U.S. grand jury accuses Amplify Energy of negligence in oil spill

(Reuters) -A federal grand jury has accused Amplify Energy Corp and two of its subsidiaries of illegally and negligently discharging oil during a pipeline break in California in October and failing to respond to alarms.

The Department of Justice said the indictment alleges that the companies, which own and operate the 17-mile (27 km) San Pedro Bay Pipeline, failed to properly respond to eight alarms over more than 13 hours on October 1-2.

The indictment also accuses Amplify and its Beta Operating Co LLC and San Pedro Bay Pipeline Co subsidiaries of shutting and restarting the pipeline five times after the first five alarms were triggered, sending oil flowing through the damaged pipeline for more than three hours.

Amplify said it investigated the pipeline but it was then not known to the crew that the leak detection system was malfunctioning.

The detection system was “wrongly signaling a potential leak at the platform where no leak could be detected by the platform personnel and where no leak was actually occurring,” it said in a statement.

The oil spill left fish dead, birds mired in petroleum and wetlands contaminated, in what local officials called an environmental catastrophe.

An estimated 25,000 gallons of crude oil were discharged from a point approximately 4.7 miles west of Huntington Beach from a crack in the 16-inch pipeline, the statement said.

An earlier report by the Associated Press showed how the spill was not investigated for nearly 10 hours.

(Reporting by Seher Dareen in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler and Stephen Coates)

One city ‘ready to explode’ as U.S. murder rates surge in pandemic

By Nathan Layne

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (Reuters) – Elijah Ross stood watch last Friday by the candles, flowers, liquor bottles and balloons at a memorial for his 31-year-old friend, Eric Ruise, among the latest victims of a murder spree gripping the city of Rochester, New York.

It had been two days since Ruise was gunned down in a barrage of bullets, from multiple shooters, outside a pharmacy. Ruise had been recently released from prison. He had committed, Ross said, to be a better father to his 10-year-old daughter, Jumyria.

“It makes no sense,” said Ross, 34, adding that no witnesses have stepped forward in the “broad daylight” murder. “This is the streets, the ‘hood.”

As Ross spoke, Jumyria’s mother picked up litter around the makeshift memorial. Such tributes have become a common sight in the poorer neighborhoods of Rochester, a city of 206,000 people in the northwestern part of the state. And the bloodshed in Rochester reflects a wave of violence in cities nationwide since last year.

With 34 homicides already this year, Rochester is on pace for a record-high 70 murders in 2021 – a per-capita rate that exceeds Chicago, one of America’s most violent large cities. Among cities with fewer than 500,000 people, Rochester saw the third-largest jump in its per-capita rate during the 12 months ending in April, according to americanviolence.org, a crime-mapping website led by Patrick Sharkey, a Princeton University sociology professor. Only New Orleans and Oakland saw bigger increases.

The rising violence in Rochester and nationally came as the coronavirus pandemic caused an economic crisis and the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police last summer ignited nationwide protests and undermined relations between police and communities.

The per-capita murder rate climbed 30 percent in 2020 among 34 major cities surveyed by Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. Murders in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago accounted for 40 percent of the 1,268 additional people killed in 2020, compared to the previous year, in the cities Rosenfeld studied.

In the first quarter of 2021, the research showed, the murder rate had declined from a peak the previous summer but was still up 24 percent over the first quarter of 2020. U.S. President Joe Biden pledged on Wednesday to go after the “merchants of death” who traffic illegal guns and to boost funding for local law enforcement nationwide.

The factors driving the violence are complex. Economic shocks such as the pandemic often spark a rise in crime. And some criminologists believe the national uprising over police killings of Black people, including Floyd, made residents of high-crime areas even less likely to assist police investigations, exacerbating a longstanding problem and emboldening violent criminals.

Rosenfeld said murders in the cities he studied peaked last summer as protests over Floyd’s killing raged and police departments nationwide came under intense public scrutiny. He believes, however, that this summer will be less deadly and noted that violent crime rates still remain well below a peak in the 1990s.

That’s little comfort right now in Rochester, where murders are still on the rise. Malik Evans, who this week defeated incumbent Mayor Lovely Warren in the Democratic primary, made combating gun violence a central campaign theme. In the heavily Democratic city, Evans is all but assured of winning the Nov. 2 general election.

Evans said the murder surge reflects rising problems with drug trafficking, criminal gangs and illegal firearms during the pandemic. While campaigning, he proposed naming a gun czar to work with federal officials to address the smuggling of guns into New York. He pointed to a 2016 state attorney general’s study that concluded three-fourths of seized guns came from other states.

