Pittsburgh burying three more synagogue shooting victims

A hearse is parked outside the Berg Shalom Synagogue, where a funeral will be held for Joyce Feinberg, one of the victims in Saturday's synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. October 31, 2018. REUTERS/Jessica Resnick-Ault

By Jessica Resnick-Ault and Chriss Swaney

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) – Pittsburgh began holding three more funerals on Wednesday for Jewish victims of a shooting rampage at a synagogue that has become the focus of a fierce political debate about white nationalism and anti-Semitism ahead of hotly contested U.S. congressional elections next week.

Eleven worshipers were gunned down on Saturday morning by a man who stormed into the Tree of Life Synagogue and opened fire, yelling anti-Semitic statements including: “All Jews must die.” It was believed to be the deadliest attack on Jews in the United States in recent history.

Funerals were being held on Wednesday for Melvin Wax, 88, who was leading Sabbath services when the attack began; retired real estate agent Irving Younger, 69; and retired university researcher Joyce Fienberg, 75.

Mourners began showing up hours before Fienberg’s midmorning funeral at the Beth Shalom Synagogue as police blocked off surrounding streets.

The aftermath of the tragedy still pervaded life in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the synagogue is located.

In coffee shops, customers talked about the victims they knew. In the street, friends embraced and comforted one another during the period of raw grief.

The synagogue attack has heightened a national debate over Republican U.S. President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, which critics say has contributed to a surge in white-nationalist and neo-Nazi activity. His administration denies he has encouraged far-right extremism and is instead attempting to unify America.

Amid the first funerals for victims on Tuesday, Trump visited Tree of Life.

Thousands protested his presence in the city, accusing him of using rhetoric that has fueled anti-Semitism in America.

Several thousand protesters, an ethnically mixed crowd of all ages, held an anti-Trump rally about a block away from the synagogue just as his visit began, singing Old Testament psalms and carrying signs with such slogans as: “We build bridges not walls.”

Trump made no public comments during his visit but wrote on Twitter on Wednesday morning that his office had been “shown great respect on a very sad and solemn day” in Pittsburgh.

“Small protest was not seen by us, staged far away,” he tweeted. “The Fake News stories were just the opposite-Disgraceful!”

More than 1,800 people paid their respects on Tuesday at Rodef Shalom, another synagogue in Squirrel Hill, the heart of the city’s Jewish community.

Trump’s visit to Pennsylvania’s second largest city came seven days before elections that will determine whether his Republican Party maintains control of both houses of Congress or whether the Democrats seize a majority in one chamber or both.

The accused gunman in the synagogue attack, Robert Bowers, was charged on Monday with 29 federal felony counts including hate crimes.

Four days after the attack, nerves in Squirrel Hill were still frayed. A public school was placed on lockdown following an unsubstantiated report that someone had brought a gun onto campus, police said. The lockdown ended after police found no weapons.

Jodi Smith, a Pittsburgh native, joined mourners ahead of the Wax funeral at the Ralph Schugar Chapel and remembered him as a “very polite, gentle man.”

“I could have claimed him as a father,” Smith said. “He was always at the synagogue, always helping out. The synagogue had been his life since his wife passed away a few years ago.”

Fienberg spent 25 years as a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center until she retired in 2008.

“She was an engaging, elegant, and warm person,” the center said on Facebook.

Younger, whose funeral is being held at Rodef Shalom, was remembered as a doting grandfather.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by John Stonestreet and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Saudi Arabia rejects Iranian allegations it backed parade attack

A general view shows an attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, Iran, in this September 22, 2018 photo by ISNA. The photo is watermarked from source. ISNA/Iranian Students' News Agency/Social Media/via REUTERS

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has rejected Iranian allegations that the kingdom backed the gunmen who killed 25 people at a military parade in Iran, almost half of them Revolutionary Guards, the Saudi state news agency reported on Tuesday.

“Saudi Arabia rejects and condemns the false accusations that Iranian officials have made about Saudi Arabia supporting the events that took place in Iran last Saturday,” the agency quoted a foreign ministry official as saying.

