‘Straw hat bandit’ arrested in 11 Pennsylvania bank robberies

A man the FBI identified as Richard Boyle, of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, known as the "Straw Hat Bandit," is pictured in this undated handout still image from video. FBI/Handout via REUTERS

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Pennsylvania bank robber who earned the nickname “straw hat bandit” for wearing colorful head wear during heists was arrested on Thursday for a string of 11 robberies, authorities said.

Richard Boyle, 57, was expected to appear in federal court on Thursday on charges that he robbed the banks in suburban Pennsylvania between 2012 and 2016.

Boyle previously served three years in prison after pleading guilty in 2008 to robbing eight banks in Pennsylvania and was released in August 2011.

U.S. authorities said Boyle made off with approximately $500,000 during his latest crime spree and used his aerial photography business to launder a portion of the proceeds.

Boyle concealed his face using a pillowcase, a bandana or a mask and sported numerous hats, including a straw hat, a bucket hat and a baseball cap, according to authorities.

Boyle was already in state prison on a probation violation and was transferred to federal custody for his court appearance.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Gunman targeting white men kills three in Fresno, California

A road is blocked by police tape after a multiple victim shooting incident in downtown Fresno, California, U.S. April 18, 2017. Fresno County Sheriff/Handout via REUTERS

By Dan Whitcomb

(Reuters) – A gunman who went by the nickname Black Jesus killed three white men in downtown Fresno, California, on Tuesday, and fired at another before he was taken into custody while shouting “Allahu Akhbar,” police said.

The suspect, 39-year-old Kori Ali Muhammad, was also wanted in connection with the fatal shooting last week of an unarmed security guard at a Motel 6 in Fresno, Police Chief Jerry Dyer told reporters at a press conference.

Dyer said Muhammad fired at least 16 rounds from a large-caliber handgun in less than a minute at four downtown Fresno locations at about 10:45 a.m. local time before he was spotted running through the streets by a police officer.

“Immediately upon the individual seeing the officer he literally dove onto the ground and was taken into custody and as he was taken into custody he yelled out ‘Allahu Akhbar,'” Dyer said. The term means “God is great” in Arabic.

“He does not like white people,” Dyer said, citing the suspect’s statements after being arrested and his Facebook postings. The chief said Muhammad, who is African American, used the nickname Black Jesus.

All four of the men killed on Tuesday were white, as was the security guard and the other man Mohammad shot at but missed.

Dyer said it was too early to rule out terrorism and that his department had contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate, but portrayed the incident as “a random act of violence.”

“These individuals who were chosen today did not do anything to deserve what they got,” he said. “These were unprovoked attacks by an individual who was intent on carrying out homicides today, and he did that.”

Dyer said Muhammad had been identified quickly as the prime suspect in the Motel 6 shooting on April 13 and that police had been urgently seeking him across the Fresno area since then.

Fresno is an agricultural hub in California’s central valley, about 170 miles southeast of San Francisco.

Muhammad has a criminal history that includes weapons and drug charges and had spent time in state prison, Dyer said.

County government buildings were placed on lockdown during the shooting spree and residents were urged to shelter in place.

Local television images showed what appeared to be a body covered in a yellow tarp in a street near where police tape marked off several crime scenes.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Steve Gorman; Editing by Richard Chang)

Three killed in Fresno, California, shooting spree, suspect arrested

A road is blocked by police tape after a multiple victim shooting incident in downtown Fresno, California, U.S. April 18, 2017. Fresno County Sheriff/Handout via REUTERS

By Dan Whitcomb

(Reuters) – A gunman with an apparent dislike of white people and government killed three people in downtown Fresno, California, on Tuesday, before he was taken into custody while shouting “Allahu Akhbar,” police said.

The suspect, identified as 39-year-old Kori Ali Muhammad, was also wanted in connection with the fatal shooting last week of an unarmed security guard at a Motel 6 in Fresno, Police Chief Jerry Dyer told reporters at a press conference.

