A video of young girls fighting over an alleged dispute over boys was filmed by close friends, sources told the Daily News Thursday.
In the attack, which happened last Friday at Queens’ Astoria Park, a group of teenage girls approach the two friends. One of the friends with red hair is seen trading blows with her assailant before another joins and tag teams her. She is eventually seen with a bloody face; her friend is attacked with an orange traffic cone, which broke her nose.
The video shows other girls egging on the attackers while recording the brawl. Queens Councilman Peter Vallone, who represents the district, commented on the disturbing video.
Watch the video here:
“It’s sad that the video shows a lot of kids encouraging the beating and other kids filming the beating, but no one trying to step in and stop the beating,” he said. “You like to think the kids in your neighborhood won’t be involved in this type of behavior, but it’s happening everywhere.”
Vallone notified authorities after seeing the video for himself. According to sources, the victims attend Intermediate School 126. The attackers are from Long Island City High School. The source claimed that the red-haired girl was also beaten up at a nearby McDonalds’s over a boy, perhaps a precursor of what was to come.
Keke Onpoint was interested in getting a bigger derriere. So the Detroit native signed up for “The Black Market” treatment at a hotel on April 5th, paying $1,100 for a butt injection from a stranger. Big mistake.
Rather than receiving a larger behind, Onpoint received septic shock, ending up in the hospital and nearly dying. It turns out the silicone Onpoint was injected with is the type not meant for human bodies, according to MyFoxDetroit.
“Immediately after I got the injections, I started lumping up really bad,” Onpoint told WXYZ.
“I was just fascinated about today’s fashion and the look of having a larger backside. It’s so popular and it’s such a phenomenon here.”
Watch a news report about Keke’s infection:
Onpoint was just another victim of back door butt injections, typically life-threatening and illegal. But the practice has proven to be profitable for those who organize the treatments. Memphis native Natasha Stewart, a.k.a “Pebblez Da Model,” cashed in $200 for every person she referred to a surgeon who offered the injections.
One of her clients, Karima Gordon, died after the fake plastic surgeon injected her with concrete. But in the ever popular quest for a Nicki Minaj-esque backside, it’s likely more women will sign up for their chance to improve what their mothers gave them. Even if it could kill them.
As for Keke, there’s a interesting irony in her case. Doctors claim she may have to get part of her behind removed to cure her infection.
WEST, Texas (AP) — The blast at a Texas fertilizer plant made perhaps its biggest mark on an apartment building across the railroad tracks from the site.
The apartment building’s roof was collapsed in the Wednesday blast, its windows blown out and chunks of concrete littered the space between the tracks and the apartments.
Officials organized a visit to the area around the blast site in West on Sunday for a small group of reporters.
They did not allow reporters to see what was happening at the site, though four heavily damaged metal structures were visible from nearby.
At least 14 people are dead and 200 injured after the blast in the tiny Texas town.
Federal and state agents continue to work the scene. Authorities have not yet identified the cause of the blast.
WEST, Texas (AP) — The bodies of 12 people have been recovered after an enormous Texas fertilizer plant explosion that demolished surrounding neighborhoods for blocks and left about 200 other people injured, authorities said Friday.
Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jason Reyes said it was “with a heavy heart” that he confirmed 12 bodies had been pulled from the area of the plant explosion in West, about 20 miles north of Waco.
Even before investigators released a confirmed number of fatalities, the names of the dead were becoming known in the town of 2,800 and a small group of firefighters and other first responders who may have rushed toward the plant to battle a pre-explosion blaze was believed to be among them.
Reyes said he could not confirm Friday how many of those killed were first responders.
Rescue crews spent much of the day after Wednesday night’s blast searching the town for survivors, and Reyes said those efforts were ongoing. He said authorities had searched and cleared 150 buildings by Friday morning and still had another 25 to examine.
The mourning already had begun at a service at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church the previous night.
“We know everyone that was there first, in the beginning,” said Christina Rodarte, 46, who has lived in West for 27 years. “There’s no words for it. It is a small community, and everyone knows the first responders, because anytime there’s anything going on, the fire department is right there, all volunteer.”
One victim Rodarte knew and whose name was released was Kenny Harris, a 52-year-old captain in the Dallas Fire Department who lived south of West. He was off duty at the time but responded to the fire to help, according to a statement from the city of Dallas.
With search and rescue efforts continuing, it was clear the town’s landscape was going to be changed forever by the four-to-five block radius leveled by the blast. An apartment complex was badly shattered, a school set ablaze, and a nursing home was left in ruins.
Residents were kept out of a large swath of West, where search and rescue teams continued to pick through the rubble. Some with permission made forays closer to the destruction and came back stunned, and it was possible other residents would be allowed to retrieve some personal belongings Friday, emergency workers said.
Garage doors were ripped off homes. Fans hung askew from twisted porches. At West Intermediate School, which was close to the blast site, all of the building’s windows were blown out, as well as the cafeteria.
“I had an expectation of what I would see, but what I saw went beyond my expectations in a bad way,” said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott after his visit. “It is very disturbing to see the site.
Fifteen years ago, Brenda Covey, 46, lived in the now-leveled apartment complex across the street from the plant.
On Thursday, she learned that two men she knew, both volunteer firefighters, had perished. Word of one came from her landlord because they live in the same complex in nearby Hillsboro. The other was the best man at her nephew’s wedding.
“Word gets around quick in a small town,” said Covey, who spent her whole life living in and around West.
Firefighter Darryl Hall, from Thorndale, about 50 miles away from West, was one of the rescue workers helping with the house to house search.
“People’s lives are devastated here. It’s hard to imagine,” Hall said.
The explosion apparently was touched off by a fire, but it remained unclear what sparked the blaze. A team from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives still had not been able to begin investigating the scene Thursday because it remained unsafe, agency spokeswoman Franceska Perot said.
The West Fertilizer Co. facility stores and distributes anhydrous ammonia, a fertilizer that can be directly injected into soil, and a blender and mixer of other fertilizers.
Records reviewed by The Associated Press show the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration fined West Fertilizer $10,000 last summer for safety violations that included planning to transport anhydrous ammonia without a security plan. An inspector also found the plant’s ammonia tanks weren’t properly labeled.
The government accepted $5,250 after the company took what it described as corrective actions, the records show. It is not unusual for companies to negotiate lower fines with regulators.
In a risk-management plan filed with the Environmental Protection Agency about a year earlier, the company said it was not handling flammable materials and did not have sprinklers, water-deluge systems, blast walls, fire walls or other safety mechanisms in place at the plant.
State officials require all facilities that handle anhydrous ammonia to have sprinklers and other safety measures because it is a flammable substance, according to Mike Wilson, head of air permitting for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
But inspectors would not necessarily check for such mechanisms, and it’s not known whether they did when the West plant was last inspected in 2006, said Ramiro Garcia, head of enforcement and compliance.
That inspection followed a complaint about a strong ammonia smell, which the company resolved by obtaining a new permit, said the commission’s executive director Zak Covar. He said no other complaints had been filed with the state since then, so there haven’t been additional inspections.
The Rev. Ed Karasek told the hundreds gathered at Thursday’s church service that the community needed time to heal.