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Mark Heinrich; Writing by Michael Georgy)

Iran warns U.S., Israel of revenge after parade attack

A general view shows an attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, Iran, in this September 22, 2018 photo by ISNA. The photo is watermarked from source. ISNA/Iranian Students' News Agency/Social Media/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. MANDATORY CREDIT.

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

LONDON (Reuters) – Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday that the attackers who killed 25 people at a military parade were paid by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and that Iran would “severely punish” those behind the bloodshed.

The deputy head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards also accused the United States and Israeli of involvement in the attack and he said they should expect a devastating response from Tehran.

In the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz, thousands packed the streets to mourn the victims of Saturday’s assault, many chanting “Death to Israel and America”. Twelve members of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were among the 25 dead.

The coffins, wrapped in the flag of the Islamic Republic, were carried by the mourners. Many held pictures of a four-year old boy killed in the incident, one of the worst such attacks against Iran’s the most powerful military force.

Four assailants fired on a viewing stand in Ahvaz where Iranian officials had gathered to watch an annual parade marking the start of Iran’s 1980-88 war with Iraq.

“Based on reports, this cowardly act was done by people who the Americans come to help when they are trapped in Syria and Iraq, and are paid by Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” Khamenei said on his official website.

Guards Brigadier General Hossein Salami, in a speech broadcast on state TV, said: “You have seen our revenge before. You will see that our response will be crushing and devastating and you will regret what you have done,”

Tasnim new agency also quoted Salami as saying that the “horrific crime” exposed the dark side of an alliance that the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel had created to counter Iranian influence in the region.

The secretary of Iran’s National Security Council said Tehran needed to talk to its neighbors to avoid tensions.

“It’s essential to be fully aware and increase our constructive dialogues to neutralize the plots of enemies who want to create suspicion and disagreement among regional countries,” Ali Shamkhani said.

He also criticized the United States, saying U.S. sanctions against Iran were illegal and that President Donald Trump was using them as a tool for “personal revenge”.

ANTAGONIZE

The United Arab Emirates, a close ally of Saudi Arabia and Washington, rejected Iran’s allegations alluding to its involvement in the violence.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asked by a Fox News interviewer if the United States played any role in the attack, said: “When you have a security incident at home, blaming others is an enormous mistake.”

The loss of innocent lives was tragic, Pompeo added. There has been no reaction yet from Saudi Arabia or Israel.

Accusations against Gulf countries will almost certainly antagonize Iran’s regional foe Saudi Arabia. The oil super-powers are waging a war for influence across the Middle East, backing opposite sides in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.

It is, however, highly unlikely the Guards will strike any of its foes directly and risk sparking a regional conflict.

Analyst said the violence has led to a boost in domestic support for the Guards which they could use to silence their critics, who include pragmatic President Hassan Rouhani.

Rouhani engineered Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that ushered in a cautious detente with Washington before tensions flared anew with Trump’s decision in May to pull out of the accord and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

Iran’s Intelligence Minister, Mahmoud Alavi, said a network of suspects had already been arrested in connection with the attack, the judiciary’s news agency Mizan reported. He did not elaborate..

Ahvaz National Resistance, an Iranian ethnic Arab opposition movement which seeks a separate state in oil-rich Khuzestan province, and Islamic State have both claimed responsibility.

The Guard Corps was set up after the 1979 Islamic revolution to protect the Shi’ite clerical ruling system and revolutionary values. It answers to Ayatollah Khamenei and has an estimated 125,000-strong military with army, navy and air units.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Writing by Michael Georgy, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Islamic State claims shooting attack on Libyan oil firm: group’s news agency

Smoke rises form the headquarters of Libyan state oil firm National Oil Corporation (NOC) after three masked persons attacked it in Tripoli, Libya September 10, 2018. REUTERS/Hani Amara

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a shooting attack on the headquarters of Libyan state oil firm NOC in Tripoli, the jihadist group’s news agency said on Tuesday.