“It’s a combustible fire that is getting ready to explode when you put all those things together,” Evans told Reuters shortly before his primary election victory, during a tour of Genesee Street, a thoroughfare and the site of many recent shootings.

The Rochester Police Department did not respond to questions about the causes of the rising homicide rate and its strategies to address the violence. The city’s police union, the Rochester Police Locust Club, said the department has only 12 investigators to pursue murder cases. Police data show that about two-thirds of this year’s cases remain open and unsolved.

‘PANDORA’S BOX’

Christopher Wood, 18, left a corner convenience store on June 12, walking with a 13-year-old boy down Genesee Street when they were both shot. Wood died. His companion, who has not been identified, survived.

Rochester Police have not disclosed any suspects or motives. The shooting illustrates troubling trends: Of the 186 shooting victims so far in 2021, nearly half were 25 years old or younger, and 90 percent were Black, police data show.

Wood’s sister, Shamarla Grice, told Reuters her brother had been devastated by the death of their mother in August from COVID-19. Afterward, he started hanging out with “older guys that were probably in gangs.”

Demond Meeks, a state lawmaker representing Rochester, said the city needs to provide better jobs for young people and to educate parents on signs that their children are involved with gangs.

“We do know that there is gang violence,” Meeks said at a gathering of 20 anti-violence advocates in a local park on June 16, following the Ruise shooting. “We have to come to grips with that.”

During the two-hour meeting, members of nonprofit organizations proposed violence prevention strategies including conflict-resolution training in schools and door-to-door canvassing in troubled neighborhoods. One man discussed his “Men Made Better” program to engage with young men through chess.

Midway through the meeting, Wanda Ridgeway of the nonprofit Rise Up Rochester slapped the table in disgust. She had just gotten a call about another shooting.

“I’m tired of our kids going around killing each other,” said John Rouse, 53, at the meeting. “It’s like Pandora’s box is open, and chaos is everywhere.”

‘WORSE THAN EVER’

Many community advocates in Rochester have called for better police protection while also demanding more accountability for police misconduct. It’s a delicate balance: Some worry efforts to rein in rogue officers may have the unintended consequences of restraining legitimate police work and empowering violent criminals.

The Ruise shooting occurred a few blocks from where Daniel Prude had an altercation with police in March 2020. Prude, who is Black, stopped breathing at the scene. He was revived but died a week later at a hospital.

The incident ignited protests and led to the resignation of Rochester’s police chief. Police body-camera footage released months later shows Prude naked and facedown in the street. Officers put a hood over his head after Prude, apparently suffering a mental crisis, said he had contracted COVID-19.

A grand jury earlier this year voted not to indict the officers involved. The outpouring of anger over the incident has sparked new efforts to combat police misconduct, including a $5 million city grant to hire 50 employees to investigate allegations against officers.

Rochester police did not respond to questions about efforts to prevent police misconduct.

Many community leaders cheered the extra scrutiny on the department. Clay Harris isn’t among them. He’s the founder of Uniting and Healing Through Hope of Monroe County, a local advocacy group focusing on violence. He said he’d rather see that $5 million spent on more officers to fight violent crime, which he attributes to a breakdown of families and an abandonment of Christian faith.

“They are not the problem,” said Harris, who is Black, of the city’s police force. “We are the problem as citizens.”

One evening last week, Retha Rogers and other members of anti-violence groups toured the neighborhood where her son was fatally shot in 2009.

“Every time that I hear that someone has been shot, it brings back memories of my son, and my heart goes out to the mothers,” Rogers said as she handed out flyers seeking information about her son, Michael Washington, Jr. “It’s worse than ever.”

At about the time Rogers’ group ended its meeting in prayer, police rushed to the scene of yet another murder across town. Brandon McClary, 22, had been gunned down by multiple shooters on Genesee Street.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Rochester, New York; additional reporting by Hussein Waaile and Lindsay DeDario in Rochester; editing by Brian Thevenot)

New York grand jury votes not to indict police officers for Daniel Prude death

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A grand jury in New York state voted not to indict police officers for the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died of asphyxiation while in police custody in March 2020 in the city of Rochester, state Attorney General Letitia James said on Tuesday.

Prude’s family obtained body-worn camera footage of Prude’s death that showed him naked in a dark, snowy street, a so-called mesh “spit hood” placed over his head after he told officers he had contracted the novel coronavirus. The video also shows him being restrained against the ground by police.

The footage was released in September, further fueling ongoing nationwide protests against police violence following other high-profile episodes in 2020 where police killed Black men and women.

James said her office had hoped to secure indictments in the death of Prude, a 41-year-old father of five children who lived in Chicago.

