material as well as live video feeds that are placed on users’ personal pages.  Vester Lee Flanagan (Bryce Williams) in 2015 documented the killing of two of his former coworkers and then posting it on social media.  The goal is to gain a lot of public attention and the violent acts seem to be growing.  Four adults were arrested earlier in the year in Chicago after livestreaming the suffering and torture of a teenager.

University of Central Florida’s professor of Criminal Justice Ray Surette states that these behaviors are solely happening in order to derive attention from a mass audience.  He labeled them “performance crimes” and that they are on the rise since social media took storm.  He also stated that he is concerned that, due to the extensive coverage in the media, crimes will continue to rise since they are being glorified.  Scientific findings state that the copycat behavior of these crimes that are on the rise may be derived from the need for attention, specifically including mass shootings.  It has been recorded that after a mass shooting, within 13 days there is an expectorant of another mass shooting by a copycat suspect. Researchers have found that the majority of suspects crave the attention, fame and notoriety by copycatting the previous suspect and their exact crime.

Further studies confirm that the desire to post publicly their crimes being committed stems from the need to control resulting from a lack of power.  “One of the surefire ways of trying to enhance one’s sense of power and efficacy is to do something as brazen … as commit a random murder online” stated Naftali Berrill, director of NYC Neuropsychology and Forensic Behavioral Science.

Facebook inventor Mark Zuckerberg stated in a conference regarding the livestreamed killing, “We have a lot more to do here. … reminded of this this week by the tragedy in Cleveland. … We will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”  The Facebook CEO is looking into further detail as to what they can do to prevent this situation from reoccurring and gaining more momentum.

1 at Large, 2 Arrested in Alaska ‘Crime Spree’

0

A series of armed robberies has occurred in Anchorage, Alaska.  16 year old King Dunlap and a 20 year old Detallion Owens have been detained, along with a third possible defendant, on felony accusations.  The third suspect, a 21 year old named Delander Owens, Jr., has not since been apprehended.  The teenaged boy will be charged as an adult on all counts.  Both apprehended suspects have now been prosecuted for their series of robberies that commenced in that latter end of January and continued throughout the month of February.

The apprehended suspects turn out to be brothers and had newly relocated from Memphis, Tennessee to Anchorage Alaska where they began their robbery spree.  On the early hours of January 27, 2017 around 2am, the three suspects were identified by a nearby resident of a local apartment residence.  One of the isolated incidences was the robbery of a pizza delivery operator.   Kevin Bergt, Assistant District Attorney, stated that a Glock 42 handgun was also stolen along with the delivery automobile.  A young woman happened to be the delivery driver and was coerced out of the vehicle.  The stolen vehicle was located several days later.

Owens and Dunlap were recognized in a photo lineup by an identified victim from one of the several robberies on February 19, 2017.  The victim allowed the suspects into his home after stating they were cold.  The suspects then robbed the home of a 2009 Subaru Forester as well as property from within the home, according to Bergt.  The Forrester was located heavily damaged the next day by the police and both suspects were viewed near the site of the wreckage.  There was one more robbery that occurred to a dental worker that occurred at gunpoint.  An iPad was stolen from the worker and luckily had a tracking device installed which led the police directly to the suspects.

Once apprehended, the Glock 42 that was stolen from the delivery driver was found in Dunlap’s possession as well as property from the other robberies.  Dunlap has been indicted with four felony counts, one comprised of a robbery.  Both Detaillion and Delander Owens have been indicted on 14 felony counts, three counts decided as first-degree robberies.

If you or anyone you know has any information on the location of Delander Owens, please call the Anchorage police or Detective Jim Anderson (907)786-8900.

Lawyer Says Reno Boy Shot by School Cop Had Been Bullied, Beaten

0

RENO, Nev. — An emotionally distressed 14-year-old armed with a knife had been bullied and beaten and was trying to escape from a crowd of classmates this week who had gathered to capture video of an anticipated fight when a campus police officer shot the boy, his lawyer told The Associated Press on Friday.

The Reno teen had been showing signs of improvement from a critical gunshot wound to his chest, but suffered a “major stroke” Friday and underwent emergency surgery and his condition was unknown Friday night, Reno attorney David Houston said. Before the stroke, he said the boy was critical but stable.

Houston, a prominent Reno attorney, said in an interview earlier Friday he was hired by the boy’s father to defend the teen against any potential criminal charges stemming from Wednesday’s shooting.

He said he was still reviewing videos of the incident posted on social media but said several suggest none of the students felt threatened by the knife-wielding boy and many appeared shocked when the officer opened fire in a high school courtyard.

“Those kids were alerted there was going to be a beat-down at a specific time and a specific location. They had amassed with their cellphones for the purpose of filming it,” Houston told the AP.

He added: “Half the student body is out there cheering them on. He’d been punched in the face and was running around screaming, ‘Get away from me!’ He was trying to extricate himself from a situation that had become like spectators in the Roman Colosseum.”

One online video appears to show the teen wielding a large knife in a circle of dozens of onlookers. Another appears to capture the sound of a single gunshot and several students screaming before the camera shows the boy writhing in pain on the ground. A student’s voice says, “They shot the kid.”

“The video tells the story,” Houston said. “No one anticipated the officer is going to shoot the kid.”

“There was no attempt to calm the situation. There was not this genuine sense of panic or alarm by the students watching until the officer attempted to execute the 14-year-old who was screaming, ‘Get away from me,'” he said.

No charges have been filed. The campus officer has been placed on paid administrative leave while Reno police lead an investigation into the officer-involved shooting.

“Any charging considerations are a part of that process,” Washoe County District Attorney spokeswoman Michelle Bays said Friday, declining further comment until the investigation is complete.

Reno Police Chief Jason Soto said earlier the boy threatened other students and failed to comply with the officer’s orders to drop the knife before the officer shot him’

School Superintendent Traci Davis said Friday she continues to believe “the officer’s judgment saved other students from deadly force.”

The school district’s chief lawyer criticized Houston for speaking out on behalf of his client.

“It is disappointing to think that such a tragic event can be sensationalized by one side and by the media in order to spread false truths, innuendos, and disparage the efforts of a law enforcement officer protecting children,” said the lawyer, Neil A. Rombardo.

Houston’s past clients have included ex-pro wrestler Hulk Hogan and Joe Francis, founder of the “Girls Gone Wild” video empire.

He said the boy “brought some kitchen knives to school” because he feared “he’d get jumped by the same group of seniors who had beaten him the day before.”

Houston said the officer could have tried more to calm the boy down and convince him to put the knife down.

“They could have said, ‘It’s OK, nobody is going to hurt you,'” Houston said. “One of the primary rules of our society is we don’t shoot our children. We simply don’t shoot first and ask questions later.”

Source: NBC News