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Biden condemns US gun violence as an ‘international embarrassment’ as he announces new actions – live

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Summary

  • Joe Biden formally announced a series of executive orders aimed at ending gun violence in America. The president has called on the justice department to crack down on “ghost guns,” unregistered firearms assembled from kits, and gun accessories that can functionally transform pistols into rifles. Biden said in the Rose Garden today, “Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment.”
  • George Floyd died from a “low level of oxygen” caused by “shallow breathing,” an expert testified at Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. The expert’s analysis could undermine arguments from Chauvin’s defense team that Floyd died because of drug use and preexisting health conditions.
  • Joe Manchin said there was “no circumstance” where he would support ending the filibuster. In a Washington Post op-ed published last night, the Democratic senator wrote, “The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.” Manchin’s stance could hinder much of Biden’s legislative agenda, given the filibuster allows the Republican minority to block bills unless they have the support of 60 senators.
  • An associate of Matt Gaetz may cooperate with federal prosecutors, a potentially ominous sign for the Republican congressman as he faces allegations of sex-trafficking. According to the Washington Post, prosecutors have indicated the case against Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector for Seminole County, may end in a plea deal. That could mean Greenberg has agreed to cooperate with federal officials in exchange for a lesser sentence.
  • Dr Anthony Fauci acknowledged shortages of personal protective equipment likely contributed to coronavirus deaths among health workers in the US. “During the critical times when there were shortages was when people had to use whatever was available to them,” the president’s chief medical adviser said in an interview with the Guardian. “I’m sure that increased the risk of getting infected among healthcare providers.” According to the Guardian and Kaiser Health News’ Lost on the Frontline database, more than 3,600 US health workers have died of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.
  • One person has died, and four are in critical condition after a shooting in Bryan, Texas. The shooting occurred at around 3.50pm, according to local police – who say they are pursuing a suspect.
  • California leaders have announced a $536m plan to address the growing threat of wildfires across the state, as a drought threatens to bring on yet another destructive, deadly fire season. The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, along with the state’s senate and assembly leaders announced the new plan at a news conference Thursday near Shaver Lake – a small town at the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains that was devastated by the Creek fire last fall.

– Joan E Greve and Maanvi Singh

Can an assault weapons ban reduce killings if firearms last 100 years?

Mona Chalabi

Six days before a man shot and killed 10 people, he legally purchased the military-style firearm he used for the crime. The incident – one of three recent mass shootings – yet again renewed a public debate about banning assault weapons in the US and seems like a potential example of a shooting in which an assault weapon ban might have been effective in reducing the death toll of the attack. But would it?

When firearms are recovered by law enforcement because of their use or suspected use in a crime, the weapons are recorded in a database along with the date of their first retail sale. The amount of time between those two events is known as the “time to crime” and is published by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). While the suspect involved in the Boulder shooting waited just six days, the national average time to crime is 8.3 years, according to 2019 statistics from the ATF.

This dataset is much broader, since it includes a wide variety of crimes and suspected crimes, but the number still poses a significant problem for policymakers that are attempting to prevent future mass shootings. Even if a nationwide ban on sales were effectively implemented tomorrow, there would still be somewhere between 15m and 20m assault rifles in circulation out of the estimated 393m guns held in the US.

Averages can be misleading, though: the range here is pretty vast – guns can be recovered days or decades after purchase. But it is relevant to note that in only 7% of cases were the guns recovered less than three months since the purchase date. State differences are also huge. In Arizona, 12% of recovered firearms were purchased less than three months ago, while in Connecticut and Arkansas, it’s just 4%.

The fact that those weapons could continue to be used for years to come isn’t just a hypothetical given the lifespan of assault weapons. Firearms remain operational for a century or more, further complicating any path to reform in a country with the highest gun ownership rate per capita in the world.

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The shooting occurred not long after Joe Biden announced new executive actions to address gun violence.

