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Wednesday
Feb272013

Father of Newtown Victim Breaks Down at Senate Judiciary Hearing

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A father who lost his son in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary last year broke down in tears while presenting in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse Lewis was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012, visibly sobbed two times while talking about his son.  

“Jesse was the love of my life.  He was the only family I had left.  It’s hard for me to be here today to talk about my deceased son.  I have to.  I’m his voice,” Heslin said as he broke down in tears.

Heslin recounted his last moments with his son when he took him to pick up his favorite sausage egg and cheese sandwich and hot chocolate before dropping him off at school on the morning of December 14.

“It was 9:04 when I dropped Jesse off. Jesse gave me a hug and a kiss and at that time said goodbye and love you.  He stopped and said, ‘I loved mom too.’  That was the last I saw of Jesse as he ducked around the corner," Heslin said.

"Prior to that when he was getting out of the truck he hugged me and held me and I could still feel that hug and pat on the back and he said everything’s going to be ok dad. It’s all going to be ok,” Heslin said breaking down in tears a second time. “It wasn’t ok.  I have to go home at night to an empty house without my son.”

Heslin praised the assault weapons ban proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and argued that it does not threaten the rights of gun owners.

“It’s not about taking weapons from the owners. It’s putting a ban on the manufacturing and curbing the sale of them.  It’s not hurting the sportsman, it’s not hurting the gun owners now,” Heslin said.

Dr. William Begg, who was one of the physicians present in the emergency room on the day of the deadly shooting, told families physicians and nurses tried their best to save their children and advocated on behalf of an assault weapons ban, stronger background check system, and an investment in research for mental health.  

“People say that the overall number of assault weapon deaths is small but you know what? Please don’t tell that to the people of Tucson or Aurora or Columbine or Virginia Tech and don’t tell that to the people in Newtown,” Begg said as he choked up and people in the crowd clapped. “Don’t tell that to the people in Newtown. This is a tipping point.  This is a tipping point and this is a public health issue, please make the right decision."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb272013

Poll Finds 1 in 5 Americans Know a Victim of Gun Violence

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(MENLO PARK, Calif.) -- One in five Americans personally know a victim of gun violence, and 42 percent of Americans say that they are at least somewhat worried about becoming victims themselves, according to a new Kaiser Health Tracking Survey.

The poll comes out as gun-control has reestablished itself as a major political issue in the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Of the 20 percent of Americans who know a victim of gun violence, a majority indicated that it was someone close to them; a good friend, family member, or even the respondent themselves.

Certain demographics are more likely to be exposed to gun violence than others.

“That number actually rises quite a bit when you talk about African-Americans or young people,” said Kaiser’s Mollyann Brodie. “So about four in ten blacks and about 28 percent of young people say that they know a victim of gun violence.”

While 30 percent of whites responded said that they were worried about becoming victims themselves, the numbers are again higher with certain groups. “Fully three quarters of Hispanics and six in 10 Blacks are very worried about being a victim of gun violence,” said Brodie.

The poll also surveyed attitudes and perceived discrimination towards those with mental health issues. Nearly half of the public said they would feel at least somewhat uncomfortable living next to a person with mental health issues, and two-thirds of parents objected to having “a person with a serious mental illness” work at their child’s school.

Three-quarters of Americans believed that individuals with mental health issues experience “a lot” or “some” discrimination. Only immigrants were more likely to be perceived as facing discrimination.

The study suggests that these numbers have gone up in the wake of Newtown.

“People believe that people with mental health illnesses do actually face considerable prejudice and discrimination,” said Brodie.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb262013

Four-Year-Old Shoots Self with Stolen Gun while Dad Naps

Houston Police Department(HOUSTON) -- A Houston dad who was allegedly napping on a couch when his 4-year-old son found a stolen handgun and fatally shot himself with it has been arrested and will face charges in the boy’s death.

Marquiez Deshon Pratt, 20, had his son Jaiden for the weekend when the boy shot himself on Sunday. The boy woke up and picked up his father’s gun, which was lying nearby, and accidentally fired it into his stomach, according to police.

When investigators arrived at the scene they found a distraught Pratt carrying his son outside of his apartment. Pratt handed the boy over, and he ran back inside, police said. Officers attempted to perform CPR on Jaiden, while other officers pursued Pratt into the apartment, according to police.

