Dozens of CEOs call on Senate to tackle gun violence: reports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than 100 chief executives of some of the nation’s most well-known companies on Thursday called on the U.S. Senate to take action to tackle gun violence, including expanding background checks and strengthening so-called red flag laws, according to media reports.

In a letter to lawmakers, 145 company heads urged meaningful action following a string of mass shootings across the United States that have most recently left communities reeling in Texas, Ohio, Nevada and South Carolina.

“Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety,” the letter to the Republican-led U.S. Senate said, according to the New York Times, which first reported the correspondence.

Those signing the missive include the heads of Gap Inc, Levi Strauss & Co, and Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. They also included Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, Uber Technologies Inc, Twitter Inc, and Amalgamated Bank, among others.

“We are writing to you because we have a responsibility and obligation to stand up for the safety of our employees, customers and all Americans in the communities we serve across the country,” they said, according to the Times. The Washington Post also reported the letter.

Lawmakers have struggled to address gun violence after the 2012 killing of 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut stoked the debate over gun control in America.

More mass shootings followed, including at a church in South Carolina, a music festival in Las Vegas and a high school in Florida. This summer, shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas – including in a Walmart – sparked fresh debate.

Walmart Inc and other stores have since called on patrons not to openly carry firearms in their stores, prompting protests from opponents who object to curbing gun rights.

The U.S. House of Representatives, led by Democrats, quickly took up measures addressing gun violence as lawmakers returned to Washington this week. These include three bills that seek to remove guns from people deemed a risk, ban high-capacity ammunition magazines and prohibit people convicted of violent hate crime misdemeanors from possessing firearms.

The Senate, led by President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans, has so far stayed on the sidelines, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looking to the White House for guidance.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators said they wanted to revive a failed 2013 bill to close loopholes in the law requiring gun sale background checks, but it remained unclear whether Trump would support it.

Polls have shown that nearly half of all Americans expect another mass shooting to happen soon in the United States.

(Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Trump says ‘common sense things can be done’ on guns, wants NRA input

FILE PHOTO: 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/File Photo

By Susan Heavey and Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Friday called for “common sense” solutions to address gun violence without mentioning what specific measures he would support and saying the views of powerful National Rifle Association lobbyists should be considered.

Thirty-one people were killed in two weekend shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in attacks that shook the country and reopened a national debate on gun safety as Americans grapple with yet another mass shooting.

A week later, it remains unclear what, if any, specific steps the Republican president would back. Democrats are trying to galvanize public support for legislative action over what has been a contentious issue for years, even before Trump’s administration.

Trump earlier this week initially appeared to back background checks but then did not mention them in a public address on Monday that focused on mental illness and media culture. He later predicted congressional support for those background checks and blocking gun access to the mentally ill, but not for any effort to ban assault rifles.

He had promised to take action in early 2018 after 17 people were killed at a Parkland, Florida, high school but backed down after the NRA, a key financial donor to Republican politicians, weighed in.

On Friday, he appeared to want to balance any congressional action with the NRA’s views.

“I am the biggest Second Amendment person there is, but we all must work together for the good and safety of our Country,” he wrote. “Common sense things can be done that are good for everyone.”

Trump said he had “been speaking to the NRA, and others, so that their very strong views can be fully represented and respected.” The NRA, in a statement on Thursday, indicated it opposed further gun restrictions.

Congress is in recess but Trump said leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate were discussing expanding background checks for guns sales.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday rejected a plea from more than 200 mayors to call the Senate back early to consider gun legislation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said they had each spoken separately to Trump and that he had assured them he would review legislation that has already passed the Democratic-majority House.

The White House had said it would hold also a meeting with representatives from the technology industry on Friday to discuss violent extremism online. Trump is not scheduled to be at the White House for most of the day as he attends a fundraiser in the Hamptons in New York for his 2020 re-election campaign.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Bill Trott)

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)

Thirty people die in two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio

Francisco Castaneda joins mourners taking part in a vigil at El Paso High School after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 3, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Salgado NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

By Julio-Cesar Chavez Steve Gorman

EL PASO, Texas/ LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Thirty people died and dozens were wounded in two mass shootings within just 13 hours of each other in the United States, shocking the country and prompting calls from some politicians for tighter gun control.

The first massacre occurred on Saturday morning in the heavily Hispanic border city of El Paso, where a gunman killed 20 people at a Walmart store before surrendering to police.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the rampage appeared to be a hate crime, and police cited a “manifesto” they attributed to the suspect, a 21-year-old white man, as evidence that the bloodshed was racially motivated.

Officials investigate the scene after a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, U.S. August 4, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

Officials investigate the scene after a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, U.S. August 4, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

Across the country, a gunman opened fire in a downtown district of Dayton, Ohio, early on Sunday, killing nine people and wounding at least 26 others, police and the city mayor said. The assailant was shot dead by police.