“I know that every one of us is in shock,” Karasek said. “We don’t know what to think.”
“Our town of West will never be the same, but we will persevere.”
UPDATE 10:19 A.M. EST: Tamerlan Tsarnaev allegedly posted the following video to YouTube. It has not been confirmed that this video is authentic.
UPDATE 8:45 A.M. EST: The suspect’s home, 410 Norfolk St. in Cambridge, is surrounded by police and the SWAT team has guns drawn. Two people are now in custody.
UPDATE 8:35 A.M. EST: Brynn Gingras of NBC New York releases yearbook photo of Boston bomb suspect. A classmate said “he was quiet.”
UPDATE 7:54 A.M. EST: NBC’s Pete Williams is reporting that the dead suspect’s name is Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26. According to NBC, Dzhokhhar ran over Tamerlan trying to escape from police. The deceased suspect allegedly had explosives strapped to his chest.
Governor Deval Patrick has warned residents to stay in their homes. Dzhokhar is considered armed and dangerous.
Watch NBC live coverage here.
UPDATE 6:56 A.M EST: NBC reports that the remaining suspect’s name is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The suspects were brothers, legal residents from Turkey (Chechen) who had allegedly been in the US for approximately one year.
Dramatic events unfolded in Boston overnight that have left an MIT police officer and one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects dead, more explosions and much of Greater Boston on active lock down as a massive manhunt continues.
After the shooting of the MIT officer, police followed in pursuit of 2 suspects who fled to the Boston suburb of Watertown.
According to the NYTimes, Watertown resident, Andrew Kitzenberg, 29, described the subsequent events as follows:
A police SUV “drove towards the shooters,” he said, and was shot at until it was severely damaged. It rolled out of control, Mr. Kitzenberg said, and crashed into two cars in his driveway.
The two shooters, he said, had a large, unwieldy bomb that he said looked “like a pressure cooker.”
“They lit it, still in the middle of the gunfire, and threw it. But it went 20 yards at most.” It exploded, he said, and one of the two men ran toward the gathered police officers. He was tackled, but it was not clear if he was shot, Mr. Kitzenberg said.
Read more from the Boston Globe AP below:
According to State Police Colonel Timothy Alben, the night’s outbreak of violence began about 10:30 p.m. police received reports of a robbery of a convenience store in Kendall Square near MIT. A few minutes later, an MIT police officer, who has not been identified, was shot multiple times while in his cruiser at Main and Vassar streets, near Building 32, better known as the renowned the Stata Center on the MIT campus.
The officer was pronounced dead at Massachusetts General Hospital.
A short time later, two men carjacked a Mercedes SUV at gunpoint, and the owner of that car was able to flee at a gas station on Memorial Drive. The SUV proceeded out Memorial Drive toward Watertown followed by a long train of police vehicles in pursuit.
At one point during the pursuit, the two suspects opened fire on Watertown police and a Transit Police officer, who was shot and who is now in critical condition at a Boston-area hospital this morning.
During the gunfight, the man known as Marathon suspect #1 was wounded. He was taken into custody and later died at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Alben said.
Police have since been searching for the other bombing suspect.
SEE MSNBC report below:
Boston Police released an enhanced photo of suspect #2 and Commissioner Edward F. Davis said this man in the white baseball cap is the one who actually dropped the bombs at the finish line of the marathon:
“We believe this to be a terrorist,’’ Davis told reporters about 4:30 a.m. today. “We believe this to be a man here to kill people.”
UPDATE 12:27 A.M. EST: The officer who was shot multiple times on the campus of MIT has died from his injuries, reports Boston’s WCVB.com.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — State police say a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has suffered life-threatening injuries in a shooting on the campus outside Boston.
State police spokesman Dave Procopio says the shooting took place about 10:30 p.m. outside an MIT building. The injured officer was described as a male but no further information about him was released.
Procopio says authorities are searching for a suspect or suspects. No arrests have been made.
MIT police, Cambridge police and state police are involved in the investigation.
About 11,000 people attend the prestigious school.
SEE ALSO:Miss. Man Arrested For Sending Poisonous Letter To President Obama FBI Releases Surveillance Video In Boston Marathon Bombing
BOSTON (AP) — Plucking a couple of faces in baseball caps out of a swarming crowd, the FBI zeroed in on two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing and shared surveillance-camera images of them with the world Thursday in hopes the public will help hunt them down.
The somewhat blurry but still detailed photos and video depict one young man in a dark cap and another in a white cap worn backward, both wearing backpacks and one walking behind the other on the sidewalk near the finish line as marathoners run by.
The man in the white hat was seen setting down a backpack at the site of the second explosion, said Richard DesLauriers, FBI agent in charge in Boston.
“Somebody out there knows these individuals as friends, neighbors, co-workers or family members of the suspects,” he said. “Though it may be difficult, the nation is counting on those with information to come forward and provide it to us.”
They looked much like typical college students, but DesLauriers described them as armed and extremely dangerous, and urged anyone who sees or knows them to tell law enforcement and “do not take any action on your own.”
The break in the investigation came just three days after the attack that killed three people, tore off limbs and raised the specter of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. FBI photo-analysis specialists have been analyzing a mountain of surveillance footage and amateur pictures and video for clues to who carried out the attack and why.
The volume of information is likely to grow, joined now by a torrent of tips from people who think they might know the suspects. In releasing the images, the FBI gambled that useful clues will emerge, not just time-wasting leads.
Authorities are selective in putting out images of suspects because doing so risks tipping off the hunted and losing the element of surprise. But it can be a last resort when authorities hit a wall trying to identify or capture someone.
Within moments of the announcement, the FBI website crashed, perhaps because of a crush of visitors.
The images were released hours after President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attended an interfaith service at a Roman Catholic cathedral in Boston to remember the dead and the more than 180 wounded in the twin blasts Monday at the finish line of the 26.2-mile race.
The FBI video is a compilation of segments, altogether about 30 seconds long. The planting of the backpack, as described by authorities, was not part of the footage made public.
The man in the dark hat was dubbed Suspect 1 by the FBI and appeared to be wearing sunglasses. The other, in the white hat, was labeled Suspect 2. Both appeared to be wearing dark jackets. The FBI did not comment on the men’s height, weight or age range and would not discuss their ethnicity.
“It would be inappropriate to comment on the ethnicity of the men because it could lead people down the wrong path potentially,” said FBI agent Greg Comcowich, a spokesman for the Boston FBI office.
The enlarged pictures of white-hatted Suspect 2 in profile and head-on were blurry but still remarkable in their detail – and more revealing than those of Suspect 1.
While authorities said the information on the men began coming together over the previous day or so, agent Daniel Curtin said the FBI did not release the photos earlier because “it’s important to get it right.”
Distribution of the images brought both encouragement and unease to some Bostonians.
Jennifer Lauro of Topsfield, Mass., worried that the photos might breed fear and suspicion.
“It just looks like a college kid, so I think that’s going to make people feel vulnerable,” she said. “Because it could be anybody. It looks like any kid from Boston College or Boston University or any other school.”
Judy and Marc Ehrlich watched the marathon from a spot between miles 25 and 26 on Monday and felt the ground shake when the bombs exploded. The couple said it was creepy to see images of the suspects who were there at the same time, walking around. But they were comforted that the FBI had come up with suspects.
