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Life or death main decision for school shooting suspect
The fate of the shooter will depend on his mental state, the wishes of the victims' families
by Curt Anderson
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The evidence against the Florida school shooting suspect is so overwhelming, the only question left for the courts if he is convicted is whether he will be sentenced to death or spend the rest of his life in prison.
The fate of 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who faces 17 counts of first-degree murder in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, will depend on his mental state and the wishes of the victims' families, which have a say in how the prosecution proceeds.
Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, whose office is representing Cruz, said there were so many warning signs that Cruz was mentally unstable and potentially violent that the death penalty might be going too far. Finkelstein said Cruz would likely plead guilty if prosecutors opt not to seek the death penalty.
"Because that's what this case is about. Not, did he do it? Not, should he go free? Should he live or should he die," Finkelstein said. "He will never see the light of day again, nor should he. But I know personally I am very upset and angry that we all failed to spot a problem and do anything as a result."
Michael J. Satz, the state attorney for Broward County, said Saturday in an email that, "This certainly is the type of case the death penalty was designed for." He called the slayings "absolutely horrific and tragic." However, he also said his office is working with law enforcement and will announce later what penalty it plans to seek.
The prosecution will likely take years. The sheriff's office said Cruz confessed, and they have his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, ammunition clips and video from the school. The FBI also said Friday it had gotten a call from someone close to Cruz who expressed concern that he had "a desire to kill people" and "the potential" to conduct a school shooting.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement that the information was not properly investigated and promised to get to the bottom of it.
A major issue for the courts will be Cruz's mental state. Officials have said he underwent unspecified treatment at a mental facility but quit after his mother died in November. His father had died some years earlier. Without any living parents, he was taken in by a local family.
Cruz's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill, told reporters after Cruz's initial court appearance that he had become unmoored from society and had no support network to lean on.
"When your brain is not fully developed, you don't know how to deal with these things," she said. "When you have the lack of impulse control that a 19-year-old has, that affects the behavior you exhibit."
McNeill also said of Cruz: "He's sad, he's mournful, he's remorseful. He's just a broken human being."
An initial decision will be whether Cruz is mentally competent to understand legal proceedings and assist in his own defense. Experts say it's a relatively high bar to clear to be declared incompetent and McNeill said Cruz is "fully aware of what is going on."
Cruz could try to plead innocent by reason of insanity, which also rarely works. James Holmes, the shooter who killed 12 people and wounded 70 in a Colorado movie theater in 2012, was convicted despite pleading insanity and was sentenced to life behind bars.
David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, said the penalty phase of Cruz's case is likely to be where his background, family situation, mental condition and life history will play the biggest part. Even if he pleads guilty and prosecutors refuse to waive the death penalty, a jury must decide by a 12-0 vote that Cruz deserves to be executed.
The victims' families also have a legal right to participate in discussions over whether to seek the death penalty.
"I think among them there are many people who aren't going to want to go through this," Weinstein said. "That would save a lot of time and a lot of anguish for people. Some will say, 'we don't care, we want him put to death. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' They will want retribution."
Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office recruits volunteers for community work
by Elaine Ingalls
LIVE OAK -- For four hours a week, Tim Loe teaches children about safety, looks for suspicious activity at people's homes and reports safety violations at parks — all duties in the typical day of a sheriff's deputy. Except he's not a paid employee, he's a volunteer with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office.
“It's just out there having fun,” said Loe, a Mount Hermon resident and retired active duty and reserves police officer with the Armed Forces. “It keeps you in the law enforcement loop.”
The sheriff's office has about 100 volunteers, and is recruiting for more. Its volunteer program, established in 1996 by former Sheriff Mark Tracy, places enrollees based on their specific skills and interests, as well as the needs of the office.
To become a volunteer, one must undergo a background check, an interview, training and initiation. Seventeen new volunteers were initiated last month.
Loe, 53, is involved in three services: the volunteer board, patrol driving and the child safety program.
At schools throughout the county, the child safety program teaches what a deputy does, what to do in an emergency, how to treat strangers and how to react to bullying.
“This is the first year (the child safety program) is county wide,” Loe said. “I can't wait for it to go to all schools.”
As civilian patrol drivers, volunteers confirm reports of abandoned vehicles, and check for any suspicious or unusual activity at homes of people who are on vacation. They also search for any violations at parks, such as fights or loitering.
“It really frees up the deputies and the people working in the office,” said Loe. “It allows them to do more than their menial job.”
The Sheriff's Office also staffs many of its volunteers at its service centers in Aptos, Boulder Creek, the North Coast, Live Oak, Felton and Watsonville. Volunteers run the office and help community members connect with staff.
Lt. Fred Plageman is the head of the community policing division. The division's tasks include eliminating illegal camping and lodging, reducing graffiti in public spaces, making recreation areas safe, helping residents form neighborhood watch groups and providing anti-violence training at work and in places of worship.
About 80 volunteers serve in Plageman's division.
“They're very empathetic and can take a person who is upset and get them on a path to correct it,” said Plageman. “They're just trying to do good deeds.”
Volunteers also function in other roles, such as crime scene investigation, forensics, administration, crime prevention and patrol, and the coroner's office. They also serve at special events, including Wharf to Wharf and Trunk or Treat at the .
“We couldn't run all of our programs without them,” said Plageman.
Volunteers must be 18 or older. They must serve at least four hours per week, but there is flexibility based on their placement. To join or learn more about the volunteer team, call 831-454-7686 or visit scsheriff.com .
Shooting reported at South Florida; 20 may be injured
by Moriah Balingit and Sarah Larimer
Authorities said gunfire appeared to break out at a South Florida high school shortly before students were dismissed Wednesday afternoon, and law enforcement officials fanned out to search for a shooter they said remained at large.
At least 20 people may have been injured, but that number may be as high as 50 people, according to Dan Booker, a fire chief from a nearby city. Some of those injured are students who were shot, Booker said.
“It's still an active scene,” he said.
Booker said he is seeking aid from the Coast Guard and other agencies because many victims will need to be transported by helicopter.
“It's still an active scene,” he said.
Video from the scene showed police surrounding the building and students being quickly marched away from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., a city northwest of Fort Lauderdale. News cameras also captured people being wheeled out on stretchers, though their conditions were not immediately clear. A tweet from the school's parent district, Broward County Public Schools, said, “We are receiving word of multiple injuries.”
Police from nearby Coral Springs, who were also responding to the incident, urged students and teachers to remain barricaded inside the school. Law enforcement officials said they were clearing students building by building.