Hours before the shooting, Abbott, a Republican, came out vehemently against the president’s gun control policies. “Biden is threatening our 2nd Amendment rights. He just announced a new liberal power grab to take away our guns. We will NOT allow this in TX,” he tweeted. “It’s time to get legislation making TX a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary State passed and to my desk for signing.’

Texas has seen 14 mass shootings so far this year.

One person has died and four in critical condition after Texas shooting

One person has died, and four are in critical condition after a shooting in Bryan, Texas.

The shooting occurred at around 3.50pm, according to local police – who say they are pursuing a suspect.

“The state will assist in any way needed to help prosecute the suspect,” said the Texas governor, Greg Abbott. “Cecilia [Abbott’s wife] and I are praying for the victims and their families and for the law enforcement officer injured while apprehending the suspect.”

Updated

New EPA chief Michael Regan relishes ‘clean slate’ after chaos of Trump era

Oliver Milman

Michael Regan has perhaps the most fiendishly challenging job within Joe Biden’s administration. As the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Regan not only has to grapple with the unfolding cataclysm of the climate crisis, he must do so at the helm of a traumatized, shrunken institution still reeling from the chaos of the Donald Trump era.

“I was deeply concerned as I watched the previous administration,” Regan told the Guardian. “We all witnessed a mass exodus of scientists and qualified people the agency needs. I was really concerned coming into the job as to how morale would be and how much of a setback it would be to tackle the challenges before us.”

Trump vowed to reduce the EPA to “little bits”, and although his plans to wildly slash the agency’s budget were largely rejected by Congress, the environmental regulator is now left with its fewest employees since the mid-1980s, during which time the US population has grown by nearly a third.

Scientists were routinely sidelined, with an average of three a week fleeing the agency during Trump’s term. “It was a sort of painful hell,” said one career official, who weighed up leaving but decided to stay.

There were plenty of sources for angst.

Trump’s EPA laid siege to dozens of environmental regulations – from limits on pollution from cars and trucks to rules designed to stop coal plants dumping toxins into rivers to a ban on a pesticide linked with brain damage in children – often contrary to scientific advice and sometimes shortly after meetings with industry lobbyists. Mentions of climate change were not only scrubbed from the EPA website, the Trump administration mulled holding a televised debate as to whether it existed at all.

Scientific panels were purged of various experts and replaced with industry representatives who appeared to hold sway. Andrew Wheeler, Regan’s predecessor, is a former coal lobbyist who said acting on climate change was merely “virtue signaling to foreign capitals”. Scott Pruitt, Trump’s first EPA chief, was embroiled in an extravaganza of scandals, including living in an apartment paid for by a lobbyist, using his position to get his wife a job at Chick-fil-A, spending agency funds on foreign trips and even deploying staff to obtain a cut-price mattress from Trump’s Washington hotel.

“It was incredibly frustrating,” is how Regan sums up watching the agency unravel. “I was incredibly frustrated.”

Regan, the first black man to lead the EPA in its half-century of existence, previously worked at the agency during Bill Clinton and George W Bush’s administrations. “I worked here for a decade and I knew the staff were not being utilized properly,” he said. “I know the people, I know the quality of work they can do.”

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California leaders unveil $536m plan to address growing fire threat

California leaders have announced a $536m plan to address the growing threat of wildfires across the state, as a drought threatens to bring on yet another destructive, deadly fire season.

The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, along with the state’s senate and assembly leaders announced the new plan at a news conference Thursday near Shaver Lake – a small town at the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains that was devastated by the Creek fire last fall.

Global heating is triggering hotter, drier conditions in California – and propelling bigger, more destructive blazes. “If you don’t believe in climate change; if you don’t believe in science, then believe in your own damn eyes,” the governor said.

The new plan will include more than $350m in funds to improve forest management efforts and thin out fire-fueling vegetation. Another $25m will fund grants to help homeowners make their properties more fire-resistant.