“Unless they kill themselves, they’re going to get found,” Marc Ehrlich said. He added: “There’s nowhere in the world to hide.”
James Kallstrom, who headed the FBI office in New York City in the 1990s, said “you get a million phone calls” when the public is asked for help. But “that’s why you have 1,000 people working for you.”
“The key is to have a good filtering system. There’s going to be a whole bunch of these things you just disregard,” he said.
At the Cathedral of the Holy Cross earlier in the day, Obama saluted the resolve of the people of Boston and mocked the bombers as “these small, stunted individuals who would destroy instead of build and think somehow that makes them important.”
“We will find you,” he warned.
Seven victims remained in critical condition. Killed were 8-year-old Martin Richard of Boston, 29-year-old restaurant manager Krystle Campbell of Medford, Mass., and Lu Lingzi, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student from China.
The large volume of video and photos gathered as part of the investigation is being examined and enhanced by a special FBI unit. Investigators are looking at video frame by frame – a laborious process, though one aided by sophisticated facial-recognition technology and other software, forensic specialists said.
Investigators can set the software to search for certain types of objects or people matching a height and weight description. The software can also spot patterns that human analysts might not notice, such as a certain car that turns up in different places, said Gene Grindstaff, a scientist at Intergraph Corp., a Huntsville, Ala., company that makes video analysis software used by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
“Back in the days of 20 years ago, you were lucky if you had video and it was probably of poor quality and it took a tremendous amount of enhancement. Today you have a completely different issue,” Grindstaff said.
A man walked into a Rialto, California strip club Wednesday night and shot an exotic dancer before killing himself, reports KNBC.com.
The incident took place at the Spearmint Rhino strip club. The man, who was in his 40′s, asked the dancer, in her 20′s, to go into a private room with him and was rejected. That’s when he pulled out the gun, shot the dancer in the face before turning the gun on himself.
According to a friend of the dancer, the man had been a fan of hers, going to the strip club daily to watch her perform. CBS Local reports that he allegedly brought up all the money had spent on her in the last year before pulling out the gun and shooting her in the face.
There were reportedly approximately 20 people in the room when the shooting occurred. According to police, the Spearmint Rhino does not check for weapons before entry.
OXFORD, Miss. — A Mississippi man charged with mailing letters with suspected ricin to national leaders believed he had uncovered a conspiracy to sell human body parts on the black market, and on Thursday his attorney said he was surprised by his arrest and maintains he is innocent.
Paul Kevin Curtis (pictured), 45, wore shackles and a Johnny Cash T-shirt Thursday in a federal courtroom. His handcuffs were taken off for the brief hearing, and he said little. He faces two charges on accusations of threatening President Barack Obama and others. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison.
He did not enter a plea on the two charges. The judge said a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing are scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday.
Attorney Christi R. McCoy said Curtis “maintains 100 percent that he did not do this.”
“I know Kevin, I know his family,” she said. “This is a huge shock.”
McCoy said she has not yet decided whether to seek a hearing to determine whether Curtis is mentally competent to stand trial.
Curtis, who was arrested Wednesday at his home in Corinth, near the Tennessee state line, was being held in the Lafayette County jail in Oxford, Miss.
An FBI affidavit says Curtis sent three letters with suspected ricin to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, and a Mississippi judge. The letters read:
No one wanted to listen to me before. There are still `Missing Pieces.’ Maybe I have your attention now even if that means someone must die. This must stop. To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance. I am KC and I approve this message.
The affidavit says Curtis had sent letters to Wicker’s office several times before with the message, “this is Kevin Curtis and I approve this message.”
In several letters to Wicker and other officials, Curtis said he was writing a novel about black market body parts called “Missing Pieces.”
Curtis also had posted language similar to the letters on his Facebook page, the affidavit says.
The documents indicate Curtis had been distrustful of the government for years. In 2007, Curtis’ ex-wife called police in Booneville, Miss., to report that her husband was extremely delusional, anti-government, and felt the government was spying on him with drones.
Curtis was arrested Wednesday at his home in Corinth, near the Tennessee state line. He was being held in the Lafayette County jail in Oxford, Miss.
Curtis had been living in Corinth, a city of about 14,000 in extreme northeastern Mississippi, since December, but local police had not had any contact with him before his arrest, Corinth Police Department Capt. Ralph Dance told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Ricky Curtis, who said he was Kevin Curtis’ cousin, described his cousin as a “super entertainer” who impersonated Elvis and numerous other singers.
Wicker said Thursday in Washington that he had met Curtis when he was working as Elvis at a party Wicker and his wife helped throw for an engaged couple.
Wicker called him “quite entertaining” but said: “My impression is that since that time he’s had mental issues and perhaps is not as stable as he was back then.”
Wicker’s spokesman, Ryan Annison, said the party occurred about 10 years ago.
Police maintained a perimeter Thursday around Curtis’ home. Four men who appeared to be investigators were in the neighborhood to speak to neighbors. There didn’t appear to be any hazardous-material crews, and no neighbors were evacuated.
The material discovered in a letter to Wicker has been confirmed through field testing and laboratory testing to contain ricin, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer said Thursday. The FBI has not yet reported the results of its own testing of materials sent to Wicker and to President Barack Obama.
“Our field tests indicate it was ricin. Our lab tests confirm it was ricin. So I don’t get why others are continuing to use equivocal words about this,” Gainer said.
Preliminary field tests can often show false positives for ricin, which is derived from the castor plant that makes castor oil. There is no antidote, and it’s deadliest when inhaled. The material sent to Wicker was not weaponized, Gainer said.
An FBI intelligence bulletin obtained by the Associated Press said the two letters were postmarked Memphis, Tenn.
A Mississippi state lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville, said his 80-year-old mother, Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland, received a threatening letter April 10 with a substance that has been sent to a lab for testing. He said this letter was also signed “K.C.”
“Like any country woman, she did a smell test,” Steve Holland said. “She said, `It sort of burned my nose a little bit.’”
He said once she read the letter, she immediately called the local sheriff.
Sadie Holland has been “sequestered by the FBI” and told not to talk to anybody for now, and is undergoing medical tests, her son said.
Ricky Curtis said his family was shocked by news of the arrest. He said his cousin had written about problems he had with a cleaning business and that he felt the government had not treated him well, but he said nobody in the family would have expected this. He said the writings were titled, “Missing Pieces.”
“I don’t think anybody had a clue that this kind of stuff was weighing on his mind,” Ricky Curtis said in a telephone interview.
A MySpace page for a cleaning company called “The Cleaning Crew “confirms that they “do windows” and a has profile photo of “Kevin Curtis, Master of Impressions.” A YouTube channel under the name of Kevin Curtis has dozens of videos of him performing as different famous musicians, including Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and Kid Rock.
Watch a Curtis impression of “Baby, I Don’t Care” here:
Multiple online posts on various websites under the name Kevin Curtis refer to the conspiracy he claimed to uncover when working at a local hospital from 1998 to 2000.
The author wrote that the conspiracy began when he “discovered a refrigerator full of dismembered body parts & organs wrapped in plastic in the morgue of the largest non-metropolitan health care organization in the United States of America.”
