Texas prosecutor's funeral held despite bomb threat
Private services were held yesterday for a Texas prosecutor and his wife despite a bomb threat targeting the church in Wortham where friends, family members and law-enforcement officials gathered to bid the slain couple a final farewell.
A public memorial was held on Thursday for Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, at the church where they worshipped in Sunnyvale, Texas. The two were found shot dead at their home on Saturday, two months after one of McLelland's assistant prosecutors was gunned down near the Kaufman County Courthouse.
The threat against the First Baptist Church of Wortham, in the eastern Texas town where McLelland grew up, came late Thursday, said Sgt. Clayton Aldrich of the Freestone County sheriff's office.
Someone apparently using a no-contract, pay-as-you-go cellphone called in the threat, making it extremely difficult to trace, Aldrich said.
“Criminals use them … people who deal narcotics and stuff like that,” Aldrich added.
No bomb was found, and the funeral went ahead as planned.
The bomb threat heightened tensions that arose after the shootings, which law-enforcement officials have characterized as attacks on the criminal-justice system. McLelland and his wife were found shot to death in their home near Forney, 22 miles from Dallas, two months after Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was gunned down on Jan. 31. McLelland had publicly vowed to capture Hasse's killer.
About 300 mourners packed the small church for the McLellands' funeral.
Afterward, a procession with McLelland's flag-draped coffin at the front later stretched from the church and town center to the cemetery where the couple was buried after a grave-side service.
The McLellands were married for 28 years and had two daughters and three sons, one of whom became a Dallas police officer.
No arrests have been made in the killings of the McLellands and Hasse, nor have investigators named a suspect or person of interest. Current and former law-enforcement officials have speculated that a prison gang called the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas might be responsible.
The bomb threat triggered a search of the church on Thursday night by agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who used bomb-sniffing dogs, Aldrich said.
The call was traced to a cellphone tower in Mexia, several miles south of Wortham, said Wortham Police Chief Kelly Butler. “It just basically said there's a bomb at the church where they're having the funeral,” Butler said.
The Texas Rangers on Thursday made their second arrest this week of a person suspected of threatening investigators in the McLelland case. A 52-year-old man was charged with making a terroristic threat against an assistant district attorney via Facebook, the Kaufman County sheriff's office said yesterday.
The Rangers arrested a 56-year-old man on the same charge on Tuesday after he was suspected of making a phone threat against a county official on a tip line for the case.
Secret Service head personal info on Internet, site claims
by Carol Cratty
Washington (CNN) -- The FBI and the Secret Service are investigating another incident involving a website that has divulged purported personal information about senior U.S. government officials and celebrities. This time it is the new Secret Service director.
A website posted information allegedly about Julia Pierson, who was named in March to head the agency charged with protecting the president and other top-level government officials.
The Secret Service would not comment beyond acknowledging it is looking into the matter.
The FBI would not say whether the information on the Internet, including Social Security and financial data, was accurate nor would they say whether investigators believe those materials were obtained by hacking.
As with some past reports on other people, it appeared that some of the information for Pierson is dated. For instance, it lists a Florida address although she has lived and worked in the Washington area for years.
Other information allegedly linked to the Secret Service director included a credit report, bank and mortgage information, and retail credit cards, including Macy's, Sears and Home Depot.
The website, which CNN is not naming, has posted materials in the past claiming to belong to an assortment of public figures. These include first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller.
The site also posted alleged personal information about a number of celebrities, including Lady Gaga, Beyonce, George Clooney, and Tiger Woods.
Earlier, the Secret Service confirmed it was investigating the incidents involving Obama, Clinton and Biden. The FBI said it was investigating those cases as well as those involving celebrities.
No arrests have been announced.
Settlement Is Reached With Family in Slaying
by LIZETTE ALVAREZ
MIAMI — The parents of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager who was shot by George Zimmerman last year, have settled a wrongful-death lawsuit against the homeowners' association in the gated community where he was killed.
At the time of the shooting, Mr. Zimmerman was the neighborhood watch captain at the development, the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Fla., where he lived with his wife. A homeowners' association newsletter sent to residents in February 2012, the same month as the shooting, cited Mr. Zimmerman as the person to contact for neighborhood watch issues. The newsletter suggested that if concerns arose, they first call the police and then alert Mr. Zimmerman.
After Mr. Martin's death, his parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, sued the association for wrongful death. The amount of the settlement was not revealed. As is customary in such settlements, the association admitted no guilt in Mr. Martin's death and all parties are bound to confidentiality. The Orlando Sentinel obtained the portion of the settlement that was made public Friday at the Seminole County courthouse.
The Martin family's lawyer, Benjamin Crump, has said he planned to file a separate lawsuit against Mr. Zimmerman at a later date.
The Martin family and the association tried to settle the lawsuit through mediation earlier in the year but talks fell apart after Mr. Martin's parents rejected a $1 million offer, said Mark O'Mara, Mr. Zimmerman's criminal lawyer. Negotiations later resumed and the two sides ultimately reached an agreement. The Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America is the association's insurer.
Mr. Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Mr. Martin, is scheduled to go on trial in June. Mr. Zimmerman has said that he shot Mr. Martin, 17, in self-defense.
On Feb. 26, 2012, Mr. Zimmerman saw Mr. Martin walking inside the Retreat at Twin Lakes, with a hoodie pulled over his head to ward off rain. Mr. Zimmerman called the police and described Mr. Martin as suspicious, adding that it looked like “he was up to no good.” The police told him to stay put, but Mr. Zimmerman got out of his S.U.V. and followed Mr. Martin as the teenager walked toward his father's girlfriend's house, where he was staying.
Soon after, Mr. Martin tackled him and started to punch him and slam his head against the sidewalk, Mr. Zimmerman told the police. Mr. Zimmerman reached for his gun and shot Mr. Martin in the chest, killing him with one bullet. Mr. Martin did not have a gun.
No Country for 'Black Teens'
by Benjamin Todd Jealous -- President and CEO, NAACP
One year later, the Trayvon Martin tragedy still stings -- and some people are still throwing salt on the open wound. Last week George Zimmerman's brother, Robert Zimmerman, posted a tweet comparing Trayvon Martin to De'Marquis Elkins, a 17-year-old black teenager charged with fatally shooting a one-year-old baby.
The tweet showed a photo of Elkins side by side with a photo of Martin, both making inappropriate gestures, with the caption "A picture speaks a thousand words. Any questions?"
Zimmerman's follow-up tweet read "Lib[eral] media [should] ask if what these [two] black teens did [to] a [woman and her baby] is the reason [people] think blacks might [be] risky." The implication was that Trayvon Martin's actions on the night he was murdered were equivalent to the killing of an innocent child.
This would be worrisome enough if it were just the opportunistic cry of a family embroiled in racial controversy. But this belief -- that male "black teens" are inherently more likely to be criminals -- is ingrained in our society. It has seeped into our institutions in the form of racial profiling, and too often it poisons the judgment of those who are supposed to protect us.
Last year I visited Sanford, Florida in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case. The NAACP hosted a forum where residents could report incidents of police abuse. A number of African-American mothers alleged that their teenage sons had been profiled, abused or even assaulted by the police. I found that the attitude of the local police department toward "black teens" was uncomfortably similar to that of Robert Zimmerman.
But the fact is that 50 years after the Civil Rights Act, racial bias still runs rampant among law enforcement in this country. And Zimmerman's attitude infects an institution much more influential than the Sanford Police Department: the NYPD.
The New York Police Department is currently fighting a class-action lawsuit against their racially biased practice of "stop-and-frisk" policing. Stop-and-frisk allows officers to stop, question and physically search any individual they consider suspicious. In 2011 NYPD officers stopped nearly 800,000 people for alleged "suspicious activity." Nine out of ten were innocent, 99 percent did not have a gun -- and nine out of ten were black or Latino.
The most revealing tidbit to come out of the class-action trial is a secretly recorded conversation between a deputy inspector and a police officer. The inspector is discussing a high-crime neighborhood, and he can be heard telling his patrolman: "The problem was, what, male blacks... And I told you at roll call, and I have no problem telling you this, male blacks 14 to 20, 21." In other words: stop more young black boys.
Other evidence indicates that patrolmen may be encouraged to meet arrest quotas. A tape played at the trial reveals a supervising officer asking for "more 250s" - or more stop-and-frisk forms. One plaintiff, a police officer, testified about the pressure he felt from supervisors -- "they were very clear, it's non-negotiable, you're gonna do it, or you're gonna become a Pizza Hut delivery man."
A picture may speak a thousand words, but leaked recordings speak volumes about an institution's priorities. These tapes reveal that the NYPD has effectively placed a bounty on "black teens." By profiling young teens of color, they are using the same grisly logic as Robert Zimmerman. And the result is apparent: in 2011, black and Latino men between the ages of 14 and 24 made up 42 percent of those targeted by stop-and-frisk. That group makes up less than 5 percent of the city's population.
The crime attributed to De'Marquis Elkins' was truly horrific and despicable. But Elkins does not represent an entire demographic, just like Adam Lanza did not act on behalf of all young white men. Racial profiling punishes innocent individuals for the past actions of those who look and sound like them. It misdirects crucial resources and undercuts the trust needed between law enforcement and the communities they serve. It has no place in our national discourse, and no place in our nation's police departments.
No noon meal for kids in debt at middle school
by Ben Brumfield
CNN) -- Sorry, kid. No money, no lunch.
Students at an Attleboro, Massachusetts, middle school went hungry this week, if they had a negative balance on their pre-paid lunch cards.
Five cents of debt was enough for cafeteria employees at the Coehlo Middle School to instruct kids at least one day this week to dump out the food they would have normally eaten, CNN affiliate WJAR in Rhode Island reported.
About 25 children left the lunchroom with empty stomachs, said Whitson's Culinary Group in a statement. The company runs the school's cafeteria.
Parents were appalled. So was the principal. So was Whitson's.
"I told them this is bullying; that's neglect, child abuse," said parent Jo-An Blanchard.
Principal Andrew Boles apologized and blamed the culinary company. "My expectation is that every child, every adult, every parent, every student, every teacher is respected in this building, and that didn't happen yesterday because of Whitson's," he told WJAR .
Whitson's apologized in a statement and said it was not company policy to deny meals to children. It added that the school district had no official policy on what to do in such situations.
"Employees had taken it upon themselves to institute this change; it was not condoned or approved," said Whitson spokeswoman Holly Von Seggern. "We had absolutely no idea."
Workers in the school's cafeteria work on a contract basis, Boles said. He thinks the decision came from Whitson's.
Whitson's supplies 80 schools in New England with lunch meals, Von Seggern said. CNN could find no previous reports on similar incidents involving the company.
Kids with a negative balance usually receive "a cheese sandwich, a fruit and vegetable, and milk." Then the company contacts the parents about payment.