Gunman Ranting About Trump in Shootout at Resort

Jonathan Oddi removed a flag from the back of the Trump National Doral Miami resort and entered the lobby shouting “anti-Trump rhetoric,” later shooting into the ceiling and chandeliers as officer rushed in. Five officers fired and Oddi suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the legs.

A gunman ranting about President Trump walked into the lobby of Trump National Doral Miami resort early Friday morning, draped an American flag on the counter and began firing, the Miami Herald reports. The man — identified as Jonathan Oddi, 42, who was not a guest at the resort — waited in the lobby for police officers to arrive before luring them into a gunfight, authorities said. During the gunfight, the man was struck several times in the lower body. No workers at the resort or guests were injured.

Miami-Dade’s police director said Oddi removed a flag from the back of the property and entered the lobby shouting “anti-Trump rhetoric,” later shooting into the ceiling and chandeliers as officer rushed in. Five officers fired and Oddi suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the legs. Doral mayor J.C. Bermudez said authorities do not believe the shooting was terrorism related. The shooting unfolded at the sprawling West Miami-Dade resort, which was bought by the Trump Organization in 2012 and used to host the popular World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. The President’s son, Eric Trump, tweeted his appreciation to the police departments involved in the shootout.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Records Show TX Shooter Was ‘Ticking Time Bomb’

Newly released records on Devin Kelley, who killed 26 in a Texas church, depict him as an incompetent airman who tried to project an image as a God-fearing, aspiring family man even as his ferocious temper and a compulsion toward brutality were apparent to the Air Force.

Five years before Air Force veteran Devin Kelley burst into a church in Sutherland Springs, Tx., last fall with a legally purchased semiautomatic rifle and gunned down 26 people, he recorded a tearful confession. “I am making this documentary, so everybody knows,” Kelley said in 2012, describing how he pushed and struck his toddler stepson so hard, he fractured the child’s collarbone and caused bleeding on the brain. “This is not the last mistake, and there’s probably plenty to come, unfortunately,” said Kelley, who died after being pursued following the November shooting, the Wall Street Journal reports.  The shocking massacre raised questions about how a man with such a publicly known troubled past was able to buy deadly weapons. The transcript of the confession, among court-martial records newly released by the Justice Department, paint an even more frightening portrait of Kelley, showing an incompetent airman who tried to project an image as a God-fearing, aspiring family man even as his ferocious temper and a compulsion toward brutality were apparent to the Air Force.

In 2012, Kelley pleaded guilty at his court martial, received a bad-conduct discharge and spent a year behind bars. Air Force officials have admitted failing to notify the FBI’s firearm-screening database about Kelley’s conviction for domestic violence, which should have automatically banned him from possessing weapons. The lapse allowed him to purchase a Ruger AR-556 rifle that he used during his rampage. The Air Force has been reviewing court martial records going back to 2002 in search of other domestic abuse cases that weren’t properly reported to the FBI. Records show that Kelley’s superiors saw him as a ticking bomb who needed to be locked up to prevent bloodshed. “I am convinced that he is dangerous and likely to harm someone if released,” wrote Maj. Nathan McLeod-Hughes in 2012.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Most of 177 Cases Dismissed in Waco Biker Shootout

Nearly three years ago, nine people were killed in a shootout involving bikers in Waco, Tx. Only one trial has been held, and that ended in a hung jury. Now, prosecutors say they are dismissing all but 25 to 30 cases.

After a shootout involving bikers near a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Tx. nearly three years ago in which nine people were killed, 177 participants were arrested and 154 were indicted. In the almost three years since the shootout, only one defendant, Jacob Carrizal, has gone to trial. His trial ended in a hung jury and a mistrial. Since then, prosecutors have dismissed 28 other cases and refused to file charges against 32 other people who were not indicted. A prosecutor says that all but 25 to 30 cases will be dismissed, reports the Waco Tribune-Herald. 

In one case dismissed last Friday, a special prosecutor said, “There was just no evidence to show [the biker] was involved in anything that happened there, other than being present, and that ain’t enough.” “What a mess!” says Scott Henson in the Grits for Breakfast blog. He says that local officials “should get ready for a wave of civil litigation and start socking away money for a fat settlement.” Henson praises the Tribune-Herald for tracking the story, saying most state and national media have neglected it.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Are Gunshot Injuries Becoming More Lethal?

Gunshot victims are four times more likely to die before reaching a hospital than they were a decade ago, finds a new nationwide analysis from Johns Hopkins University. The study followed up a series by the Baltimore Sun on the odds of survival for shooting victims.

Gunshot victims are four times more likely to die before reaching a hospital than they were a decade ago, finds a new nationwide analysis from Johns Hopkins University. The findings suggest that gunshot injuries may be growing more lethal, The Trace reports. The study’s lead author, Dr. Joseph Sakran, said he was partly inspired by a Baltimore Sun investigation called “Shoot to Kill.” That series revealed that the odds of survival for gunshot victims “worsened in at least 10 of the nation’s largest cities,” and that people who were shot were more likely to die compared to gunshot victims just 10 or 15 years earlier. Sakran, director of emergency general surgery at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, sought to examine the issue from a national and more scientific perspective. “We wanted to look at pre-hospital mortality — death that happens before patients are taken care of in the hospital — and in-hospital mortality, death after patients arrive to the hospital,” Sakran said.

Sakran partnered with other researchers from Johns Hopkins, the University of Toronto, and the University of Arizona to analyze statistics from the National Trauma Data Bank. They focused on patients ages 15 or older who experienced gunshot or stab wounds between 2007 and 2014. When they looked at where patients died, they discovered a striking trend: The rate of pre-hospital death rose significantly, while the rate of in-hospital death decreased. Specifically, the odds of a gunshot victim dying before reaching a trauma center increased fourfold, while the odds of a stabbing victim dying increased by eight.The authors are not sure how to explain the uptick in pre-hospital mortality, but they offer a few ideas. One is that the “intensity” of gunshot injuries has increased — that people are being shot by more rounds, or at closer proximity. They also say that some victims may live too far from a trauma center. The study appeared this month in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Woman Angry at YouTube Shoots Workers, Kills Self

Nasim Aghdam was angry that YouTube stopped paying her for content she posted. She wounded several people at the company’s California headquarters before killing herself.

A woman with an apparent grudge against YouTube for what she claimed was censoring and de-monetizing her videos opened fire at the video-sharing service’s San Bruno, Ca., headquarters, wounding several people before fatally shooting herself, NPR reports. Police Chief Ed Barberini said the attack was carried out with a handgun. The police department said “there is no evidence that the shooter knew the victims of this shooting or that individuals were specifically targeted.” The suspect was identified as Nasim Najafi Aghdam, 39.

Officers arrived at a chaotic scene as people were fleeing the YouTube building. Zachary Voorhies, a senior software engineer at YouTube, said he was preparing for lunch when a fire alarm went off. He and his team left the building and heard a commotion. “I heard a man yelling out, ‘Do you want to shoot me?’ and about 25 feet away from him was somebody on the ground with an apparent gunshot wound in his stomach and he was bleeding out of his shirt and he wasn’t moving,” said Voorhies. Aghdam’s father quoted her as saying that YouTube had stopped paying her for the content she posted to the site. YouTubers can receive payment for advertisements accompanying their videos, but the company ‘de-monetizes’ some channels for various reasons, meaning ads don’t run with them,” said the San Jose Mercury News.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Court Again Throws Out Border Patrol Shooting Case

A federal appeals court for the second time held that a U..S. Border Patrol agent who fatally wounded a teeenager across the Mexican border in 2010 cannot be sued by the teen’s family. The case had been sent back by the Supreme Court for a rehearing.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent who fired his gun in Texas and fatally wounded a teenager across the Mexican border in 2010 cannot be sued by the teen’s family, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.  The ruling cited diplomatic and national security concerns. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in the case of Sergio Adrian Hernandez, who was 15 when he was killed by agent Jesus Mesa. Justice Department has said Mesa was trying to stop illegal border crossings and fired after he came under a barrage of rocks.

The appeals court voted 13-2 to uphold a judge’s dismissal of the family’s claims. The case involved questions of whether and when constitutional rights afforded American citizens extend to non-citizens outside the nation’s boundaries. The Supreme Court had ordered the case to be re-heard in light of its decision that Muslim men detained in harsh conditions in a Brooklyn jail after the Sept. 11 attacks can’t sue top U.S. law enforcement officials. Tuesday’s majority opinion said the case raises national security concerns in that border agents might hesitate to make split-second decisions in dangerous situations if they believe they might face lawsuits. Extending the right to sue in the Hernandez case “would interfere with the political branches’ oversight of national security and foreign affairs,” Judge Edith Jones wrote for the majority. “It would flout Congress’s consistent and explicit refusals to provide damage remedies for aliens injured abroad. And it would create a remedy with uncertain limits.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Gun Crazy? No Easy Explanations for Mass Shootings

Opponents of gun control argue that better attention to mentally troubled individuals will do more to prevent mass shootings than restricting access to firearms to the general population. But our columnist argues that there is little evidence supporting mental illness as a critical factor in acts of tragic violence.