Newsom also referenced the importance of embracing prescribed burning techniques, which were practiced by California tribes for centuries before European settlers banned and eschewed the practice. Fire is a natural and necessary part of the state’s natural landscape – but for years, rather than embracing beneficial fires, California suppressed it. A build-up of overgrowth and vegetation has held fueled extreme mega-blazes. The Karuk Tribe, wildfire researchers, and environmental groups have been pushing the governor and state leaders to fund and elevate historic forest management practices.

“I can’t make up for 50 years,” Newsom said, but committed to changing course going forward.

Last year, the state saw one of the worst fire seasons on record; four of the five largest fires in state history scorched the state, even as it was reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. Some 4m acres burned, 31 people were killed and more than 10,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged.

Updated

White House expresses concern over Northern Ireland violence

Lisa O’Carroll, Rory Carroll and Rajeev Syal report:

The White House has expressed concern over a week of riots in Northern Ireland, with Joe Biden joining Boris Johnson and the Irish prime minister in calling for calm after what police described as the worst violence in Belfast for years.

It came as police used water cannon against nationalist youths in west Belfast, as unrest stirred again on the streets on Thursday evening.

In a statement, the US president’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, said: “We are concerned by the violence in Northern Ireland” and that Biden remained “steadfast” in his support for a “secure and prosperous Northern Ireland in which all communities have a voice and enjoy the gains of the hard-won peace”.

She spoke as the Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, called on political leaders across the spectrum to tone down their language to ease tensions.

Biden, who has Irish roots, has repeatedly expressed support for the peace process and last year waded into a row over UK plans to override parts of the Brexit deal, warning Boris Johnson that any trade deal was “contingent upon respect for the [peace] agreement and preventing the return of a hard border”.

Police said as many as 600 people had been involved in disturbances in Belfast on Wednesday, when a bus was petrol-bombed, rubber bullets were fired and missiles were hurled over a “peace wall”.

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Amazon challenges hundreds of ballots in Alabama workers’ union drive

Amazon has challenged hundreds of ballots in a vote to form a union at one of its warehouses in Alabama in a unionization drive seen as one of the most important labor fights in recent American history.

Some 3,215 votes were cast in the election out of more than 5,800 eligible employees. The election will determine if workers in Bessemer will form the first labor union at an Amazon warehouse in the US.

According to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, hundreds of ballots were challenged, mostly by Amazon. In the early vote the number of votes against forming a union moved into a lead of 439 versus 200 for shortly before 5pm EST. on Thursday. But many observers expect the huge amount of challenged ballots to lead to a delay in any formal announcement of a result.

“There remain hundreds of challenged ballots mostly by the employer that will need to be addressed after the public count. As the ballot envelopes are opened and the ballots are counted there’s a possibility that more issues could impact the final results,” the RWDSU said.

The unionization drive has sparked huge political interest and a roster of leftwing politicians – and even some Republicans – have spoken out in support of it or visited the state. The US labor movement sees it as a bellwether case for hopes of expanding its power, especially in areas of the economy – such as online retail – that are increasingly dominant.

Ballots in the vote can be challenged based on several factors, such as the eligibility of the voter in regards to job classification or dates of employment. The NLRB will probably hold a later hearing on the validity of the challenged ballots, after unchallenged ballots are tallied, if the number of challenged ballots could affect the outcome of the election.

