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Sandy Hook shooting: Victims of gun violence commemorate 7th anniversary of massacre

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Twitter/@fred_guttenberg(NEWTOWN, Conn.) — Families of the victims of Sandy Hook commemorated the mass shooting’s seventh anniversary on Saturday with a stark reminder to the public: “[It] could happen to a kid you love.”

Twenty-six people, including 20 children, were killed on Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and opened fire.

The gunman eventually fatally shot himself.

Marie-Claude Duytschaever, who lost her 6-year-old grandson Noah Pozner in the shooting, penned an emotional but blunt blog post detailing what she said is the painful reality of mass shootings and gun violence.

“I can tell you that had Noah died in his bed, the last seconds of his life wouldn’t have been filled with deafening noises, blood and terror. … That is the reality of gun violence. Not an abstraction. Not a statistic,” she wrote.

“What happened to Noah and nineteen other first graders in a peaceful little New England town ten days before Christmas seven years ago could happen to a kid you love,” her post read.

Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year-old son Dylan Hockley was killed in the tragedy, detailed how she heard about the shooting seven years ago.

When she was in a class, a call came from a friend, she wrote on Twitter.

“A shooting at our school. She was scared and asked me to go find her son,” she wrote. “I collapsed to the floor. Friends picked me up and one drove me to the school.”

At Sandy Hook, she found her eldest son, who was 8 at the time, and her friend’s son.

“I did not find Dylan,” she said.

“Seven years ago started as a normal Friday morning,” Hockley said. “And nothing has ever been normal since.”

Hockley has since co-founded the Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit aimed at minimizing gun violence across the country.

Numerous others also spoke out in light of the anniversary, including a father who lost his daughter in the Parkland mass shooting and Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman who was shot in the head in a shooting that left 12 others wounded in Tucson in 2011.

Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime Guttenberg was killed in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, wrote that both incidents show “why we must defeat the gun lobby and focus on gun safety.”

“Your lives and your safety are worth it,” he rote on Twitter.

Giffords said prior to the Newtown shooting, “I thought I’d felt pain and loss without parallel, but Sandy Hook shattered my heart.”

Giffords, like Hockley, has also become a gun reform activist.

“They were children. We failed to keep them safe,” she wrote. “And so I said enough.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

NYPD officers' body cameras shows moments leading up to killing of police officer, suspect

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New York City Police Department(NEW YORK) — The NYPD has released body camera footage from officers involved in a pursuit and deadly shooting that left a fellow officer and a suspect dead.

The video, released Friday, shows police officer Brian Mulkeen and other plainclothes officers on patrol in the Bronx on Sept. 29, 2019. The footage shows him and officer Robert Wichers get out of an unmarked vehicle and approach two suspects.

The officers were patrolling the neighborhood after a shootout there earlier that week, police said.

One of the suspects, Antonio Williams, immediately flees and leads Mulkeen and Wichers on a foot chase, according to Wichers’ body camera.

The other suspect, who was not named, did not run and was pat down by officer Brian Mahon who called for back up, his body camera video shows.

Wichers catches up to Williams, shoves him to the ground and struggles with him, the video shows.

“He’s reaching! He’s f—— reaching! He’s reaching!” one of the officers is heard saying, according to Wichers’ body camera.

Wichers is seen punching Williams before three more officers arrived on the scene. Wichers separates from Williams and, along with the other officers, opens fire.

In total, there 15 bullets were fired by all six officers, said Kevin Maloney, deputy chief of the Force Investigation Division, who narrated a 13-minute NYPD video detailing the shooting.

Mulkeen was struck by one of his fellow officers’ bullets, the NYPD determined. He died at a local hospital.

Williams, who was armed with a pistol, was shot and killed, too, police said. His gun was not fired, the NYPD determined.

The other suspect was detained for a parole violation and later released.

Maloney said investigators from the division the Bronx District Attorney’s office will continue to interview witnesses and review more footage as part of the investigation.