“I know that the Prude family, the Rochester community and communities across the country will rightfully be disappointed this outcome,” James said at a news conference in Rochester, a city in upstate New York.

A lawyer for Prude’s family, the Rochester mayor’s office and the Rochester Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Prude had visited his brother and ran out of the house in the middle of the night, prompting the brother to call the police, concerned for Prude’s mental health.

Police officers found Prude naked, approached him with a stun-gun and told him to put his hands behind his back so they could handcuff him, which Prude did, according to a report by James’ office.

Soon after the video emerged last September, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired Police Chief La’Ron Singletary. Seven police officers involved in the arrest were suspended.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker)

Grand jury drops case against Buffalo, New York officers who shoved elderly man

(Reuters) – A grand jury has declined to indict two Buffalo, New York police officers who shoved an elderly man to the ground at a protest last June that was widely seen on video during a national wave of demonstrations for racial justice.

The two officers, Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe, were arraigned on felony assault charges two days after the June 4 incident outside City Hall in which local rights activist Martin Gugino, then 75, was shoved, fell and hit his head.

But Erie County District Attorney John Flynn Jr. said on Thursday that a grand jury had dismissed the case.

“We have a system in place here where society makes those decisions, not one person,” Flynn told a press conference. “And that’s the way it should be, and that’s the way it was.”

Flynn said he was duty-bound to charge the officers with felony assault – even though he did not believe their actions “rose to the level of a felony” – because of a state law that protects people 65 and older from attacks by those at least 10 years younger.

Saying he expected to be criticized for the grand jury’s decision, Flynn insisted he made a forceful case but declined to elaborate about the panel’s proceedings, which are secret.

The video, shot by a local reporter and seen by tens of millions of people on the Internet, shows Torgalski pushing Gugino before he fell and McCabe about to kneel toward the man sprawled on the sidewalk before being moved along by a supervisor.

Gugino, who had approached the officers during a protest for racial justice after a curfew had been imposed, was rushed to a hospital with a critical head injury, from which he recovered.

The officers, both members of a police tactical unit, were initially suspended without pay. But they were back on the payroll 30 days later and the incident will now be the focus of an internal affairs investigation, the Buffalo News reported.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Grand jury indicts six men for Michigan governor kidnap plot

By Jonathan Allen

(Reuters) – Six men facing charges of plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer were indicted by a grand jury this week, the U.S. attorney’s office for western Michigan said on Thursday.

The men — Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta — were arrested and charged in October with conspiring to grab Whitmer, a Democrat, from her vacation home earlier this year.

Some of the men belong to an anti-government militia group called Wolverine Watchmen. At least one of the defendants, Fox, considered Whitmer to be a sort of tyrant because she had ordered gyms closed in the state to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to prosecutors.

Obtaining the grand jury indictments, which came down on Wednesday, was a necessary step to proceed with the federal prosecutions, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

Parker Douglas, a lawyer representing Harris, said Harris had pleaded not guilty because “there was no actual conspiracy to kidnap Governor Whitmer.”

“As you can see from the indictment, the government is extremely vague regarding the alleged conspiracy’s nature, the alleged conspiracy’s object and any steps my client allegedly took to agree with the conspiracy,” Douglas wrote in an email.

Lawyers for the other defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

If convicted at trial, the defendants, who are in jail after being denied bail, would face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The indictment accuses the men of discussing kidnapping Whitmer, meeting in July in Wisconsin to practice using assault rifles, and surveilling Whitmer’s vacation home in August and September, mapping out how far it was from the nearest police station.

Some of the men also bought supplies for kidnapping, the indictment said. In September, Fox bought a Taser-style stun gun and placed a $4,000 order for explosives with someone he did not realize was, in fact, an undercover agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Kentucky court releases recording of Breonna Taylor grand jury proceedings

By Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) – Kentucky’s attorney general on Friday released audio recordings of the grand jury proceedings that cleared three policemen of homicide charges in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor.

The release offers a rare peek at the inner workings of a grand jury, which is normally kept secret, in a case that has captured national attention and prompted street protests in the debate over racism and police use of force.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed 14 audio files of grand jury testimony with the Jefferson County Circuit Court Clerk. He had previously said there were more than 20 hours of proceedings, and Reuters has begun to review them.

Cameron served as special prosecutor in the Taylor case. Acting on his recommendation, the grand jury last week cleared two white officers of homicide and charged a third with wanton endangerment for stray bullets that hit a neighboring apartment in the March 13 shooting that led to the death of Taylor.

Cameron had revealed in a Louisville television interview on Tuesday that he recommended only the one endangerment charge that was returned, saying the grand jury had the responsibility to bring additional charges if it believed they were warranted.