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Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden formally announced a series of executive orders aimed at ending gun violence in America. The president has called on the justice department to crack down on “ghost guns,” unregistered firearms assembled from kits, and gun accessories that can functionally transform pistols into rifles. Biden said in the Rose Garden today, “Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment.”
  • George Floyd died from a “low level of oxygen” caused by “shallow breathing,” an expert testified at Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. The expert’s analysis could undermine arguments from Chauvin’s defense team that Floyd died because of drug use and preexisting health conditions.
  • Joe Manchin said there was “no circumstance” where he would support ending the filibuster. In a Washington Post op-ed published last night, the Democratic senator wrote, “The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.” Manchin’s stance could hinder much of Biden’s legislative agenda, given the filibuster allows the Republican minority to block bills unless they have the support of 60 senators.
  • An associate of Matt Gaetz may cooperate with federal prosecutors, a potentially ominous sign for the Republican congressman as he faces allegations of sex-trafficking. According to the Washington Post, prosecutors have indicated the case against Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector for Seminole County, may end in a plea deal. That could mean Greenberg has agreed to cooperate with federal officials in exchange for a lesser sentence.
  • Dr Anthony Fauci acknowledged shortages of personal protective equipment likely contributed to coronavirus deaths among health workers in the US. “During the critical times when there were shortages was when people had to use whatever was available to them,” the president’s chief medical adviser said in an interview with the Guardian. “I’m sure that increased the risk of getting infected among healthcare providers.” According to the Guardian and Kaiser Health News’ Lost on the Frontline database, more than 3,600 US health workers have died of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Amudalat Ajasa reports for the Guardian from Minneapolis:

Behind the Hennepin county courthouse in downtown Minneapolis, which is heavily fortified for the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, a small but determined core of seven protesters gathers every day.

Sometimes there are many more protesters, sometimes not so many. But always this group, there hoping to witness justice for George Floyd, who died under the knee of Chauvin in south Minneapolis last May.

Outside, the core group hold signs, amplify chants with a bullhorn and circle the courthouse with the aim of encouraging peaceful protest.

“I get up at 5am and I’m usually out here a little after 7am every day,” John Stewart Jr, 57, said, as his Black Lives Matter flag fluttered in the wind.

Stewart, an ordained pastor in the city, and the “core of seven” generally stay put in their chosen spot behind the courthouse for the entire length of an average work day: 9-5, or longer.

Donald Trump has endorsed two sitting Republican senators, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rand Paul of Kentucky, in new statements today.

“Rand Paul has done a fantastic job for our Country, and for the incredible people of Kentucky,” the former president said in a statement released by his political action committee, the Save America Pac. “He has my Complete and Total Endorsement for another term in the U.S. Senate. The Commonwealth of Kentucky has a true champion in Rand Paul.”

Trump praised Johnson as “brave” and “bold” and offered him his “complete and total endorsement” — even though the Wisconsin senator has not yet announced whether he will run again.

Johnson and Paul are both up for reelection next year, when Republicans hope to flip the Senate after Democrats took control with two wins in Georgia earlier this year.

David Smith

Joe Biden, under pressure to act after a slew of mass shootings, has announced his first steps to curb the “epidemic” and “international embarrassment” of gun violence in America.

The president has prioritised the coronavirus pandemic and economic recovery during the first two and half months of his presidency. But a series of recent shooting tragedies in Georgia, Colorado and California led to renewed calls for urgent action on guns.


Biden condemns US gun violence as ‘international embarrassment’ – video

About 316 people are shot every day in America and 106 of them die, he noted, “hitting Black and brown communities the hardest”. Gun violence is estimated to cost the nation $280bn a year, according to the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. “This is an epidemic, for God’s sake, and it has to stop,” an emotional Biden said.

The White House event included parents family members who have lost loved ones to the scourge. “They know what it’s like to bury a piece of their soul deep in the earth,” remarked Biden, who has endured his own measure of loss. “They understand that.”

Seeking to break a Washington paralysis that confounded former president Barack Obama, even after horrific mass shootings, Biden said he was announcing immediate concrete actions that he can take now without Congress. Republicans have long resisted fundamental reform, citing the second amendment to the constitution that protects the right to bear arms.

“Nothing I’m about to recommend in any way impinges on the second amendment,” Biden insisted. “They’re phony arguments, suggesting that these are second amendment rights at stake, what we’re talking about. But no amendment to the constitution is absolute. You can’t shout ‘Fire!’ in a crowded movie theatre and call it freedom of speech.”

Congresswoman Lucy McBath reflected on the loss of her son Jordan, who died in a 2012 shooting, as she celebrated Joe Biden’s new actions to address gun violence.

