Tag Archives: Mass Shooting

El Paso, Dayton hospitals deny Trump claim of doctors leaving OR to meet him

Hospitals in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio are denying President Trump‘s claim this week that “doctors were coming out of the operating rooms” to meet him during his trips to visit the survivors and first-responders of this month’s deadly mass shootings.

Speaking to reporters at the White House Wednesday, Trump said, “The doctors were coming out of the operating rooms” to greet him.

“There were hundreds and hundreds of people all over the floor. You couldn’t even walk on it,” he said.

But both hospitals have confirmed that doctors did not leave any patients or operating rooms to meet the president in the wake of the mass shootings, which left more than 30 dead.  

“At no time did, or would, physicians or staff leave active operating rooms during the presidential visit,” Ryan Mielke, a spokesperson for University Medical Center of El Paso, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Our priority is always patient care.”

None of the eight patients who were still hospitalized at University Medical Center at the time agreed to meet with Trump during his trip on August 7, the hospital confirmed to the Post.

“This is a very sensitive time in their lives,” Mielke said. “Some of them said they didn’t want to meet with the president, some of them didn’t want any visitors.” 

Ben Sutherly, a spokesperson for Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, also confirmed that no doctors left operating rooms to meet with the president during his visit earlier that same day.

“Our physicians and staff at no time leave an active operating room, procedural area or patient room to greet anyone,” Sutherly said.

Trump lashed out at the media after the visits, accusing reporters of saying “nobody would meet” with him when he traveled to the two cities after the shootings.

“The love for me — and me, maybe, as a representative of the country — but for me — and my love for them was unparalleled. These are incredible people. But if you read the papers, it was like nobody would meet with me,” Trump said.

“Not only did they meet with me, they were pouring out of the room,” he continued.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement that the president and first lady Melania Trump were “received very warmly by not just victims and their families, but by the many members of medical staff who lined the hallways to meet them. It was a moving visit for all involved.”


Targeted in Walmart attack, Hispanics in El Paso flock to firearms classes

EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) – More El Paso residents than ever before crowded into a class over the weekend to become certified to carry a concealed gun in public in Texas after this month’s mass shooting at a Walmart store that killed 22 people.

Guadalupe Segovia, 35, was at the class with her two children. She said her military husband had long been pushing for her to get a concealed-carry license, which allows the holder to wear a gun hidden under their clothes or carry it in a purse when they are in public.

Segovia said she felt urgency to do the required training now after the attack hit close to home. “I’m still going to be scared, even carrying a weapon,” she said.

The vast majority of people at the classes were Hispanic; El Paso is a predominantly Latino city. Police say the accused gunman deliberately attacked Hispanics in the Walmart.

Michael McIntyre, general manager of Gun Central, one of the largest gun shops in El Paso and the host of the class, on Friday said his store tallied double the usual number of sales in the week following the attack, something that did not happen after previous mass shootings in Texas.

Most of the sales were for handguns, which can be strapped to an ankle or shoulder under clothing.

“I have over 50 for this Saturday class and approximately the same amount for the Sunday class, and I normally have approximately seven,” McIntyre said.

“We actually had two people buy guns here who were actually in the Walmart on the day of the shooting. The other people are just saying, ‘Hey, you know I want to be able to protect myself in the event of something going on.’,” he said.

“This is not the last mass shooting we’re going to see.”


With or without a weapon, McIntyre acknowledged most people would not be able to fight back in an attack like the one in El Paso. The class acknowledges this, and students are taught to run first before firing a gun. Only 1% of people return fire, he said.

“One out of a hundred is a fire, the other 99 will run off,” McIntyre said.

Segovia, who has military training, said the concealed-carry class does not compare to what is needed in an active shooter situation, but she wants her sisters to prepare anyway.

“I’ve already told them, ‘Let’s go practice. Let’s go practice.’ It’s not just this one time that we have to keep coming to ranges and so you can feel familiarized with a weapon and be OK with it,” Segovia said.

Segovia may be applying for her concealed-carry license, but she also wants to see changes in gun laws come from the top and make it harder for young people to get firearms.

“I think weapons should be a privilege and for safety, not to go and kill people,” Segovia said.

Gun control is definitely not on the horizon for Texas, where Governor Greg Abbot recently signed into law nine bills, backed by the National Rifle Association, that will loosen up gun regulations starting on Sept. 1.

One of the new laws lifts a ban on carrying firearms in places of worship. That ban came after a gunman fatally shot 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs. Another stops landlords from prohibiting firearms on their rental properties.