Prosecutors have wide leeway in how to present evidence to a grand jury, which then decides whether to bring charges. Nine of the 12 grand jurors must agree on a charge in order to return an indictment.

Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes have supported street protests calling for the arrest of the officers and demanding justice for Taylor, 26, a Black emergency medical technician.

As the raid unfolded, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired once at what he said he believed was a criminal intrusion, wounding one officer. Three officers then shot 32 rounds, six of which hit Taylor, killing her.

The Taylor family has won a $12 million wrongful death settlement from the city of Louisville but still asked for the evidence to be made public, questioning whether Cameron sought to shield the officers from criminal liability.

The Kentucky governor, Louisville’s mayor and even a member of the grand jury itself had called for the proceedings to be released, increasing the pressure on Cameron, a Black Republican whom President Donald Trump has praised as a rising star in the party.

In the end, it was the judge overseeing the criminal case of the officer charged with wanton endangerment who ordered the recordings to be entered in the court file, making them public.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Dan Grebler and Aurora Ellis)

A ghostly downtown Louisville braces for Breonna Taylor grand jury decision

By Bryan Woolston and Jonathan Allen

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) – The police department in Louisville, Kentucky, was restricting vehicle access downtown on Tuesday ahead of an expected decision by a grand jury on whether to indict the police officers involved in killing Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker, in a botched raid.

Although the timing of any decision remains unclear, on Tuesday morning courthouses, offices and restaurants were already boarded up in the mostly deserted blocks around the city’s Jefferson Square Park, the site of regular demonstrations by people protesting police brutality against Black people.

Concrete barriers ringed the area, with a handful of checkpoints manned by police who would only allow people with essential business to drive downtown. Pedestrians were free to walk the streets, but few did.

Taylor, 26, was killed shortly after midnight on March 13 when three plainclothes officers used a battering ram to force their way in to her Louisville home with a so-called no knock warrant. Fearing intruders, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a gun. The three officers fired their guns, striking Taylor five times.

Taylor’s death, alongside that of George Floyd, a Black man who died in May after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, helped spark a nationwide wave of protests demanding racial justice and an end to the use of excessive force by law enforcement.

The Louisville Metro Police Department on Tuesday declared a state of emergency for its staff, cancelling days off and suspending some overtime pay agreements, according to a memo by Robert Schroeder, the interim police chief, published by local media.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Black Republican, has said his investigation into Taylor’s death is ongoing, but has declined to confirm media reports that he is convening a grand jury to vote on whether to bring criminal charges against the officers.

Mayor Greg Fischer, a white Democrat, said his office does not know when a decision will come down or what it will be, but said in a statement on Tuesday the traffic restrictions were to “keep everyone safe.”

“Our goal with these steps is ensuring space and opportunity for potential protesters to gather and express their First Amendment rights,” his statement said.

The city’s main federal courthouse has also been closed all week in an order by Chief Judge Greg Stivers of the Western District of Kentucky.

(Reporting by Bryan Woolston in Louisville, Ky., and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Los Angeles bishop resigns over sex abuse as crisis spreads

FILE PHOTO: Protesters hold signs outside the venue of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) general assembly in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., November 12, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a bishop in Los Angeles accused of sexually abusing a minor, the Vatican said on Wednesday, in the latest case of clergy misconduct to shake the U.S. Catholic Church.

A brief Vatican statement said Alexander Salazar, 69, an assistant bishop in Los Angeles, was stepping down. It also distributed a letter on the Salazar case written by the current Archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose Gomez.

The U.S. Catholic Church is still reeling from a U.S. grand jury report that found that 301 priests in the state of Pennsylvania had sexually abused minors over a 70-year period.

There will be a major meeting at the Vatican in February on the global sex abuse crisis.

Gomez’s letter to the faithful said that in 2005, a year after Salazar became bishop, the archdiocese had become aware of an accusation that Salazar had engaged in “misconduct with a minor” when he was a priest in a parish in the 1990s.

Police investigated but the Los Angeles district attorney did not prosecute, Gomez’s letter said, adding that Salazar, a native of Costa Rica, “has consistently denied any wrongdoing”.

The archdiocese’s independent Clergy Misconduct Review Board found the allegation “credible” and informed the Vatican.

The archbishop’s letter did not explain why the process between the initial accusation and Wednesday’s resignation took 13 years.

A statement from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said Salazar’s name resurfaced after Gomez became archbishop in 2011, and ordered a review of past allegations of abuse.

The archdiocese’s statement disclosed that Gomez’s predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahoney, sent the case to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which investigates abuse cases.

