FBI needs to do more to fight domestic extremist threats, watchdog says

By Andy Sullivan and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The FBI has not done enough to fight homegrown extremist threats and has yet to figure out how to determine whether people it investigates who have mental health issues pose an actual threat to national security, the U.S. Justice Department’s internal watchdog said on Wednesday.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz also found that the FBI did not follow up on some cases that had been flagged as potential threats.

The report found shortcomings in the FBI’s efforts to prevent mass attacks by U.S. residents who have been inspired by international militant groups like Islamic State and al Qaeda, which the agency says its highest counterterrorism priority.

The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

So-called homegrown violent extremists have carried out more than 20 attacks in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001 – some perpetrated by people the FBI had already investigated.

Horowitz found that the FBI conducted reviews after those attacks to find out what it had missed, but didn’t make sure that agents followed through with its proposed improvements.

The FBI concluded in 2017 that it should have conducted about 6 percent of its counterterrorism assessments more thoroughly. But the agency did not re-examine nearly half of those cases for 18 months, Horowitz wrote.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

FBI points to China as biggest U.S. law-enforcement threat

By Mark Hosenball and David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The FBI on Thursday identified China as the biggest law enforcement threat to the United States, and its director said Beijing was seeking to steal American technology by “any means necessary.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray told a conference the bureau currently had about 1,000 investigations open into Chinese technology theft across its 56 regional offices.

FBI counterintelligence chief John Brown said the bureau arrested 24 people in 2019 in China-related cases and had already arrested 19 people in 2020.

He told the conference at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) that the FBI believed “no country poses a greater threat than Communist China.”

Wray said the threat needed to be dealt with through action across the whole of the U.S. government.

“As I stand here talking with you today, the FBI has about 1,000 investigations involving China’s attempted theft of U.S.-based technology in all 56 of our field offices and spanning just about every industry sector,” he said.

Wray added that China was aggressively exploiting U.S. academic openness to steal technology, using “campus proxies” and establishing “institutes on our campuses.”

William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, told the conference China was placing particular priority on stealing U.S. aircraft and electric vehicle technology.In advance of Thursday’s event, Evanina estimated the theft of American trade secrets by China costs the United States “anywhere from $300 to $600 billion” a year.

The FBI data shows an aggressively stepped-up campaign by U.S. authorities to root out Chinese espionage operations pursuing American secrets. This has snared a growing group of Chinese government officials, business people, and academics.

In 2019 alone, public records show U.S. authorities arrested and expelled two Chinese diplomats who allegedly drove onto a military base in Virginia. They also caught and jailed former CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency officials on espionage charges linked to China.

China’s efforts to steal unclassified American technology, ranging from military secrets to medical research, have long been thought to be extensive and aggressive, but U.S. officials only launched a broad effort to stop alleged Chinese espionage in the United States in 2018.

CHINA SAYS CHARGES ‘ENTIRELY BASELESS’

The Chinese embassy in Washington rejected the U.S. allegations as “entirely baseless.”

“The people-to-people exchange between China and the US is conducive to stronger understanding between the two peoples and serves the fundamental interests of our two countries,” it said in an emailed statement.

According to CSIS, of 137 publicly reported instances of Chinese-linked espionage against the United States since 2000, 73% took place in the last decade,

The CSIS data, which excludes cases of intellectual property litigation and attempts to smuggle munitions or controlled technologies, shows that military and commercial technologies are the most common targets for theft.

In the area of medical research, of 180 investigations into misuse of National Institutes of Health funds, diversion of research intellectual property and inappropriate sharing of confidential information, more than 90% of the cases have links to China, according to an NIH spokeswoman.

One main reason Chinese espionage, including extensive hacking in cyberspace, has expanded is that “China depends on Western technology and as licit avenues are closed, they turn to espionage to get access,” said CSIS expert James Lewis.

In late January alone, federal prosecutors in Boston announced three new criminal cases involving industrial spying or stealing, including charges against a Harvard department chair.

Prosecutors said Harvard’s Charles Lieber lied to the Pentagon and the NIH about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Plan: a Chinese government program that offers mainly Chinese scientists working overseas lavish financial incentives to bring their expertise and knowledge back to China. They said he also lied about his affiliation with China’s Wuhan University of Technology.