The attack on Monday killed two NOC staff and wounded 10, said officials, who had described the three shooters who were also killed as “Africans”.

The attack targeted the “economic interests of oppressing governments funding crusaders,” a statement carried on the militants’ Amaq news agency said.

It was the first attack of its kind against the leadership of Libya’s state oil industry.

The attack happened less than a week after a fragile truce halted fierce clashes between rival armed groups in Tripoli, the latest eruption of violence in Libya, which has been in turmoil since a 2011 uprising.

Armed groups regularly block oilfields to make demands but the NOC headquarters had so far been spared the violence engulfing the North African country.

(Reporting by Ahmed Tolba and Ulf LaessingWriting by Ulf Laessing, Editing by Mark Heinrich, William Maclean)

Trump pays tribute to 9/11 ‘true heroes’ in Pennsylvania memorial visit

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stand together at the Flight 93 National Memorial during the 17th annual September 11 observance at the memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Roberta Rampton

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday lauded the men and women of United Flight 93 for saving countless lives when they struggled with hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001 and called the field where the plane went down a monument to “American defiance.”

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hold hands and talk as they walk from the Marine One helicopter to Air Force One at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport prior to departing Johnstown, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hold hands and talk as they walk from the Marine One helicopter to Air Force One at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport prior to departing Johnstown, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Commemorating the 17th anniversary of the attacks that struck the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, Trump said the nation shared the grief of the family members whose loved ones were lost that day.

“We grieve together for every mother and father, sister and brother, son and daughter, who was stolen from us at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and here in this Pennsylvania field,” Trump said.

“We honor their sacrifice by pledging to never flinch in the face of evil and to do whatever it takes to keep America safe.”

Flight 93 was heading to San Francisco from Newark, New Jersey, when passengers stormed the plane’s cockpit and sought to take control from the hijackers, crashing in a field and preventing what was thought to be another planned target in Washington.

Family members of Flight 93, some of their voices breaking, read aloud the names of the 40 passengers and crew members who died. Memorial bells tolled.

Trump and his wife, Melania, traveled to the Flight 93 National Memorial from Washington and paused for a moment of reflection while overlooking the field where the plane crashed.

U.S. President Donald Trump andfirst lady Melania Trump walk at the Flight 93 National Memorial during the 17th annual September 11 observance at the memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Donald Trump andfirst lady Melania Trump walk at the Flight 93 National Memorial during the 17th annual September 11 observance at the memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“They boarded the plane as strangers and they entered eternity linked forever as true heroes,” Trump said of the passengers and crew.

“This field is now a monument to American defiance. This memorial is now a message to the world: America will never, ever submit to tyranny.”

Commemorations also took place in New York and Washington to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by al Qaeda, in which nearly 3,000 people were killed.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton,; Writing by Jeff Mason; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Gunman who killed five at Florida airport to get life in prison

FILE PHOTO: Esteban Santiago is taken from the Broward County main jail as he is transported to the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S. on January 9, 2017. Courtesy Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via REUTERS

By Bernie Woodall

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Reuters) – A U.S. veteran of the war in Iraq who killed five people during a shooting spree in the arrivals area of a Florida airport last year is due to be sentenced on Friday to life in a federal prison.

Esteban Santiago, 28, pleaded guilty in May to launching the attack near a baggage carousel at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Jan. 6, 2017.

Under a deal with prosecutors that was approved by a federal judge, he escaped the death penalty and will instead be sentenced to five consecutive life terms followed by 120 years in prison, without the right of appeal.

Santiago carried out the rampage after flying to Florida from his home in Anchorage, Alaska, then recovering a 9mm pistol and two ammunition clips from his checked baggage. In addition to killing five people, he wounded six others as he walked through the arrivals area, apparently opening fire at random, security camera footage showed.

After running out of bullets, he placed his weapon on the floor and surrendered to police.

A psychologist testified during a plea hearing in May that Santiago had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. The federal judge ruled in March 2017 that he was mentally fit to stand trial.

Santiago, who served in the Puerto Rico and Alaska National Guard, was deployed to Iraq from 2010 to 2011.

When U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom asked Santiago at the plea hearing why he carried out the attack, he replied: “I don’t know. I wasn’t thinking about it at the time … There were a lot of things going on in my mind, messages.”

Bloom will preside over Friday morning’s hearing in federal court in Miami, a Justice Department spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Editing by Daniel Wallis and XX)

Charlottesville mom keeps daughter’s cause alive a year after death

FILE PHOTO: A photograph of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer is seen amongst flowers left at the scene of the car attack on a group of counter-protesters that took her life during the "Unite the Right" rally as people continue to react to the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. on August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Justin Ide/File Photo

By Joseph Ax

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (Reuters) – Every few weeks, Susan Bro walks down 4th Street in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, until she gets to a brick wall covered in chalked messages like “Love over hate” and “Gone but not forgotten.”

“I come just to absorb the energy of the place,” Bro, 61, said on Tuesday as she stood on the block now named for her daughter, Heather Heyer, who was killed a year ago while marching against a white supremacist rally.

Since August 12, 2017, when James Fields rammed his car into counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heyer and injuring several others, Bro has channeled her rage and grief into spreading the same message that drew her daughter downtown that day.

Bro said she made a promise to her daughter at her funeral, when she saw her bruised, broken body for the first time and broke down in tears.

“I held her hand and said, ‘I’m going to make this count.'”

Heyer’s death capped a day of clashes after hundreds of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and others descended upon the city, drawing national attention to the “alt right” movement that had grown bolder since President Donald Trump’s election.

Trump faced intense criticism after the protests when he seemed to equate the white nationalists with the counter-protesters, saying there were “very fine people on both sides.”

Bro said she chose not to return several phone calls from the White House after learning of the president’s remarks.

As the city prepares for the first anniversary of the so-called “Unite the Right” rally, Bro is readying herself for another difficult milestone in a year full of painful moments without Heather.

“The ‘firsts’ are always hardest,” she said, her voice cracking. “I got through the others: Mother’s Day, her birthday, Christmas. This will be the last one.”

Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed during the August 2018 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, looks at the memorial and writings at the site where her daughter was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., July 31, 2018. Picture taken July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed during the August 2018 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, looks at the memorial and writings at the site where her daughter was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., July 31, 2018. Picture taken July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Bro said she would bring flowers to Heather Heyer Way on August 12 before speaking at an event to mark the anniversary.

Law enforcement agencies have made extensive plans to combat any potential violence, though the leader of last year’s gathering, local white nationalist Jason Kessler, failed to secure a permit for a sequel this year. Instead, he has obtained a permit to hold a rally in Washington outside the White House.

Before last summer, Bro, a former elementary schoolteacher, led a relatively quiet life, doing secretarial work and living in a modest trailer home about 30 minutes north of Charlottesville.

At Heyer’s memorial service, which drew nearly 2,000 mourners and was broadcast live on large screens, Bro said the national response to the tragedy was “just the beginning of Heather’s legacy.”

“They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well guess what? You just magnified her,” she said, drawing a standing ovation.

Within weeks of Heyer’s death, Bro created the Heather Heyer Foundation, in part to install a formal and legal structure to handle the hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds that poured in from sympathizers around the country.

Bro runs the foundation from her home and from an office at a Charlottesville law firm, filled with tributes to Heyer that she has received over the last year: a portrait painted by an artist, a humanitarian award given posthumously by the Muhammad Ali Center, notes written by Heyer’s friends at her memorial service.

The foundation has organized a scholarship program and is planning to launch a social justice youth program.

Bro found herself making appearances on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show and at MTV’s Video Music Awards. She acknowledged that the intense media attention has caused resentment among some activists in Charlottesville who feel the focus on Heyer, a white woman, has distracted from the racial issues at the core of the clashes.

It has been a bit of a balancing act, she said, to amplify Heyer’s message without making it seem as though her daughter was the only victim who mattered. She noted that violence against black people often does not generate the same level of interest and warned against the “white-centered” narrative that portrayed Heyer as a leader rather than simply one of many people who decided to march.

“The issues have not changed,” Bro said. “We still have police shootings, over-policing, a lack of affordable housing, the prison pipeline.”

A year after burying her daughter, Bro reflected on the activism that brought Heyer to the protests.

“The point of Heather’s death is that we have a responsibility to rise up to address that hate,” Bro said. “Don’t sit by and wring your hands.”

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

At least 15 killed as gunmen attack Afghan government building

An Afghan policeman inspects the site of an attack in Jalalabad, Afghanistan July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Parwiz

By Ahmad Sultan and Abdul Qadir Sediqi

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (Reuters) – At least 15 people were killed on Tuesday in Afghanistan’s eastern city of Jalalabad when gunmen stormed a government building, trapping dozens inside after a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance gate, officials and witnesses said.

The attack underlines the country’s dire security situation after 17 years of war, with Islamic State increasingly claiming attacks on civilian targets even as pressure builds for peace talks between the Western-backed government and the Taliban.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, though the Taliban issued a statement denying involvement.

After several hours during which intermittent gunfire and explosions could be heard, provincial government spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said the incident appeared to be over with two gunmen killed and much of the building destroyed.

He said at least 15 people had been killed and 15 wounded although the total may rise as rescue workers search the site. Sohrab Qaderi, a member of the local provincial council, said eight had been killed and as many as 30 wounded.

One witness, a passerby named Obaidullah, said the attack began when a black car with three occupants pulled up at the entrance to a building used by the department of refugee affairs and a gunman emerged, firing around him.

One attacker blew himself up at the gate and two gunmen entered the building, in an area close to shops and government offices, he added.

Minutes later, the car blew up, wounding people in the street, Obaidullah said.

“We saw several people wounded and helped to carry them away,” he added.

As security forces cordoned off the area, gunshots and what appeared to be hand grenade explosions could be heard as a cloud of black smoke drifted into the sky.

Sohrab Qaderi, a member of the local provincial council, said about 40 people appeared to have been caught inside the building, which caught fire early in the attack.

As the attack concluded, it was not immediately clear what had happened to them. Islamic State has claimed a number of recent attacks in the city.

Smoke rises from an area where explosions and gunshots were heard, in Jalalabad city, Afghanistan July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Parwiz

Smoke rises from an area where explosions and gunshots were heard, in Jalalabad city, Afghanistan July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Parwiz

Khogyani said the attack happened during a meeting with NGOs working on refugee-related issues. The head of the department and several other people were taken to safety, he said.

Although it is unclear whether there is any direct connection, Islamic State attacks have picked up as hopes for peace talks between the government and the Taliban have grown in the wake of last month’s three-day ceasefire.

The attacks have been concentrated in Jalalabad, the main city of Nangarhar province, on the border with Pakistan where Islamic State fighters first appeared toward the end of 2014.

The casualties add to a mounting toll in Afghanistan. In the western province of Farah, 11 people were killed when their bus was hit by a roadside bomb, officials said.

Also on Tuesday, unknown attackers seized 22 people from vehicles on a highway linking Kabul and Gardez, a key city in the eastern province of Paktia.

(Additional reporting by Rafiq Shirzad; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

Gunman angry at Maryland newspaper kills five in targeted attack

Law enforcement officials survey the scene after a gunman fired through a glass door at the Capital Gazette newspaper and sprayed the newsroom with gunfire, killing at least five people and injuring several others, in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

By Warren Strobel

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Reuters) – A man who had a long-running feud with an Annapolis newspaper blasted his way through its newsroom with a shotgun on Thursday, killing at least five people in one of the deadliest attacks recorded on a U.S. media outlet, authorities said.

The suspect fired through a glass door, looked for victims and then sprayed the newsroom of the Capital Gazette newspaper group in Annapolis with gunfire, police and a witness said.

Acting police chief of the Anne Arundel County Police Department William Krampf told a news conference that Capital Gazette assistant editor Rob Hiaasen, 59, was among the victims.

