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Violence

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In cities and suburbs across the U.S., Republicans up and down the ballot have overwhelmingly focused on sending a message that violent crime is out of control. They’re often pointing to criminal justice reforms adapted around the country in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police, including changes to bail laws that critics had long contended disproportionately impacted communities of color, along with accusations that Democrats have not been sufficiently supportive of law enforcement. The message has appeared in some of the most competitive Senate races around the country in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Nevada, along with scores of races for U.S. House seats and governor’s mansions.

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A Connecticut jury is set to resume deliberations on how much conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his company must pay victims’ families for calling the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School a hoax. The three men and three women on the jury discussed the case for less than an hour Thursday after hearing closing arguments and will return Friday morning. Jones last year was found liable for damages to the 15 plaintiffs who sued him for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and other claims. Twenty children and six educators were killed in the shooting. Jones could be ordered to pay as little as $1 in damages or possible tens or hundreds of millions, based on what the jury decides.

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A University of Arizona professor who authorities say was fatally shot on campus by a former graduate student was an expert on desert water issues who faculty and former students described as a kind and brilliant colleague. School officials identified Thomas Meixner, who had headed the school’s Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, as the victim in Wednesday afternoon’s shooting. According to campus police, someone called 911 asking for police to escort a former student, 46-year-old Murad Dervish, out of the building after recognizing him as someone who wasn't allowed to be there. State troopers arrested Dervish a few hours later. He's jailed and awaiting a court appearance. It wasn't clear whether he had a lawyer who could speak for him.

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New York's attorney general has appealed a federal judge's ruling that halted key provisions of the state's new rules on guns. The judge ordered a temporary hold earlier Thursday over restrictions on where people can carry weapons and a requirement for permit applicants to hand over social media information. The rules were part of a sweeping gun law that went into effect Sept. 1 and was designed to protect public safety while adhering to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that invalidated New York’s old system.

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The head of a Virginia company accused of exploiting immigration detainees seeking bail has now been charged with defrauding the brother of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz. The Augusta County Sheriff’s Office said Nexus Services CEO Mike Donovan was arrested Wednesday after being indicted on fraud charges. The indictment lists 22-year-old Zachary Cruz as the victim. Donovan and his partner took Cruz into their home in the months after the Parkland shootings and consider him a member of their family. Donovan said in a phone interview that Cruz has not been exploited and accused authorities of corrupt conduct.

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The FBI estimates violent crime rates didn’t increase substantially last year, though they remained above pre-pandemic levels, according to annual crime data. But the report presents an incomplete picture, in part because it doesn’t include some of the nation’s largest police departments. The analysis, released Wednesday, found violent and property crime remained consistent between 2020 and 2021, with 4.3% uptick in the murder rate that’s not considered statistically significant. The report comes with major caveats though, since about 40% of law-enforcement agencies didn’t participate after a major overhaul in the reporting system. That includes big cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Miami.

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A Connecticut jury has begun deliberations in conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ defamation trial over his calling the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School a hoax. The three men and three women are deciding how much in damages Jones and his company Free Speech Systems should pay relatives of eight victims of the massacre, as well as an FBI agent who responded to the shooting. Jones was found liable for damages last year. The plaintiffs testified they have been harassed by hoax believers, including receiving death and rape threats. Jones has bashed the trial as a “kangaroo court” and is vowing to appeal.

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Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz calmly told a psychologist he picked Valentine’s Day for his massacre to ruin the holiday for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students forever. In video played at his penalty trial Thursday, he told a prosecution psychologist that's why he killed 17 at the Parkland school four years ago. Prosecutors are trying to bolster their contention that Cruz wasn’t driven to kill by a mental disorder he couldn’t control, but planned his attack and chose to carry it out. Cruz pleaded guilty a year ago. The jury will only decide whether he is sentenced to death or life without parole.

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Uvalde school officials have abruptly fired a former Texas state trooper who was on scene of the Robb Elementary School massacre in May and then hired by the school district. The firing Thursday came after CNN first reported that Crimson Elizondo had been hired by the Uvalde school district following one of the deadliest classroom shootings in U.S. history. In a statement, the school district said it apologized for “the pain that this revelation has caused.” Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, whose district includes Uvalde, said Elizondo’s hiring “slapped this community in the face.”