Dyer said Muhammad fired at least 16 rounds in less than a minute at four downtown Fresno locations at about 10:45 a.m. local time before he was spotted running through the streets by a police officer.

“Immediately upon the individual seeing the officer he literally dove onto the ground and was taken into custody and as he was taken into custody he yelled out ‘Allahu Akhbar,'” Dyer said. The term means “God is great” in Arabic.

“He does not like white people,” Dyer said, citing the black suspect’s statements after being arrested and his Facebook postings. At least two of his victims were white.

Dyer said his department had contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation over the incident.

The Fresno Bee newspaper reported that the gunman opened fire with a large-caliber handgun while cursing shortly before 11 a.m. near a Catholic Charities building.

Fresno is an agricultural hub in California’s central valley, about 170 miles southeast of San Francisco.

County government buildings were placed on lockdown and residents were urged to shelter in place, according to the newspaper.

Local television images showed what appeared to be a body covered in a yellow tarp in a street near where police tape marked off several crime scenes.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Steve Gorman; Editing by Richard Chang)

New York police arrest 25 at immigration protest in Trump Tower

A New York City Police officer (NYPD) escorts protestors after making arrests for demonstrating in Trump Tower in New York, U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York police on Thursday arrested 25 people in the lobby of Trump Tower protesting U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration and border policies.

The demonstrators who sat in front of the elevators and chanted “no ban, no raids, no wall!” led security forces to close public accesses to the president’s signature property, a commercial and residential skyscraper where first lady Melania Trump and son Barron Trump stay while the president is in Washington.

As heavily armed police wearing ballistic vests stood guard blocking the entrances, other officers carried the protesters to police vans.

The building in the heart of the Fifth Avenue shopping district was also home to Trump’s campaign and has been his primary residence for years. The lobby is open to the public, though security was tightened as the 2016 campaign progressed and he was elected president.

Charges were pending, a police said in a statement.

The demonstrators wore T-shirts with slogans such as “No wall,” in reference to Trump’s proposal to build a wall on the southern border with Mexico, and “No raids,” referring to U.S. arrests of suspected undocumented immigrants.

“No ban” refers to Trump’s executive orders seeking to restrict immigration from several Muslim-majority countries.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

One killed, three wounded in shooting aboard Atlanta metro

By Ian Simpson

(Reuters) – A man opened fire aboard a moving Atlanta metro train on Thursday, killing one man and wounding three other passengers before the suspected gunman was arrested at the next station, a police spokesman said.

The gunfire erupted aboard a Blue Line train at about 4:30 p.m. shortly after it left a station on the city’s west side, Joseph Dorsey, deputy chief of the MARTA police, said at a news conference. MARTA is the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.

“As the train was in motion, the suspect fired several shots toward the victims,” Dorsey said.

The three people who were wounded are expected to survive, Dorsey said. A fifth person suffered an ankle injury as passengers scrambled away from the gunman.

All the victims, as well as the suspected gunman, were in their 30s, Dorsey said.

The shooting was “targeted, but isolated,” MARTA’s Police Chief Wanda Dunham said, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper.

Police detained the suspected gunman at the train’s next stop, West Lake Station, and recovered a weapon, Dorsey said. He gave no information about a possible motive and said the shooting was under investigation.

A man who was in the train car told Atlanta’s Fox 5 television that a man wearing a hat sat next to another passenger, his head bobbing. The man then got up and walked to the back of the car.

“And after that, heard shots, hit the deck, and just saw some shoes walk past and that’s it,” said the man, who was not identified.

Cellphone video shot by a bystander and carried on the Fox station’s Facebook page showed a woman and another person lying on the floor of a train car as passengers bent over them.

The transit agency said the station had been temporarily closed.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washingon and Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Additional reporting by David Beasley in Atlanta; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)

Suspect charged with second murder in Ohio nightclub shooting

FILE PHOTO -- The parking lot of Cameo Nightlife club remains empty after police removed barrier tape from the scene of a mass shooting in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Caleb Hughes/File Photo

By Timothy Mclaughlin

(Reuters) – A grand jury in Ohio indicted a man suspected of opening fire in a crowded Cincinnati nightclub on a second murder charge Thursday after another suspect died this week.