“After the investigation is complete, the facts of this case will be presented to the First Deputy Commissioner’s use of force review board, where the evidence will be evaluated to determine if the force applied in this case was justified and consistent with department guidelines,” he said in the video.

Justin Williams, Antonio Williams’ brother, however, said the video didn’t appear to show the plainclothes officers identify themselves as police. He said in a press statement released by the family that relatives saw the video and felt “sadness, anger and questions.”

“I saw and heard my brother being punched and beaten by officers before he was killed,” he said.

He added that the NYPD’s “hyper-aggressiveness policing and recklessness murdered my brother Antonio and the officer.”

The NYPD did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment Saturday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Van with possible connection to Jersey City Jewish deli shooting found

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FBI(JERSEY CITY, New Jersey) — The van that was registered to one of the alleged shooters in the deadly Jersey City attack has been recovered, authorities said Saturday.

The FBI was searching for the white 2001 Ford Van as the agency investigated the shooting at a Jewish deli and cemetery, which left four people dead, as “potential acts of domestic terrorism.”

The vehicle was registered to suspected attacker David Anderson, 47, and has a “possible connection” to the shootings, according to the FBI.

Anderson and Francine Graham, 50, were identified as the two suspects who officials said carried out the attack and appeared to have been motivated by “both anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement.”

Both were killed in an hours-long shootout with police on Tuesday.

The incident unfolded at 12:38 p.m. after police received a 911 call from an individual who discovered a body at the Bayview Cemetery, according to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.

The victim turned out to be Jersey City police detective Joseph Seals, who apparently went to the cemetery to meet one of the suspects who was an informant for him, sources told ABC News.

After the suspects allegedly killed Seals, they got into a stolen U-Haul van and drove to the Jersey City Kosher Supermarket, arriving at about 12:43 p.m., Grewal said.

The two then opened fire at the store, according to Grewal.

The victims killed at the kosher deli were identified as Mindy Ferencz, 33, the wife of the supermarket owner and mother of five; 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch, a Yeshiva student; and Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49, an employee at the store.

Ferencz and Deutsch were buried at cemeteries in Jersey City and Brooklyn, respectively, on Wednesday. Thousands of members of the Jewish Orthodox community attended the burials.

A memorial for Rodriguez will begin on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Michigan Memorial Funeral Home in Paterson, New Jersey.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Suspect in Pensacola naval base shooting wrote 'the countdown has started' 4 months before attack: Report

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FBI(PENSACOLA, Fla.) — New details have emerged in the deadly shooting at a Florida naval base, including a cryptic message that the suspect wrote just months before the attack, according to a federal report obtained by ABC News.

Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, a second lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force who authorities say killed three people and injured eight others after opening fire at the Naval Air Base Pensacola last week, wrote the phrase “the countdown has started” on Sept. 11, 2019 with no further explanation, according to a Joint Intelligence Bulletin released Friday.

The post was written about four months before the Dec. 6 shooting, according to the report.

The bulletin, which was issued by the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, National Counterterrorism Center and the Defense Intelligence Agency, also stated that his social media included references to non-Muslims as “infidels” and defended jihad.

Sources previously told ABC News that investigators determined the shooting was likely a “terror” attack inspired by radical Islamic ideology.

One post contained writings that were consistent with a 2010 statement from American-born cleric Anwar al Awlaki, who was killed in 2011 in a CIA-led drone strike, according to the report.

“I’m against evil, and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil,” the post read, according to the report. “What I see from America is the supporting of Israel which is invasion of Muslim countries, I see invasion of many countries by its troops, I see Guantanamo Bay. I see cruise missiles, cluster bombs and UAV.”

The multi-agency report also detailed new information about what happened inside the classroom where the shooting took place.

The attack lasted about 15 minutes, during which time Alshamrani unloaded 180 rounds of his ammo and fired directly at pictures of President Donald Trump and a former president, who was not named, according to the report.

Alshamrani purchased a Glock 9 mm pistol legally by taking advantage of a federal gun law exception that allows foreign nationals to purchase weapons — which is normally prohibited — for hunting, authorities have said.

