Entries in Massacre (12)


'Son of Sam' Killer: Recent Massacres 'Senseless'

Fred R. Conrad/New York Times Co./Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- David Berkowitz, who gunned down 13 people, killing six, 35 years ago, says he hopes society takes the "glamour" out of guns.

In the wake of the Aurora, Colo. theater massacre and the mass shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh temple, Berkowitz is calling for an end to gun violence.

"It's all senseless," Berkowitz told the New York Daily News from his jail cell in a maximum security facility in upstate New York.

"Society has to take the glory out of guns. Young people have no business carrying a gun," he added.

For 13 months in the mid-1970s, Berkowitz, who became known as the "Son of Sam," stalked the streets of New York's neighborhoods with a .44 caliber handgun, shooting his victims as they sat in their cars or walked on sidewalks.

He taunted New York City detectives in notes to Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin promising on one to "buy all those guys working on the case a new pair of shoes," upon his capture. He was eventually caught outside of his home on Aug. 10, 1977.

Now 59 and a born again Christian, Berkowitz avoids talking about his 24-year-old self, whom he called "lost," "tormented," "confused," and "under demonic control."

He spends his time urging young men to avoid resorting to crime in moments of anger, he said. Prison, he told the Daily News, is not all it's cracked up to be.

"I think it's a big tragedy when I see young men with their macho faces like they're cool when I know they are really scared to death," he said. "I know because I've been there. Prison is a house of pain. It's not what you see in the media and on those crime shows."

"One day, I hope that guns will lose their glamour, that it would be seen a social disapproval for those in gangs," Berkowitz added. "I know that's a bit simplistic, but to me the whole tragedy is that young people are losing direction and don't value life or have no clue why they're on this Earth."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


James Holmes Expected at Hearing over Unsealing Court Documents

RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) -- James Holmes, the man accused of the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., last month, is expected to be in court Thursday for a hearing to address the media's motion to unseal court documents and make them public.  

The judge will also decide whether to reduce a gag order that prohibits the University of Colorado, police and attorneys from making comments on the case.

Holmes, 24, is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 others when he allegedly opened fire in a crowded theater during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20. 

On July 30, he was charged with 142 criminal counts, including 24 counts of first degree murder and 116 counts of attempted first degree murder.

In addition to discussing the court file and gag order on Thursday, attorneys for both the prosecution and defense "can bring up anything else related to the case,” a court administrator told ABC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Officials Believe 'Skinhead' Behind Sikh Temple Shooting in Wisconsin

Scott Olson/Getty Images(OAK CREEK, Wis.) -- Seven people were shot and killed Sunday morning at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., in what officials are treating as a case of domestic terrorism.

ABC News confirmed on Monday that the alleged gunman is Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old Army veteran who served from April 1992 through October 1998.

While police have not given any details on the motive of the shooter, sources have told ABC News the shootings are the work of a "white supremacist" or "skinhead."

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Thomas Ahern said Page had tattoos that suggested he had ties to white supremacists.

"It is being investigated.  And what his tattoos signified is being investigated.  They are all pieces of a possible puzzle to learn what was his motive in carrying out such a horrific act," Ahern said.

Sunday evening, the FBI and a bomb squad arrived at a home in Cudahy, Wis., near Oak Creek, and ABC News' Milwaukee affiliate WISN-TV reported the action appeared to be related to the temple shootings earlier in the day.

Authorities also were trying to trace a single, semiautomatic handgun recovered at the scene, sources told ABC News.

In addition to the seven confirmed dead, three people -- two adult male civilians and a male police officer -- were in critical condition and were being treated at a local hospital, said officials at Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin.  None of the victims have been identified.

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The apparent gunman was shot and killed in an exchange of gunfire with the wounded police officer outside the temple and was one of the seven dead.

"The officer stopped a tragic event that could've been a lot worse," Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards told reporters.

Four people were found dead inside the temple and two others were found dead outside the building.  Edwards said authorities were treating the event as a domestic terrorism incident and the FBI would be conducting a full investigation.

"The FBI is working closely with the Oak Creek Police Department and other local and federal agencies to investigate today's shooting incident," FBI Milwaukee Special Agent in Charge Teresa Carlson said in a written statement.  "This remains an active investigation in its early stages.  While the FBI is investigating whether this matter might be an act of domestic terrorism, no motive has been determined at this time.  We know our community has been deeply impacted by this incident, and our thoughts are with those affected and particularly with the officer who was wounded in the line of duty to protect others."

President Obama was told about the shooting around 1 p.m. Sunday and released a statement later in the afternoon.