Curtis wrote that he was trying to “expose various parties within the government, FBI, police departments” for what he believed was “a conspiracy to ruin my reputation in the community as well as an ongoing effort to break down the foundation I worked more than 20 years to build in the country music scene.”
In one post, Curtis said he sent letters to Wicker and other politicians.
“I never heard a word from anyone. I even ran into Roger Wicker several different times while performing at special banquets and fundraisers in northeast, Mississippi but he seemed very nervous while speaking with me and would make a fast exit to the door when I engaged in conversation…”
Jim Waide, an attorney in Tupelo, Miss., said he was working with Curtis’ family Thursday to put together a statement about the man. Waide said the family told him Curtis has been diagnosed as bipolar and was put on medication about three years ago. “It’s been a real problem to keep him on his medication,” Waide said in a phone interview from Tupelo.
“He has a long history of mental illness,” Waide said. “When he is on his medication, he is terrific, he’s nice, he’s functional. When he’s off his medication, that’s when there’s a problem.”
Waide represented Curtis in a federal lawsuit he filed in August 2000 against North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. Curtis claimed employment discrimination. A judge dismissed the case in July 2001. Records show it was “dismissed for failure to prosecute.”
Court records show Waide got a judge’s permission to withdraw as Curtis’ attorney in January 2001. Waide said he withdrew from the case because Curtis didn’t trust him.
“He thought I was conspiring against him,” Waide said. “He thinks everybody is out to get him.”
The FBI said there was no indication of a connection between the letters and the Monday bombing in Boston that killed three people and injured more than 170. The letters to Obama and Wicker were postmarked April 8, before the marathon.
A 5-month-old is on life support, after parents Rodrigo Rodriguez (pictured left) and Angela Petrov (pictured) allegedly smothered her so that they could have sex, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Police claim that 29-year-old Rodriguez covered the mouth of their crying infant at least three times while 21-year-old Petrov reportedly looked on.
When their daughter allegedly became unconscious, the couple, who were reportedly drinking Hennessy, dumped the baby back in to her playpen. Afterward, Rodriguez and Petrov are said to have returned to their bedroom in order to have sex, with neither parent checking on the child for the rest of the night.
On Friday morning, Petrov allegedly woke at 7 a.m. to prepare a child for school and then returned to bed with Rodriguez.
Petrov reportedly did not reawaken until 11 a.m., when she finally decided to check on the child. Rodriguez and Petrov reportedly found the baby “stiff and unresponsive.” They then reportedly performed CPR and threw water on her face.
The NY Daily News reports on what doctors found after the 5-month-old was taken to the hospital:
Medics said a lack of oxygen had seen her brain swell. She also had a “blown pupil” and a skull fracture from a previous incident.Watch news coverage of this incident here: Further investigation also revealed that the couple were already “under investigation” for a call that was received on January 29th, reporting the abuse of another child. Their bond has been set to $5 million. SEE ALSO: Florida Woman Cuffed For Violently Yanking Ex-BF’s Penis
How many more people have to die before our increasingly useless Congress does the bare minimum to assure its constituents “we do occasionally give a smidgen of a damn about y’all?”
We can all reset our clocks now and begin the count following the defeat of the bipartisan compromise (eh) known as the Manchin-Toomey amendment. The vote on the measure was 54 in favor, 46 against — meaning it failed to reach the 60-vote threshold required to move ahead.
As fate would have it, four Republicans somewhat courageously volunteered to exercise their common sense in supporting it, though four Democrats densely voted no.
One of those Democrats included Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who said, ”This conversation should be about what is in people’s minds, not about what is in their hands.” She’s referring to a focus more so on the nation’s mental health system as it relates to gun access, but I translated that into her own anxiety about the National Rifle Association (NRA) running ads against her in the red state come re-election time.
Her argument is a crock far removed from the realities of the gun violence plaguing America, but for the sake of playing devil’s advocate, if she and others with similar talking points truly cared about our country’s awful mental health care, where is the push for more funding and advocacy?
I thought so.
Heitkamp playing such a crucial role in the amendment’s failure further highlights the frustration that an overwhelming majority of the public can be easily overruled by representatives from the tiniest states in the nation.
As the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza notes:
“The two senators from California, who voted for background checks, represent thirty-eight million Americans, or twelve per cent of the population. The two senators from Wyoming, who voted against the measure, represent five hundred and seventy-six thousand Americans, or less than two-tenths of a per cent of the population.”
I don’t have anything against those residing in states that can count more tumbleweeds as residents than actual human beings, but this madness has to end.
Here’s more good news for the gun lobby by way of the Washington Post:
A number of other amendments also failed to earn the 60 votes necessary to pass: A GOP proposal including a number of changes, 52 to 48; a bipartisan amendment to stiffen penalties for “straw purchasers,” 58 to 42; a GOP-backed amendment that would have permitted “national reciprocity” of state-issued concealed carry permits, 57 to 43; a GOP plan to extend gun rights for veterans, including those deemed unable to manage their financial affairs, 56-44; and a Democratic amendment to limit the size of ammunition magazines, 54-46.
It’s no wonder President Barack Obama dismissed the votes yesterday as “all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.” Obama is even more right for lamenting, “The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill.”
The President assured gun control advocates that “the effort is not over,” but it does seem to suggest that not much will be done until the results of the 2014 mid-term elections are known.
After all, if we can’t get Congress to pass a bill that would’ve extended background checks for prospective purchasers of firearms — a law many Americans already thought existed — what’s the likelihood of anything else getting done on this issue?
In the meantime, we can look for more bill-blocking antics from obstructionist Republicans. MSNBC will continue to lead the charge on covering gun control as FOX News keeps turning a blind eye.
Worse, people will die.
Not just in mass shootings, but every day on the streets of this country — something this watered down amendment would’ve at least helped decreased.
Hopefully, many of the cowards who buckled under pressure to maintain power versus doing the right thing will lose their seats next year.
That’ll be more than fitting, though it certainly won’t make up for all of the lives we’re sure to lose between now and then.
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BOSTON — President Barack Obama (pictured) sought to inspire a stricken city and comfort an unnerved nation Thursday, declaring that Boston “will run again” and vowing to hunt down the perpetrator of the twin blasts that brought mayhem and death to the Boston Marathon.
“If they sought to intimidate us, to terrorize us…. It should be pretty clear right now that they picked the wrong city to do it,” Obama said.
The President spoke at an interfaith service in Boston, honoring the three people killed and more than 170 injured when a pair of bombs ripped through the crowd gathered Monday afternoon near the finish line of the famous race.
“We may be momentarily knocked off our feet,” Obama said. “But we’ll pick ourselves up. We’ll keep going. We will finish the race.”
“This time next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever and cheer even louder for the 118th Boston Marathon,” he declared.
Obama spoke as his second-term as president is increasingly burdened by terror, politics, and disaster. In the aftermath of Boston’s deadly blasts Monday, Obama lost a fight for gun control measures in the Senate, was the target, along with a U.S. senator, of letters that showed traces of poisonous ricin, and awoke Thursday to news of a powerful fertilizer plant explosion that devastated a small Texas town.