Students/Teachers #Douglas High School Remain barricaded inside until police reach you.
— Coral Springs Police (@CoralSpringsPD) February 14, 2018
Police are working an active shooter scene, and ask that if you are in touch with your student you ask that they remain calm and barricaded until police come to their room, this is for everyone's safety. Do NOT call our 911 or non-emergency number unless it is an emergency.
— Coral Springs Police (@CoralSpringsPD) February 14, 2018
The school, which opened in the early 1990s, had more than 3,000 students in the 2015-2016 school year, according to federal data.
Gov. Rick Scott (R) said he had been briefed by the Broward County sheriff, whose agency was leading the response, as well as by the county's school superintendent. President Trump was notified of the shooting, Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said.
“The president has been made aware of the school shooting in Florida. We are monitoring the situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected,” Walters said.
My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2018
Just spoke to Governor Rick Scott. We are working closely with law enforcement on the terrible Florida school shooting.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2018
The Broward County school system wrote in a message on Twitter that students and staff “heard what sounded like gunfire” close to the school's dismissal time.
“The school immediately went on lockdown but is now dismissing students,” the school system wrote. “We are receiving reports of possible multiple injuries.”
A representative for the Broward Sheriff's office declined to discuss the number of people injured and said that office would release information only when they have confirmed it.
Today, close to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School's dismissal, students and staff heard what sounded like gunfire. The school immediately went on lockdown but is now dismissing students. We are receiving reports of possible multiple injuries. Law enforcement is on site.
— Broward Schools (@browardschools) February 14, 2018
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is now dismissing students. We are receiving reports of possible multiple injuries. Law enforcement and the District's Special Investigative Unit are currently on site. The District will provide updates as more information becomes available.
— Broward Schools (@browardschools) February 14, 2018
Florida school shooting suspect booked on 17 counts of 'murder premeditated'
by Lori Rozsa, Mark Berman and Moriah Balingit
PARKLAND, Fla. — What is known about the Valentine's Day slayings at a South Florida high school suggests the carnage was planned with chilling precision: The alleged shooter — armed with an assault-style weapon — pulled a fire alarm and waited as his victims began pouring into the halls.
What remained to be unraveled Thursday was what drove the teenage suspect, Nikolas Cruz, to bring his rage to a school he once attended and claim the lives of students he once called classmates — in what would become the nation's second deadliest school shooting with a toll of at least 17 lives.
Early Thursday, Cruz was booked on 17 counts of “murder premeditated.” Cruz was expected to appear in court later Thursday.
Investigators now were left to piecing together the narrative behind the massacre even as political leaders and a grieving community once again grapple with questions over gun control and how to better protect campuses, churches and other sites from becoming the next targets.
“We've got the people prepared, we have prepared the campuses, but sometimes people still find a way to let these horrific things happen,” said Donna Korn, a board member of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., a tidy suburb on the edge of the Everglades northwest of Fort Lauderdale .
Among those mourned was an assistant football coach, Aaron Feis, who was shot after throwing himself in front of students, numerous news outlets reported.
“He selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot,” a team statement said Thursday. “He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories.”
From former acquaintances at the school, a portrait emerged of Cruz as an increasingly erratic and troubled soul before he was expelled last year.
He “started progressively getting a little more weird,” said 17-year-old Dakota Mutchler. Cruz, she said, was selling knives out of a lunchbox, posting on Instagram about guns and killing animals, and eventually “going after one of my friends, threatening her.”
“When someone is expelled,” Metchler told The Washington Post, “you don't really expect them to come back. But, of course, he came back.”
When he did, police said, Cruz was outfitted for a siege. Cruz had a gas mask, smoke grenades, ” a load of ammunition and an AR-15 rifle. Besides the dead, at least 15 others were wounded before Cruz attempted to slip away amid the panicked students.
“It's a horrific, horrific day,” said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, whose own triplets graduated from the high school. “It's catastrophic. There really are no words.” The victims included several students and adults, authorities said.
“It is a day you pray every day you don't have to see,” said Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, reflecting on one of the nation's deadliest school shootings. The shooter came to the school armed with weaponry that evoked a battlefield, not a school located down the street from an equestrian park. He carried “countless magazines” and an AR-15 rifle, Israel said. It was unclear if the shooter had a second weapon, the sheriff said.
Just after 3 p.m. Wednesday, Michael Nembhard — a retiree who lives in Coral Springs, which sits just south of Parkland — was sitting in his garage watching the TV news when he heard an officer yell, “Get on the ground!”
He said he looked out and saw police arrest the suspect in the school shooting. The teenager was on the ground, wearing a burgundy hoodie and dark pants.
“The cop had his gun drawn and pointed at him,” Nembhard said in a phone interview. “The kid's face was turned away, so I couldn't see anything.”
Jim Gard, a math teacher at Stoneman Douglas High School, which is named for an icon of the South Florida environmental movement — said he taught the shooting suspect last year.
“I had him almost all year. He just looked like a regular high school kid. Nothing outstanding. He didn't act up in class, wasn't loud or boisterous,” Gard said.
But at some point during the school year, Gard said, the school administration sent out a note with a vague suggestion of alarm, asking teachers to keep an eye on Cruz. “I don't recall the exact message, but it was an email notice they sent out.”
Within hours of Cruz's arrest, authorities began to pore over his social media postings. Some “are very, very disturbing,” said Israel, the Broward Country sheriff.
An Instagram account that appeared to belong to the suspect showed several photos of guns. One appeared to show a gun's holographic laser sight pointed at a neighborhood street. A second showed at least six rifles and handguns laid out on a bed with the caption “arsenal.” Other pictures showed a box of large-caliber rounds with the caption “cost me $30.” One of the most disturbing appeared to show a dead frog's bloodied corpse.
Early Thursday, President Trump questioned how Cruz managed to remain off the radar of local authorities despite worrisome signals.
“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior,” Trump tweeted. “Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”
Later, Trump issued a proclamation honoring the victims of the shooting, and ordered flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset Monday.
Cruz and a half brother were adopted as babies by Lynda and Roger Cruz, according to a relative in New York. Roger died years ago and Lynda died last fall, the relative said. Around Thanksgiving, Nikolas Cruz moved in with the family of a friend from Stoneman Douglas High School, said Jim Lewis, an attorney representing the family.
“The family brought him into their home. They got him a job at the local dollar store. They didn't see anything that would suggest any violence,” said Lewis, who declined to identify them. “He was depressed, maybe a little quirky. But they never saw anything violent.”
