Man who shot 3 at Arizona complex felt bullied
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — A 20-year-old gunman who opened fire at a suburban Phoenix restaurant and retail complex, injuring three people, wanted to target people in his own age group in retaliation for being bullied, authorities said Thursday.
The shooting rampage occurred Wednesday night after suspect Armando Hernandez scoped out Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale, returned to his car to make a social media video and loaded three rifle magazines, police said.
“I’m going to be the shooter of Westgate 2020,” Hernandez said in his Snapchat video, holding a beer in one hand. The footage also shows an AR-15-type rifle in the backseat of the car.
“Let’s get this done, guys,” he said.
Hernandez later surrendered, telling detectives that he intended to harm 10 people, though it’s unclear why he chose that number.
“He wanted to gain some respect, and he felt that he had been bullied in his life,” Glendale police Sgt. Randy Stewart said.
Police say Hernandez filmed the attack while holding a cellphone with his left hand and blasting away with the rifle in his right hand.
University of California to drop SAT, ACT test requirements
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The University of California will drop the SAT and ACT tests as admission requirements through 2024 and eliminate them for California residents after that, a landmark decision by the prestigious university system.
The UC’s governing body, the Board of Regents, voted 23-0 Thursday to approve a proposal by UC President Janet Napolitano that phases the tests out over five years, at which point the UC aims to have developed its own test.
The regents met in a teleconference that lasted several hours Thursday, with expert presentations and lengthy debates that echoed a national conversation about whether the tests discriminate against disadvantaged students or help admissions offices find the most qualified applicants.
“I think this is an incredible step in the right direction,” Regents Chairman John Perez said.
Critics of the tests have long argued they put minority and low-income students at a disadvantage because the test questions often contain inherent bias that more privileged children are better equipped to answer. Wealthier students also tend to take expensive prep courses that help boost their scores, which many students can’t afford, critics say.
With California high school campuses closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the UC had already made the tests optional for students who want to attend the fall 2021 sessions.
San Francisco sanctions once-shunned homeless encampments
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco is joining other U.S. cities in authorizing homeless tent encampments in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a move officials have long resisted but are now reluctantly embracing to safeguard homeless people.
About 80 tents are now neatly spaced out on a wide street near San Francisco City Hall as part of a “safe sleeping village" opened last week. The area between the city's central library and its Asian Art Museum is fenced off to outsiders, monitored around the clock and provides meals, showers, clean water and trash pickup.
In announcing the encampment, and a second one to open in the famed Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, San Francisco's mayor acknowledged that she didn't want to approve tents, but having unregulated tents mushroom on sidewalks was neither safe nor fair.
“So while in normal times I would say that we should focus on bringing people inside and not sanctioning tent encampments, we frankly do not have many other options right now,” she said in a tweet last week.
Nicholas Woodward, 37, is camping at the safe sleeping site, but he said he preferred sleeping in his tent before the city stepped in; he finds the fencing belittling and the rules too controlling. His friend, Nathan Rice, 32, said he’d much rather have a hotel room than a tent on a sidewalk, even if the city is providing clean water and food.
“I hear it on the news, hear it from people here that they’re going to be getting us hotel rooms,” he said. “That’s what we want, you know, to be safe inside.”
San Francisco has moved 1,300 homeless people into hotel rooms and RVs as part of a statewide program to shelter vulnerable people but the mayor has been criticized for moving too slowly. She has said she is not inclined to move all the city’s estimated 8,000 homeless into hotels, despite complaints from advocates who say overcrowded tents are a public health disaster.
Cows may have caused E. coli lettuce contamination
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Outbreaks of E. coli illness that sickened 188 people who ate romaine lettuce grown in California probably came from cattle grazing near the farms, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a report released Thursday.
Feces from the cows, which contain the bacteria, is considered “the most likely contributing factor” to three outbreaks of food-borne illness traced to fields in the Salinas Valley, the report said.
The outbreaks occurred last November and December and affected people in at least 16 states and Canada. No deaths were reported.
Investigators concluded that the illness was centered on ranches and fields owned by the same grower and that were located downslope from public land where cattle grazed.
E. coli infection usually causes sickness two to eight days later, according to health authorities. Most people get diarrhea and abdominal cramps. However, some cases can be life-threatening, causing kidney failure and seizures.