Inside the apartment on Houston’s north side, police said they found marijuana and crack cocaine, along with scales and other items used to sell drugs.

Pratt was arrested and charged with injury to a child by omission and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

Police said that the weapon Jaiden shot himself with was a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol that was taken in a 2011 burglary.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

Maryland First-Grader Suspended for Making Gun Gesture with Hand

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- A 6-year-old boy who was suspended from his elementary school for making a gun gesture with his hand and saying "pow" is fighting his suspension through a lawyer.

The Montgomery County School District suspended first-grader Rodney Lynch for pointing his finger at a classmate, which they said constituted a threat of gun violence, according to Robin Ficker, the attorney defending Lynch.

"His record says suspended for 'threatening to shoot a student' and that's a lie," Ficker told ABC News Thursday. "He wasn't threatening a student, he's never been around a gun, he doesn't know what a gun is, he doesn't know what killing anyone is, he had no intent to harm anyone."

Lynch, who was suspended for one school day, told ABC News affiliate WJLA that he was playing when he made the gesture, and that his friend said "pow."

Officials of the school and the school district did not immediately return calls and emails from ABC News.

In a letter to Lynch's parents, the vice principal of Roscoe R. Nix Elementary School said their son had been sent to the principal's office three times on Dec. 20 for pretending his fingers were scissors and then a gun. After the third incident, he was suspended, according to the letter, obtained by WJLA.

"Yet, after meeting with the counselor and assistant principal," the letter says, "Rodney chose to point his finger at a female classmate and say 'Pow.'"

Ficker filed an appeal with the principal of Nix Elementary School seeking to have the suspension scrubbed from Lynch's record.

"We filed an appeal with the principal. They're branding him, throwing him under the bus," Ficker said. "If they don't expunge that record then we're going to court. We'll go all the way. That should not be on this meek little child's record. There was no intent to shoot anyone. He was playing. "

Ficker said that the school district had no rules or punishments outlined for students who make hand gestures at other students.

"There are Montgomery County school district regulations that say if you bring a gun or a knife onto campus, you're suspended. There is no regulation that says if you point your finger or make a motion with your fist that says what gestures result in suspension," he said.

Lynch's parents were outraged that their son would have a suspension on his record for the incident.

"I don't think the punishment fits the crime," mother Jeannie Lynch told WJLA.

"They're saying he threatened to shoot a student," said Rodney Lynch Sr. "He was playing."

Lynch was reinstated to the school on Tuesday, following the winter break. Ficker said he is awaiting a response from the school on his request to expunge Lynch's record. If the request is denied, he will seek to take it to a higher authority, he said.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec282012

Woman Tied to New York Firefighter Ambush Gun

ABC News/WHAM(NEW YORK) -- Authorities have charged a woman for allegedly providing a convicted killer with the Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle he used when he ambushed four volunteer firefighters and an off-duty cop at a fire scene in upstate New York on Christmas Eve, federal prosecutors said.

Dawn Nguyen, 24, was arrested Friday after allegedly making an illegal purchase of the weapon used by William Spengler, 62, who set a house and car on fire in Webster, N.Y., the morning of Dec. 24, then shot dead two firemen and himself.

Nguyen is facing federal and state charges for acting as a "straw purchaser," buying the Bushmaster assault weapon as well as a shotgun with the intention of giving it to someone who cannot legally purchase it himself, said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul.

Authorities accuse Nguyen of lying about being the sole owner of the weapons when making the purchase, a violation of federal law.

As an ex-convict, Spengler could not have legally owned or purchased the weapons himself.

"Dawn Nguyen told the seller of these weapons that she was to be true owner and buyer of these guns," said Hochul. "It is absolutely against federal law to provide any materially false information" on a firearms application.

As Hochul announced the charges, Nguyen was in a nearby court. It was unknown whether she entered a plea, and her lawyer could not be immediately contacted.

In addition to the rifle and shotgun, Spengler was found with a pistol, which authorities believe he used to kill himself by shooting himself in the head.

After apparently setting the fires, Spengler began shooting at emergency responders, officials have said. The attack left two firefighters and the gunman dead, and two other firefighters hospitalized.

In a typewritten note found at the scene, Spengler revealed that he obtained the weapons from Nguyen, who for a time lived next door to him in Webster, Hochul said.

In that same note, Spengler pledged to see "how much of the neighborhood I can burn down." He said he wanted to "do what I like doing best, killing people."