To the rest of the world and even to many US citizens, gun ownership in America seems to be out of hand. About one-third of Americans own a gun, with another 10 percent reporting they live in a home with guns. It’s believed that there are enough guns for every American to have one, so that means many own more than one.

How many guns do you need? One to protect your home, maybe one to carry with you for self-defense. If you’re a hunter or sports shooter, two or three long guns might seem reasonable, especially if they are suited for different purposes.

According to a Pew Research survey in 2017, two-thirds of American gun-owners have at least two firearms, and 29 percent own five or more. Three percent own 17 apiece, according to one analysis of an unpublished study by Harvard and Northeastern University researchers.

The Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock had even more, two dozen or so, with a dozen bump stocks. Half of those he amassed in a year. Do you need a gun a month? Should that be a red flag?

Not in the United States, home of the Second Amendment to the Constitution: the right to bear arms.

When a mass shooting takes place, Second Amendment defenders such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) say it’s not a problem of guns, but of mental illness. Psychologists point out that mental illness is a far better predictor of self-harm or victimization, not harm against others.

But what if the gun ownership, the gun love, is a sign of mental illness itself?

Is the multiple-gun owner a compulsive collector, a hoarder? Probably not.

One difference between a collector and a hoarder is that collectors are choosy. They take care of their collection, display it attractively, and take pride in showing it to others. A hoarder is less or not at all selective; he or she just crams the items into whatever cubbyhole is available, and piles them in sinks, bathtubs and other spaces that serve another purpose but can no longer be used for that purpose. (One example: a book collector displays his books in a bookcase; a book hoarder piles them in his bathtub.)

By this definition, most firearm collectors are not hoarders. I don’t know of any gun enthusiasts who throw their weapons in a pile or in a sink. Most keep them clean, oiled, polished and either displayed on a rack or kept in a gun safe.

What if they have enough ammunition for an army? Not necessarily.

Some of these people do seem paranoid, afraid of jack-booted government thugs or a civilization-ending natural disaster. One site —that says you need at least 2,000 rounds of ammunition per caliber of firearm: 1,000 with which to practice, and 1,000 for when (not if) the national power grid goes down—warns that 200 million Americans will die when (not if) the nationwide power grid goes down.

But the nonpartisan firearm information site The Trace, no great fan of the NRA, explains that there can be perfectly reasonable reasons to “hoard” ammo for reasons of supply and price, not because it’s preparation for a mass shooting or rebellion.

Are gun enthusiasts actually mentally ill? Not according to Psychiatry Online, which says the idea that gun violence and mental illness are closely linked is a myth.

“It should be noted that there is no established causality between mental illness and gun violence,” DJ Schuette, a self-described “responsible gun owner “who admits to suffering from depression and anxiety, told The Marshal Project.

Schuette keeps his gun in a gun safe to which only his wife has access. He’s not worried that he’ll harm others so much as that he might take his own life, which is a far more common outcome. Of the approximately 37,000 US gun deaths in 2016, 22,000 were suicides. Fewer guns would make those deaths less likely because suicide attempts by other means—drowning, hanging, poison, wrist-cutting—are not as often successful.

Despite the lobbying by the NRA, other “Second Amendment Firsters” and politicians, mental illness is not a good predictor of whether someone will engage in violence with guns. It happens, but is rare. To the extent that modern psychiatry and neurology can determine (often post-mortem), most shooters—even mass shooters—are not mentally ill.

“The large majority of people with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression are not inclined to be violent,” according to a study by Jeffrey W. Swanson. Even when they do commit acts of violence, it is is more likely to the result of some other factor such as substance abuse.

Take Stephen Paddock. A thorough autopsy found nothing to suggest he was mentally ill due to a brain tumor or stroke or early onset dementia, although “an abnormally high number of tiny deposits” that are sometimes associated with neurological disease were found scattered on the surface of his brain.

However, in an article earlier this month (at least in part hawking his own 2007 book on the subject), Grant Duwe wrote, “peer-reviewed research has shown that individuals with major mental disorders (those that substantially interfere with life activities) are more likely to commit violent acts, especially if they abuse drugs. … [At] least 59 percent  of the 185 public mass shootings that took place in the United States from 1900 through 2017 were carried out by people who had either been diagnosed with a mental disorder or demonstrated signs of serious mental illness prior to the attack.”

Maybe the difference in the two opinions is that Duwe qualifies his conclusion to include “demonstrated signs” of mental illness, which seems a little vague. The results of at least one survey concluded that “half of all Americans will qualify for a psychiatric diagnosis at some point in their lives, while a quarter of them do in any given year.”

Not even all gun enthusiasts like the idea of blanket mental illness restrictions on gun ownership. These are better predictors, according to Dr. Renee Binder, former president of the American Psychiatric Association. A history of drug or alcohol abuse is “stronger indicator of risk” than mental illness, he said. Though he added that, like mental illness, substance abuse is more associated with being a victim of gun violence than a perpetrator.

In an essay, Brandon Smith questions ” WHO gets to decide who is mentally ill and why they are mentally ill? Will this be done by a jury of our peers? Or, by an unaccountable and faceless bureaucracy? Will the guidelines for mental illness be strict and specific, or will they be broad and wide open to interpretation?

“Once a person has been labeled mentally defective, will they have the ability to appeal the decision, or will the label haunt them for the rest of their lives?”

At the same time, Smith suggests that psychotropic pharmaceuticals are the cause of mass shootings, because “at least 35 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence have been committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs” and “psychotropic drugs are proven to influence violent and even homicidal behavior in people.”

Without case studies detailing the shooters’ pre-drug-use behavior, it is just as likely that an underlying mental illness that was inadequately medicated led to the shootings.

Paddock was “withdrawing” from the anti-anxiety medicine Valium at the time of the shootings. His physician suspected he might have a bipolar disorder, but he refused to take antidepressants for it. More meds might have prevented this mass shooting.

If mental illness isn’t the cause, maybe it’s substance abuse? Alcohol, yes. Drugs, maybe a little, if the abuser also has a mental illness.

“Alcohol was a more important predictor of future violence than prior violence was,” according to Garen Wintemute, the director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, who conducted a longitudinal study which found that a gun owner convicted of a crime involving alcohol, most often driving under the influence,was almost 33 percent more likely to commit a violent or firearm-related crime.

If we deny guns to people with a mental illness, should we deny gun ownership to anyone with a DUI, too?

Of people who abuse alcohol or drugs, 39.1 percent also have a co-occurring or comorbid mental illness. Sometimes they may be trying to self-medicate the mental illness with alcohol or drugs. When that’s the case, rehab for substance abuse or mental illness alone is not sufficient, and treatment at dual diagnosis treatment centers is required.

The National Comorbidity Survey Replication survey estimated that more than 25 percent of a representative sample of 9,000 adults had a mental illness in one year. Marcia Angell of Harvard Medical School cited an even more alarming survey sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health between 2001 and 2003 that found 46 percent fit the American Psychiatric Association profile of at least one mental illness at some point in their lives.

Even if gun ownership isn’t a mental illness, gun ownership may correlate with tendencies towards anger and impulsivity. However, just over 10 percent of people who have guns in the home also have any pathological anger traits, as do 1.5 percent of those who carry guns.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention, and Policy states that “Firearm prohibitions for high-risk groups — domestic violence offenders, persons convicted of violent misdemeanor crimes, and individuals with mental illness who have been adjudicated as being a threat to themselves or to others — have been shown to reduce violence.”

Stephen Bitsoli

Stephen Bitsoli

Even that might be a bridge too far for Americans. While other nations—Australia, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom—have had some success with gun control, their solutions likely wouldn’t work in the US because of the Second Amendment, and the strong American belief that guns keep us safe and free.

If it’s not mental illness, drugs or the number of guns we possess, what is it? There are no easy answers. The cause of America’s gun violence problem may be in the American character. In some ways we still think we’re in the Wild West.

Stephen Bitsoli, a Michigan-based freelancer, writes about addiction, politics and related matters for several blogs. He welcomes readers’ comments.

from https://thecrimereport.org

1,300 U.S. Kids Die, 5,800 Wounded by Guns Each Year

It’s not only schools where young people in the U.S. face gunfire. The vast majority of gun-violence victims are boys, and homicide rates are highest among African Americans. Among industrialized countries, 91 percent of children under 15 killed by guns die in the U.S.

Government data and academic research on gun violence show that young people in the U.S. are at disturbing risk of getting shot by other children, by their parents, by themselves, or by strangers. No space is safe: children are struck by bullets at home, at the park, at school, reports The Trace. This year, at least 50 people have been shot or killed on a school or college campus, and the U.S. averaged one school shooting every week. This includes incidents that took place on school grounds where at least one person was shot, not counting the shooter.) Drill down into the statistics on gun violence, and the damage becomes even more stark: Nineteen children a day are killed or hurt by guns that were too easy to access; more than 150,000 students study in schools where shots have rung out since Columbine; hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on medical treatment to save young lives.

As common as it may be for children to be struck by bullets, their rates of victimization are not happenstance. The toll is a product of the nation’s prevalence of firearms (roughly 265 million guns in circulation) and pro-gun policies and gun-industry marketing that can lead to unsafe behaviors among adults who possess firearms while raising children. On average, 1,300 children die and nearly 5,800 are treated for gunshot wounds each year, according to a 2017 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vast majority of gun-violence victims are boys, who comprise 82 percent of those killed by bullets. Homicide rates are disproportionately high among African Americans; suicide rates are disproportionately high among whites and American Indians. Among wealthy, industrialized countries, 91 percent of children under 15 killed by guns die in the U.S.,  according to the National Institutes of Health.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Veteran Kills Three Hostages, Himself, at CA Treatment Center

Albert Wong, a veteran who had been asked to leave a program where he was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, returned to kill three women working at the program and then committed suicide.

A military veteran who had been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder burst into a veterans home in the northern California town of Yountville on Friday with a rifle, killed three women connected with the treatment program and then killed himself, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Law enforcement officers found the bodies of the victims and the killer at the Veterans Home of California-Yountville around 6 p.m., more than seven hours after the incident began, said Chris Childs of the California Highway Patrol.

Gunman Albert Wong was holding staff members of the Pathway Home, a program on the Veterans Home campus that had been treating him for PTSD until he was asked to leave several days ago. He killed the program’s director, Christine Loeber, Dr. Jen Golick, a therapist with the program, and Dr. Jennifer Gonzales, a psychologist with the Department of Veterans Affairs in San Francisco. Wong walked into a staff meeting of Pathway Home at 10:30 a.m. He later exchanged fire with a Napa County sheriff’s deputy, whom Childs credited with preventing the killer from “finding other victims.” The gunman took the three women hostage, along with two additional unidentified people whom he released. He barricaded himself with the hostages inside a room on the 9,000-acre Veterans Home campus.

from https://thecrimereport.org

As School Threats Rise, Focus Grows on School Resource Officers

Since the Parkland FL school shooting, nearly 800 threats have been recorded against schools around the US. The spike in threats has underlined a growing debate about whether designated officers–some of whom may be armed–can improve school safety.

Will more school resource officers help deter tragedies like the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Fl.?

This often-overlooked role in law enforcement is under the national glare like never before, the New York Times reports.  Calls for additional school resource officers, a position that is a hybrid of counselor, educator and cop, have increased since the Parkland shooting, and perhaps no other job better personifies shifting ideas about schools, policing and safety.

The pressure has increased with reports since the shooting of nearly 800 threats against schools.  The Educator’s School Safety Network, which tracks reports of school threats and violent incidents, counted 797 as of Sunday. Most (743) were for threats of various kinds, including gun and bomb threats. The threats were made mostly via social media (331) and verbally (119), the Associated Press reports. 

That amounts to about a sevenfold increase in the usual rate, said the network’s Amy Klinger.

The number of school resource officers exploded in the community-oriented policing wave of the 1990s.  As of 2013, about 30 percent of schools had a resource officers. But as budgets tightened, their ranks thinned.

Now there are calls for installing more of them in schools, with new positions announced in many districts last week.

“They have to be a mentor — a kind, caring, trusting adult, the nice police officer who will give you a high-five and ask you how your day is going,” said John McDonald, school security chief for Jefferson County, Co., which includes Columbine. “And very quickly they have to become a tactical cop. That switch is not for everybody. The ability to do that is very difficult.” 

Fifteen students in a Florida school district are facing felony charges and prison time for making threats since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre. 

“Kids make bad decisions and I think that in decades past those decisions would have been addressed behind closed doors with the principal and parents,” said Ken Trump of National School Safety and Security Services. “Now they’re being addressed behind closed doors in the police station and the courtroom.” 

The Volusia County Schools system in east-central Florida isn’t taking chances.

Sheriff Michael Chitwood made it clear he had a zero-tolerance policy as threats began after Parkland. He said students or their families would have to pay the costs of the investigations, at least $1,000 and sometimes much more. 

This summary was compiled by TCR staffer Megan Hadley. Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org