The letters alone — one addressed to Obama and another to Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. — evoked eerie parallels to the anthrax attacks that followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Authorities arrested a Mississippi man Wednesday in connection with the letters.
It was against that backdrop that Obama and his wife, Michelle (pictured left), came to Boston Thursday morning, joining a crowd at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross for a “Healing Our City” service. The Obamas sat at the front of the church next to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick as the service began.
Obama listened from his pew as Boston Mayor Thomas Menino praised the response of his city.
“Nothing will take us down because we take care of one another,” Menino said. “Even with the smell of smoke in the air and blood in the streets, and tears in our eyes, we triumphed over that hateful act.”
Moments later, Patrick said: “We will grieve our losses and heal. We will rise, and we will endure. We will have accountability without vengeance, vigilance without fear.”
Sustaining that uplifting theme, Obama recalled his days as a law student at Harvard and declared, “There is a piece of Boston in me.”
“Every one of us has been touched by this attack on your beloved city, every one of us stands with you,” he said.
He said the city gathered at the interfaith service “to reaffirm that the spirit of this city is undaunted.”
Obama also planned to meet with some of those injured, as well as the first responders who rushed toward the blast to help the scores of runners and spectators.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama received a briefing from national security adviser Lisa Monaco on the status of the investigation in to the Boston blast before departing the White House. Accompanying Obama aboard Air Force One were members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Mo Cowan.
“We send our support and encouragement to people who never expected that they’d need it – the wounded civilians who are just beginning what will be, I’m sure for some of them, a long road to recovery,” Obama said Wednesday in a likely preview of his remarks at the service.
The President has stepped in to this role as the nation’s consoler in chief many times before in his presidency, most recently in December after the massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Before that, there were the deadly shootings in Aurora, Colo.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Fort Hood, Texas, as well as the natural disasters that tore apart towns and neighborhoods in Missouri and the New York-New Jersey area.
This time, Obama must confront the unique challenges of a terror attack that inevitably revived memories of 9/11. As he did in a statement from the White House on Tuesday, the President was expected to urge the public to remain vigilant, while declaring that “the American people refuse to be terrorized.”
As the wrongful death trial begins against concert promoter AEG Live, Jackson matriarch, Katherine, has reportedly been inquiring about surrogate Mother Debbie Rowe‘s impending testimony, which she reportedly fears will not only expose late-pop star Michael Jackson as NOT being the biological Father of his three kids but also hurt their case against AEG, according to TMZ.
Katherine’s lawyers are said to be attempting to question Rowe, who is listed as a witness for Michael’s mother and AEG, about what she intends to say on trial.
Because if Rowe is asked about the actual paternity of Prince, 16 (pictured below far right); Paris, 14 (pictured middle); and Blanket, 11 (pictured), she could reportedly expose the kids’ parentage to the public.
But that’s not all.
According to the entertainment site, with this information, AEG may try to prove that the kids, who are listed as plaintiffs in the case, don’t have “any legal ties” to Michael, which would stop them from potentially benefiting from the $40 billion suit against AEG.
While TMZ has asserted that both Michael and Rowe aren’t the biological parents of Prince, Paris, and Blanket, the Jackson family have always maintained that Michael was the biological Father, with Brother Tito telling the Daily Mirror back in 2009:
“Paris and Prince are Michael’s children. Yes they are. Just because they look White doesn’t mean they are not his.
“I have an uncle who is married to a White girl, and they have three kids. Two of them are White and one is Black.
“When they go to school people don’t even know they are brother and sister.
“They are all Michael’s children. Prince looks just like my grandfather. There’s no question they are Michael’s. They are 100 percent his.”
In order to avoid this information coming to light, Katherine has reportedly filed a number of legal documents that would effectively exclude any paternity information from coming out during the trial.
The judge is yet to rule on this motion.
Meanwhile, Katherine is suing AEG Live for being negligent in hiring the disgraced Dr. Conrad Murray for her son’s care. To Katherine and her legal team, the promotion company should have been aware of the fact that Murray was not board-certified and was deeply in debt.
In November 2011, Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for administering the anesthetic propofol that killed Michael in 2009.
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The tragic bombing in Boston on Monday has stirred the nation, prompting a mad dash to find the individuals who performed the cowardly act. However, news outlets rushing for scoops were swayed by an erroneous report from CNN that a “dark-skinned male” was taken in to custody. After this was proven false by federal law enforcement sources, CNN and other networks began the slow tap dance of retraction. MSNBC host and National Action Network President Rev. Al Sharpton immediately seized on to CNN’s error, addressing the hidden racism behind the suspect’s description.
On Wednesday, CNN reporter John King reported that he received information from a federal official that a suspect was arrested and even provided a description of the suspect based on his sources. Unfortunately, CNN would later recant their report, releasing an article by Tom Watkins called “Confusion Over Arrest Reports in Boston Bombing” at 2:36 p.m. EDT:
There is conflicting information as to whether someone has been arrested in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings. A federal law enforcement source told CNN’s Fran Townsend that someone was arrested. But later, two senior administration officials and another federal official told Townsend that there had been a misunderstanding among officials and that no one has been arrested.
In response, Rev. Sharpton blasted King’s irresponsible journalism and his dangerous implications in the wake of the bombing:
[T]he false reporting by the media in the Boston bombing case was offensive and inflammatory, including specific references by CNN’s John King who labeled the alleged suspect as a “dark-skinned male,” perpetuating a stereotypical characterization devoid of relevant facts about the suspect’s identity.
It was irresponsible and misleading to characterize the suspect by his race and it made every dark skinned male in Boston a suspect. If I reported that a “white-skinned male” was being sought after, I would be publicly maligned as a “racial agitator.” The media must be responsible and put facts in proper context.
Then on Rev. Sharpton’s MSBNC program, “Politics Nation,” he picked apart King and CNN’s reports, emphasizing that King’s network reported ahead of itself regarding the suspect’s description:
As Rev. Sharpton wisely noted, individuals who had loved ones and associates harmed and injured by the Boston blasts are seeking justice for this heinous crime.
CNN, a major news outlet, going full steam ahead on a report from an unnamed source without checking facts could have had dire consequences if it wasn’t discounted.
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WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans backed by a small band of rural-state Democrats scuttled the most far-reaching gun control legislation in two decades Wednesday, rejecting tighter background checks for buyers and a ban on assault weapons as they spurned pleas from families of victims of last winter’s school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
“This effort isn’t over,” President Barack Obama vowed at the White House moments after the defeat on one of his top domestic priorities. Surrounded by Newtown relatives, he said opponents of the legislation in both parties “caved to the pressure” of special interests.
A ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines also fell in a series of showdown votes four months after a gunman killed 20 elementary school children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary.
A bid to loosen restrictions on concealed weapons carried across state lines was rejected, as well.
That last vote marked a rare defeat for the National Rifle Association on a day it generally triumphed over Obama, gun control advocates and many of the individuals whose lives have been affected by mass shootings in Connecticut and elsewhere.
Some of them watched from the spectator galleries above the Senate floor. “Shame on you,” shouted one, Patricia Maisch, who was present two years ago when a gunman in Tucson, Ariz., killed six and wounded 13 others, including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Vice President Joe Biden gaveled the Senate back into order after the breach of decorum.