Police said Spengler set a "trap" in order to ambush the first responders.

Firefighters Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka were gunned down. Two other firefighters, Joseph Hofsetter and Theodore Scardino, remained in guarded condition at a Rochester, N.Y. hospital.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec192012

Utah Boy Brings Gun to School and Gets Arrested

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(KEARNS, Utah) -- Prosecutors in Kearns, Utah, are preparing criminal charges against an 11-year-old boy who brought a .22 caliber handgun to school with him on Monday, which he claimed was in response to last week's shootings at Newtown, Conn.

However, while the boy apparently told Granite School District administrators that he brought the firearm and ammunition to West Kearns Elementary School to protect himself, others are alleging that the youngster had more nefarious intentions.

Mandee Doyle, whose daughter goes to the school, says the principal called to tell her that her child was threatened by the gun-wielding boy, who reportedly held the weapon to the girl's head.

Doyle then angrily told reporters, "I'm taking my kids out of school.  They ain't coming back here."

Meanwhile, Isabelle Rios, a classmate of Doyle's daughter, alleged the boy "pulled out a gun and he put it to my head -- me and my friend -- (and) said he was going to kill us.  I told him I was going to tell, but he said, 'If you tell, I'm going to kill you.'"

Rios later told a teacher who quickly disarmed the boy.  He'll learn the extent of the charges against him later in the week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec062012

Pat Down Missed Gun on Handcuffed Texas Teen Who Shot Himself

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Police are investigating how officers failed to find a gun after searching and handcuffing an agitated Texas high school senior who shot himself in the head while riding in a police car.

Capt. Jon Moore with the Harris County Precinct 3 constable's office told ABC News that while the deputies did a pat down on the boy, they did not do a complete search.

"The intent was not to arrest. The intent was to get him help," said Moore. "They just missed it, and I wish I could say different."

The 17-year-old student at North Shore Senior High School in Galena, whose name has not been released, is in critical but stable condition at Ben Taub Hospital in Houston, Harris County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Christina Garza said.

"There have obviously been some questions that need to be asked," said Jonathan Frey, interim director of communications for Galena Park Independent School District. "How did the boy get the gun after the search?"

Frey said the boy had sent messages to a friend indicating that he was going to hurt himself on Wednesday. She reported it to an administrator, who immediately contacted a deputy on campus, he said.

The district has a contract with the Harris County Precinct 3 constable's office to provide security at the school, said Frey.

"[The deputy] went down, found where the boy was, restrained him and took him to the police car," Frey said. "He was handcuffed and put in the back. As they were leaving, somehow, he pulled out a gun and shot himself."

Moore said the deputy found the student in a restroom on campus alone. The deputy who responded could not get the student to comply with verbal commands, and called for assistance, he said.

Moore said deputies handcuffed the student and were able to get him outside the school, into the police car and in the back seat.

The deputy driving the vehicle was taking the boy to an ambulance on school grounds when he heard a pop, said Moore. When the deputy got out of the vehicle to check on the student, he saw that the teenager had shot himself.

"We didn't know what the situation was. The deputy and the school felt it was better to be safe," said Moore of the ambulance's presence. "He was threatening to harm himself, but we didn't know if he took pills."

Now, the Harris County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident.

"All indications at this time are that he had threatened to hurt himself in the past, based on witness testimony, and friends and family," said Garza. "At this time, [the investigation] points to it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. "

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov232012

Black Friday Frenzy: 2 Run Down in Washington, Man Pulls Gun in Texas

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Black Friday, one of the most ballyhooed shopping days of the year, has also proven to be hazardous, with incidents including fights between frenzied shoppers and parking-lot robberies.

Two people were run down Thanksgiving night in the parking lot of a Covington, Wash., Walmart by a man police suspected of being intoxicated.

The 71-year-old driver was arrested on a vehicular assault charge after the Thanksgiving incident, spokeswoman Sgt. Cindi West of the Kings County Sheriff's Office said.

The female victim, whose identity has yet to be released, was pinned beneath the driver's Mercury SUV until being rescued by the fire department. She was flown to Harborview Medical Center, where she was listed in serious condition, West said.

The male victim was also taken to Harborview Medical Center, where, West said, he was listed in good condition.

High tension was at the entrances as people lined up outside stores, waiting for the doors to open.