Lewis said Cruz already owned the AR-15 rifle when he moved in with the family. “It was his gun. … It was secured in a gun cabinet in the house, but he had the key to it,” Lewis said.
Cruz bought the AR-15 himself, and so far it is the only gun authorities have recovered as part of the investigation, said Peter J. Forcelli, special agent in charge of the Miami field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“He purchased the firearm legally,” Forcelli said in an interview Thursday morning. “No laws were broken in his acquisition of the firearm.”
In his social media postings, Cruz has been seen wielding other firearms, so officials continue looking for any additional weapons, but they have not found any so far, Forcelli said. Investigators are also reaching out to gun shops across the region to see if Cruz had attempted to buy other weapons.
Even for Forcelli, a homicide detective in New York before joining the ATF, the scene inside Douglas High School was staggering.
“This is a bad crime scene,” said Forcelli, who was at the school for hours on Wednesday. “I've seen plenty of dead bodies. Seeing kids, defenseless kids, piled up, it weighs on you . I can't imagine the pain the families have. There's a lot of victims here.”
Cruz was enrolled in a program to obtain a GED, Lewis said. But on Wednesday, he didn't attend the family, telling the family something to the effect of “I don't go to school on Valentines day,” Lewis said.
After the shooting, Ryan Gutierrez, 18, a senior, walked the two miles from the school to a 7-Eleven in Coral Springs — the nearest spot where his parents could meet him. Police cars blocked every other road leading to the school.
His parents had already been reunited with his sister, Nicole, a freshman at the school.
As Gutierrez approached, his mom ran up, hugged him hard and started crying. Gutierrez held her tight, comforting her. His father came up and hugged them both.
“This has been so horrible, the most horrible day anyone can imagine,” Gutierrez's mother, Diana Gutierrez, said, trying to stop her tears. “It's unreal, just unreal. I still don't believe it. You don't think it will ever happen to you and your children.”
This is at least the third school shooting this year, and one of the deadliest on record. Beginning with Columbine 19 years ago, more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus, according to a Washington Post analysis of online archives, state and federal enrollment figures, and news stories. That doesn't count dozens of suicides, accidents and after-school assaults that have also exposed children to gunfire.
It was also the second-deadliest at a U.S. public school after the 2012 massacre of 20 first-graders and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
It is likely to revive a debate over gun control, though efforts to legislate restrictions on firearms following previous school shootings largely proved fruitless.
Denise Loughran was reunited with her 17-year-old son, Liam, within a few hours of the shooting. But they still hadn't heard from his sister, Cara, a freshman.
“Her phone must be in her backpack, and they made them drop their backpacks when they ran out,” Loughran said. “This has just been chaos. I couldn't get near the school. My husband took a bike to try to get there, and they ended up sending him to the hotel where they said they were taking the kids.
“But she's not there.”
On Thursday, the family confirmed that Cara was among those killed.
FBI received tip on Fla. suspect but did not investigate
A person who was close to Nikolas Cruz called the FBI's public tip line on Jan. 5 and provided information about Cruz's guns and his erratic behavior
by Kelli Kennedy, Curt Anderson and Tamara Lush
PARKLAND, Fla. — The FBI received a tip last month that the suspect in the Florida school shooting had a "desire to kill" and access to guns and could be plotting an attack, but agents failed to investigate, the agency said Friday. Florida Gov. Rick Scott called for the FBI director to resign because of the agency's failure.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the shooting that killed 17 people Wednesday was a "tragic consequence" of the FBI's missteps and ordered a review of the Justice Department's processes. He said it's now clear that the nation's premier law enforcement agency missed warning signs.
In more evidence that there had been signs of trouble with suspect Nikolas Cruz, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a Friday news conference that his office had received more than 20 calls about him in the past few years.
A person who was close to Cruz called the FBI's tip line on Jan. 5 and provided information about Cruz's weapons and his erratic behavior, including his disturbing social media posts. The caller was concerned that Cruz could attack a school.
In a statement, the agency acknowledged that the tip should have been shared with the FBI's Miami office and investigated, but it was not. The startling admission came as the agency was already facing criticism for its treatment of a tip about a YouTube comment posted last year. The comment posted by a "Nikolas Cruz" said, "Im going to be a professional school shooter."
The FBI investigated the remark but did not determine who made it.
The 19-year-old Cruz has been charged with killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, north of Miami.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said the agency was still reviewing its missteps on the January tip. He said he was "committed to getting to the bottom of what happened," as well as assessing the way the FBI responds to information from the public.
"We have spoken with victims and families and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy," Wray said in the statement.
Scott on Friday sharply criticized the federal law enforcement agency, calling the FBI's failure to take action "unacceptable."
"Seventeen innocent people are dead and acknowledging a mistake isn't going to cut it," the governor said. " ... The families will spend a lifetime wondering how this could happen, and an apology will never give them the answers they desperately need."
The FBI is already under intense scrutiny for its actions in the early stages of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. President Donald Trump and some congressional Republicans have seized on what they see as signs of anti-Trump bias.
The president has repeatedly slammed the nation's premier law enforcement agency and its leaders, writing on Twitter that its reputation was in "tatters."
Also Friday, mourners gathered for the first funeral for a shooting victim, packing the Star of David chapel to remember 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff. From outside the chapel, other mourners strained to hear the voices chanting Jewish prayers and remembering the star soccer player as having "the strongest personality." She was also remembered as a creative writer with a memorable smile.
At the funeral for 18-year-old Meadow Pollack, her father's angered boiled over. With more than 1,000 mourners including Scott packed into Temple K'ol Tikvah, Andrew Pollack looked down at the plain pine coffin of his daughter and then told the crowd, "I am very angry and upset about what transpired."
A day earlier, details of Wednesday's attack emerged , showing how the assailant moved through the school in just minutes before escaping with the same students he had targeted.
Cruz jumped out of an Uber car and walked toward building 12 of the school, carrying a black duffel bag and a black backpack. He slipped into the building, entered a stairwell and extracted a rifle from his bag, authorities said. He shot into four rooms on the first floor — going back to spray bullets into two of the rooms a second time — then went upstairs and shot a single victim on the second floor.
He ran to the third floor, where according to a timeline released by the Broward County Sheriff's Office, three minutes passed before he dropped the rifle and backpack, ran back down the stairs and quickly blended in with panicked, fleeing students.
Florida State Sen. Bill Galvano, who visited the third floor, said authorities told him it appeared that Cruz tried to fire point-blank out the third-floor windows at students as they were leaving the school, but the high-impact windows did not shatter. Police told Galvano that it was not that difficult to open the windows.