During at least part of the time he was signed up with the Chinese university, Lieber was also a “principal investigator” working on at least six research projects funded by U.S. Defense Department agencies, court documents show.

A lawyer for Lieber did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball and David Brunnstrom; editing by Chris Sanders, Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

FBI investigating New Jersey kosher grocery rampage as domestic terrorism

By Maria Caspani

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A fatal gun rampage at a kosher grocery store in northern New Jersey this week is now being treated as an act of domestic terrorism and the FBI will oversee the investigation, federal and state law enforcement officials said on Thursday.

Six people, including the man and woman who carried out the attack, three civilians and a police officer died in a series of events that ended in a police shootout on Tuesday in Jersey City, New Jersey, located across the Hudson River from New York City.

“The evidence points toward acts of hate,” state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal told a news conference. “We are investigating this matter as potential acts of domestic terror, fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs.”

The U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Craig Carpenito, told the news conference that the Federal Bureau of Investigation would lead the probe.

The four-hour gun battle at the JC Kosher Supermarket erupted after two assailants shot the police officer at a nearby cemetery and then fled in a white van. It ended after police crashed an armored vehicle through the wall of the market. Authorities on Wednesday said that the pair had targeted the kosher grocery store, heading there deliberately after leaving the cemetery.

On Thursday, authorities said they were examining social media posts and other evidence to learn more about the motives of the attackers, who they said had expressed interest in the Black Hebrew Israelites, a group unaffiliated with mainstream Judaism and some of whose offshoots the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as hate groups. Authorities have not established an official link between the shooters and the group, Grewal said.

The attackers appear to have acted alone, officials said.

Authorities on Wednesday identified the shooters as David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50. The three civilian victims inside the market were co-owner Mindy Ferencz, 31, Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49, and Moshe Deutsch, 24, they said.

A fourth person who was in the market escaped after the shooters entered. Officials declined to identify that person.

The slain police officer was identified as Joseph Seals, a 15-year veteran of the force and father of five.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop labeled the incident a hate crime just hours after the attack.

“I think as more info comes out it will be more and more clear not only that this was a hate crime but that the perpetrators had hoped to kill many more people than 4,” Fulop said on Twitter earlier.

Law enforcement recovered five guns linked to the two suspects, Grewal said. Four of them were recovered inside the kosher supermarket and one was recovered inside the van.

Officials said Anderson fired an AR-15-style weapon and Graham was armed with a 12-gauge shotgun as they entered the store. A 9mm Glock and 9mm semi-automatic firearm were recovered inside the market, and a .22-caliber gun equipped with a homemade silencer was found inside the U-Haul.

Authorities also said they were working to determine if Anderson and Graham were linked to the killing of an Uber driver in Bayonne, New Jersey, over the weekend.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York; additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; editing by Scott Malone and Leslie Adler)

Mistakes, but no political bias in FBI probe of Trump campaign: watchdog

By Sarah N. Lynch, Andy Sullivan and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department’s internal watchdog said on Monday that it found numerous errors but no evidence of political bias by the FBI when it opened an investigation into contacts between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia in 2016.

The report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz gave ammunition to both Trump’s supporters and his Democratic critics in the debate about the legitimacy of an investigation that clouded the first two years of his presidency.

It will not be the last word on the subject.

Federal prosecutor John Durham, who is running a separate criminal investigation on the origins of the Russia probe, said he did not agree with some of the report’s conclusions.

Horowitz found that the FBI had a legal “authorized purpose” to ask for court approval to begin surveillance of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.

But he also found a total of 17 “basic and fundamental” errors and omissions in its applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) that made the case appear stronger than it was.

For example, the FBI continued to rely on information assembled by a former British intelligence officer named Christopher Steele in its warrant applications even after one of Steele’s sources told the agency that his statements had been mischaracterized or exaggerated.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a Republican, said that effectively turned the investigation into a “criminal enterprise” to defraud the court and violate Page’s rights.

“I don’t fault anybody for looking into allegations like this. I do fault them for lying and misrepresenting to the court,” said Graham, who will hold a hearing on Wednesday examining the report’s findings.