McBath, who was at the Rose Garden for Biden’s formal announcement of the executive orders earlier today, said on Twitter, “To my Jordan, This day. At the White House. In the Rose Garden. The President announced actions that will help keep families safe. Actions that will protect children across America. Children like you. My dear Jordan, this day is your day.”

Rep. Lucy McBath
(@RepLucyMcBath)

To my Jordan,

This day.

At the White House. In the Rose Garden.

The President announced actions that will help keep families safe. Actions that will protect children across America.

Children like you.

My dear Jordan, this day is your day. pic.twitter.com/6tmYmsciX8

April 8, 2021

In 2012, Jordan Davis was shot and killed by a man who confronted the 17-year-old about his music being too loud. The shooter tried to use Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law to defend his actions, but he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

After Davis’ death, McBath became a prominent advocate for gun control laws, eventually running for Congress in 2018 and flipping a Republican seat in Georgia.

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Politics

Police say officer who shot and killed unarmed Daunte Wright intended to fire Taser

police-say-officer-who-shot-and-killed-unarmed-daunte-wright-intended-to-fire-taser

Police in a Minneapolis suburb said an officer accidentally shot and killed a 20-year-old Black man on Sunday afternoon during a traffic stop, releasing graphic body-camera footage they say shows the officer intended to use a Taser not a handgun during the death of unarmed Daunte Wright.

The incident plunged the suburb of Brooklyn Center into a night of unrest as Minneapolis remains on edge during the murder trial of former officer Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd. Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in riot gear who deployed teargas and flash bangs to disperse the crowds.

At a press conference inside Brooklyn Center police headquarters, surrounded by riot police and national guard troops, the police chief, Tim Gannon, described the shooting as “an accidental discharge” and confirmed no weapon had been recovered from Wright’s vehicle.

The county medical examiner has ruled the death a homicide.

The mayor of Brooklyn Center, Mike Elliott, said he had spoken to Joe Biden, who offered assistance.

“I want to say that our hearts are aching right now,” Elliott told reporters. “We are in pain right now. And we recognise that this couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

“We will get to the bottom of this. We will do all that is in our power to make sure that justice is done for Daunte Wright.”

Elliott also said he supported firing the officer involved, who was later identified as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center police department.

Protesters face off with police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
Protesters face off with police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Photograph: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Protesters returned to the streets again on Monday evening, despite a 7pm curfew imposed by the governor of Minnesota. Hundreds of people gathered in the cold and rainy weather outside the Brooklyn Center police department, which was ringed by a metal fence, concrete barriers and police dressed in riot gear. Police later deployed flashbangs, teargas and smoke to disperse the crowd.

There are now a few hundred protesters outside the Brooklyn Center police dept, which is circled by fencing. Protesters have also blockaded off parts of Humboldt Ave. pic.twitter.com/jxCLxEzwvH

— Oliver Laughland (@oliverlaughland) April 12, 2021

Police are now firing flash bangs, smoke and pepper balls into the crowd. Some are dispersing but others firing fireworks. pic.twitter.com/mnkrXe6jGv

— Oliver Laughland (@oliverlaughland) April 13, 2021

Earlier in the day, mourners and outraged community members had made their way to the site where Wright was killed. On a grey, damp morning, Ben Witz and his sister came to the site to lay balloons.

“This is more difficult because there was another, there was another unarmed shooting,” Witz said, explaining that family members lived in the area and that the community was still traumatized from Floyd’s killing and the unrest that followed.

“It seems like it’s a common occurrence now with the police,” Witz said. “It’s crazy what’s happening. It really is.”

According to Brooklyn Center police, the incident occurred shortly before 2pm, when an officer pulled over a vehicle due to an alleged traffic violation.

The body-camera footage showed Wright being apprehended by two officers, when a third female officer approaches the scene. A struggle ensues and Wright gets back into his vehicle, at which point the female officer opens fire.

“Holy shit. I just shot him,” the officer is heard saying.

As the body-camera footage was released, a small group of activists in the police headquarters waiting area demanded the officer, who has not been identified, be fired immediately.