Israel clarified Friday that Cruz never had a gas mask or smoke grenades during the attack, but officers did find a balaclava. The sheriff said his office would be investigating every one of the previous calls about Cruz to see how they were handled.
Authorities have not described any specific motive, except to say that Cruz had been kicked out of the high school, which has about 3,000 students and serves an affluent suburb where the median home price is nearly $600,000. Students who knew him described a volatile teenager whose strange behavior had caused others to end friendships.
Recent school shootings in the US
by Zoe Szathmary, Madeline Farber
During the last year, multiple schools across the U.S. have been impacted by shootings, which have resulted in the deaths of both students and faculty members.
Authorities are investigating reports of shots fired Wednesday at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Read on for more details, and a look at other school shootings that have taken place in the last year.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida
Police are responding to reports of shots fired at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The Broward County Sheriff's Office said in a tweet Wednesday they were responding to reports of an active shooter at the high school and at least 20 people have been injured, WSVN 7 News reported.
"We are receiving reports of possible multiple injuries," Broward County Public School District confirmed on Twitter Wednesday afternoon. "Law enforcement is on site."
The school is currently on lockdown, Coral Springs Police said, instructing students and faculty members to remain barricaded inside until police can reach them.
The shooter is still at large, police said.
Salvador B. Castro Middle School, California
A 12-year-old girl was taken into custody after police said the loaded gun she brought to Salvador B. Castro Middle School in Los Angeles accidentally discharged, shooting a 15-year-old boy in the head and a 15-year-old girl in the wrist.
Police interviewed the 12-year-old student and agreed the shooting was accidental. She was booked in a juvenile detention center on suspicion of negligently discharging a firearm on school grounds.
It is unclear where the girl got the gun or why she decided to bring it to her school.
Doctors said both students who were shot are expected to recover.
Additionally, an 11-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl were treated at the hospital and released while a 30-year-old woman, who is a school staff member, had only minor injuries, Los Angeles city police said in a statement.
Marshall County High School, Kentucky
A shooter opened fire at Marshall County High School in Benton, Ky., on Jan. 23. A total of 20 people were injured, two of whom died, Kentucky State Police said.
The 15-year-old shooter has been charged as an adult with two counts of murder and 12 counts of first-degree assault.
The shooting began around 8 a.m. when the teenager entered the school with a handgun, authorities said.
Students Bailey Nicole Holt and Preston Ryan Copet, both 15 years old, died.
Italy High School, Texas
A 15-year-old girl was hurt in a Jan. 22 shooting at Italy High School in Italy, Texas. A 16-year-old male student was taken into custody, Ellis County police told Fox News.
In the school's cafeteria, the suspect "engaged the victim" and fired several shots with a semi-automatic handgun, Ellis County Sheriff Chuck Edge said during a press briefing.
The suspect was confronted by an Italy Independent School District staffer in the school cafeteria and took off, Edge said. Law enforcement later apprehended the suspect on school grounds, he told media.
The sheriff also said he is "not aware of a motive at this time," although student Cassie Shook claimed that the suspect has previously been violent at the school.
The suspect was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, the Ellis County district attorney's office announced.
Shook said the girl who was shot had moved to the school district a few months earlier. She said the girl had briefly dated the suspect, but that she did not know much about her.
“I did know that the guy that was shooting was mad at the girl because she had left him for somebody else,” Danaisia McCowan claimed while speaking to FOX4 . “So he shot at one guy and missed him, and then he shot at her.”
Ellis County sheriff's Sgt. Joe Fitzgerald told The Associated Press that authorities would inquire about any dating history involving the two.
Aztec High School, New Mexico
Gunman William Atchison, 21, disguised himself as a student to get inside Aztec High School in Aztec, N.M., on Dec. 7, 2017, according to authorities. Atchison was also a former student.
State police said that Atchison killed students Francisco I. Fernandez and Casey J. Marquez.
Officials said Atchison eventually shot himself, adding that the students killed were not targeted, but were at the "wrong place at the wrong time."
Rancho Tehama Elementary School, California
A man in Northern California went on a random shooting rampage on Nov. 14, 2017, killing five people and wounding at least a dozen adults and children before authorities shot and killed him.
The gunman, who was later identified as Kevin Neal, 44, rammed a car into the gates of Rancho Tehama Elementary School and shot at its portable classrooms. He repeatedly tried to get into a kindergarten classroom but quick-thinking staff locked the school down, and he eventually stormed off.
Neal reportedly targeted the elementary school as part of a long-running feud with neighbors.
Mattoon High School, Illinois
A male student shot and injured a fellow student at a central Illinois high school on Sept. 20, 2017. The shooting unfolded in Mattoon High School's cafeteria around 11:30 a.m., officials said at the time.
One female teacher intervened and successfully subdued and disarmed the gunman -- a move Mattoon Police Chief Jeff Branson said at the time was “pivotal.”
The gunman was taken into custody shortly after the incident.
Freeman High School, Washington
A 15-year-old student opened fire on fellow classmates at a Washington state high school on Sept. 13, 2017, killing one, investigators said. Caleb Sharpe, the suspected gunman, said the student who died had bullied him.
The slain student tried to stop the teen's rampage when the gun jammed, according to The Associated Press . A school janitor was hailed a hero after he was able to subdue the alleged shooter.
Three other students were wounded in the attack. According to court documents, Sharpe told officials that he brought the two guns to school to “teach everyone a lesson about what happens when you bully others.”
North Park Elementary School, California
A special needs teacher and a child, 8, were killed in what police said was a murder-suicide at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, California.
Police said Cedric Anderson walked into the school on April 10, 2017, and shot his estranged wife, Karen Elaine Smith. Two other students were also struck before Anderson killed himself, although law enforcement officials said they do not believe they were intended targets.
Jonathan Martinez was identified as the 8-year-old killed at the elementary school. A 9-year-old was injured.
Liberty-Salem High School, Ohio
Two high school students were injured after a fellow student allegedly fired a shotgun inside Liberty-Salem High School in Ohio on Jan. 20, 2017.
Logan Cole, who was 16 at the time, was shot twice but survived. Another student was grazed by a bullet. Champaign County Sheriff Matthew Melvin said the gunman intended to harm more students than he did.
Ely Serna, the accused gunman, was 17 at the time of the shooting but is being tried as an adult in Champaign County court. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Several hospitalized after vehicle tried to enter campus
by Brian White
FORT MEADE, Md. — Several people were hospitalized after a shooting Wednesday morning outside the National Security Agency campus at Fort Meade, but none of the injuries were caused by gunfire, the spy agency said.