"At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded," Obama said.  "My administration will provide whatever support is necessary to the officials who are responding to this tragic shooting and moving forward with an investigation.

"As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family," he added.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Planned Massacre Foiled By Maryland Cops

Law enforcement officials address the media regarding the foiled plan. (ABC News)(CROFTON, Md.) -- One week after Colorado's movie theater shooting, Maryland cops arrested a heavily armed man who told his employer he was a "joker" who was going to "blow everybody up."

Police said today they believe they "thwarted a massacre."

The suspect, identified as Neil Edwin Prescott in a court document obtained by ABC News, was being dismissed from his job. He made threatening statements to his supervisor at least twice on Monday, police said.

Prescott had an arsenal of about 25 firearms at his residence, including semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and handguns, according to a police affidavit. Police said he also had high powered scopes and magazines and thousands of rounds of ammunition in "40 large steel boxes."

He was quoted as telling his employer, "I am a joker, I'm going to load my guns and blow everybody up," police said.

"It is clear that the comments made by Prescott reference a recent mass murder which occurred in Colorado within the last several days in which the alleged shooter called himself the Joker, died [sic] his hair red and shot up a movie theater containing men, women and children and showing the 'The Dark Night Rises,'" according to the court document.

"Prescott also stated that he would like to see the supervisor's brain splatter all over the sidewalk," the document said.

Prescott allegedly acknowledged to his employer that he should not be making these statements over the phone, saying, "It's kind of foolish of me to say this kind of things [sic] over government phone."

"In light of what happened a week ago in Aurora, Colorado, it's important to know that we take all threats seriously and if you're going to make a threat, we will take action," Prince George's County Chief Mark Magaw said at a news conference today.

When police arrived at Prescott's house on Thursday to speak to him, he was wearing a t-shirt with the writing, "Guns don't kill people, I do."

He was taken into custody based on an emergency petition for medical treatment, police said. Authorities said Prescott's demeanor was "very quiet" when he was taken into custody and that he was cooperative.

Law enforcement sources tell ABC News that he is from Crofton, Md.

The man was facing termination from his job with a company doing contract work for Pitney Bowes, a leading company in producing postage meters and machines.

The company released the following statement: "The suspect arrested is an employee of a subcontractor to Pitney Bowes. At Pitney Bowes we have clear security protocol and when we had concerns about this individual, we contacted authorities."

On July 20, shooting suspect James Holmes allegedly opened fire in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded.

Holmes told police he was The Joker, a villain in the Batman movies, police said.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


In Wake of Colorado Massacre, Gun Control Supporters Seek Reboot

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, has no qualms about stating his view of the obvious: Efforts to enact gun control legislation aren't working.

So in the wake of the Aurora, Colo. massacre that has claimed 12 lives so far, the nation’s top gun control advocate is seeking to change the debate about gun control.

“We just need to re-frame this whole conversation away from being part of the political debate,” he said Monday. “We need to expect more of ourselves and more of our leaders. There’s a disconnect between the interests of the American people and what our politicians are doing.”

The Brady Campaign, named after Ronald Reagan assistant James Brady, who was critically injured in the assassination attempt on the president, wants to reboot the national conversation and part of that, it seems, means taking its name off the masthead. The group will launch a new website later Monday night called that will play down its sponsorship by the Brady campaign.

The idea, he said, is rescue the debate from the poles on either side of the gun control issue. The new site will feature a petition demanding politicians start talking about gun violence and how to prevent it. “It begins at the top with the president and Mitt Romney offering more than sympathy,” Gross said.

A Pew Poll in March found the public fairly split on the issue. Forty-nine percent of respondents said it was more important to protect the right to own guns. Forty-five percent said it was more important to control ownership.

What people and politicians should offer, Gross said, isn’t necessarily the kind of legislation that has been enacted in the past. ABC asked whether the Brady Campaign still supports the assault weapons ban, for instance.

“I wouldn’t say that we do or don’t at this point. I would say what we need to do is consider all of the solutions,” he said, arguing that such solutions will only come with input from supporters of gun rights and gun control.

“There are solutions that most gun owners and most NRA members support,” he said. “And there are supporters of a national gun policy that support the second amendment. …We need to make sure we’re on the same page before we start pushing specific policy provisions.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Las Vegas Massacre Suspect Sexually Assaulted 3 People, Cops Say

Thinkstock/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Las Vegas cops are trying to determine what triggered a "savage" murder spree that included the sexual assault of two women and a child.

Bryan Clay, 22, was arrested over the weekend in connection with the deaths of Ignacia "Yarida" Martinez and her 10-year-old daughter. The mother and daughter were sexually assaulted before being bludgeoned to death in their Las Vegas home on April 15 or 16, police said.