Wendi Winters, 65, Rebecca Smith, 34, Gerald Fischman, 61, and John McNamara were also killed, he said. Smith was a sales assistant and the others were journalists.

“This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette,” Krampf said. “This person was prepared to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm.”

The suspect is Jarrod Ramos, 38, of Laurel, the Capital Gazette and Baltimore Sun reported, citing law enforcement.

Anne Arundel County police said on Twitter that due to investigative reasons, they have not released the name of the suspect in custody, adding that as of Thursday evening, the suspect has not been booked.

Jarrod Ramos, suspected of killing five people at the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018 is seen in this 2013 Anne Arundel Police Department booking photo obtained from social media. Social media via REUTERS

Jarrod Ramos, suspected of killing five people at the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018 is seen in this 2013 Anne Arundel Police Department booking photo obtained from social media. Social media via REUTERS

In 2012, Ramos brought a defamation lawsuit against Eric Hartley, formerly a staff writer and columnist with publication The Capital, and Thomas Marquardt, then editor and publisher of The Capital, according to a court filing.

In 2015, Maryland’s second-highest court upheld a ruling in favor of the Capital Gazette and a former reporter who were accused by Ramos of defamation.

According to a legal document, the article contended that Ramos had harassed a woman on Facebook and that he had pleaded guilty to criminal harassment. The court agreed that the contents of the article were accurate and based on public records, the document showed.

Ramos said on Twitter that he had set up an account to defend himself, and wrote in his bio that he was suing people in Anne Arundel County and “making corpses of corrupt careers and corporate entities.”

‘A WAR ZONE’

Phil Davis, a Capital Gazette crime reporter, said he was hiding under his desk along with other newspaper employees when the shooter stopped firing, the Capital Gazette reported on its website.

The newsroom looked “like a war zone,” he told the Baltimore Sun, adding, “I don’t know why he stopped.”

“As much as I’m going to try to articulate how traumatizing it is to be hiding under your desk, you don’t know until you’re there and you feel helpless,” Davis said.

Police officers in the Maryland capital of Annapolis responded within a minute to a 911 call about a shooting in progress and apprehended the suspect who was hiding under a desk, authorities said.

Police are treating the shooting as a local incident, with no links to terrorism, a law enforcement source told Reuters. Krampf did not say why the gunman may have targeted the newspaper or its employees.

Special tactical police gather after a gunman opened fire at the Capital Gazette newspaper, killing at least five people and injuring several others in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Special tactical police gather after a gunman opened fire at the Capital Gazette newspaper, killing at least five people and injuring several others in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

When police found the suspect, his weapon was on the ground and “not in his immediate proximity,” Steve Schuh, Anne Arundel county executive, told cable news station CNN.

Police said they recovered what they thought might have been an explosive device but Krampf later said the suspect had smoke grenades. Investigators were in the process of securing his Maryland residence and obtaining search warrants, he said.

The suspect appeared to have damaged his fingertips to try to avoid detection and was refusing to cooperate with law enforcement, Baltimore TV station WJZ and other local media reported. Krampf did not comment on those reports.

Capital Gazette runs multiple newspapers out of its Annapolis office and the group includes one of the oldest newspapers in the United States, The Gazette, which traces its origins back to 1727.

The company, part of the Tronc Inc <TRNC.O> media group, publishes newspapers in and around Annapolis, home of the U.S. Naval Academy. The papers have thrived by focusing on local news in the shadows of two much larger competitors, the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun.

‘WE’RE PUTTING OUT A PAPER’

Law enforcement in Baltimore and New York City deployed extra officers to the offices of the New York Times and other major media outlets as a precaution, authorities said.

The shooting drew the attention of media groups, including Reporters Without Borders, which said it was deeply disturbed by the events in Annapolis.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said that U.S. President Donald Trump had been briefed on the shooting.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene,” Trump said in a tweet.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Twitter, “A violent attack on innocent journalists doing their job is an attack on every American.”