It began when a vehicle tried to enter the agency's secure campus without authorization shortly after 7 a.m., the NSA said in a statement. The statement said weapons were fired but "preliminary reports do not presently indicate that there are injuries attributable to gunfire." The FBI is investigating.
Images from local news outlets showed authorities surrounding two handcuffed people after a black SUV ran into a barrier outside the Maryland base.
Earlier, Fort Meade garrison spokeswoman Cheryl Phillips had said one person was wounded in the shooting and taken to a hospital.
"NSA police and local law enforcement are addressing an incident that took place this morning at one of NSA's secure vehicle entry gates. The situation is under control and there's no ongoing security or safety threat," an earlier NSA statement said.
President Donald Trump has been "briefed on the shooting at Ft. Meade," and the White House offered thoughts and prayers with those who have been affected, spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said.
An image taken from a WRC-TV helicopter shows the police and fire department response outside the facility. WRC said bullet holes could be seen in the vehicle's front window, and air bags were deployed. Blood-stained material could be seen on the ground.
After the shooting, authorities closed a major highway in both directions, causing major backups throughout the area during rush hour.
Despite prominent highway signs, drivers occasionally take the wrong exit and end up at the tightly secured gates. Most motorists then carefully follow the orders of heavily armed federal officers and turn around without getting into more trouble.
But in early 2015, two people were shot at by NSA police when they disobeyed orders outside the heavily secured campus. One driver died at the scene after NSA police opened fire on a stolen sports utility vehicle. Authorities later said they had stolen a car from a man who picked them up for a party at a motel.
ICE launches new immigration sweep in L.A. area; at least 100 detained so far
by Cindy Carcamo
Federal officials are in the midst of an immigration enforcement operation in the Los Angeles area and have so far detained more than 100 people suspected of being in violation of immigration laws.
The sweep, which began Sunday, is focusing on "individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security," Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez said.
"This means that, ideally, we are working with local police and county jails to identify public safety threats in their custody, who are also in the country illegally, for deportation," Rodriguez said in a written statement.
But "uncooperative jurisdictions" such as Los Angeles, she said, have forced ICE agents to "conduct at-large arrests in the community, putting officers, the general public and the aliens at greater risk, and increasing the incidence of collateral arrests."
"That is what ICE is now doing in Los Angeles, and what ICE will continue to do in uncooperative jurisdictions," Rodriguez said.
The Los Angeles Police Department and many other California law enforcement agencies have said they will not cooperate with ICE on sweeps. The LAPD has long had a policy that prevents officers from asking people about their immigration status, a rule designed to encourage those here illegally to cooperate with law enforcement in criminal investigations.
Rodriguez said the agency would not release additional information about the ongoing sweep until it came to a close. She wouldn't say when that would be.
The operation is taking place in the agency's Los Angeles area of responsibility, which includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
Trump administration officials have warned that ICE might target California for more immigration raids, citing the state's efforts to create "sanctuary" protection for those here illegally. ICE has not said whether the L.A. raids were part of a larger California crackdown.
The operation follows an immigration sweep a couple of weeks ago in which agents raided 77 businesses in Northern California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Immigration officials demanded proof that employees were legally allowed to work in the U.S. It is believed to be the largest such localized operation of workplace enforcement by ICE since President Trump took office.
This week's raids come at a time when Trump has pushed for a sweeping crackdown on the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally. He and U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions contend that law enforcement agencies should give immigration agents limitless access to jails and delay releasing immigrants from custody so that agents can detain them.
Law enforcement and city officials in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other municipalities have ignored those demands and instead enacted policies or passed laws that restrict what authorities can do for immigration agents. Some conservative communities have also resisted holding on to inmates for ICE out of fear that doing so is illegal.
In response, Sessions has lashed out against cities deemed to be uncooperative and threatened to withhold funding — a move that courts have found to be unconstitutional.
A Grandmother Helped Stop Another School Shooting a Day Before the Florida Massacre
by the Associated Press
(EVERETT, Wash.) — Authorities arrested a Washington state student suspected in a school shooting plot after his grandmother showed officers plans for an attack.
Police in Everett, which is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Seattle, arrested 18-year-old Joshua Alexander O'Connor on attempted murder and other charges at ACES High School on Tuesday, The Daily Herald reported. The arrest came one day before 17 people were killed and another 14 were injured in an unrelated school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Earlier, O'Connor's grandmother called 911 and showed responding officers a journal where he allegedly drew up plans to shoot students and use homemade explosives at the school, police said.
O'Connor wrote that he wanted the death count to be as high as possible so that the shooting would be infamous, according to court papers. His entries included details about making pressure-cooker bombs, activating inert grenades and deploying explosives for maximum casualties, court papers said.
“I need to make this count,” O'Connor reportedly wrote. “I've been reviewing many mass shootings/bombings (and attempted bombings) I'm learning from past shooters/bombers mistakes.”
Detectives serving a search warrant at the grandmother's house seized the student's journal, a rifle found inside a guitar case and inert grenades.
Public defender Rachel Forde noted the gun and the grenade shells were legal to possess. She said the “musings and ventings” in O'Connor's journal weren't enough evidence to support a charge of attempted murder.
Another entry allegedly described an armed robbery of a convenience store that police believe O'Connor participated in Monday night.
Cash from the robbery was supposed to help fund the school shooting, said deputy prosecutor Andrew Alsdorf in court.
O'Connor's bail was set at $5 million.
Ex-New York City teacher accused of paying students for help making bomb
by the Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) -- A former high school teacher and his brother were accused on Thursday of stockpiling explosive materials in their apartment and paying students to dismantle fireworks for gunpowder to make bombs.
Christian Toro and his brother, Tyler Toro, were charged in a federal complaint with unlawfully manufacturing a destructive device. Christian Toro also was charged with distribution of explosive materials to a minor.
The brothers pleaded not guilty and were being held pending their next court date. There was no immediate response to requests for comment from their attorneys.
Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio praised law enforcement for halting the brothers' plans.
"The brave men and women of the (New York Police Department) and of the FBI have done extraordinary work and, in this case, likely saved many, many lives," de Blasio said at a news conference.
Authorities said that there was no indication of any continued threat and that all the suspects involved had been arrested.
The case grew out of a bomb threat called into a school by a student in December. Authorities said Christian Toro then resigned, Tyler Toro returned the ex-teacher's school laptop and a technician found a document about explosives on it.
Authorities interviewed Christian Toro at his Bronx apartment earlier this month.
Christian Toro told law enforcement agents that he'd come across the document about explosives while researching the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, looked only at its contents and never meant to download it, the complaint said. He said he'd never built a bomb.
But on Wednesday, students at his former school told agents that he paid at least two students about $50 an hour between October and January to break up fireworks and store the powder from them, said the complaint, which didn't say what the purpose of the bomb was.
Agents got a warrant and searched the Toros' apartment on Thursday, finding more than 30 pounds (14 kilograms) of various chemicals used in explosives, a box of firecrackers, a bag of metal spheres that could be used to pack a bomb with damaging projectiles and a diary, the complaint said.
The diary, with Tyler Toro's name in it, said "Christian arrested" and "If you're registered as a sex offender, things will be difficult. But I am here 100 percent, living, buying weapons. Whatever we need," according to the complaint.
The diary also talked about having thrown away all the evidence of something code-named operation "Flash," proclaimed "we are the twin Toros" and threatened retribution if anyone would "strike us now," authorities said. It added, "I hope this doesn't turn into a scene from Goodfellas," they said.
"Goodfellas," a 1990 Martin Scorsese movie starring Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci, chronicles a mobster-turned-informant.
The complaint said agents searching the apartment also found a yellow backpack, which contained a purple index card with handwriting that said "under the full moon the small ones will know terror."
The NYPD's deputy commissioner for counterterrorism and intelligence, John Miller, said the brothers' motive was unclear. He said police didn't know if the brothers were inspired by any terror groups.
"Neither of them was on our radar before this," he said.
The complaint said Christian Toro was arrested Jan. 31 on a charge of raping someone under age 17; it's a felony rape in New York for someone over age 20 to have sex with someone under age 17. No details of that case could be found Thursday night in online court records.
FBI not involved in Nutley school threat investigation
by John Connolly and Kaitlyn Kanzier
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is not actively involved in the investigation surrounding the potential threat against the Nutley School District, authorities said.
FBI Public Affairs Specialist Doreen Holder said the agency is always there to assist with an investigation but referred further questions to the Nutley police.
Nutley Police said Friday morning they have no additional information to release about the potential threat that led the school district to close schools Friday.
The Nutley School District announced shortly before midnight Thursday that all schools would be closed Friday because "a security threat," which may have come over social media.
The Phoenix Center in Nutley, a school for students with autism, multiple disabilities, behavioral and intellectual disabilities, also closed because of the threat.
The district announcement offered few details, but police are investigating, according to Nutley Public Schools Superintendent Julie Glazer.
Nutley isn't the only district that received threats against students. Jackson Township in Ocean County also received an Instagram threat that was reported to police. Jackson Police found no evidence of a threat and posted on their Facebook page that "There is no known credible threat regarding any of the township schools at this time and contrary to any rumors being circulated, the department does not have any information that would support students staying home tomorrow." There is expected to be an increased police presence at the schools.
Monroe Township schools in Middlesex County had similar threats to Jackson, according to NJ 101.5 . They also increased security at the schools and said there is no credible threat against the school.
The Miami Herald reported that at least a dozen schools around the country have been threatened with violence since Wednesday's shooting in Parkland, Florida. None of the schools listed by the Miami Herald closed because of the threats but they did search backpacks, restricted access to school campuses and increased police presence.
The Nutley Police Department, shortly after midnight, posted a statement on its Facebook page that it was investigating an Instagram video.
"We have spoken to the individual that posted the video and Detectives are in the process of speaking with all individuals from the video to a ascertain further information," stated the Nutley Police on Facebook. "Preliminarily there doesn't appear to be an active threat to any of the schools but we must finish this process."
In its Facebook post, the Nutley Police asked "that all parents remain calm and allow us to fully investigate this matter. We will release further updates as soon as we have information available."
All after-school and evening events at Nutley's schools have also been canceled, according to Glazer.
With the district's winter break coming next week, all schools will reopen for students on Feb. 26, according to the statement. District offices will reopen Tuesday, after the Presidents Day holiday.
Glazer's statement said that "because of the nature of the world in which we live, there was no other decision to be made."
She assured parents that "the safety and security of all our students and staff in the Nutley Public Schools remains our first priority."
The Nutley Police also emphasized that it is "taking all the precautions to ensure the safety of all school children."
5 Dallas-area students arrested in gun or threat incidents a day after Florida school killings
by Claire Z. Cardona
Three North Texas high school students — one each at Marcus High in Flower Mound, Plano West and South Garland — were arrested Thursday after reportedly taking guns to their campuses a day after the deadly shooting in Florida.
The Marcus High and South Garland students each face a charge of carrying a firearm in a prohibited place. The Plano West student also may face a felony charge.
The weapons were not fired, and there were no injuries at the schools.
Also Thursday, an Arlington junior high student was arrested after allegedly making threats to shoot the school, and a Weatherford teen was arrested after making vague threats on social media, police said.
Neither student had a weapon, police said.
School resource officers at Marcus High arrested a 16-year-old, who was not identified, after other students reported that the student had a firearm, police said.
Officers found an unloaded, small-caliber handgun and ammunition after removing the student from a classroom. The student was taken into police custody.
Police "do not believe the student intended to harm anyone on campus," Marcus principal Gary Shafferman told parents in a letter.
At South Garland, a school resource officer and the principal confronted 19-year-old Kerry Guery about noon after another student reported that Guery had stolen a cellphone. The phone, an unloaded handgun and marijuana were discovered in Guery's backpack, Garland police Lt. Pedro Barineau said.
In addition to the gun charge, Guery was charged with possession of marijuana in a drug-free zone and tampering with an identification number because the gun's serial number had been scraped off, Barineau said.
He also had two theft warrants out of Dallas County.
Police do not know whether Guery intended to the use the gun, and no ammunition was found.
"Obviously, we're very cautious in regards to any type of behavior that could lead us to believe some sort of violence could occur," Barineau said.
At Plano West, a school resource officer took a juvenile with a handgun into custody while investigating a Campus Crime Stoppers lead, Plano police spokesman David Tilley said. The tip indicated that a student had brought a handgun to campus.
Reports of students bringing guns to campus are not common in the Garland or Plano ISDs, but Thursday's incident underscores the benefits of having the Crime Stoppers program and on-campus resource officers who are in a position to respond quickly, Tilley said.
"The students can make these reports and potentially ... save a major incident from taking place," he said.
Campus Crime Stoppers operates under the umbrella of the Crime Stoppers program and with the North Texas Crime Commission and has a presence at 142 campuses across North Texas, according to the commission's website.