The victims' husband and father, Arturo Martinez, was also bludgeoned and remains in critical condition.

"We believe this was a stranger, a random savage act," Lt. Ray Steiber of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police's homicide division said at a news conference. "I've been doing this 24 years and this is the case you hope you never see."

Officials discovered the deaths April 16 after the young girl's 9-year-old brother told school officials that his mother and sister were dead at home.

The child who reported the deaths and his 4-year-old brother were removed safely from the home.

Since then, authorities have been working through a forensics "nightmare" in a house where police said there was blood in every room.

Clay was a person of interest in the family massacre, but police arrested him on Friday on an outstanding felony child abuse warrant. By Saturday, he was re-booked and charged for the double homicide of the family and a separate sexual assault of a 50-year-old woman in a nearby neighborhood.

While police say they are still piecing together the timeline of events, they believe that Clay sexually assaulted the 50-year-old woman on April 15. He allegedly approached her and then "forced her into a nearby desert area and violently sexually assaulted her and fled on foot," according to a news release.

The next day, the 9-year-old reported the deaths of his family members to school officials.

"We're talking about a 50-year-old woman who was attacked, brutally attacked, and she was sexually assaulted," Steiber said. "We're talking about a family who was in their home and unbeknownst to them, a savage intruder enters that home and attacks three people."

DNA evidence connected Clay to both crimes, police said. He is being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center.

"They believe that this was a stranger, no way connected to the family or with the other victim," Officer Laura Meltzer told ABC News Monday. "He is in custody and will not be getting back out."

Clay has been charged with four criminal counts for the attack on the 50-year-old woman and seven counts for the attack on the Martinez family.

The four counts for the attack on the woman are attempted murder, sexual assault, kidnap with intent to commit a felony and robbery.

The seven counts for the attack on the family are two counts of murder with a deadly weapon, sexual assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of sexual assault on a victim under the age of 14, attempted murder with a deadly weapon and burglary.

"Just because there has been an arrest, it does not mean that this is over. It's far from over," Meltzer said. "There's still a lot of investigating to do and a lot of analysis of evidence and information to be constructed."

Police have not said what Clay's motive could have been.

"This was a very dangerous person that, through countless hours of investigation and good police work, was taken into custody," Meltzer said.

Clay is scheduled to make his first court appearance later this week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Las Vegas Family Massacre: A Forensics 'Nightmare,' No Arrest Made

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- A 10-year-old girl bludgeoned to death along with her mother in their Las Vegas home was sexually assaulted before she was killed, police said Thursday.

Authorities have been working through a forensics "nightmare" in a house where police said there is blood in every room.

Officials discovered the deaths Monday after the young girl's 9-year-old brother told school officials that his mother and sister were dead at home.

Arturo Martinez, the girl's father, was taken from the home and is in critical condition at a hospital. His injuries were the result of "blunt force trauma," cops said.

Police have not yet been able to speak to him and said they are not calling him a suspect or ruling him out.

"We don't know if the father is a suspect or not," Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer Marcus Martin told ABC News. "We have nothing to suggest that yet. We're not ruling anybody out."

Originally, authorities said the public had no reason to worry that a killer was on the loose.

"We don't have any evidence to support that there's somebody going around doing this," Martin told ABC News on Tuesday.

But Thursday, when asked if if an outsider could be the perpetrator, Martin said, "We have not ruled that out."

When officers arrived at the house on Monday, about a half-mile from the Mabel Hoggard Elementary School that the boy attended, they discovered the bodies of his 10-year-old sister and his mother, Ignacia "Yarida" Martinez.

A 4-year-old sibling, who was distressed but unharmed, was also at the house, along with a wounded Arturo Martinez covered in blood.

Police are still trying to determine the timeline of events that took place.

The Las Vegas Coroner's Office determined that the cause of death for both mother and daughter was blunt force trauma. They specified that the mother suffered multiple blunt force head injuries from the assault and that her husband suffered similar injuries.

The 9-year-old boy who reported the deaths and his little brother have been taken into child protective services' custody. When asked if investigators have spoken to the boys to get a sense of what they saw, Martin said authorities are focusing on the boys' "mental health" after the trauma they have suffered.

"The last thing they need is investigators quizzing them," Martin said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Attorney for Afghan Murder Suspect Says Proving Guilt Will Be Difficult

US Army(FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan.) -- After meeting with Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales for a second day, attorney John Henry Browne suggested on Tuesday that the government will have a difficult time finding his client guilty of murdering 16 Afghan civilians 10 days ago.