E. coli bacteria can get into water and soil through multiple routes, including waste from domesticated animals or wild animals, fertilizer and other agricultural products.
The FDA couldn’t definitely identify a route of contamination for the three 2019 outbreaks. But the agency said the possibilities included water runoff from the grazing area, wind-blown material, or animals or vehicles tracking it to the fields.
Universal Orlando seeks to reopen theme parks in early June
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Universal Orlando is aiming to reopen its theme parks in early June, a resort official said Thursday, more than two months after the company joined crosstown rivals Disney World and SeaWorld in closing their gates to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
Universal Orlando executive John Sprouls asked Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings for approval to open the company’s theme parks as early as June 5, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Demings must sign off on Universal's reopening plan before it heads to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for his approval, the newspaper said.
Universal, Disney World and SeaWorld have been closed since mid-March in an effort to stop the virus's spread.
During a tourism forum in Orlando with Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday, SeaWorld’s interim CEO, Marc Swanson, said he also expected a reopening in June. Officials with Disney World haven’t said when they plan to reopen.
Both Disney and Universal in Orlando have reopened shopping complexes and restaurants in the past week, with several restrictions. All workers and visitors must wear masks, although Disney exempts children under age 3. Temperatures are checked at entrances to keep out anyone with a fever of 100.4 degrees (38 degrees Celsius) or higher and a limited number of people are admitted to allow social distancing.
Many of those same protocols will be implemented at the theme parks. Children's play areas will remain closed and employees won't be sharing wardrobes, Sprouls said.
Grand jury charges man with threatening to spread virus
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man accused of coughing on and spitting at police officers while claiming to be infected with the coronavirus was indicted on a federal terrorism charge.
A federal grand jury in Tampa returned an indictment Wednesday charging James Jamal Curry, 31, with perpetrating a biological weapon hoax, according to court records. He had previously been charged by criminal complaint last month. He faces up to 5 years in federal prison if convicted.
Curry's attorney, Samuel Landes, said in an email that prosecutors are stretching a law meant for terrorists to cover a run-of-the-mill police encounter.
“The United States Attorney’s position in this case would make each of the millions of COVID-19 patients ‘in possession’ of a biological weapon,” Landes said.
St. Petersburg police officers responded to a domestic violence call involving Curry on March 27, according to court documents. During his arrest, Curry declared that he was infected with COVID-19 and coughed on an officer’s arm, police said.
Curry bonded out of jail the following day, and police were later called to the same residence where Curry had been arrested a day earlier. During his second arrest, Curry spit on an officer multiple times, hitting the inside of her mouth with blood-filled saliva, prosecutors said. Curry again claimed to have the coronavirus, laughed and announced that he was spreading the virus around.
Law enforcement obtained a warrant to test Curry for COVID-19, and the result was negative.
‘90s TV actress arrested during street racing raid
ATLANTA (AP) — An actress with credits from a 90s TV sitcom was among 44 people arrested in Atlanta after police disbanded what they described as an illegal street racing event.
Maia Campbell, 43, was arrested Saturday and charged with being a pedestrian in the roadway, news outlets reported Wednesday.
Atlanta police said they arrested 44 people and issued 114 tickets over the weekend for offenses related to illegal street racing. Authorities didn't elaborate on the charge against Campbell.
Racers have been particularly noticeable in Atlanta since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with less traffic giving them more room to speed along Georgia’s roads and freeways. But the activities, including some widely circulated videos, drew the attention of police.
Campbell played Tiffany Warren on the sitcom “In the House” with LL Cool J and Alfonso Ribeiro from 1995 to 1999. In recent years, Campbell was the subject of headlines regarding substance abuse and bipolar disorder. In 2012 she appeared on the OWN channel show “Iyanla: Fix My Life," to discuss her issues.
Star college football recruit charged with attempted murder
ACCOKEEK, Md. (AP) — A high school football player designated as a star recruit for colleges by ESPN is accused of trying to kill his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend.
Luke Hill, 18, faces charges including attempted first-degree murder after allegedly firing gunshots that struck a home in Accokeek, Maryland, on Monday night, according to charging documents obtained by The Washington Post.