Gun control advocates, including Obama, had voiced high hopes for significant action after the Newtown shootings. But the lineup of possible legislation gradually dwindled to a focus on background checks, and in the end, even that could not win Senate passage. Chances in the Republican-controlled House had seemed even slimmer.
By agreement of Senate leaders, a 60-vote majority was required for approval of any of the provisions brought to a vote.
The vote on the background check was 54-46, well short of the 60 votes needed to advance. Forty-one Republicans and five Democrats voted to reject the plan.
The proposed ban on assault weapons commanded 40 votes; the bid to block sales of high capacity ammunition clips drew 46.
The NRA-backed proposal on concealed carry permits got 57.
In the hours before the key vote on background checks, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., bluntly accused the National Rifle Association of making false claims about the expansion of background checks that he and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., were backing.
“Where I come from in West Virginia, I don’t know how to put the words any plainer than this: That is a lie. That is simply a lie,” he said, accusing the organization of telling its supporters that friends, neighbors and some family members would need federal permission to transfer ownership of firearms to one another.
The NRA did not respond immediately to the charge, but issued a statement after the vote that restated the claim. The proposal “would have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors, and some family members to get federal government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution,” said a statement from Chris Cox, a top lobbyist for the group.
Said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, “Expanded background checks would not have prevented Newtown. Criminals do not submit to background checks.”
Even before the votes, the administration signaled the day’s events would not be the last word on an issue that Democratic leaders shied away from for nearly two decades until Obama picked up on it after the Newtown shootings.
Biden’s presence was a purely symbolic move since each proposal required a 60-vote majority to pass and he would not be called upon to break any ties. Democratic aides said in advance the issue would be brought back to the Senate in the future, giving gun control supporters more time to win over converts to change the outcome.
Obama, standing near Giffords and relatives of other shooting victims, said at the White House public opinion was strongly behind expanded background checks. Despite that, opponents of the legislation were “worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money” at the next election, he said.
“So all in all this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” he added.
Giffords, in a piece published late Wednesday on the New York Times’ op-ed page, said she was “furious” that the Senate blocked the gun legislation. She accused senators who opposed new gun regulations of “cowardice,” saying their decisions were “based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association.”
The day’s key test concerned the background checks, designed to prevent criminals and the seriously mentally ill from purchasing firearms. Under current law, checks are required only when guns are purchased from federally licensed firearms dealers. The proposal by Manchin and Toomey called for extending the requirement to other sales at gun shows and on the Internet.
On the vote, Democratic Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Max Baucus of Montana joined Pryor and Heitkamp in voting against the proposal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a supporter of the plan, switched his vote to the prevailing “no” side to permit him to call for a revote in the future.
Begich, Pryor, and Baucus are all seeking re-election next year. In an indication of the intensity of the feelings on the issue, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal group, swiftly announced it would run ads contrasting their votes with polls showing overwhelming popular support for gun curbs.
Among Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John McCain of Arizona, and Toomey sided with Democrats.
Numerous polls in recent months have shown support for enhanced gun control measures, including background checks, though it may be weakening.
An Associated Press-GfK poll this month showed that 49 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws, down from 58 percent in January. In that recent survey, 38 percent said they want the laws to remain the same and 10 percent want them eased.
Obama has made enactment of greater curbs a priority on his domestic agenda in the months since the massacre at Newtown, making several trips outside Washington to try and build support. Last week, he traveled to Connecticut, and he invited several parents to fly back to Washington with him aboard Air Force One so they could personally lobby lawmakers.
To an unusual degree for professional politicians, some senators said afterward that they had not wanted to meet with the mothers and fathers of the dead, or said it was difficult to look at photographs that the parents carried of their young children, now dead.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said before Wednesday’s vote, “I think that in some cases, the President has used them as props, and that disappoints me.”
Without referring to Paul by name, Obama rebutted him firmly. “Do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don’t have a right to weigh in on this issue?” he said.
At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney said some of them had met earlier in the day with lawmakers, who he said should “consider who they’re representing.
“Ninety percent of the American people support expanded background checks,” he said.
The NRA told lawmakers it intended to keep track of how the votes were cast, and consider them in making decisions about its efforts in the midterm elections for Congress next year.
An opposing group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, funded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said it would do likewise.
The NRA has a long track record in electoral politics, and is viewed by lawmakers in both political parties as unusually effective. Bloomberg’s organization has yet to be tested.
In the AP-GfK poll, among independents, support for stricter gun laws dipped from 60 percent in January to 40 percent now. About three-fourths of Democrats supported them then and now, while backing among Republicans for looser laws about doubled to 19 percent.
The survey was conducted from April 11-15 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,004 randomly chosen adults and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
Editor’s Note: The image of the above individual comes from an album created by 4chan Think Tank who independently put together a number of images pinpointing who allegedly may be responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing. Therefore, the aforesaid image is not an official photo released by authorities. In fact, authorities have not released any footage from the bombing.
BOSTON — The painstaking work to identify a bombing suspect from reams of Boston Marathon footage yielded a possible breakthrough as investigators focused on a man seen dropping off a bag, and then walking away from the site of the second of two deadly explosions.
The discovery of the image – found on surveillance footage from a department store near the finish line – was detailed by a city politician two days after the attack that left three people dead, wounded more than 170, and cast a dark shadow over one of this city’s most joyous traditions. The footage hasn’t been made public.
President Barack Obama planned to attend an interfaith service honoring the victims Thursday in Boston. There was a heavy police presence around the city’s main Roman Catholic cathedral as residents lined up before dawn, hoping to get one of the roughly 2,000 seats inside. By 9 a.m., they were being turned away.
Streets were blocked off around the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston’s South End.
Among the hundreds in line was 18-year-old Eli Philips. The college student was a Marathon volunteer and was wearing his volunteer jacket on Thursday morning.
He said he was still shocked that “something that was euphoric went so bad.”
Ricky Hall, 67, of Cambridge, showed up at 8 a.m. but was turned away from the line to get inside that was already stretching down at least two city blocks, so decided just to stay outside.
“I came to pay my respects to the victims,” he said, but was also angry that someone would desecrate the marathon and urged maximum punishment for the perpetrator.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said he shared the frustration that the person or people responsible were still at large, but he said solving the case will not “happen by magic.”
“It’s going to happen by doing the careful work that must be done in a thorough investigation,” Patrick said. “That means going through the couple of blocks at the blast scene square inch by square inch and picking up pieces of evidence and following those trails, and that’s going to take some time.”
The bombs were crudely fashioned from ordinary kitchen pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails, and ball bearings, investigators and others close to the case said. Investigators suspect the devices were then hidden in black duffel bags and left on the ground.
As a result, they were looking for images of someone lugging a dark, heavy bag. Investigators had appealed to the public to provide videos and photographs from the race finish line.
City Council President Stephen Murphy, who said he was briefed by Boston police, said investigators saw the image of the man dropping off a bag and matched the findings with witness descriptions of someone leaving the scene.
One department store video “has confirmed that a suspect is seen dropping a bag near the point of the second explosion and heading off,” Murphy said.
Separately, a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity confirmed only that investigators had an image of a potential suspect whose name was not known to them and who had not been questioned.