"As far as we know there are no eyewitnesses.  As far as we know, the government hasn't been back to the scene of the alleged incident.  So there is no forensic evidence," Browne told ABC News.

"There's a lot of things missing that are usually not missing in a criminal case," he added.

Bales is waiting to be charged for the killings of the civilians a short distance away from his former base in southern Afghanistan.  He was brought to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., after U.S. military officials decided against having him tried in Afghanistan.

Browne was hired by Bales' family.  His wife, Karilyn Bales, said the murders were "completely out of character of the man I know and admire."

The attorney also rejected reports that Bales came back to his base and confessed to the slayings.

"That's not true either.  And as a matter of fact the government's paperwork that they filed doesn't have that in it at all.  I'm very suspicious of that report," Browne said.

He said Bales has a limited memory of what happened that night.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sergeant 'Does Not Remember Everything' From Afghan Massacre Night

US Army(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Staff Sgt. Robert Bales' lawyer, John Henry Browne, told ABC News that his client "does not remember everything from" the day when he allegedly slaughtered 16 Afghan civilians.

In an interview with CBS News, Browne said Bales has not confessed to the shootings and has large gaps in his memory from the night of March 11 when they occurred.

"He has an early memory of that evening. ... And he has a later memory of that evening but he does not have memory ... in between," Browne said.

In a statement Monday, Bales' wife, Karilyn, offered condolences from her family to the victims, many of whom were children.

"Our hearts go out too all of them, especially to the parents, brothers, sisters and grandparents of the children who perished," she said.


Karilyn Bales issued her statement as her husband met with his lawyer for the first time at the Fort Leavenworth military prison, and the U.S. military said that his trial will take place in the U.S., not Afghanistan.

But Mrs. Bales said she is mystified about what happened and how her husband, the father of their two children, could be accused of such an atrocity.

"Our family has little information beyond what we read and see in the media.  What has been reported is completely out of character of the man I know and admire.  Please respect me when I say I cannot shed any light on what happened that night... I too want to know what happened.  I want to know how this could be," she said.

Karilyn Bales alluded to efforts to protect her family and said, "The pain inevitably inflicted in war should never be an excuse to inflict yet more pain.  The cycle must be broken.  We must find peace."

She ended her statement saying, "The victims and their families are all in my prayers, as is my husband who I love very much."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man Dressed as Santa Blamed for Christmas Day Massacre

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(GRAPEVINE, Texas) -- A Santa-suited gunman who killed six people on Christmas morning was the estranged husband of one of the victims and the father of two teenagers who died in the massacre.

Aziz Yazdanpanah, 56, showed up to his estranged wife's apartment on Christmas morning dressed like St. Nick and opened fire shortly after the family had unwrapped presents.

Yazdanpanah then killed himself.

The six victims were identified by ABC affiliate WFAA as: Nasrin Rahmaty, 55, who was Yazdanpanah's wife; Nona Yazdanpanah, 19, his daughter; Ali Yazdanpanah, 15, his son; Zohreh Rahmaty, 58, his sister-in-law; Hossein Zarei, 59, his brother-in-law; and Sahra Zarei, 22, his niece.

The medical examiner's office has still not released the names of the victims.

Zarei owned a popular Dallas, Texas, ranch and was well known in the Iranian-American community, according to WFAA. On Christmas Eve, the family hosted a party at the ranch. The gunman was not invited.

"The appearance we got leading up to this was it was just a normal Christmas gathering," Sgt. Roger Eberling of the Grapevine Police Department told ABC News.

Eberling said it was unclear whether AzizYazdanpanah was invited to the apartment, but said it appeared he did not force his way inside.

Around 11:16 a.m., Eberling said a female victim sent a text message to a friend indicating the family had just exchanged gifts and that the gunman was there dressed as Santa Claus.

Minutes later, police received a 911 call, which initially sounded like silence, Eberling said.  After listening to the call again, Eberling said police could hear someone in a raspy voice saying "help me." He said the caller sounded out of breath and the call went dead after 15 to 20 seconds.

Police arrived within minutes where they found the bodies of all six victims and the gunman. Two handguns were found among the wrapping paper and Christmas tree.

Nasrin Rahmaty had been separated from her husband since March, according to ABC affiliate WFAA. Rahmaty and her two children moved into the Grapevine, Texas, apartment where they were murdered, while Yazdanpanah reportedly remained in the family's Colleyville, Texas, home, which had been foreclosed on last year, WFAA reported.

Yazdanpanah had been having financial troubles after his real estate business slowed down and had reportedly filed for bankruptcy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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