The El Paso shooting reverberated on the campaign trail for next year’s U.S. presidential election, with several Democratic candidates denouncing the rise of gun violence and repeating calls for tighter gun control measures.

At least two candidates, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and El Paso native Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman, drew connections to a resurgence in white nationalism and xenophobic politics in the United States.

“America is under attack from homegrown white nationalist terrorism,” Buttigieg said at an event in Las Vegas.

President Donald Trump branded the shooting “an act of cowardice,” saying in a Twitter post, “I know that I stand with everyone in this country to condemn today’s hateful act. There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people.”

A hallmark of Trump’s presidency has been his determination to curb illegal immigration. Critics say the rhetoric he has used around the issue, as well as other remarks about minorities, is divisive and has fueled racism and xenophobia.

Pope Francis condemned the spate of attacks on “defenseless people” in the United States, including a rampage last Sunday in which a gunman killed three people and wounded about a dozen at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California.

A woman reacts after a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 3, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

A woman reacts after a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 3, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

‘HATE CRIME’

In Texas, police and FBI investigators searched for clues as to what motivated the suspect, who is from Allen, Texas, a Dallas suburb some 650 miles (1,046 km) east of El Paso, which lies on Rio Grande across the U.S.-Mexico border from Ciudad Juarez.

Multiple news media outlets, citing law enforcement officials, named him as Patrick Crusius.

Police said the suspect opened fire with a rifle on shoppers, many of them bargain-hunting for back-to-school supplies, then surrendered to officers who confronted him outside the store.

An El Paso police spokesman, Sergeant Robert Gomez, said on Saturday night police were interviewing the suspect, while investigators continued to collect evidence at the crime scene.

Several local politicians said the gunman was an outsider, suggesting he had traveled hundreds of miles from the Dallas area to commit mass murder. But Gomez declined to say how long the suspect might have been in El Paso before the shooting.

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said investigators were examining a “manifesto” from the suspect indicating “there is a potential nexus to a hate crime.”

A four-page statement posted on 8chan, an online message board often used by extremists, and believed to have been written by the suspect, called the Walmart attack “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

It also expressed for support for the gunman who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March.

CNN reported the FBI had opened a domestic terrorism investigation.

“We are going to aggressively prosecute it both as capital murder but also as a hate crime, which is exactly what it appears to be,” Texas Governor Abbott told reporters.

El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, together with the neighboring city of Las Cruces, New Mexico, form a metropolitan border area of some 2.5 million residents constituting the largest bilingual, bi-national population in North America.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said three Mexican nationals were among the 20 people killed in the shooting, and six others were among 26 victims who were wounded.

The carnage ranked as the eighth-deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, after a 1984 shooting in San Ysidro, California, in which 21 people died.

RAPID POLICE ACTION

In Dayton, a riverfront city of about 140,000 people in southwestern Ohio, a gunman dressed in body armor opened fire in a downtown district, unleashing carnage that could have been much worse if not for the rapid intervention of police.

Officers who were on routine patrol nearby were on the scene in less than a minute and shot the attacker dead, likely preventing a much higher casualty toll, police and the city’s mayor said.

Assistant Police Chief Matt Carper said the shooting began at 1 a.m. local time in Dayton’s Oregon District, a downtown historic neighborhood popular for its nightclubs, restaurants art galleries and shops.

The motive was not immediately clear, and investigators believe the individual had acted alone, Carper said.

The authorities did not disclose the shooter’s identity.

A total of 10 people were killed, including the assailant. Twenty-six others were injured and taken to hospitals across the area, Mayor Nan Whaley told reporters, though the extent of their injuries was not known.

She said the suspect was wearing body armor and was armed with a rifle firing .223-caliber rounds with high-capacity ammunition magazines.

FBI agents were assisting in the investigation.

(Reporting by Julio-Cesar Chavez in El Paso and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Tim Reid in Las Vegas and Daniel Wallis in New York; Writing by Frances Kerry, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Two police officers among four fatally shot in Canada: authorities

Emergency vehicles are seen at the Brookside Drive area in Fredericton, Canada August 10, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. Kev Bourque/via REUTERS

By Anna Mehler Paperny

FREDERICTON, New Brunswick (Reuters) – Four people, including two police officers, were killed in a shooting in eastern Canada on Friday in the latest eruption of gun violence across the country that has led to calls for weapons bans in cities.

Police said a suspect was taken into custody just three weeks after a gunman walked down a busy Toronto street, killing two people and wounding 13 others before taking his own life.

Police in Fredericton, a city of about 56,000 that is the capital of the province of New Brunswick, said two of the dead were police officers but gave few details about the circumstances of the shooting and did not release names. They said the suspect was being treated for serious injuries.

Local media images showed emergency vehicles converging on a tree-lined residential street. Nearby facilities were closed and authorities imposed a lockdown for residents before issuing an all-clear message.