“Seeing the video just confirms what we already knew,” said Toshira Garraway, the founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence. “It’s just killing after killing after killing.”

She added: “They will always say, ‘I was afraid, or it was an accident.’ But the fact of the matter is: this was a murder. If she is not fired, this is only going to escalate.”

Fatal police shooting sparks protests in Minneapolis – video

00:51

Fatal police shooting sparks protests in Minneapolis – video

Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, told reporters she was on the phone with her son as the encounter occurred. According to her account, reported by local TV news, her son called as he was being pulled over and asked about insurance for the vehicle, which she had recently given him.

She said she heard officers instruct her son to get out of the car and then “scuffling” shortly before the phone hung up.

“A minute later, I called and his girlfriend answered, who was the passenger in the car, and said that he’d been shot and she put it on the driver’s side, and my son was laying there lifeless,” she said.

Police said officers determined the driver had an outstanding warrant.

Mother whose son was shot dead in Minneapolis suburb: 'I just want my baby home' – video

01:44

Mother whose son was shot dead in Minneapolis suburb: ‘I just want my baby home’ – video

Heavily armored national guard troops worked to barricade the police station on Monday morning, as fewer than a dozen protesters faced the building across a road.

Two national guard Humvees, guardsmen carrying long guns and dozens of officers in riot gear were outside the station as police installed concrete blocks. A couple of members of the Original Black Panthers of Minneapolis group chatted with state troopers.

Witz, 40, a liquor store employee, said he was concerned the business would be vandalized if protests over Wright’s killing led to major unrest.

“It was like a war zone,” Witz said of the unrest that followed Floyd’s death. “And now we’re seeing it here and, I mean, why do we have to vandalize, I mean, I, as a white person I don’t get it, but I want to be educated.”

On Sunday evening, hundreds of protesters marched to the police station and were met by officers in riot gear who discharged teargas, flash-bangs and other munitions. Crowds had largely dispersed by midnight.

The Minnesota department of public safety commissioner, John Harrington, said around 20 businesses at the Shingle Creek shopping center were broken into. The mayor, Elliott, urged protesters “to be peaceful and that peaceful protesters are not dealt with force”.

Brooklyn Center is a suburb in north-west Minneapolis with a population of about 30,000. Tensions are high as the murder trial of Chauvin entered its third week.

Some protesters damaged police vehicles.
Some protesters damaged police vehicles. Photograph: Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images

Amid drizzle and grey skies on Monday, protesters such as Bethany Hemrich came to pay her respects near the site where Wright had been shot dead less than 24 hours before.

“As a mother of a Black child, I couldn’t even fathom,” Hemrich, who is white, said. “My son is 10, and I brought him to [the] George Floyd memorial and had to explain racism to him.”

As her voice broke, she continued: “They didn’t have to kill him. I feel like if it was a white person, they wouldn’t have shot him.”

Quinn Redeemed, 46, spoke of the tension in the area around police-involved deaths of Black people.

Redeemed said: “This just added gasoline to the fire. We’re tired and fired up. The world needs to really see what’s going on. And now, the world is watching Minnesota.”

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Politics

Police kill student who fired at them at Tennessee high school, authorities say

police-kill-student-who-fired-at-them-at-tennessee-high-school,-authorities-say

A student at a Tennessee high school has been shot and killed by police after opening fire on officers responding to reports of a gunman on campus, authorities said on Monday.

David B Rausch, the director of the Tennessee bureau of investigation, said at a news conference that police found the student in a bathroom at Austin-East magnet high school in Knoxville, a city about 180 miles (290km) east of Nashville. They ordered him out, but he wouldn’t comply, and that is when he reportedly opened fire, Rausch said. Police fired back.

The student died at the school, and an officer was wounded and taken into surgery, authorities said. No one else was hurt.

“It’s a sad day for Knoxville, and it’s tough for Austin-East,” Rausch said.