The CDF “permitted Bishop Salazar to remain in ministry subject to certain precautionary conditions, which he has respected”. The statement did not elaborate on what the conditions were or why he was allowed to return to ministry.

Benedict XVI was pope between 2005 and his resignation in 2013.

Pope Francis has summoned the heads of some 110 national Catholic bishops’ conferences and dozens of experts and leaders of religious orders to the Vatican on Feb. 21-24 for an extraordinary gathering dedicated to the sexual abuse crisis.

Victims of clergy sexual abuse are hoping that the meeting will finally come up with a clear policy to make bishops themselves accountable for the mishandling of abuse cases.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Federal charges filed against captain of deadly Missouri duck boat

Rescue personnel work after an amphibious "duck boat" capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, U.S. July 19, 2018 in this still image obtained from a video on social media. SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS

(Reuters) – The captain of the World War Two-style tourist “duck boat” that sank on a Missouri lake during a storm in July killing 17 people was charged on Thursday with misconduct, negligence and inattention to duty by a federal grand jury, prosecutors said.

Kenneth Scott McKee, 51, of Verona, Missouri, was charged in a 17-count indictment, one count for each of the passengers who died when the vessel sank on July 19.

McKee was captain of the vessel operated by Ripley Entertainment Inc, which ran duck boat tours in Branson, Missouri, Lake Taneycomo and Table Rock Lake, where the incident occurred.

There were 31 passengers aboard the duck boat on Table Rock Lake, outside Branson, Missouri, when hurricane-strength winds churned up the water and sank the craft, causing one of the deadliest U.S. tourist tragedies in recent years.

“The captain of the vessel always has a duty to operate his vessel in a safe manner and that’s why Mr. McKee is under indictment this morning,” Timothy Garrison, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said in a news conference.

McKee is accused of failing to properly assess the severe weather, instruct passengers to use personal flotation devices, or head for shore and prepare to abandon ship, the indictment said.

McKee was not yet in custody and was expected to surrender to authorities, Garrison said.

He faces up to 10 years in federal prison without parole for each count and a $250,000 fine. McKee’s lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Garrison declined to say whether other people were being investigated.

The families of four people who died have filed lawsuits against tour operator Ripley Entertainment, which operates under the name Ride the Ducks, saying it recklessly allowed the vessel out in dangerous weather.

Nine members of the same family were among the 17 killed.

The boats, modeled on the amphibious landing craft used in the D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944, have a checkered history involving more than three dozen fatalities on water and land, including the Table Rock Lake sinking, according to the complaint.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; editing by Bill Berkrot)

U.S. grand jury indicts woman on charges of being Russian agent

Public figure Maria Butina delivers a speech during a rally to demand the expanding of rights of Russian citizens, in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on July 17, 2018. Press Service of Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. grand jury returned an indictment against a Russian woman on Tuesday, and added a charge accusing her of acting as a Russian government agent while developing ties with American citizens and infiltrating political groups.

Maria Butina, who studied at American University in Washington and is a founder of the pro-gun Russian advocacy group Right to Bear Arms, was charged in a criminal complaint on Monday with conspiracy to take actions on behalf of the Russian government.

Tuesday’s grand jury indictment added a more serious charge of acting as an agent of the Russian government, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum five-year prison term.

Butina has not been charged with espionage or with being a member of a Russian intelligence service.

She was arrested on Sunday and is scheduled to appear on Wednesday in federal court in Washington, the Justice Department said.

Public figure Maria Butina (R) attends a meeting of a group of experts, affiliated to the government of Russia, in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on July 17, 2018. Press Service of Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation/Handout via REUTERS

Public figure Maria Butina (R) attends a meeting of a group of experts, affiliated to the government of Russia, in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on July 17, 2018. Press Service of Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation/Handout via REUTERS

Robert Driscoll, an attorney for Butina, said she was not a Russian agent.

Butina is accused of operating at the direction of a high-level official of the Russian Central Bank who was recently sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury, the Justice Department said.

Court records did not name the official.

Butina has appeared in numerous photographs on her Facebook page with Alexander Torshin, the deputy head of Russia’s Central Bank who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in April.

A person familiar with the matter has told Reuters that Butina worked for him as an assistant. Other media reported on a business relationship between Butina and Torshin.

Torshin did not reply to a request for comment on Monday and the Russian Central Bank declined to comment.

The Justice Department said in its complaint that Butina worked with two unnamed U.S. citizens and the Russian official to try to influence American politics and infiltrate a pro-gun rights organization.

The complaint did not name the group, however photos on her Facebook page showed that she attended events sponsored by the National Rifle Association. The NRA did not reply to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Eric Walsh and Diane Craft)