Several media outlets reported that a suspect had been identified from surveillance video taken at a Lord & Taylor department store between the sites of the bomb blasts.
At least 14 bombing victims, including three children, remained in critical condition. Dozens of victims have been released from hospitals, and officials at three hospitals that treated some of the most seriously injured said they expected all their remaining patients to survive. A 2-year-old boy with a head injury was improving and might go home Thursday, Boston Children’s Hospital said.
On Wednesday, investigators in white jumpsuits fanned out across the streets, rooftops and awnings around the blast site in search of clues. They picked through trash cans, plastic cup sleeves and discarded sports drink dispensers.
Marian Wilson said she tried not to notice the men slowly pacing and looking for evidence on the street behind her as she ate a tuna sandwich at Stephanie’s on Newbury, a restaurant a block from the site of the bombings.
“I just go in and out of being completely freaked out,” she said.
Boston remained under a heavy security presence, with scores of National Guard troops gathering among armored Humvees in the Boston Common.
Kenya Nadry, a website designer, took her 5-year-old nephew to a playground.
“There’s still some sense of fear, but I feel like Boston’s resilient,” she said. “The fine men in blue will take care of a lot of it.”
Dr. Horacio Hojman, associate chief of trauma at Tufts Medical Center, said patients were in surprisingly good spirits when they were brought in.
“Despite what they witnessed, despite what they suffered, despite many of them having life-threatening injuries, their spirits were not broken,” he said. “And I think that should probably be the message for all of us – that this horrible act of terror will not bring us down.”
Obama and his challenger in the last election, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, planned to visit Boston on Thursday to attend the vigil.
The blasts killed 8-year-old Martin Richard, of Boston, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, of Medford, and Lu Lingzi, a Boston University graduate student from China.
Shardae Simmonds of Sandy Springs, Ga., took the expression “Daddy’s little girl” to greater heights when she performed life-saving CPR on him after he passed out back in February.
Fox News 5 in Atlanta reports that the 13-year-old girl took a CPR course three years ago. She was just 10-years-old.
Scroll down to watch the video of this story
“I thought all those people that die because no one’s able to do CPR– I thought it would come in handy one of these days when I was older,” Shardae told FOX 5.
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But she likely had no idea she would have to use it to save a family member. On Feb. 15, Shardae’s mother
told her that her father, Glen Simmonds, had passed out in their bedroom and wasn’t breathing.
Though she was worried for her father’s safety, she knew what to do and jumped to action. She called 911, then began performing CPR.
She did not know it, but her father had suffered a massive heart attack. Here’s more from Fox 5 News:
“It was a situation where seconds counted, and if I had not received help immediately from my daughter and my wife, I wouldn’t be here,” he said.
Shardae was able to keep her father alive until Puckett EMS and Cobb County firefighters arrived.
“The things that she learned, she had an advantage in this case,” said Cobb Co. Fire spokesperson Mike Parrish. “We are grateful for her.”
Through it all, Shardae stayed calm, but her mind was racing.
“I was thinking everything’s going to be fine, but my mind was thinking what it would be like without my father,” she said. “I’m just happy that he is here with me.”
Glen Simmonds says he’s thankful to be alive, and very grateful to his daughter.
“I always knew that I was important to her, in her life, that she loved me– but just to hear her talk, what was going through her mind, it’s really, really touching and makes me love her even more,” he said.
Shaedra was honored by the mayor of Sandy Springs and her classmates at Tapp Middle School for her bravery.
WEST, Texas (AP) — Rescue workers searched rubble that witnesses compared to a war zone early Thursday for survivors of a fertilizer plant explosion in a small Texas town that killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160 others. The blast left the factory a smoldering ruin and leveled homes and businesses for blocks in every direction.
The explosion in downtown West, about 20 miles north of Waco, shook the ground with the strength of a small earthquake and could be heard dozens of miles away. It sent flames shooting into the night sky and rained burning embers, shrapnel and debris down on shocked and frightened residents.
“They are still getting injured folks out and they are evacuating people from their homes,” Waco police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton said early Thursday morning. He added later, “At some point this will turn into a recovery operation, but at this point, we are still in search and rescue.”
Swanton said authorities believe that between five and 15 people were killed in the blast, but stressed that is an early estimate. There is no indication the blast was anything other than an industrial accident, he said.
Among those believe to be dead: Members of a group of volunteer firefighters and a single law enforcement officer who responded to a fire call at the West Fertilizer Co. shortly before the blast. They remained unaccounted for early Thursday morning.
The explosion that struck around 8 p.m. leveled a four-block area around the plant that a member of the city council, Al Vanek, said was “totally decimated.” The toll included 50 to 75 houses, an apartment complex with about 50 units that one state police officer said was reduced to “a skeleton,” a middle school and the West Rest Haven Nursing Home, from which first-responders evacuated 133 patients, some in wheelchairs.
SEE Police Press Conference On Blast Below:
Other witnesses compared the scene to something from the Iraq War or the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and authorities said the plant made materials similar to that used to fuel the bomb that tore apart that city’s Murrah Federal Building.
Although authorities said it will be some time before they know the full extent of the loss of life, they put the number of those injured at more than 160 early Thursday. West Mayor Tommy Muska told reporters that his city of about 2,800 residents needs “your prayers.”
“We’ve got a lot of people who are hurt, and there’s a lot of people, I’m sure, who aren’t gonna be here tomorrow,” Muska said. “We’re gonna search for everybody. We’re gonna make sure everybody’s accounted for. That’s the most important thing right now.”
In the hours after the blast, many of the town’s residents wandered the dark and windy streets searching for shelter. Among them was Julie Zahirniako, who said she and her son, Anthony, had been playing at a school playground near the fertilizer plant when the explosion hit. She was walking the track, he was kicking a football.
The explosion threw her son four feet in the air, breaking his ribs. She said she saw people running from the nursing home and the roof of the school lifted into the air.
“The fire was so high,” she said. “It was just as loud as it could be. The ground and everything was shaking.”
The town’s volunteer firefighters had responded to a call at the plant at 7:29 p.m., Swanton said. Due to the plant’s chemical stockpile, “they realized the seriousness of what they had,” he said.
Muska was among the firefighters, and he and his colleagues were working to evacuate the area around the plant when the blast followed about 20 minutes later. Muska said it knocked off his fire helmet and blew out the doors and windows of his nearby home.
The main fire was under control as of 11 p.m., authorities said, but residents were urged to remain indoors because of the threat of new explosions or leaks of ammonia from the plant’s ruins. Swanton said early Thursday authorities were not concerned about lingering smoke from the fire.
Dozens of emergency vehicles amassed at the scene in the hours after the blast, as fires continued to smolder in the ruins of the plant and in several surrounding buildings. Aerial footage showed injured people being treated on the flood-lit football field that had been turned into a staging area.
Vanek said first-responders treated victims at about half a dozen sites, and he saw several injured residents from the nursing home being treated at the community center. Swanton said the injured rescued so far had been taken to hospitals in Waco and a triage center at high school in nearby Abbott.
About 100 of the injured were treated at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, where five people were in intensive care. Another 65 were taken to Providence Health Center in Waco. Officials said the injuries included broken bones, bruises, lacerations, respiratory distress, and some head injuries and minor burns.