Like the Crime Stoppers program, students can receive cash rewards for tips.
The North Texas arrests came one day after a young man who had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School walked onto the South Florida campus and killed 17 people .
"It's disturbing regardless of what happened yesterday or any other time; it's always disturbing when a kid brings a gun to school," Tilley said. "You really never know what their motive behind doing that is."
No reported threats had been made by the Plano student Thursday or before that. It wasn't clear what charge he would face or where he got the gun, which was confiscated, Tilley said.
It is a felony to possess a gun in a weapon-free zone such as a high school campus, and Tilley said it's not something that's taken lightly.
"I don't quite understand it, especially in the climate we're facing today," he said. "It's a disturbing trend that is taking place, and if these kids think that it's funny to bring a gun to school even if they have no intent of using it ... they're finding out it's not that funny."
Nichols Junior High
At Nichols Junior High, a 13-year-old was arrested Thursday after other students reported that he had made threats to shoot up the school, Arlington police said.
No gun was found, but "based upon the fear it caused," the student was charged with terroristic threat, police Lt. Christopher Cook said.
Cook said that police take all threats seriously but that situations such as Thursday's are not common.
The student reportedly had talked about bringing an AK-47 to go after people, KDFW-TV (Channel 4) reported. Police told the station that the student denied having a gun and said he had been joking about bringing a toy gun that shoots foam bullets to school.
A 16-year-old student was also taken into custody Thursday at Weatherford High School after allegedly making "vague" threats on social media, which alarmed other students, Weatherford Deputy Chief Chris Crawford said.
The student, who hadn't been identified, was taken into custody by a school resource officer and transferred to a juvenile detention facility. She has been charged with terroristic threat.
No weapon was found and nothing led law officers to think she was an immediate threat, Crawford said.
"What we're seeing more and more of is that students and young adults are posting things on social media and kids don't realize ... their words have consequences nowadays," he said.
Crawford said he thinks students are becoming too comfortable with social media and don't understand that their posts can reach a far wider audience than they expected.
"With the national threat that's out there today ... it scares parents, and they have every right to be scared, and it scares students," he said. "It's a legitimate feeling of uneasiness when you have a fellow student that's posting something or writing something that others deem as threatening. No students or staff should have to live in fear."
In January, the Italy High School cafeteria was the scene of a campus shooting. A 16-year-old boy is accused of opening fire at the Ellis County school, striking 15-year-old classmate Noelle Jones six times and narrowly missing a male student. Noelle is expected to recover.
The gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety has pushed a claim that there have been 18 school shootings this year.
A Washington Post review of the data , which included a suicide outside a closed Michigan elementary school, found that only five of the shootings happened during school hours and resulted in physical injury.
Three others appeared intentional but hurt no one, and two more involved guns carried by school police or licensed peace officers that were unintentionally fired.
Police: 18-Year-Old Threatened Mass Shooting at High School
Police in Vermont say they've arrested an 18-year-old high school student who said he wanted to cause 'mass casualties' at a high school in Fair Haven
by the Associated Press
FAIR HAVEN, Vt. (AP) — Police in Vermont say they've arrested an 18-year-old high school student who said he wanted to cause "mass casualties" at a high school in Fair Haven.
Vermont State Police say the Poultney man was taken into custody Thursday after a two-day investigation conducted with the Fair Haven Police Department. The student is being held without bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges of attempted aggravated murder, attempted first degree murder and attempted aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Detectives say they learned through the investigation that the student threatened a mass school shooting at Fair Haven Union High School.
Authorities are asking anyone with more information to contact them, as they continue to investigate.
Should The Parkland Shooting Change How We Think About Phones, Schools and Safety?
by Erin B. Logan and Anya Kamenetz
While Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was on lockdown, with an active shooter in the building, students were on their phones.
They were tweeting . They were posting on Snapchat and sending videos to friends and family. They were calling their parents to let them know they were safe and texting classmates to find out if they had survived.
Some of those posts may become evidence in the case of Nikolas Cruz , who has, according to court documents, confessed to the killing of 17 students and school personnel. This visceral record of the horrifying events of Feb. 14 is helping motivate a new conversation about gun control.
And we can only imagine the relief of the families who learned, in the moment, that their children were alive.
According to Education Week, "One girl was so emotional and overwhelmed that she handed her phone to her teacher, who reassured her mother: 'They're well taken care of. We're secure. No one is going to come in here. I will make sure that these children will be fine.' "
But do smartphones in students' hands really make schools safer? Or do they just make them feel safer? And could there be a cost to that feeling?
Ken Trump has been a school security consultant for 30 years. When he started, pagers were pretty much the only devices carried by students, and those were often associated with drug dealing or gang activity. With the advent of cellphones and then smartphones, "I was originally: No. Period," from a security standpoint, he says. But now, "the reality is, the horse is out of the barn."
That does seem to be the case. As of 2015, the Pew Research Center reported that 73 percent of teenagers had smartphones. As the devices have become more common, and among younger and younger students, schools seem to have thrown up their hands.
NEA Today , the publication of the National Education Association , reported in 2016 that 70 percent of districts across the country that had once banned student phones reversed themselves and now allow them.
This is, in part, because of parents who plead that they need to reach students during the day to ensure their safety.
Daniel Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, told NPR that in general, the organization advises school districts to let students have phones on them during the school day. "You can see the advantage of being able to communicate easily" in light of the Parkland shooting, he said.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation's second largest teachers' union, tells NPR in an email: "Every day, but especially in a crisis, cellphones give parents peace of mind. The reality is that kids need access to cellphones to get to and from school safely and to let parents know they're OK." While districts should be free to make their own rules, Weingarten says, "we must recognize cellphones as an essential safety and security tool."
Safety. Peace of mind. It makes deep, intuitive sense. But there may be more to the story.
Ken Trump, the security expert, says phones can actually make us less safe in a crisis such as the one in Parkland. He ticks off several reasons:
Using phones can distract people from the actions they need to be taking in the moment, such as running, hiding and listening to directions from first responders.
The sound of the phone, whether ringing or on vibrate, could alert an assailant to a hiding place.
The shooter could be monitoring the event themselves on social media and find more victims or elude capture that way.
Victims and worried family members trying to get through can jam communications, interfering with first responders.
"Without a doubt, the cellphones provide an emotional security blanket for parents and kids," Trump says. As a father himself, "I get that, my heart is there."