The laws were all signed in the first regular legislative session after three mass shootings in Texas: the Sutherland Springs church massacre, a shooting at Santa Fe High School near Houston that killed 10 in 2018, and the El Paso attack that killed 22.

Universal Pictures pulls thriller ‘The Hunt’ in the wake of two mass shootings

Universal Pictures has pulled the release of satirical thriller “The Hunt,” which had been slated to hit theaters on September 27.

“While Universal Pictures had already paused the marketing campaign for The Hunt, after thoughtful consideration, the studio has decided to cancel our plans to release the film,” A Universal spokesperson told CNN Business in a statement. “We stand by our filmmakers and will continue to distribute films in partnership with bold and visionary creators, like those associated with this satirical social thriller, but we understand that now is not the right time to release this film.”

The move comes a week after two deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Universal did not respond when asked if the decision was directly related to those tragedies and the studio did not give a date for when the film would be released in the future.

“The Hunt,” an R-rated film produced by Jason Blum’s Blumhouse, is about twelve strangers waking up in a clearing, not yet aware they are the target of a violent and bloody hunt that involves guns and blades. In an already released trailer, a narrator explains that every year “elites” hunt average Americans from states like Wyoming and Mississippi for sport.

In the past week, some companies have responded to mass shootings in Texas and Ohio by trying to reducethe amount of violent media and video games being shown to Americans.

Walmart this week said it would pull displays of violent video games in its stores following the deadly shootings, including one in an El Paso location. But the company plans to still sell video games as well as guns.

ESPN and ABC delayed airing an esports tournament that shows people virtually fighting with guns. The tournament, which was hosted by ESPN, already occurred on August 2 and 3, but the networks plan to air coverage in October instead.

Some public officials, including President Donald Trump, have pointed to violent video games as a cause of the rise in gun violence, though numerous studies have found no link between the games and actual violent behavior.


Uncle defends Trump’s El Paso orphan photo

The uncle of a two-month-old boy whose parents were killed in the El Paso mass shooting has defended a photo that shows first lady Melania Trump holding the baby while President Donald Trump smiles and gives a thumbs-up gesture.

The photo, released Thursday on Twitter by the first lady’s office, drew backlash from some who thought it reflected a lack of empathy and politicised the shootings.

Tito Anchondo, the uncle of baby Paul Anchondo, told The Associated Press on Friday that Trump “was just there to give his condolences and he was just being a human being”. He previously told NPR that he and his brother were Trump supporters.

“Is it that hard to try and understand that a family is trying to not be sad at a moment like this?” said Anchondo, who also appears in the photo along with his sister.

“We’re trying to be as strong as we can … My brother is gone.”The child’s parents, Andre and Jordan Anchondo, were among 22 killed and about two dozen wounded when a gunman opened fire Saturday inside a Walmart packed with shoppers.

Authorities say Jordan Ancondo was shielding the baby, while her husband shielded them both. The boy suffered broken fingers.

Tito Anchondo declined to describe the encounter with Trump in more detail, saying he had received death threats.

“We should be coming together as a country at this time instead of threatening each other with hate messages,” he said.

Authorities say the gunman, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, confessed after surrendering and said he had been targeting Mexicans.

John Jamrowski, the grandfather of Jordan Anchondo, told AP he received an early-morning phone call Wednesday from a hospital inviting his family to schedule a meeting with the president

.Jamrowski said he declined in an effort to stay out of the political fray and avoid misinterpretations.”We’re politically neutral,” he said Friday.

“We discussed it as a family and said, ‘You know what, this could be spun around’.’

Jamrowski declined to comment about the photo of his great-grandson.


Amnesty issues ‘travel advisory’ for US after shootings

Amnesty International has issued a “travel advisory” for the United States in the wake of deadly mass shootings that took place over the weekend.

In the advisory, published on Wednesday, the London-based, non-governmental organization warned travelers to the US to be cautious due to “ongoing high levels of gun violence in the country.”

A total of 31 people were killed in two mass shootings in the US states of Texas and Ohio over the weekend.

“The Amnesty International travel advisory for the country of the United States of America calls on people worldwide to exercise caution and have an emergency contingency plan when traveling throughout the USA. This Travel Advisory is being issued in light of ongoing high levels of gun violence in the country,” the document read.

Amnesty International advised visitors to the US to be “extra vigilant at all times and be wary of the ubiquity of firearms among the population,” and called on travelers to “avoid places where large number of people gather, especially cultural events, places of worship, schools, and shopping malls.”

Amnesty stressed that the risk of being targeted by gun violence might be higher depending on the traveler’s gender, race, country of origin, ethnic background and sexual orientation.