Hill, a defensive back who graduated from St. Frances Academy in Baltimore after withdrawing from St. John’s College High during his junior year, had committed to play at the University of Oregon, but Coach Mario Cristobal told The Oregonian that he was cut from their program this spring.
Prince George’s County Police redacted the name of the target, but ESPN reported that it was Ishmael Leggett, Hill’s former classmate at St. John’s. Leggett, a 6-foot-4 guard who has committed to play basketball this fall at the University of Rhode Island, wouldn’t comment to the Post, but his next coach expressed relief that the gunshots missed.
“I am aware of the situation with Ishmael Leggett and have been in contact with him and his family,” University of Rhode Island Basketball Coach David Cox told the Providence Journal. “Thankfully, he was not harmed, as his well-being is my primary concern.”
Responding police officers said the target told them he was playing basketball outside his house when someone inside a white car began shooting at him. The mother of the target told officers she heard gunshots and saw the white car as she was pulling into her driveway.
The target told officers that his girlfriend had gotten threatening calls from Hill about her current relationship, and that Hill was upset about a photo she posted on social media. Investigators questioned Hill and then obtained a search warrant for his house in Temple Hills, Maryland, where they found a handgun matching the caliber of a casing at the shooting scene, charging documents said.
Missouri governor not only allows graduation, but will speak
O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — In a year when many states are prohibiting in-person graduation ceremonies due to the coronavirus, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is not only allowing them, but will speak at one.
The Republican governor has a special bond with the indoor ceremony planned for Thursday night at Sparta High School in southwestern Missouri: His granddaughter is among the 42 seniors receiving diplomas.
Missouri reopened after the pandemic-forced shutdown on May 4, and Parson was among the few governors to give the go-ahead for large-scale gatherings, including graduation ceremonies.
Social distancing requirements remain in place, though, and most of Missouri's 555 public school districts and public charter schools are choosing other options such as drive-thru graduations or virtual ceremonies. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education spokeswoman Mallory McGowin said some districts are postponing graduation until the summer in hopes of having in-person ceremonies then.
Over 4,300 virus patients sent to NY nursing homes
NEW YORK (AP) — More than 4,300 recovering coronavirus patients were sent to New York’s already vulnerable nursing homes under a controversial state directive that was ultimately scrapped amid criticisms it was accelerating the nation’s deadliest outbreaks, according to a count by The Associated Press.
AP compiled its own tally to find out how many COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals to nursing homes under the March 25 directive after New York’s Health Department declined to release its internal survey conducted two weeks ago. It says it is still verifying data that was incomplete.
Whatever the full number, nursing home administrators, residents’ advocates and relatives say it has added up to a big and indefensible problem for facilities that even Gov. Andrew Cuomo — the main proponent of the policy — called “the optimum feeding ground for this virus.”
“It was the single dumbest decision anyone could make if they wanted to kill people,” Daniel Arbeeny said of the directive, which prompted him to pull his 88-year-old father out of a Brooklyn nursing home where more than 50 people have died. His father later died of COVID-19 at home.
“This isn’t rocket science,” Arbeeny said. “We knew the most vulnerable -- the elderly and compromised -- are in nursing homes and rehab centers.”
Told of the AP's tally, the Health Department said late Thursday it “can't comment on data we haven't had a chance to review, particularly while we’re still validating our own comprehensive survey of nursing homes admission and re-admission data in the middle of responding to this global pandemic."
Cuomo, a Democrat, on May 10 reversed the directive, which had been intended to help free up hospital beds for the sickest patients as cases surged. But he continued to defend it this week, saying he didn't believe it contributed to the more than 5,800 nursing and adult care facility deaths in New York — more than in any other state — and that homes should have spoken up if it was a problem.
Boy, 6, cracks open robbery case by reeling in sunken safe
JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — A 6-year-old boy helped crack open a nearly decade-old robbery case when he reeled in a locked safe from the bottom of a South Carolina lake.
Knox Brewer of Johns Island took up “magnet fishing” and began hunting for metal objects underwater as a way to pass time during the coronavirus pandemic, his family members told WCIV-TV this week.