Jimmy DeButts, an editor at the Capital Gazette, tweeted that he was devastated, heartbroken and numb.

“I’m in no position to speak, just know @capgaznews reporters & editors give all they have every day. There are no 40 hour weeks, no big paydays – just a passion for telling stories from our community,” he wrote.

One of the group’s flagship papers, The Capital, plans to publish a Friday edition, several reporters with the group said. “I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow,” reporter Chase Cook wrote on Twitter a few hours after the shooting.

(Reporting by Warren Strobel; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Jeff Mason in Washington, Colleen Jenkins in North Carolina, Diana Kruzman, Tea Kvetenadze, Frank McGurty and Peter Szekely in New York, Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Richard Chang, Grant McCool, Toni Reinhold)

At least eight dead, explosives found in Texas school shooting: sheriff

First responders following a shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, May 18, 2018. Courtesy Harris County Sheriff's Office/via REUTERS

By Erwin Seba

SANTA FE, Texas (Reuters) – At least eight people died in a shooting at a Santa Fe, Texas, high school on Friday and police searching the building said they had taken into custody a student suspected of the attack and found explosives in the school building.

The sound of gunshots tore through the air at Santa Fe High School shortly before 8 a.m. CT (1300 GMT) on Friday, witnesses told local media, and live TV images showed lines of students evacuating the building while heavily armed police responded to the scene.

The incident was the latest in a long series of deadly shootings at U.S. schools. Seventeen teens and educators were shot dead at a Parkland, Florida, high school in February, a massacre that stirred the nation’s long-running debate over gun ownership.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said that eight to 10 people, both students and adults, died in the incident at the school about 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Houston.

“There is one person, a suspect, in custody and a second possible person of interest that is detained and being questioned,” Gonzalez said at a news conference.

Explosive devices had also been found at the school and off campus, Gonzalez tweeted. “Law enforcement is in the process of rendering them safe. School has been evacuated.”

The suspect is a 17-year-old male, a law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation, told Reuters.

At least nine people were taken to area hospitals for treatment, hospital officials said. The conditions of those people was not immediately clear. Gonzalez said a police officer was also being treated for injuries.

Sophomore Leila Butler told the local ABC affiliate that fire alarms went off at about 7:45 a.m. local time (1245 GMT) and students left their classrooms. She said some students believe they heard shots fired, and that she was sheltering with other students and teachers near campus.

‘WE ALL TOOK OFF’

A male student, who did not identify himself, described fleeing the scene in an interview with CBS affiliate KHOU.

“Three shots that I heard, so we all took off in the back and I tried to get into the trees, I didn’t want to be in sight. I heard four more shots, and then we jumped the fence to somebody’s house,” the student said.

Another sophomore, Dakota Shrader, told Fox 26 TV her 17-year-old girlfriend told her by phone that she was wounded but was recovering in a hospital. “My friend got injured,” said an emotional Shrader. “Her leg, she got shot in the leg.”

Dr. David Marshall, chief nursing officer at the University of Texas Medical Branch, said that the hospital was treating at least three patients – two adults and one person under 18. He said it was not immediately clear if that child was a student.

U.S. President Donald Trump called the latest school massacre heartbreaking.

“My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves and to others,” Trump said at the White House.

Days after the Parkland shooting, Trump said that elected officials should be ready to “fight” the powerful National Rifle Association lobby group. Early this month he embraced that group, telling its annual meeting in Dallas “your Second Amendment rights are under siege.”

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right to bear arms.

No major federal gun controls have been imposed since Parkland, though the administration is pursuing a proposed regulatory ban on “bump stocks,” which enable a semi-automatic rifle to fire a steady stream of bullets. The devices were used in an October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 59 people but have not played a role in other major U.S. mass shootings.

(Additional reporting by Ernest Scheyder and Liz Hampton in Houston, Gina Cherelus and Peter Szekely in New York and Mark Hosenball and Ian Simpson in Washington; Writing by Daniel Wallis and Scott Malone; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Susan Thomas)