“Under international human rights law, the United States has an obligation to enact a range of measures at the federal, state, and local levels to regulate access to firearms and to protect the rights of people to live and move freely without the threat of gun violence,” the organization added in the document.

The administration of US President Donald Trump “has not taken sufficient steps to meet this obligation,” it said.

In the aftermath of the deadly shootings, several countries have issued travel advisories to their citizens. But it is not common for non-governmental organizations to issue travel warnings for countries.

Early on Sunday morning, a man opened fire at an arts and entertainment district in downtown Dayton, Ohio, killing 9 people and injuring 16 others. The suspect was later shot dead by police.

A day earlier, another shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, left 22 people dead and 24 injured. The gunman, who was arrested, published a “manifesto” before his shooting that had anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric in it. He described the attack as a response to a “Hispanic invasion.”

US authorities have been investigating the Walmart incident as a case of domestic terrorism.

In September last year, Amnesty International warned that the gun violence situation in the US had grown into a full blown “human rights crisis” and that the Trump administration was doing little to solve it.

According to the organization, an average of 106 individuals died a day from firearm-related incidents in 2016, totaling 38,658. Of that figure, nearly 23,000 were suicides and more than 14,400 were homicides, Amnesty said.

The report also said that more than 116,000 people suffered injuries from firearms in 2016.


Uruguay and Venezuela Issue Warnings About Travel to the U.S. After Mass Shootings

Uruguay issued a warning to its citizens early this week about traveling to the U.S. after two mass shootings killed more than 30 people.

The Latin American country also cited three cities citizens should avoid: Albuquerque, Detroit and Baltimore.

Uruguay’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the three cities are among the 20 most dangerous in the world and cited CEOWORLD magazine at its source.

Albuquerque has garnered national attention in recent years over its high auto theft rates and violent shootings.

Uruguay advised its citizens to avoid U.S. theme parks, shopping centers, art festivals, religious activities and sporting events.

Albuquerque spokesman Matt Ross said it was absurd for Albuquerque to be cited.


‘Red Flag’ Gun Control Bills Pick Up Momentum With G.O.P. in Congress

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans, under intense pressure to respond to this weekend’s massacres, are coalescing around legislation to help law enforcement take guns from those who pose an imminent danger — a measure that, if signed into law, would be the most significant gun control legislation enacted in 20 years.

Such “red flag” laws might not be as momentous — or controversial — as the now-expired assault weapons ban or the instant background check system, both of which were enacted in 1994 as part of President Bill Clinton’s sprawling crime bill. The House, under Democratic control, passed far more ambitious bills in February that would require background checks for all gun purchasers, including those on the internet or at gun shows, and extend waiting limits for would-be gun buyers flagged by the instant check system.

But those bills have run into a blockade that Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has erected for House bills he opposes.

Now, after back-to-back shootings this weekend left 31 people dead in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, Republicans who have long resisted gun restrictions appear rattled. In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine was shouted down on Sunday by mourners in Dayton demanding that he “do something.” On Tuesday, he urged his fellow Republicans in the state legislature to pass measures establishing red flag powers and expanding background checks.

“They were absolutely right,” Mr. DeWine said Tuesday morning at a news conference. “We must do something, and that is exactly what we are going to do.”

Representative Michael R. Turner, a Republican whose district includes Dayton, went further.

“I will support legislation that prevents the sale of military-style weapons to civilians, a magazine limit and red flag legislation,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “The carnage these military-style weapons are able to produce when available to the wrong people is intolerable.”

But in the Senate, where a background checks bill failed in 2013 after 26 children and staff members were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., red flag laws may be the only gun-related measure that could squeeze through. President Trump endorsed the idea on Monday in a speech from the White House, giving skittish Republicans cover to embrace it.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican, told his hometown newspaper, The Argus Leader, that he was “confident Congress will be able to find common ground on the so-called red flag issue.” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, has already proposed legislation that would offer federal grants to states to help them enact and enforce red flag laws, also known as “extreme risk protection orders,” which are intended to restrict potentially dangerous people rather than dangerous weapons.

And Mr. McConnell has asked three committee chairmen to “reflect on the subjects the president raised” and hold bipartisan talks of “potential solutions.”

Red flag legislation also appears poised to move in the House. The Judiciary Committee was consulting with its members on Tuesday about whether to briefly return to Washington from a six-week recess to advance a red flag bill and other gun-related legislation, according to an aide to the committee.

But it is not clear how Democrats will proceed. Some House liberals want still more measures, such as a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which directly fuel mass shootings. A House Democratic leadership aide suggested that a red flag bill passed out of the Senate would ideally be attached to tougher House bills to force negotiations between the two chambers.

And a few House Republicans might go along. Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said he had it with the “broken record” debate over gun violence and called for universal background checks, raising the age to buy a gun to 21 and banning some high-capacity magazines “like the 100-round drum the Dayton shooter used this weekend.”

“If we can all recognize the existence of real evil and focus again on respecting each other, and for the love of God quit naming and showing the shooters, we can a

nd will make a real impact,” he wrote Monday on Medium.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia already have laws that allow “extreme risk protection orders.”

The laws authorize courts to issue orders allowing police to temporarily confiscate firearms from a person deemed by a judge as posing a risk of violence. Often, requests for the orders come from relatives and friends concerned about a gun owner who expresses suicidal thoughts or threatens to harm others.

The National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun lobbying group, has been fighting extreme risk protection orders in the states for years.

An N.R.A. spokeswoman, Catherine Mortensen, said on Tuesday that any such orders “at a minimum must include strong due process protections, require treatment and include penalties against those who make frivolous claims.”

Gun violence has been one of the most divisive and intractable issues in Washington, and even gun control advocates conceded that getting the House bills through the Senate would be a heavy lift. Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, said on Monday that he was reviving his background checks bill, which fell to a filibuster in 2013, and that he intended to press Mr. McConnell to bring it up if Republicans were convinced they had the votes.

“I think we need Manchin-Toomey,” Mr. Toomey said, referring to Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, his co-sponsor. “I think it’s overdue. This is a common-sense, very broadly supported measure that would fully respect the rights of law-abiding citizens, fully respect the Second Amendment.”

Already, Democrats are warning that Republicans will use Mr. Graham’s proposal to skirt the larger issue.

“Right now I can sense from my conversations with Republican colleagues that they are really grappling and struggling — scrambling may be too strong a word — but they are really searching for some steps that are meaningful,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who is joining with Mr. Graham on the red flag bill, said on Tuesday. “And there’s nothing more strongly supported by the American people than background checks.”

Mr. Blumenthal and other Democrats are demanding that Mr. McConnell bring the Senate back from its August recess to pass the House bill expanding background checks to internet and gun show purchases, and a second House measure allowing the F.B.I. more time to investigate a would-be gun buyer flagged by the current background check system.

“The idea of a red flag law is O.K., but it doesn’t substitute” for a background checks bill, Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s not enough.”

At the White House, Mr. Trump told aides to explore whether he could achieve some gun measure — possibly background checks — through executive action, according to two people briefed on the discussions. However, Mr. Trump expressed a desire to get some form of political concession from his critics in exchange for doing so, according to the people briefed. (After congressional action failed in the wake of the Newtown shooting, President Barack Obama tried to use his executive authority to bolster gun controls but he had little success.)

The evidence for whether extreme risk protection orders work to prevent gun violence is inconclusive, according to a study by the RAND Corporation on the effectiveness of gun safety measures.

But emerging evidence suggests that temporary removal laws can have a measurable effect on suicide deaths when they are enacted and used. Research in Connecticut and Indiana has found that the enforcement of the laws saved lives — about one fewer suicide death for every 10 to 20 cases of gun removals. Suicides represent around two-thirds of all gun deaths in the United States.

Jeffrey Swanson, a professor of psychiatry at Duke University, who studied the laws in both states, said his work showed that the statutes could make a difference, even if they did not prevent mass shootings. Suicide “is certainly an important problem if you think about public health and mortality,” he said.

In states that lack red flag laws, judges typically require a diagnosis of dangerous mental illness before a person is barred from owning firearms. And despite the pronouncements of politicians who are quick to blame mass shootings on people who are mentally ill, research shows that past violent behavior is a much better indicator of whether someone will turn violent. White extremist ideology also drives many deadly shootings.

From 2009 to 2017, about half of the gunmen in mass shootings — those in which at least four people, not including the gunman, are killed — exhibited warning signs before the killings, an analysis by the gun control organization Everytown for Gun Safety found.

“You can call a law enforcement officer and say ‘Uncle Johnny’s in the backyard with a 12-pack of beer and six firearms,’ and they’re going to say, ‘Yes, ma’am, he’s not breaking any law. He doesn’t have a diagnosis of mental illness,’” said Lori Haas, the senior director for advocacy of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, which developed a template for extreme risk protection orders legislation after the Newtown massacre. “A lot of dangerous behaviors are not, and would not be, based in a mental illness diagnosis.”

Advocates also point to the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where the gunman exhibited such troubling behavior, according to one neighbor, that his mother would on occasion call the police. After the massacre, which resulted in the deaths of 17 students and staff members, Florida joined a number of other states in passing red flag laws.