The boy was out with his family at Whitney Lake this month when the magnet attached to his line stuck to something heavy in the mud below, the news outlet reported. With the help of a bystander, Knox pulled in and pried open what turned out to be a waterlogged lockbox containing debris-covered jewelry and credit cards, as well as a checkbook, according to a video of the discovery.
"I knew the right thing to do was go ahead and call the local authorities, get them involved and try to solve this mystery,” the child's father, Jonathan Brewer, told the outlet.
Authorities determined the sunken safe belonged to a woman who lived across the street from the lake. She said it had been stolen from her home eight years ago, the outlet reported.
While most of the expensive items had been taken, the find still turned out to be a valuable catch, according to the Brewers. They said they were able to reunite her with charms from an old bracelet.
“The first thing that she did was just kneel down, hug Knox and thanked him and thanked him for bringing that closure to her,” Jonathan Brewer said.
FBI says Texas naval base shooting is 'terrorism-related'
A shooting at a Texas naval air station that wounded a sailor and left the gunman dead early Thursday was being investigated as “terrorism-related,” the FBI said, but divulged few details as to why.
The suspect was identified as Adam Alsahli of Corpus Christi, according to three officials familiar with the investigation who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
At about 6:15 a.m., the gunman tried to speed through a security gate at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, opening fire and wounding the sailor, a member of base security, U.S. officials told the AP. But she was able to roll over and hit the switch that raised a barrier, preventing the man from getting onto the base, the officials said.
Other security personnel shot and killed the man.
There was an initial concern that he may have an explosive device, but Navy experts swept the area and the car and found nothing. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details about an ongoing investigation. Officials were still working to process the crime scene late into the day and had recovered some type of electronic media.
The base was on lockdown for about five hours, but it was lifted shortly before noon. The main gate was reopened, though the gate where the incident occurred was still shut down.
FBI Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Leah Greeves said at a news conference that investigators were working to determine whether a second person of interest was at large but did not elaborate. She also would not discuss a potential motive or specify what led investigators to believe the shooting was related to terrorism.
'Hundreds of millions’ in bogus jobless benefits paid out
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Impostors have used the stolen information of tens of thousands of people in Washington to fraudulently receive hundreds of millions of dollars in unemployment benefits, the head of the state’s Employment Security Department said Thursday.
Commissioner Suzi LeVine said the state is working with federal law enforcement, financial institutions and the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate the fraud and try to recover the money paid out during the huge spike in joblessness during the coronavirus crisis.
LeVine said she can't release specific numbers or details of the ongoing investigation. But she said that countermeasures taken by the state have “prevented hundreds of millions of additional dollars from going out to criminals and have prevented thousands of fraudulent claims being filed.”
LeVine said that in addition to other measures the agency has already taken, they will continue to delay payments — a step they first took last week — to all applicants in order to take extra steps to verify claims. Previously, applicants set up for direct deposit receive their money within 24 to 48 hours. Now, they will need to wait an additional two days.
The New York Times and Seattle Times have previously reported that a U.S. Secret Service alert issued last week identified Washington as the top target so far of a Nigerian fraud ring seeking to commit large-scale fraud against state unemployment insurance programs. LeVine said she couldn't speak to the details of the investigation, but said that the Secret Service alert wasn't directly shared with her, but that the agency received it through other sources.
But LeVine said agency officials realized something was amiss before that alert, once they started receiving communication from employers or employees who received information about unemployment benefits that the employee didn't seek.
Harley-Davidson restarts US production, faces 'new normal '
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Harley-Davidson Inc. is resuming production at its U.S. manufacturing plants after suspending production for about two months.
The Milwaukee-based motorcycle company shut down production in March after an employee at its factory in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, tested positive for the coronavirus. Harley-Davidson also saw motorcycle sales drop in the economic fallout from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the Wisconsin factory where the worker tested positive for the coronavirus is expected to return to full staffing after Memorial Day weekend. The engine and drivetrain facility employs about 1,000 people.
The Menomonee Falls factory plans to bring all hourly employees back after the Memorial Day weekend for full production, Ross Winklbauer, a Steelworkers subdistrict director, said Thursday. Currently, about 125 U.S. Steelworkers union members are back at the plant.
The company has staggered work start times and installed barriers between work stations to address the coronavirus.
“It’s going to be a new normal for them,” Winklbauer said.