At a San Antonio, Texas, Sears, one man argued with customers and even punched one in order to get to the front of the line, prompting a man with a concealed carry permit to pull a gun, said Matthew Porter, public information officer of the San Antonio Police Department.

"It was a little chaotic. People were exiting the store," Porter said. "Fortunately for us, officers responded quickly and were able to ease the commotion."

The man who allegedly caused the altercation fled the scene and remains at large, Porter said. The shopper who pulled the gun will not face charges, he said, because of his concealed carry permit.

One man was treated at the scene for injuries sustained when people rushed out of the store, Porter said.

In Maryland, there has been at least one report of a parking lot robbery.

A 14-year-old boy told police he was robbed of his Thanksgiving night purchases by five men in the parking lot of a Bed Bath and Beyond store early Friday morning, the Baltimore Sun reported.

And in Massachusetts, Kmart employees tried to locate a shopper over the intercom after a 2-year-old was reported to be alone in a car, ABC News affiliate WCVB-TV reported.

Police arrived to break into the car and remove the child. The boy's caretaker, his mother's boyfriend, denied the incident took place, according to the station, and was not arrested.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep122012

Florida Woman Allegedly Pulls Gun During Sex in Moving Car

Charlotte County Sheriff's Office(PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla.) -- A Florida woman pulled a gun on a man during sex and demanded money, causing him to lose control of his moving car, police said.

Amanda Jean Linscott, 26, fled the scene on foot after the vehicle struck a palm tree, went airborne and plowed through two front yards, according to police in Port Charlotte, Fla.

After a week-long investigation, Linscott was arrested Tuesday on an armed robbery charge.

Her left eye, visibly bruised in her mug shot, was injured as a result of the victim punching her in the face during the skirmish, which occurred during the early hours of Sept. 3, police said.

Hours earlier, Linscott, who was accompanied by a friend, met the victim and two of his friends at the Paddy Wagon Irish Pub in Port Charlotte, police said.  After the bar closed, the men invited the women to come to a private residence, where the victim and another woman went into a bedroom to have sex, according to police.

"The girl said she needed $250, which [the victim] said he didn't have.  She asked how much he had and he gave her $120," Bob Carpenter, a spokesperson for the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, said in a statement.

When the victim went to the bathroom, both women left the home, police said.  The victim then called Linscott's friend's cellphone and agreed to meet her at a local convenience store.  Instead of encountering the woman who left with his $120, the victim met Linscott, who claimed her friend had ditched her, police said.

Linscott got into the victim's Nissan Sentra, at which point she began touching the man and having sex with him while he was driving, the man told police.  Linscott allegedly then demanded money.  When the man told her he had already given her friend $120, she put a .357 Taurus revolver to the man's head, police said.

During the melee, the victim lost control of his car, striking a palm tree and barreling through two front yards before his vehicle came to a stop, at which point Linscott fled the scene.

The victim managed to drive his wrecked car to his two friends' home, where he gave them the gun that had been left behind and called police.

When deputies responded to the area, they saw an elderly man in a driveway who told them his daughter, Amanda Linscott, was in a crash and had been punched in the face, police said.

After gathering statements from all parties and examining evidence, there was reason to arrest Linscott on an armed robbery charge, police said.  She is being held at Charlotte County Jail without bond.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug302012

Secret Service Detail Leaves Gun Unattended on Romney’s Charter Flight

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- A member of Mitt Romney’s Secret Service detail was removed Wednesday from a campaign trip after she accidentally left her firearm unattended in the candidate’s charter plane bathroom.

The agent in question left a gun unattended in the bathroom of the plane during a flight between Tampa, Fla., and Indiana.  The gun was found by a reporter on board who immediately informed the agent, who then went back into the bathroom and retrieved the weapon.

Ed Donovan, a spokesman for the United States Secret Service, told ABC News that officials are “aware of the incident.”

“We take the care and custody of our equipment -- especially firearms -- very seriously,” he said.  “We will deal with this matter internally and in an appropriate manner.”

The Romney campaign referred all questions regarding the incident to the Secret Service.

The gun was left in the bathroom primarily used by media in the back of the plane.  Romney and his staff sit in the front several rows of the plane and the candidate uses the forward bathroom.

It was not immediately clear if the gun was loaded or on a safety lock, but the agent was on active duty at the time of the incident.

Following a campaign event in Indiana, the agent in question never re-boarded the flight back to Tampa.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio