Louisiana woman says 3 racist men set her on fire
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 20-year-old black woman said she was set on fire by three men who wrote the initials KKK and a racial slur on her car in northeastern Louisiana, police said Monday.
Officers found Sharmeka Moffitt with burns on more than half of her body when they responded to her 911 call Sunday night, said Louisiana State Police spokeswoman Lt. Julie Lewis.
The FBI is investigating the attack as a possible hate crime, but no arrests had been made as of late Monday, Lewis said. She said Moffitt was in critical condition at a hospital and that some of her injuries were third-degree burns.
Moffitt told police the men doused her in a flammable liquid and set her on fire at a park in Winnsboro, a town in Franklin Parish. Lewis said she extinguished the fire using water from a spigot before a police officer arrived.
Officers found the letters KKK — an apparent reference to the Ku Klux Klan — and a racial slur smeared in a paste-like substance on the hood of her car, Lewis said.
On the 911 call, Moffitt described her attackers as three men wearing white hoods or hats, Lewis said. She later told a Winnsboro Police officer who responded to the call that the men were wearing white hoodies. She was unable to say what race her attackers were. The officer found no suspects or vehicles at Civitan Park where the attack allegedly happened, and the park has no surveillance cameras, Lewis said. She said the state crime lab was analyzing several pieces of evidence.
Franklin Sheriff Kevin Cobb called it "a horrific event" and said authorities would "follow the facts and seek justice."
Otis Chisley, the president of the local branch of the NAACP, said he had been in touch with Moffitt's distraught family. He said he was waiting for more facts to come to light before drawing any conclusions about what happened and that "everyone wants to move with caution."
Regardless of the investigation's outcome, though, Chisley said, racism and KKK activity remain a fact of life in the state.
"It's prevalent throughout Louisiana," he said. "It's hidden but it exists."
HSI-led probe dismantles gang-run drug ring and nets record gun seizure
SAN DIEGO – Federal and local law enforcement officials Tuesday announced the results of a long-term probe that dismantled a drug and gun trafficking ring involving members of 13 different Southern California gangs, resulting in one of San Diego County's largest single-day weapons seizures.
Special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and detectives from the San Diego Police Department arrested more than three dozen people, mostly gang members or gang associates, and seized a cache of 60 weapons during the two-year investigation dubbed "Crystal Palace." That number includes 33 guns found in a single day during searches of homes and storage bins in Spring Valley, Lomita Village and Mira Mesa earlier this month.
According to federal indictments and search warrant affidavits unsealed Tuesday, 37 defendants are accused of trafficking in guns, methamphetamine, heroin, Ecstasy, marijuana and cocaine.
"Through a collaborative effort with local law enforcement, we've succeeded in dismantling a dangerous gang-operated criminal enterprise in the heart of San Diego," said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. "Promoting public safety is at the core of our mission and we remain committed to using our expertise and resources to protect our communities so that law-abiding residents will have a safe place to live and work."
"The San Diego Police Department is proud of the cooperative relationships we have with all the law enforcement agencies in the San Diego area," said San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne. "The time and effort spent on this operation was incredibly worthwhile because it got guns, drugs and criminals off the streets and made our neighborhoods safer."
Court records allege that defendants Norman Nooris, 41, Tony Lomeli, 43, and Hao Duc Tang, 37, all of San Diego, operated drug importation and distribution cells that trafficked a significant volume of methamphetamine and guns. Each of the cells is suspected of having gang ties.
One of the defendants, Veronica Ojeda, 36, of San Diego, is accused of distributing large quantities of drugs out of her grandmother's house, less than a block from an elementary school on San Vicente Street in the Lomita Village area of San Diego.
HSI special agents say this case is unique because of the number and type of weapons seized. The items included Uzi submachine guns, AR-15 assault rifles, shotguns, high-powered rifles with optics and laser sighting systems, silencers and a law enforcement Taser. Authorities also found 4,000 rounds of ammunition, Kevlar body armor, $34,000 in cash, and various quantities of drugs, including approximately 15 pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of more than $200,000.
This investigation was part of HSI's Operation Community Shield, an international law enforcement initiative to enhance U.S. public safety. Under Operation Community Shield, HSI partners with existing federal, state and local anti-gang efforts to identify violent street gangs and develop intelligence on gang members and associates, gang criminal activities and international movements, to arrest, prosecute, imprison and/or deport transnational gang members, as well as to suppress violence and prosecute criminal enterprises.
Michigan roadway shootings prompt school lockdowns
Five schools kept children off playgrounds and nervous commuters changed their routes Monday as authorities searched for a suspect in more than 20 random, unsolved shootings
by Mike Householder --
WIXOM, Mich. — Five schools kept children off playgrounds and nervous commuters changed their routes Monday as authorities searched for a suspect in more than 20 random, unsolved shootings in southeastern Michigan.
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard urged the public to be vigilant, saying wide eyes probably were more critical than changing a daily routine.
"If you see something, say something. We'd rather check out 10 false things than miss one real," Bouchard told The Associated Press. "This is not going to slow us down. We're going to find this person."
No one has been hurt, and no shootings have occurred since Thursday. But a task force with officers from nine departments raised the number to 22 shootings after getting fresh reports in the region, more than 30 miles northwest of Detroit.
The shootings have happened in four counties. Most involve cars near Interstate 96, though authorities said one occurred while a man was taking out his trash. In another incident, a woman said the rear window on her car was shattered. Ten of the 22 shootings were in Wixom in Oakland County.
Tipsters told police the gunman appears to be a man in his 30s, and authorities have released a drawing of a possible suspect with close-cropped hair and stubble on his cheeks and chin. While the shootings appear to be random, police are investigating them as a pack.
The Walled Lake school district felt compelled to lock doors at five schools in Wixom and keep kids inside at recess on a beautiful fall day, though there was no evidence schools are a target. It's not clear how long the policy will be in effect.
"We want all our students and families to feel safe. These are precautionary measures," spokeswoman Judy Evola said.
Josephine Salem, 47, said she's very concerned about her 12-year-old daughter.
"She runs cross-country after school, and that's less than maybe a quarter-mile from where the school is," Salem said. "The kids have to run outside, and a stray bullet, you know _ I think about it a lot."
A police car was parked at Wixom Elementary School as buses pulled up to take students home for the day. The officer had a view of students and the road, where several shootings occurred less than a mile away last week.
The shootings were a hot topic on morning drive-time radio shows with listeners calling or texting their plans to avoid I-96 in certain areas. Casey Smiles tweeted that she was taking a different route to Ann Arbor from the Lansing area to avoid the "scary" shooter.
The shootings occurred in Oakland, Livingston, Ingham and Shiawassee counties, from last Tuesday through Thursday.
"You can never be too careful, obviously," Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe said. "Until this guy or suspects are found, people need to be aware of their surroundings. There is nothing wrong with taking precautions."