The charge was one of 38 brought against Cornell Beckley, 27, who faces 230 years in prison if convicted on all charges in the shooting, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters told a news conference in Cincinnati.

“We identified him (Beckley) through multiple sources as the initial shooter,” Deters said.

A second suspect, Deondre Davis, 29, who was charged with murder while critically injured, died Tuesday morning at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, according to police.

Bryan Spikes, 27, died shortly after the March 26 shooting at the Cameo Nightlife club in which 16 other people were injured.

Beckley pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing in Cincinnati Municipal Court last week on the initial charge and is being held on a $1.7 million bond.

Davis and Beckley would have faced identical indictments had Davis lived, Deters said. A third gun was found in the club and police are searching for a third shooter.

The gunfire, which sent hundreds of patrons fleeing and ducking for cover, erupted from a dispute inside the club between two groups from different neighborhoods, Deters said.

Beckley climbed onto the club’s stage and began shooting at around 1:30 a.m., prosecutors said. Davis started shooting after Beckley opened fire.

The club had persistent problems with violence, according to police. The club’s owner surrendered his liquor license and the club was closed, police said on Thursday.

Unlike last year’s Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, in which 49 people died, making it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, there were no indications the Cincinnati shooting was “terrorism-related,” according to authorities.

“People say this was a mass shooting. It was a shoot-out,” Deters said.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley called the incident the worst mass shooting in the city’s history.

One victim remains in critical condition, Deters said.

(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by James Dalgleish)

New Jersey teen pleads guilty in plot to assassinate the Pope

Pope Francis celebrates his final mass of his visit to the United States at the Festival of Families on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania September 27, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) – A New Jersey teen pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to terrorists in what media called an ISIS-inspired effort to kill Pope Francis in 2015 during a public Mass in Philadelphia, according to a statement by federal prosecutors.

Santos Colon, 17, admitted on Monday in a federal court in Camden, New Jersey, that he attempted to conspire with a sniper to shoot the Pope during his visit in Philadelphia and set off explosive devices in the surrounding areas.

Colon engaged with someone he thought would be the sniper from June 30 to August 14, 2015, but the person was actually an undercover FBI employee, according to prosecutors. The attack did not take place, and FBI agents arrested Colon in 2015.

“Colon engaged in target reconnaissance with an FBI confidential source and instructed the source to purchase materials to make explosive devices,” prosecutors said in a statement on Monday.

A U.S. citizen from Lindenwold, New Jersey, Colon was charged as an adult with one count of attempting to provide material support to terrorists on Monday and faces up to 15 years in prison.

What motivated the attempted attack was not immediately known to Reuters. NBC News reported that prosecutors said Colon admitted the terror plot was inspired by the Islamic State.

Prosecutors and the defense attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Colon also faces a fine of $250,000, or twice the amount of any financial gain or loss from the offense, prosecutors said. No date has been set for sentencing and the investigation is ongoing.

The Pope visited Philadelphia on Sept. 26 and 27, 2015, to hold a public Mass, attracting hundreds of thousands of people during his biggest event in the United States.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

Two suspects charged in deadly Ohio nightclub shooting

The parking lot of Cameo Nightlife club remains empty after police removed barrier tape from the scene of a mass shooting in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Caleb Hughes

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) – Ohio police have identified two suspects in a shooting at a Cincinnati night club over the weekend in which one person was killed and 16 injured, authorities said on Thursday.

One of the suspects, Cornell Beckley, 27, was arrested on Thursday and charged with murder, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said at a press conference.

A second suspect, 29-year-old Deondre Davis, who is in critical condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center after being shot in the early Sunday incident, has also been charged with murder, said Isaac.

Isaac said he expects more arrests. Officials previously said a lack of security video footage at Cameo Nightlife, despite its history of violence, hampered the probe.