The report also singled out an FBI lawyer for altering an email in a renewal of the warrant application to claim that Page was not a source for another U.S. government agency, when in fact he did work from 2008 to 2013 with another agency that was not identified in the report. The lawyer, identified by Republicans as Kevin Clinesmith, did not respond to a request for comment.

Democrats said the report showed that there was no basis for Trump’s repeated charges that the FBI was trying to undermine his chances of winning the White House.

“This report conclusively debunks the baseless conspiracy that the investigations into Mr. Trump’s campaign and its ties to Russia originated with political bias,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said at a news conference.

Trump called the investigation a witch hunt and assailed FBI leaders and career staffers who worked on it.

“This was an attempted overthrow and a lot of people were in on it, and they got caught,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

The FBI investigation was taken over in May 2017 by former FBI chief Robert Mueller after Trump fired James Comey as the agency’s director.

“Those who attacked the FBI for two years should admit they were wrong,” Comey said in a Washington Post op-ed.

Mueller’s 22-month special counsel investigation detailed a Russian campaign of hacking and propaganda to sow discord in the United States and help Trump defeat Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Mueller documented numerous contacts between Trump campaign figures and Moscow but found insufficient evidence of a criminal conspiracy.

Attorney General William Barr, who ordered the Durham investigation, said the report showed that the FBI launched its investigation “on the thinnest of suspicions.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray said he had ordered dozens of revisions to fix problems highlighted in the report, such as changes to warrant applications and methods for dealing with informants. The FBI would review the conduct of employees mentioned in the report, he said.

Horowitz said his office on Monday began a new review to further scrutinize the FBI’s compliance with its own fact-checking policies used to get applications to surveil U.S. persons in counterterrorism investigations, as well as counterintelligence probes.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, Brad Heath and Andy Sullivan; Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Will Dunham, Jonathan Oatis, Grant McCool and Cynthia Osterman)

Attorney General Barr launches effort to prevent more mass shootings

Attorney General Barr launches effort to prevent more mass shootings
By Sarah N. Lynch and Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday announced an initiative to prevent mass shootings by intervening to provide mental-health treatment and other forms of counseling to potentially violent individuals.

The new effort, announced in a memo to federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials, follows dozens of deadly mass shootings in the United States this year, including a massacre of 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas and another just one day later in Dayton, Ohio, in which nine people were killed.

Barr said a training conference at FBI headquarters in December will present “proven models for engaging extremely challenging individuals” and consider new ideas to face such threats.

In one successful case, Barr said, the FBI worked with parents and social-service workers to get court-ordered supervision and mental-health treatment for a young person who was the subject of a threat investigation.

Lawmakers are considering whether they need new laws to help the FBI investigate domestic terrorism instigated by U.S. residents who are motivated by white supremacy, anti-Semitism or other ideologies that are protected by the U.S. Constitution’s free-speech guarantees.

The FBI in the past has come under criticism for how it documents and follows up on investigative leads about possible shooters.

In the wake of the Feb. 18 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, the FBI’s No. 2 official David Bowdich told Congress the bureau should have done more after it received warnings about the gunman, Nikolas Cruz.

Earlier this year, the FBI requested bids for a contractor who could help it try to detect national security threats by trawling through social media sites.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Andy Sullivan; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

FBI studies two broken cameras outside cell where Epstein died: source

FILE PHOTO: U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services' sex offender registry March 28, 2017 and obtained by Reuters July 10, 2019. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Handout/File Photo via REUTERS

By Mark Hosenball

(Reuters) – Two cameras that malfunctioned outside the jail cell where financier Jeffrey Epstein died as he awaited trial on sex-trafficking charges have been sent to an FBI crime lab for examination, a law enforcement source told Reuters.

Epstein’s lawyers Reid Weingarten and Martin Weinberg told U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan on Tuesday they had doubts about the New York City chief medical examiner’s conclusion that their client killed himself.

The two cameras were within view of the Manhattan jail cell where he was found dead on Aug. 10. A source earlier told Reuters two jail guards failed to follow a procedure overnight to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes.

He had been taken off suicide watch prior to his death.