A witness told investigators that during the attack, Alshamrani made statements that were critical of U.S. military actions overseas, according to the report.

Alshamrani, who was in the United States for flight training, was shot and killed by Escambia County Sheriff’s deputies at the scene.

The report stresses that federal authorities are not aware of any ongoing specific, credible threats to the public.

The FBI-Jacksonville, the lead investigative agency, said the investigation into the shooting remains active and they are working under the presumption “that this was an act of terrorism.”

“Our unified goal remains clear: to determine if the shooter acted alone or if anyone assisted, provided support for, or had knowledge of his attack in advance,” according to the FBI’s statement.

The victims in the attack were identified as Ensign Joshua Watson, 23; Airman Mohammed Haitham, 19; and Airman Apprentice Cameron Walters, 21.

The Navy posthumously advanced Haitham and Walters to Naval Aircrewman Mechanical 3rd Class on Saturday.

“These sailors exhibited the finest warrior ethos and quick decision-making that undoubtedly saved many lives,” Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said in a statement. “They took action when it was needed most, with the same skill and professionalism that they’d exhibited throughout their service to our nation.”

Haitham and Walters had previously been proclaimed naval aircrewmen after they were awarded their Wings of Gold.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

5-year-old's birthday wish of bedding for children in need extended for the holidays

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Courtesy Jackie Sliz(LIBERTYVILLE, Illinois) — When their birthdays roll around, most children ask for a growing list of presents — or a pony — but that wasn’t the case for 5-year-old Tyler Sliz.

Tyler asked family and friends to help him donate bedding to children in need through the Sleep in Heavenly Peace organization at his church in Libertyville, Illinois.

Almost two months later, much to his delight, the bedding donations are still coming in.

“At first, I was concerned he would feel disappointment at his birthday party when all he received was bedding, but he surprised me with his giving heart,” his mother, Jackie Sliz, told ABC News. “All he truly wanted for his birthday was bedding so that he could carry it to Sleep In Heavenly Peace.”

Sleep in Heavenly Peace consists of a group of volunteers who focus on making sure children have a bed to sleep in every night. The volunteers build, assemble and deliver the beds to the families in need in Lake Country and McHenry County in Illinois.

Tyler and his family belong to the group’s chapter at St. Joseph’s. Tyler also attends preschool at St. Joseph’s Catholic School.

Because Tyler couldn’t help build the beds — he has to wait till he’s 12 — he wanted to contribute in another way. So, he had his mom record a video to send to his birthday party guests, requesting that they bring bedding, pillows and sheets instead of gifts to the festivities on Oct. 26.
 
On Oct. 23, the day he turned 5, Tyler began collecting the donated items.

“Even when two guests chose to give him money, he, in turn, decided to buy more bedding with it,” Sliz told ABC News.

Four days later, with the help of his grandparents, Tyler had his first bed built. He donated all of his birthday gifts — 30 pieces of bedding that he’d received from party guests.

“People tend to be surprised that he chooses collecting bedding instead of gifts for himself. Many are inspired to ask their friends and family for bedding,” Sliz said. “[They say,] ‘If a 5-year-old can do it, so can I.'”

Tyler was a “special bed builder” with the group in October, Sleep in Heavenly Peace said in a statement to ABC News.

“Four generations of his family were there on [Oct. 27] making sure No Kid Sleeps on The Floor in His Town,” the statement said. “This young man sure knows what’s important and has a great heart!”

Tyler’s collection of bedding continues to grow as people donate. He hopes to continue collecting throughout the holiday season and receive at least 100 pieces of bedding.

When he was asked how much bedding he wanted to collect, he said: “As many as my house can hold!”

Sliz said the Libertyville chapter had celebrated its first anniversary on Nov. 23. In that year, the chapter built and donated 300 beds, she said.

“I want to get more bedding so kids don’t have to sleep on the floor,” he told ABC News. “I hope Santa brings all the kids bedding and presents.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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