Officials have said a fight that spun out of control led to the shooting and that there was no evidence of a “terrorist attack” such as last year’s Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Isaac said there could be a third shooter from the Ohio nightclub, citing a belief by police that three guns were brought into the nightclub. Investigators have found at least 16 shell casings at the scene, he added.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley called the incident the worst mass shooting in the city’s history and hailed the arrests.

Four police officers were providing security in the club’s parking lot when the shots were fired.

Cameo Nightlife’s Facebook page says it features “College Friday’s” for students 18 and older and “Saturday’s 21+ grown and sexy night.”

Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black previously said the club had surrendered its liquor licence and would be closed until the investigation is complete. The club, a large single-story structure, is a 7-mile (11 km) drive from downtown Cincinnati.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer, Editing by Ben Klayman and Grant McCool)

Generation born under Putin finds its voice in Russian protests

FILE PHOTO: Riot police officers detain an opposition supporter during a rally in Moscow, Russia March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

By Denis Pinchuk and Svetlana Reiter

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Protests across Russia on Sunday marked the coming of age of a new adversary for the Kremlin: a generation of young people driven not by the need for stability that preoccupies their parents but by a yearning for change.

Thousands of people took to the streets across Russia, with hundreds arrested. Many were teenagers who cannot remember a time before Vladimir Putin took power 17 years ago.

“I’ve lived all my life under Putin,” said Matvei, a 17-year-old from Moscow, who said he came close to being detained at the protest on Sunday, but managed to run from the police.

“We need to move forward, not constantly refer to the past.”

A year before Putin is expected to seek a fourth term, the protests were the biggest since the last presidential election in 2012.

The driving force behind the protests was Alexei Navalny, a 40-year-old anti-corruption campaigner who uses the Internet to spread his message, bypassing the state-controlled television stations where nearly all older Russians get their news.

“None of my peers watches television and they don’t trust it,” said Maxim, an 18-year-old from St Petersburg who took part in a protest there.

He said messages about the demonstration were shared among his friends via a group chat on a messaging app: “Half the group went to the demonstration.”

Navalny, who was arrested at one of Sunday’s protests, tailors his message for YouTube and VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook.

One of his recent videos, a 50 minute expose accusing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of secretly owning an archipelago of luxury homes, has been watched more than 14 million times on YouTube. Medvedev’s spokeswoman called the allegations “propagandistic attacks” unworthy of detailed comment and said they amounted to pre-election posturing by Navalny.

While older Russians may have turned a blind eye to official corruption during years when living standards improved, younger Russians speak of it in terms of moral outrage.

“Why do I believe that what is happening right now is wrong? Because when I was little, my mum read fairy tales to me, and they said you should not steal, you should not lie, you should not kill,” said Katya, a 17-year-old who was at the protest in Moscow. “What I see happening now, you should not do,” she said.

Like other students who spoke to Reuters at the demonstrations, Katya, Maxim and Matvei asked that their surnames not be published to avoid repercussions.

SOCIAL CONTRACT

Young people actively seeking change represent a new challenge for the Kremlin. It has built and maintained support for Putin for years by focusing mainly on ensuring stability, which Russians sought after the chaos of the immediate post-Soviet years.

Putin came to power after the 1990s, when the Soviet Union disintegrated and millions found themselves destitute. But young people who do not remember those times have different priorities than those even a few years older, said Yekaterina Schulmann, a political analyst.

“Our political regime is fixated on what it calls stability, that is a lack of change,” she said. “The political machine believes the best offer it can make to society is ‘Let’s keep everything the way it is for as long as possible’.”

“Young people need a model of the future, clear prospects, rules of the game which they recognize as fair, and … a social leg-up. Not only do they not see any of that, no one is even talking about it,” said Schulmann.

According to user data compiled from a social media page for people who said they planned to attend Sunday’s protest in St Petersburg, more than one in six were aged under 21.

It is still too early to say whether the new phenomenon will emerge as a serious challenge to Putin’s rule. It could be a burst of youthful idealism that fizzles out.