The cameras were sent to Quantico, Virginia, site of a major FBI crime lab where agents and forensic scientists analyze evidence.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that at least one camera in the hallway outside Epstein’s cell had footage that was unusable. The newspaper said there was other usable footage captured in the area.

The U.S. Justice Department declined comment. The FBI and Federal Bureau of Prisons did not respond to requests for comment. All are investigating his death. Lawyers for Epstein also did not respond to requests for comment.

Epstein, a wealthy 66-year-old money manager who once counted U.S. President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew as friends, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges involving dozens of girls as young as 14.

At Tuesday’s court hearing, 16 women said Epstein had sexually abused them, with some lamenting that his death deprived them of the opportunity to obtain justice.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball in London; Writing by Nathan Layne; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Howard Goller)

Florida trucker arrested, charged with plotting church shooting: prosecutors

Police Lights

(Reuters) – Federal authorities said they have arrested a Florida truck driver who “was thinking about shooting up a church” in Memphis this week, making him at least the fourth person this month charged with plotting a mass shooting.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Thomas McVicker, 38, in Indianapolis on Monday after a friend in Alabama alerted agents to text messages he sent in which he described his plans for a mass shooting and suicide, according to court papers.

McVicker, who is from Punta Gorda but lives in his truck, is under treatment and is on medication for schizophrenia, according to his mother, FBI Special Agent Ketrick Kelley said in an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Alabama.

It was not immediately clear if McVicker had an attorney.

The alleged mass shooting, which Kelley said McVicker appeared to be planning to carry out on Thursday, comes after law enforcement authorities in Ohio, Florida and Connecticut said they arrested three men who planned mass shootings.

Since July 28, shooting sprees in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, killed 34 people.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)

New York coroner ‘confident’ Epstein’s death was suicide: New York Times

An exterior view of the Metropolitan Correctional Center jail where financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., August 10, 2019. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

(Reuters) – New York City’s chief medical examiner is confident Jeffrey Epstein died by hanging himself in the jail cell where he was being held without bail on sex-trafficking charges, but is awaiting more information before releasing her determination, the New York Times reported on Sunday, citing a city official.

An autopsy was performed earlier in the day on the disgraced financier found unresponsive on Saturday in a New York City jail, chief medical examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said. A private pathologist observed the autopsy on behalf of Epstein’s representatives, which she called “routine practice.”

A determination on the cause of death “is pending further information at this time,” Sampson said in a statement.

The suspicion in Epstein’s death was hanging, said a city official not authorized to speak on the record.

The Times did not say why it could not identify the source of information on the medical examiner’s likely determination of the cause of death.

Epstein, 66, was not on suicide watch at the time in his cell in the Special Housing Unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), a source said.

Epstein, a well-connected money manager, was found hanging by his neck, according to the source, who was not authorized to speak on the record.

The wealthy financier, who once counted Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic former President Bill Clinton as friends, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls as young as 14, from at least 2002 to 2005.

The FBI and the Department of Justice’s Inspector General opened investigations into his suicide while he was in federal custody.

Last month, Epstein was found unconscious on the floor of his jail cell with marks on his neck, and officials were investigating that incident as a possible suicide or assault.

Despite that incident, Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time of his death, and he was alone in a cell in the unit of the correctional center used to isolate vulnerable prisoners when his body was found.

It was not immediately clear why Epstein was taken off suicide watch, a special set of procedures for inmates who are deemed to be at risk of taking their own lives.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons, which operates the MCC, provided no explanation beyond its terse statement that Epstein was found dead in an apparent suicide.

His death touched off outrage from Attorney General William Barr, politicians and many of Epstein’s alleged victims, who fear that they may lose their day in court now that Epstein is dead.

That investigation into conduct described in the indictment, including the conspiracy count, will continue despite Epstein’s death, Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, said on Saturday.

The indictment – which accused Epstein of knowingly recruiting underage women to engage in sex acts, sometimes over a period of years – came more than a decade after he pleaded guilty in Florida to state charges of solicitation of prostitution from a minor in a deal with prosecutors that has been widely criticized as too lenient.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida; Editing by Frank McGurty and Bill Rigby)

Heading to El Paso, Trump nixes assault weapons ban, supports stronger background checks

A woman kneels at a memorial three days after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 6, 2019. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

By Nandita Bose and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump dismissed legislation to ban assault rifles as politically unfeasible on Wednesday as he prepared to visit the sites of two deadly mass shootings that shocked the country and drew criticism of his anti-immigrant rhetoric.