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A Texas death row inmate whose case clarified the role of spiritual advisers in death chambers nationwide has been executed, despite the efforts of a district attorney to stop his lethal injection. John Henry Ramirez was executed Wednesday evening at the state penitentiary in Huntsville. He was convicted in the 2004 killing of 46-year-old Pablo Castro, a convenience store clerk, in Corpus Christi. Ramirez had challenged Texas prison rules that prevented his pastor from touching him or praying aloud during his execution. In March, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Ramirez. In April, the top prosecutor in the case tried to stop the execution, calling the death penalty “unethical.” The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declined to even consider the prosecutor’s request.

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Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones decided not present any defense at his defamation trial in Connecticut and was back in Texas as the a jury was sent home in advance of closing arguments over how much he should pay for promoting the lie that the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax. Jones has already been found liable. The jury of three men and three women is being asked to decide how much Jones should give the families of eight victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting and an FBI agent who all testified they have spent almost a decade being targets of harassments by those who believe the shooting didn’t happen.

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Turkey’s parliament has approved deploying Turkish soldiers to Qatar to help maintain security during next month’s World Cup. Lawmakers on Wednesday approved a motion to send an unspecified number of troops to the Gulf country for six months. A ruling party legislator who is a former Turkish defense minister said the deployment would involve 250 troops and a corvette-class naval vessel. The deployment of troops would be in addition to some 3,000 riot police that Turkey has said it would send to Qatar to reinforce security during the international soccer competition. Opposition parties accused the government of allowing Turkey’s army and police to be used like employees of “private security firms.”

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A jury has awarded $40,000 to a woman who sued the city of Portland, Oregon, over police use of force at a 2020 protest, agreeing police used unreasonable force against her and committed battery. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports Erin Wenzel sued the city for assault, battery and negligence, claiming that on Aug. 14, 2020, an officer “ran at her and violently slammed into her with a nightstick” while she was leaving. Jurors heard from medical experts who confirmed her arm was broken and that she has PTSD. This was the first civil trial from the 2020 racial justice protests to reach a jury. More than 50 similar lawsuits are pending against the city.

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Police are seeking a 16-year-old youth in last week's ambush shooting outside a Philadelphia high school that killed a 14-year-old and wounded four other teenagers. Authorities said Tuesday that the 16-year-old is wanted on active arrest warrants for charges of murder and multiple counts of attempted murder and other counts. Police said previously they were seeking five suspects who opened fire on the teens as they walked away from a football scrimmage outside at Roxborough High School on Sept. 27.  The shooting came just after Philadelphia surpassed 400 homicides for the year. It drew wide attention in a nation dealing with a stream of mass shootings.

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Prosecutors trying to sentence Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz are trying to show he is faking having fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. They spent hours Tuesday showing charts of IQ tests, explained averages and standard deviations but then turned to a simple test Cruz took earlier this year to bolster their contention he is malingering. They used video from his 2018 massacre of 17 at Parkland Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to show he is capable of rapidly pulling a trigger. On a jailhouse test of his mental fitness, he tapped a lever slowly. Cruz pleaded guilty last year. His trial is to determine if he is sentenced to death or life without parole.

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Republican Sen. Rand Paul was the victim of a 2017 attack when his neighbor slammed into him outside his Kentucky home. Earlier that year, Paul took cover when a gunman opened fire while GOP members of Congress practiced for a charity baseball game. Now, Paul has falsely conflated those events with his opponent in his reelection bid. The social media video attacks Democrat Charles Booker. The video was released Monday, before a campaign forum Paul declined to take part in. It says Booker associated with “radical left” people who condone and perpetrate violence. Booker calls it “dangerous and dishonest rhetoric."

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A third teenager charged with murder in a drive-by shooting death of a 15-year-old boy outside a Des Moines high school in March has agreed to plead guilty to lesser crimes. The plea agreement accepted by a state court judge on Monday may allow 18-year-old Gumaro Marquez-Jacobo to avoid prison time. He will plead guilty to charges including being an accessory after the fact and providing a pistol to a person under 21. Prosecutors will recommend a suspended sentence and two years of probation at a sentencing hearing on May 30. Two others have entered plea agreements, leaving five other teenagers to face murder charges as adults and two in juvenile court. The March 7 shooting killed 15-year-old Jose Lopez and injured two girls.