Gun control advocates are enthusiastic about Mr. Graham’s measure. On Monday, John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, cited red flag laws as one of his two top priorities, along with background check legislation.

Other bills are circulating as well. Mr. Toomey and Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, are proposing a so-called lie and try bill, which would mandate the prosecution of people who try to purchase guns even though they are ineligible.

And House leaders plan to keep the issue of extremist violence in the public view. On Tuesday, the bipartisan leadership of the House Homeland Security Committee sent a letter to Jim Watkins, the owner of 8Chan, the internet message board where violent white supremacists congregate, demanding that he come before Congress and answer questions on the site’s content.

Margot Sanger-Katz and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York.


Dayton shooter Connor Betts held gun to friend’s head 5 months ago: report

A former friend of the gunman who slaughtered nine people outside of a Dayton, Ohio, bar said he cut off their friendship when the mass shooter held a gun to his head about five months ago, a report said Monday.

Will El-Fakir, who went to the same high school as gunman Connor Betts, told the Dayton Daily Newsthat Betts had been “getting a little violent with friends” and began to bring guns around them in recent months.

Betts then held a gun to El-Fakir’s head about five months ago for no reason, he told the newspaper. El-Fakir said he cut ties with Betts after the incident.

El-Fakir told the newspaper he recounted the incident to Dayton police officials Sunday afternoon.

Masked and clad in a bulletproof vest, Betts, 24, opened fire with an AR-15-style rifleoutside a busy stretch of bars in Dayton’s downtown Oregon District at about 1:05 a.m. Sunday, cops have said.

His first victim was his 22-year-old sister, Megan, and he was about to enter a packed bar where scores of people had run for cover when he was shot dead by cops, ending his spree less than a minute after it began.

A motive for the shooting has not been released.

El-Fakir added that he’d witnessed strange behavior from Betts before the gun incident.

“There were times when he went to bars and just scoped the place out,” El-Fakir said.

“He’d say, ‘If I brought this-or-that through here, it would have done some damage.’”


After shootings, Trump says ‘hate has no place’ in US

President Donald Trump said there could no place for hate in the United States after two mass shootings left 29 people dead, but also blamed mental illness for the attacks.

“We have to get it stopped. This has been going on for years… and years in our country,” Trump told reporters after the latest US mass shootings in the cities of El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

Trump’s critics have cited the violence as proof that the president’s xenophobic rhetoric toward immigrants and prominent black lawmakers is poisoning the atmosphere in a deeply divided country that has seen a growing number of shootings in recent years.

But speaking to reporters as he returned from a weekend away in New Jersey, Trump said: “Hate has no place in our country and we’re going to take care of it.”

Trump, who indicated he would make a presidential address on Monday, said he had spoken to Attorney General Bill Barr at length after the shootings and FBI director Christopher Wray, who has been among those warning of the increased threat from white supremacists.

The gunman in El Paso purportedly wrote a manifesto in which he railed against the Hispanic “invasion” of Texas as well as praising the deadly attack on a mosque in New Zealand earlier this year.

Rather than be drawn on the killers’ motivations, Trump said they appeared to be suffering from mental illness.

“We’re talking to a lot of people and a lot of things are in the works and a lot of good things. And we’ve done much more than most administrations and it is just not really talked about very much, but we’ve done actually a lot,” he said.

“But this is also a mental illness problem if you look at both of those cases. This is mental illness. These are really people that are very, very seriously mentally ill.”


Trump responsible for El Paso shooting: Beto O’Rourke

Washington: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on Saturday (local time) claimed that President Donald Trump is responsible for the El Paso shooting in which at least 20 people were killed.

“Yes. We’ve had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years. During an administration where you’ve had the president call Mexicans rapists and criminals,” The Hill quoted O’Rourke as saying when asked if Trump is responsible for the shooting.
“He is a racist, and he stokes racism in this country,” the former congressman and 2020 presidential candidate added.

The shooting incident claimed the lives of at least 20 people and injured more than 24 others on Saturday.

“20 innocent people from El Paso have lost their lives and more than two dozen more are injured,” the governor of Texas Greg Abbott said.

The police have arrested 21-year-old suspect, Patrick Crusius, in connection with the incident.

The White House has said multiple law enforcement agencies, including the ATF and the FBI, have been assisting local authorities, who are leading the response to the shooting.

Earlier in the day, O’Rourke condoled the El Paso shooting and extended support to the families of the deceased.

“I am devastated by what has happened in El Paso today. Our strength is with the families who are grieving. Our thanks to EPPD. Our commitment is with those who will change this country so that this doesn’t happen again. This beautiful amazing courageous community will overcome,” he tweeted.