And he acknowledges that in some cases, in the hands of responsible parties, phones might help keep people safe. That same Education Week story found that while in lockdown, a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Jim Gard, coordinated with other teachers over email and asked his students to text classmates to make sure people were accounted for.
Nevertheless, says Trump, the weight of the evidence is against having free access to phones in a crisis. "I'm in a rare position professionally where I understand the downsides of it."
But schools, and school leadership, aren't necessarily seeing those downsides. Maybe that is because there is no one federal agency responsible for disseminating information or training on security and crisis procedures for schools, including on the use of phones. The Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Justice all offer resources but take a "piecemeal" approach, according to a 2016 report by the Government Accountability Office .
On a normal day, the debate over smartphones in the classroom is about student distraction vs. potential boons to learning. The more typical way they become a safety issue is if students are using them to bully or threaten one another. But some of the policies that schools are adopting to try to mitigate the negatives while preserving the positives of phones may also help in an emergency.
For example, there is a company called Yondr that markets a patented locking pouch for phones . It's in use by schools, concerts and events. The company's own research concurs with Trump's findings about the downsides of having general and unlimited access to phones in an emergency. In response, their system allows for teachers and other responsible parties to control access to the phones without making them entirely inaccessible.
From the Department of Homeland Security
To Make America Safe Again, We Must End Sanctuary Cities and Remove Criminal Aliens
Non-cooperative jurisdictions that do not honor U.S. Immigration and Customs (ICE) detainer requests to hold criminal aliens who are already in their custody, endanger the public and threaten officer safety by releasing criminal aliens back into the community to re-offend. In addition to causing preventable crimes, this creates another “pull factor” that increases illegal immigration.
We must take criminal aliens off our streets and remove them quickly once they are apprehended.
The 2001 Supreme Court decision in Zadvydas v. Davis significantly restricts the ability of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to detain aliens with final orders of removal, including serious felony offenders, if their home countries will not accept their return.
In Fiscal Year 2017, more than 2,300 aliens were released because of that court decision, including more than 1,700 criminal aliens.
In addition to those who enter illegally, visa overstays account for roughly 40 percent of all illegal immigration in the United States.
Some jurisdictions do not honor ICE detainer requests to hold or provide adequate notice of release of criminal aliens who are already in custody, endangering the public and threatening officer safety by releasing criminal aliens back into our communities to re-offend .
Instead of allowing ICE officers to take custody of criminal aliens in a secure environment, such as a local jail, jurisdictions that refuse to honor ICE detainers put ICE officers and others at risk by forcing them to go into often perilous environments to arrest dangerous criminal aliens.
There are nearly one million aliens with final orders of removal , and not enough officers or resources to deport them.
Of the 53,908 criminal cases filed by federal prosecutors in the 94 U.S. District Courts in fiscal year 2016, 23,573 cases (43.7 percent) were located in just the five border districts (Arizona, Southern District of California, New Mexico, Southern District of Texas, and Western District of Texas).
Half of all federal criminal cases filed in U.S. District Courts in Fiscal Year 2016 (25,965 of 53,908 cases) were referred by the DHS .
While noncitizens made up approximately 7.2 percent of the U.S. population in 2016,  they accounted for 41.7 percent of all federal offenders sentenced for felonies or Class A misdemeanors in that fiscal year. Even excluding all types of immigration offenses, noncitizens accounted for more than 20 percent of all federal offenders sentenced for felonies or Class A misdemeanors—nearly three times their share of the general population.
In the five border districts, noncitizens accounted for 73.5 percent of all federal offenders sentenced for felonies or Class A misdemeanors in fiscal year 2016, and 47 percent of all federal non-immigration felonies or Class A misdemeanors.
The American people overwhelmingly favor the removal of criminal aliens.
According to a recent Harvard-Harris poll,  80 percent of American voters share the common-sense view that cities that arrest illegal aliens for crimes should be required to turn them over to immigration authorities.
Dept of Justice, Southern California
U.S. Attorney's Office Hosts Roundtable Discussion on Sexual Harassment in Housing
LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California hosted a roundtable discussion yesterday on Sexual Harassment in Housing for community organizations, U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna announced.
The event included local legal services offices, fair housing organizations, shelters and transitional housing providers. Each organization was invited because they often work with the Central District of California's most vulnerable populations, who could also become victims of sexual harassment in housing.
The Department of Justice, through the U.S. Attorney's Offices and the Civil Rights Division, enforces the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and disability. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by the Act. Sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, and others with power over housing often affects the most vulnerable populations – single parents, individuals who have financial difficulties, and people who have suffered sexual violence in their past. These individuals often do not know where to turn for help.
“Sexual harassment in housing is often underreported, but it is an egregious violation of a person's right to fair housing,” U.S. Attorney Hanna said. “Landlords and property managers using the power they have over tenants to extort sexual favors, or even commit assaults, is intolerable. My Office is dedicated to uncovering such violations where they exist and vigorously enforcing the law.”
In October 2017, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division announced the Sexual Harassment Initiative, an effort to combat sexual harassment in housing. The Justice Department's initiative seeks to identify barriers to reporting sexual harassment in housing, increase awareness of its enforcement efforts – both among survivors and those they may report to – and collaborate with federal, state, and local partners to increase reporting and help survivors quickly and easily connect with federal resources.
The Justice Department is hosting a series of roundtable discussions on this topic around the country and this was the first one on the West Coast. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California is collaborating with the Civil Rights Division to spread the word about options to help individuals experiencing sexual harassment within the seven districts that comprise the Central District of California: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties. Community organizations, such as legal services offices, fair housing organizations, shelters and transitional housing providers, can identify the misconduct and recommend that individuals report sexual harassment to the Justice Department.
The Justice Department brings cases each year involving egregious conduct, including allegations that defendants have exposed themselves sexually to current or prospective tenants, requested sexual favors in exchange for reduced rents or making necessary repairs, made unrelenting and unwanted sexual advances to tenants, and evicted tenants who resisted their sexual overtures.
In 2017, the Justice Department recovered for harassment victims more than $1 million in damages. Many instances of sexual harassment in housing continue to go unreported. The Justice Department's investigations frequently uncover sexual harassment that has been ongoing for years or decades and identify numerous victims who never reported the conduct to federal authorities.
The Justice Department encourages anyone who has experienced sexual harassment in housing, or knows someone who has, to contact the Civil Rights Division by calling (844) 380-6178 or emailing: email@example.com.
Individuals who believe they may have been victims of discrimination may also file a complaint with the U.S. Attorney's Office Civil Division's Civil Rights Section.
from: Tracy Webb, DOJ Director of External Affairs