In any case, opinion polls show that Putin will win comfortably if, as most people expect, he runs for president next year.

His most serious rival for the presidency, Navalny, trails far behind in polls and could be barred from running because of an old criminal conviction which he says is political.

Still, the involvement of so many young people has forced the Russian authorities to pay attention.

A Kremlin spokesman said youngsters had been offered money by protest organizers to show up. The Kremlin offered no evidence to support this allegation, and none of the young people who spoke to Reuters said they had been offered payment.

Several students said school and university authorities had warned them before the protests they could be punished for taking part.

Pavel, a 20-year-old studying to be a veterinarian who attended a protest in Moscow, said it was worth it to risk some of Russia’s stability in the hope of change.

“Yes, maybe it will be negative; yes, maybe there won’t be the stability that we have now. But for a person in the 21st century it’s shameful to live in the kind of stability we have now.”

(Additional reporting by Natalia Shurmina in Yekaterinburg, Russia; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Peter Graff)

U.S.-Israeli teen arrested in Israel for Jewish center bomb threats

U.S.-Israeli teen (2ndL) arrested in Israel on suspicion of making bomb threats against Jewish community centres in the United States, Australia and New Zealand over the past three months, is seen before the start of a remand hearing at Magistrate's Court in Rishon Lezion, Israel March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

By Jeffrey Heller and Joseph Ax

JERUSALEM/NEW YORK (Reuters) – A teenager with dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship was arrested in Israel on Thursday on suspicion of making dozens of hoax bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

The suspect, whose identity remains sealed pursuant to a court order, is 18, Jewish and a dual U.S.-Israeli national, a police spokesman said.

The teenager’s alleged motives were not immediately clear.

At a court hearing near Tel Aviv, the suspect’s defense attorney, Galit Bash, said the young man has a growth in his head that causes behavioral problems. She later told Reuters he has a brain tumor, which “may affect his behavior, his ability to understand right and wrong,” and said the teen’s father had also been held in connection with the case.

U.S. federal authorities have been investigating a surge of threats against Jewish organizations, including more than 100 bomb threats in separate waves over the past three months targeting Jewish community centers (JCCs) in dozens of states.

The threats prompted criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump for what some Jewish groups saw as an inadequate response from his administration. He condemned the incidents in a major speech to Congress in February.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday said the arrest reflected the government’s determination to prosecute those who perpetrate hate crimes.

“… we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in this country on the basis of their religious beliefs,” Sessions said in a statement.

Israeli police said the teenager is believed to be responsible for most of the threats, though the precise number was not immediately clear.

The suspect, who is accused of targeting centers in Australia and New Zealand as well as the United States, began making the calls in January using advanced masking technologies to hide his identity, police said.

Authorities also said he was responsible for a previous bomb threat against a Delta Airlines flight in January 2015 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which took part in the probe, confirmed the arrest but declined to offer further details.

The threats forced the evacuation of many JCCs, including some with day care and school facilities for infants and young children. Coupled with other incidents such as the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, they have stoked fears of a resurgence in anti-Semitism in the United States.

In a statement, the president of the JCC Association of North America said JCC leaders were “troubled” the teenager appears to be Jewish.

The Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism in the United States, said the alleged perpetrator’s actions mattered more than his background.

“While the details of this crime remain unclear, the impact of this individual’s actions is crystal clear: these were acts of anti-Semitism,” the organization said in a statement.

Bash said her client was home-schooled and incapable of holding down a job. She added he had been found medically unfit for Israel’s compulsory military service.

A judge ruled that he be held for at least eight more days.

U.S. authorities previously made one other arrest in connection with the threats. Juan Thompson, a former journalist from St. Louis, is accused of making several threats to Jewish organizations while posing as an ex-girlfriend as part of a revenge plot against her.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem and Joseph Ax in New York; Additional reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Baz Ratner and Rami Amichay in Rishon Lezion; Editing by Daniel Wallis and James Dalgleish)