Erick Perez, 21, of West, was playing basketball at a nearby school when the fire started. He and his friends thought nothing of it at first, but about a half-hour later, the smoke changed color. The blast threw him, his nephew and others to the ground and showered the area with hot embers, shrapnel and debris.
“The explosion was like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” Perez said. “This town is hurt really bad.”
Information was hard to come by in the hours after the blast, and entry into the town was slow-going as the roads were jammed with emergency vehicles rushing in to help. A spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the state sent personnel from several agencies to help, including the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality, the state’s emergency management department and an incident management team. Also responding is the state’s top urban search and rescue team, the state health department and mobile medical units.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said it was deploying a large investigation team to West. American Red Cross crews from across Texas also headed to the scene. Red Cross spokeswoman Anita Foster said the group was working with emergency management officials in West to find a safe shelter for residents displaced from their homes.
Swanton said he had no details on the number of people who work at the plant, which was cited by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in 2006 for failing to obtain or to qualify for a permit. The agency acted after receiving a complaint in June of that year of a strong ammonia smell.
In 2001, an explosion at a chemical and fertilizer plant killed 31 people and injured more than 2,000 in Toulouse, France. The blast occurred in a hangar containing 300 tons of ammonium nitrate, which can be used for both fertilizer and explosives. The explosion came 10 days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S., and raised fears at the time it was linked. A 2006 report blamed the blast on negligence.
Paul Kevin Curtis of Corinth, Mississippi has been arrested for sending a letter laced with the poison ricin to President Barack Obama, reports the L.A. Times.
The FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service said Curtis was taken into custody at 5:15 p.m.
In addition to President Obama, Curtis also sent ricin-laced letters to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and a Mississippi justice official.
The FBI said that the poisonous letters had nothing to do with the Boston Marathon bombing, even though a bomb squad was deployed to ensure that an explosion was not a concern.
As previously reported by NewsOne, Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said that the letter was detected at an off-site screening facility under the protection of the Secret Service:
“This facility routinely identifies letters or parcels that require secondary screening or scientific testing before delivery,” the Secret Service said in a statement. “The Secret Service White House mail screening facility is a remote facility, not located near the White House complex, that all White House mail goes through.”
CDC defines ricin as follows:
“Ricin works by getting inside the cells of a person’s body and preventing the cells from making the proteins they need. Without the proteins, cells die. Eventually this is harmful to the whole body, and death may occur.”
Only a small amount of ricin needs to be ingested for it to be deadly.
Curtis was arrested at his Mississippi home about 100 miles from Memphis.
Scott Biumi of the DeKalb County Police Department has been arrested after surveillance footage captured him pulling his gun on a teen at a fast food drive-through, the Forsyth News reports.
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office charged the 48-year-old cop with aggravated assault in connection with the April 9 incident at McDonald’s on Old Atlanta Road. He is a
detective sergeant, according to authorities.
The sheriff’s report states that Biumi was upset at the amount of time it was taking a truck in front of him to place an order around 10:30 p.m. He allegedly drove his
black Chevrolet Impala in front of the truck, confronted the driver and then pulled out his gun. After menacing the man inside of the vehicle, he returned to his car.
The Forsyth News has more details on this story:
Forsyth County Sheriff Duane K. Piper called the incident “shocking.”
“It appears that he had a severe break in judgment,” Piper said. “It appears that the entire situation evolved from him being angry at the time it was taking for him to get his food.”
Factors early in the investigation led the agency to believe the suspect was a law enforcement officer, he said.
The man’s actions indicated that he had law enforcement training, Piper said. He also drove his police-issued Impala, which matched the tag number reported by the teens in the vehicle he confronted. The teens attend Lambert High.
A surveillance tape of the incident aided in the investigation, as did witness reports.
“Once we determined it was not going to be one of our officers, we expanded the scope of our investigation and eventually determined it was Mr. Biumi from the DeKalb County Police Department,” Piper said.
Biumi was booked into the Forsyth County Detention Center on Wednesday afternoon. His bond has been set at $22,000, with a court date scheduled for May 23.
Biumi’s employment status with the DeKalb County Police Department is unclear. But what is clear are his disturbing actions captured on video.
“You wouldn’t expect any adult of any type to be acting like this,” Piper said, “but especially, with a law enforcement officer, I think they have even a higher standard of self-control, and to me, that’s the most shocking part.”
Hours before leading the U.S. Senate on a critical vote on gun safety, Vice President Joe Biden (pictured) had a Google Plus hangout with a group of mayors seeking to reduce street violence with new gun control laws on Wednesday.
RELATED: Bring On The Gun Control Debate!
Biden, a longtime champion for stronger gun regulations, called the White House effort to restrict guns “common sense” and said the spate of recent mass shootings in Connecticut, Colorado, and Wisconsin show the time is right for the greater regulation of guns.
“You are the ones who have to get the gang bangers,” Biden said to Mayors Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Ind.; Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, Mayor R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis; and Steve Scaffidi of Oak Creek Wisconsin. “You are the ones who have to go to the funerals. You see it every day. And that is why we see thousands of people posting online in support of rational gun safety measures.”
The Senate was scheduled to vote on nine changes to the gun control bill with the most-controversial piece being a proposal to expand the number of background checks on gun buyers.
Most Senate watchers have predicted the expanded background check proposal will be defeated.
Biden told the mayors he expected a “close vote” on the measure and added, “We are going to get this done eventually because I think most American people are way ahead of their elected officials on this issue.”
Rawlings-Blake agreed, saying, “I saw a senator from Florida say we need to have more conversation on this issue. I wonder if their child was caught in Newtown that day, if they would think conversation was enough.”
Each of the mayors in the chat brought their own particular point to the gun control argument.
Rybak said he couldn’t understand how the gun lobby opposes outlawing of high-capacity magazines that seem to have few legitimate uses outside of the battlefield.
“How low is that bar,” Rybak asked. “We shouldn’t even need a discussion on that because it is common sense.”
Rawlings-Blake said getting national legislation is key because even though her city of Baltimore has one of the toughest gun laws on the books, too many weapons from other jurisdictions get in to the city.
“We have only one gun store in the whole city but guns come in from up and down the (Route) 95 corridor. Our laws are only as good as our neighbor’s laws.”
Spurred by the shooting in Newtown, the White House has organized a national campaign to reduce gun violence.
Obama is pushing Congress to pass proposals to add restrictions to some gun sales, ban assault rifles, and outlaw high-capacity magazines.
But the Obama plan has run in to stiff opposition led by conservatives in Congress and the powerful gun lobby led by the National Rifle Association.
The sad truth of the gun issue is that it’s unlikely that any of these laws can help keep people safe at this point: America is awash in guns. They can be purchased in stores. They can be purchased in back alleys. They can be purchased on the Internet, so putting the gun genie back in the bottle is a pipe dream.
But the goal of making the guns that are on the streets a little less lethal is a noble one.
What law-abiding citizen needs the type of firepower that was unleashed in Newtown?
And expanding the number of background checks to make sure the buyer of a gun isn’t a criminal or mentally unbalanced also makes all the sense in the world.
As Biden said, it’s all just common sense.
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