As he left the White House, Trump said he wanted to strengthen background checks for gun purchases and make sure mentally ill people did not carry guns. He predicted congressional support for those two measures but not for banning assault rifles.

“I can tell you that there is no political appetite for that at this moment,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “But I will certainly bring that up … There is a great appetite, and I mean a very strong appetite, for background checks.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he departs on travel to Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas following back-to-back mass shootings in the cities, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he departs on travel to Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas following back-to-back mass shootings in the cities, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The president faced an uncertain welcome on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio, where nine people and the suspect were killed in a rampage early on Sunday and in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed at a Walmart store on Saturday before the gunman was taken alive.

The back-to-back massacres, occurring 13 hours apart, have reopened the national debate over gun safety and led protesters in Dayton to heckle Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, at a vigil for the shooting victims with chants of “Do something!”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, said on Tuesday she would welcome the Republican president, who has said he wants to meet law enforcement, first responders and survivors.

But Whaley said she planned to tell Trump “how unhelpful he’s been” on the issue of gun violence, referring to the speech he gave on Monday focusing on mental health reform, tighter internet regulation and wider use of the death penalty.

Critics have said Trump stokes violence with racially incendiary rhetoric. The El Paso massacre is being investigated as a hate crime and the FBI said the Dayton shooter had explored violent ideologies.

Democrats accuse Trump of hiding behind talk of mental illness and the influence of social media rather than committing to laws they insist are needed to restrict gun ownership and the types of weapons that are legal.

In Iowa, Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden planned to say, “We have a president with a toxic tongue who has publicly and unapologetically embraced a political strategy of hate, racism, and division.”

In a sign of higher tensions after the shootings, a motorcycle backfiring on Tuesday night in New York’s Times Square sent crowds running for fear of another gun attack. “People are obviously very frightened,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told CNN.

Authorities in Texas have said they are investigating Saturday’s shooting spree in the predominantly Hispanic west Texas border city of El Paso as a hate crime and an act of domestic terrorism. They cited a racist manifesto posted online shortly before the shooting, which they attributed to the suspect.

An open letter to Trump on Wednesday in the El Paso Times described the border city as having “a deep tradition of racial harmony” whose people came together after the tragedy. It admonished Trump for calling El Paso one of the country’s most dangerous cities in his February State of the Union address.

“The violence that pierced El Paso, drawing you here today, is not of our own community,” wrote editor Tim Archuleta. “An outsider came here to shatter our city, to murder our neighbors. A white man from another Texas city came to target the more than 80% of us who share Hispanic roots.”

‘SINISTER IDEOLOGIES’

Trump, in his televised White House speech on Monday, condemned “sinister ideologies” and hate. His supporters say Democrats unfairly blame him for the behavior of criminals.

Democrats say Trump’s own anti-immigrant, racially charged language at rallies and on Twitter has done much to fan racist, white nationalist sentiments, creating a political climate more conducive to hate-based violence.

U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, a Democrat whose congressional district includes El Paso, declared that Trump “is not welcome here.”

Trump staged his first political rally of 2019 in El Paso in February.

She said on Twitter on Tuesday she declined a White House invitation to join Trump in El Paso after being told he was too busy to speak with her by phone in advance. “I refuse to be an accessory to his visit,” Escobar later told CNN.

Former Texas congressman and El Paso native Beto O’Rourke, who is seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, said Trump “helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible” and thus “has no place here.”

In an apparent answer to his criticism, Trump said on Twitter late on Tuesday O’Rourke “should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!”

Not everyone agreed that Trump should stay away.

“This is not a political visit,” El Paso Mayor Dee Margo told reporters. “He is president of the United States. So in that capacity, I will fulfill my obligations as mayor of El Paso to meet with the president and discuss whatever our needs are in this community.”