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A former Northeastern University employee who said he was injured when a package he was opening on the Boston campus exploded last month has been charged with fabricating the incident. Federal investigators said Tuesday that Jason Duhaime was charged with conveying false and misleading information related to an explosive device, and then lying to federal investigators. Duhaime was the new technology manager and director of the university’s Immersive Media Lab. The Sept. 13 incident resulted in a massive law enforcement response to campus and the evacuation of several buildings. An attorney for Duhaime did not immediately respond to a telephone message and an email seeking comment. Duhaime has previously denied staging the incident.

Dicky Kurniawan felt the sharp sting in his eyes as Indonesian police fired tear gas into the football stadium. From his seat near an exit, he said he watched the melee unfold Saturday night as angry fans poured into the field to demand answers after host Arema FC suffered its first defeat ever on its home turf. The mob threw bottles and other objects, and the violence spread outside the stadium, where police cars were overturned and torched. As the tear gas spread through the stadium, Kurniawan grabbed his girlfriend and — like everyone else — dashed to the exits. The mass rush led to a stampede that killed 125 and injured hundreds. From his hospital bed, Kurniawan says he was fortunate to survive.

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An Indonesian police chief and nine elite officers have been removed from their posts and 18 others are being investigated for responsibility in the firing of tear gas inside a soccer stadium that set off a stampede, killing at least 125 people. At least 17 children are among the dead and seven are being treated in hospitals. Most of the deaths occurred when riot police fired tear gas to prevent fans from protesting their home team's loss. It triggered a crush of spectators making a panicked run for the exits. Most of the victims were trampled or suffocated. The disaster Saturday night was among the deadliest ever at a sporting event.

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Authorities say they've found two more victims who were wounded in a shooting at an Oklahoma high school football homecoming game. Police initially said 17-year-old Terron Yarbrough was killed and another 17-year-old was wounded in the shooting Friday night at McLain High School for Science and Technology in Tulsa. But authorities said Monday that two other victims were treated for gunshot wounds — a 20-year-old woman and a 9-year-old girl. Tulsa police say both were treated for their injuries and released from a hospital. Police say the suspected shooter ran away after opening fire during the football game. No arrests have been made.

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Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz told a prosecution psychiatrist he began contemplating mass murder while in middle school. Videos of Dr. Charles Scott's interviews with Cruz played Monday showed Cruz had extensive knowledge of earlier mass killings at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech University and elsewhere. Cruz told Scott he researched those killers to shape his own plans. Cruz pleaded guilty last year to the 2018 murders of 17 at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. His trial is only to decide whether he's sentenced to death or life without parole. Scott is trying to rebut the defense contention that Cruz's brain was damaged by his birth mother's heavy drinking.

Gaining the right to host next year’s Under-20 World Cup was a major milestone in Indonesia’s soccer development that raised hopes of a turnaround to long-standing problems that have blighted the sport in this country of 277 million people. The death of at least 125 people at a league game between host Arema FC of East Java’s Malang city and Persebaya Surabaya on Saturday is a tragic reminder that Indonesia is one of the most dangerous countries in which to attend a game. The domestic league amid an investigation. Soccer is passionately supported in Indonesia but the country's progress in the sport has been constrained by years of corruption, violence and mismanagement.

Police firing tear gas after an Indonesian soccer match in an attempt to stop violence triggered a disastrous crush of fans. At least 125 people died, most of them trampled or suffocated. It happened in East Java province after Persebaya Surabaya beat Arema Malang 3-2 on Saturday night. It was among the deadliest disasters ever at a sporting event.

Saturday marks five years since a gunman rained bullets into an outdoor country music festival crowd on the Las Vegas Strip. The grim drumbeat of mass shootings has only continued in the years since, from New York to Colorado to Texas. Northeastern University professor James Alan Fox oversees a database maintained by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University and says there's also been a horrifying uptick in the number of mass shootings with an especially high number of people killed. The news takes a toll on survivors of the Las Vegas slaying, but a strong sense of community has also developed.

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