Asked about the overwhelming police response to a call that came in just before afternoon dismissal, the Knoxville police chief, Eve Thomas, said, “We have a student, a school incident. It’s our worst fear, an active shooter in a school.”

The shooting comes as more classrooms are reopening to students after months of remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic, which cut down the number of mass killings in the US. The nation has seen series of mass shootings in recent weeks, including eight people killed at three Atlanta-area massage businesses on 16 March and 10 people killed at Colorado supermarket on 22 March.

Speaking outside a hospital, Knoxville’s mayor, Indya Kincannon, told WATE-TV that she had spoken with the wounded officer and he was conscious and in good spirits.

Kincannon, a former Knox county schools board president, spoke at a February press conference about the gun violence that took the lives of three Austin-East students less than three weeks apart this year. Two of the victims were 15, and the other was 16. The shootings did not take place in the school.

Law enforcement officers respond to the shooting.
Law enforcement officers respond to the shooting. Photograph: Saul Young/AP

“I know that school is a safe place,” Kincannon said at that time, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. “It’s a place where people are learning … The issues with violence are happening in the community, and it’s affecting kids when they’re outside of the school. That’s why we are focusing our efforts to protect the innocent, protect the school, protect the children and students and staff.”

Bob Thomas, the superintendent of Knox county schools, tweeted on Monday that a shooting had occurred but the building had been secured.

“The school building has been secured and students who were not involved in the incident have been released to their families,” Thomas said.

He added in a separate tweet that authorities were gathering information and about “this tragic situation” and that additional information would be provided later.

Police urged people to avoid the area, adding that a reunification site had been set up on a baseball field behind the school for students to be reunited with family.

Last week, the Republican governor signed off on legislation that would make Tennessee the latest state to soon allow most adults 21 and older to carry handguns – openly or concealed – without first clearing a background check and training.

The state’s governor, Bill Lee, backed the legislation over objections from law enforcement groups, who argued that the state’s existing permit system provided an important safeguard for knowing who should or shouldn’t be carrying a gun.

The law, which does not apply to long guns, will take effect 1 July. The new measure also increases certain penalties relating to theft, and also makes exceptions for people with certain mental illnesses and criminal convictions.

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Politics

Alex Rodriguez and billionaire Marc Lore near deal for NBA’s Timberwolves

alex-rodriguez-and-billionaire-marc-lore-near-deal-for-nba’s-timberwolves

Former MLB star Alex Rodriguez and billionaire Marc Lore appear to be close to owning the Minnesota Timberwolves, finalizing a deal with current owner Glen Taylor, according to reports.

The pair released a statement on Saturday:

“We look forward to entering this phase of the process with Glen Taylor. Our respect for him and the legacy he built lays an amazing foundation for what is to come. We are excited by the prospect of getting to know the Timberwolves organization, the talented team and their incredible fans.”

The letter of intent paves the way for a 30-day exclusive negotiating window. If a deal is finalized, they would first become minority owners, according to the Athletic, and in 2023, would gain full control.

The Athletic reported an agreement was reached on a $1.5bn price and that the team would remain in Minneapolis – a requirement from Taylor, who has owned the team for almost 30 years.

ESPN also reported the deal was being finalized.

Rodriguez attempted last year to buy the New York Mets alongside ex-fiancee Jennifer Lopez, and Lore was among the other partners in that bid.

Lore, a billionaire New York native, stepped down as Walmart CEO in January. The former entrepreneur created Jet.com (sold to Walmart for $3bn) and Diapers.com (sold to Amazon for $545m), among other business ventures.

A three-time AL MVP, Rodriguez retired in August 2016 with 698 home runs, a .295 average and 2,086 RBIs in 22 years. He was suspended for the 2014 season for violations of Major League Baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract.

A-Rod, now 45 years old, earned about $448m as a player. The 14-time All-Star started his career with Seattle, signed a record contract with Texas in December 2000, and then moved from shortstop to third base when he was traded from the Rangers to the New York Yankees ahead of the 2004 season.

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