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Additional reporting by Rich McKay, Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu in Washingon, Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Paul Tait and Howard Goller)

FBI finds gunman in Dayton, Ohio, rampage was obsessed with violence

A Oregon District resident stands at a memorial for those killed during Sunday morning's a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, U.S. August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

By Matthew Lavietes and Steve Gorman

(Reuters) – The gunman who killed his sister and eight other people in Dayton, Ohio, before he was slain by police had a history of violent obsessions and previously mused about committing mass murder, an FBI official said on Tuesday.

FBI agent Todd Wickerham told a news conference two days after the massacre in the streets of Dayton’s historic downtown Oregon District that investigators have yet to conclude what motivated the killer or whether he may have had an accomplice.

Police said in the initial aftermath of Sunday morning’s bloodshed they believed the slain suspect, identified as 24-year-old Connor Betts, a white man from the Dayton suburb of Bellbrook, had acted alone.

The gunman, who was wearing body armor and a mask, opened fire with an assault-style rifle fitted with a high-capacity ammunition drum that could hold 100 rounds, police said. Authorities said officers patrolling the area arrived on the scene and shot the gunman dead 30 seconds after the violence began.

In addition to the nine people killed, including Betts’ sister, more than two dozen others were injured in the attack, which came 13 hours after a shooting spree that claimed 22 lives in El Paso, Texas.

“VIOLENT IDEOLOGIES”

The suspected assailant in Texas surrendered to police and has been charged with capital murder in what authorities are treating as a hate crime and act of domestic terrorism. Most of the victims were Hispanic.

Federal agents have found no clues suggesting the Dayton gunman was influenced by the rampage in El Paso, said Wickerham, the agent in charge of the FBI’s Cincinnati office.

However, he said, “The individual had a history of obsession with violent ideations, including mass shootings, and expressed a desire to commit a mass shooting.”

“We have uncovered evidence throughout the course of our investigation that the shooter was exploring violent ideologies,” Wickerham added.

Much remains unclear. The agent said investigators were seeking to determine what particular ideology may have influenced the gunman, “who, if anyone, helped him or had any advance knowledge of his intentions to conduct this attack, and why he committed this specific act of violence.”

Wickerham said nothing so far indicated the shooting spree was racially motivated, though six of the nine dead were African-American.

Authorities have said that Betts was known to have been a troubled youth in high school, at one point drawing up a “hit list” of students he wanted to kill or otherwise harm.

The Dayton Daily News, citing the recollections of former classmates, reported Betts had been suspended from high school, and detained by police, over the hit list. But Bellbrook police said it had no record of such an incident, the paper reported.

A former girlfriend of Betts, Adelia Johnson, told CNN that he had once shown her a video on his phone of a mass shooting.

“It wasn’t a red flag, which I know is weird to a lot of people, but given the context of him being a psychology student and fascinated in the psychology of these things, that’s what made it digestible,” Johnson told CNN.

“DO SOMETHING”

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, responding to mounting public pressure for action to curb gun violence, proposed a “red flag” law that would allow a judge to order firearms confiscated from any individual deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. Law enforcement and family members could petition the court for such an order.

“We have an obligation to each other,” DeWine, a Republican-backed by the National Rifle Association gun lobby, said at a news briefing. “If someone is showing signs of trouble or problems, we must help and we must not turn away.”

The governor was heckled on Sunday night as he spoke at a vigil for the victims of the rampage. Protesters repeatedly chanted “Do something!” a reference to perceived state and federal inaction to curb U.S. gun violence.

DeWine, who took office in January, previously expressed support for red flag laws after a deadly shooting at a California synagogue in April.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have red flag laws on the books, according to the gun-control advocacy group Giffords. Most are under majority Democratic governments. DeWine’s proposal could meet resistance in the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature.

In an address to the nation on Monday, President Donald Trump also backed laws to allow guns to be seized from dangerous individuals while calling for tighter monitoring of the internet, mental health reform and wider use of the death penalty in response to mass shootings.

The president confirmed on Tuesday that he planned to visit both Dayton and El Paso on Wednesday to meet with first responders, law enforcement officials and victims.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, said she would welcome the president but plans to tell Trump that his comments “weren’t very helpful to the issue around guns,” referring to his remarks on Monday about ways to curb gun violence.

(Reporting by Matthew Lavietes in New York and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Eric Beech in Washington and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Diane Craft and Leslie Adler)