“It was scary,” said Marlene Weaver, who was in bed on Friday morning when she heard shots ring out in her neighborhood. “It takes you back to the shooting in Moncton.”

Three RCMP officers were killed and two more were wounded in 2014 in Moncton, New Brunswick, about 195 km (121 miles) from Fredericton, in one of the worst incidents of its kind in Canada.

Gun laws in Canada are stricter than in the United States but a proliferation of weapons has led to an increase in gun-related crimes in recent years.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were assisting Fredericton authorities in the investigation.

New Brunswick had only three homicide shootings in 2016, according to Statistics Canada.

“Awful news coming out of Fredericton,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter. “My heart goes out to everyone affected by this morning’s shooting. We’re following the situation closely.”

Jeff Magnussen, general manager of a golf course near the site of the shooting, said by phone he heard multiple gunshots before 8 a.m. local time.

“You hear a lot about gun violence in the United States,” he said, “but this morning when I heard those noises, what’s starting to sink in is that those noises were people losing their lives. To have it happen so close to us is shocking. Now we’re becoming the story that nobody wants to hear.”

In the wake of the Toronto bloodshed, the city council voted overwhelmingly to urge the federal government to ban the sale of handguns in the city. Gun laws are under federal jurisdiction.

“Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?” Toronto Mayor John Tory said. Canada’s largest city has had 241 shooting incidents this year, resulting in 30 deaths, a 30 percent increase in fatalities.

On Thursday, Ontario pledged more money for police and to keep suspects behind bars while they await trial on gun crimes charges, as the Canadian province grapples with rising shootings involving domestically obtained weapons.

(Additional reporting by Danya Hajjaji and Allison Martell in Toronto and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Jeffrey Benkoe)

No arrests after 66 shot, 12 killed, in weekend Chicago gun violence

A Chicago police officer attends a news conference announcing the department's plan to hire nearly 1,000 new police officers in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. on September 21, 2016.

(Reuters) – Chicago police have made no arrests tied to the shootings of 66 people over the weekend, 12 of them fatal, but dozens were taken into custody on gun charges, the city’s police chief said on Monday.

Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said additional officers had been deployed to prevent retaliatory shootings, leading to the arrests of 46 people on firearms charges. Police seized 60 guns, adding to a total of 5,600 already confiscated in Chicago so far this year.

“I share the anger and frustration that many Chicagoans are having today because, if anything, this should underscore the continuing issue that we have with illegal guns and offenders that are out on the street that are willing to use them,” Johnson said.

Johnson told reporters there were some promising leads in investigations of the weekend bloodshed, but he did not elaborate and provided few updates on crime statistics for the third most populous U.S. city. Authorities had previously said gun violence was on a decline this year.

“What happened this weekend did not happen in every neighborhood of Chicago but it is unacceptable to happen in any neighborhood of Chicago,” the city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, told reporters on Monday.

“There are too many guns on the street. Too many people with criminal records on the street. And there is a shortage of values of what is right and what is wrong,” said Emanuel, a Democrat.

An earlier wave of shootings in Chicago emerged as a talking point for Republican Donald Trump in his 2016 presidential campaign, as he pledged to crack down on street crime.

The rash of shootings over the weekend also elicited comments from President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor who has touted his crime-fighting record there.

Giuliani urged Chicago residents to vote against Emanuel’s bid for a third term next February and back Garry McCarthy, also a Democrat, who served as the city’s police chief for four years until 2015.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Tom Brown)

At least 40 shot and four killed in a night of Chicago gun violence

Map of Chicago

By Rich McKay

(Reuters) – At least 40 people were shot in Chicago over the weekend during the seven hours from midnight Saturday to early Sunday morning, with four fatalities, city police said on Sunday, a stark violent streak in a city where authorities say gun violence has been decreasing this year.

“These were both random and targeted shootings on our streets,” said Fred Waller, Chief of the Patrol Division of the Chicago Police Department, in a press conference.

He said most of the shootings are connected to gang violence in the city of about 2.7 million people, the third-largest in the United States.

Police said gunmen targeted a block party, a gathering after a funeral, and other gatherings on a night where thousands of people gathered for a downtown concert.

Local media reported that the brunt of the violence happened in the city’s West Side, where 25 people were shot in separate attacks.

Waller touted that shootings in 2018 were down from last year.

The Chicago Tribune, which has been tracking shooting statistics, reported earlier this month that shootings in the city have declined, with 533 fewer shootings as of Aug. 1 than the same time in 2017.

“By no means do these statistics show that we have a victory,” Waller said.

He said that police are working with other law enforcement groups to target gang activity.

“I promise we will not be defeated,” Waller said.

More specifics on the shootings were not immediately available late on Sunday.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

Gunman dead after shooting 14, killing one, in Toronto: Canadian police

People leave an area taped off by the police near the scene of a mass shooting in Toronto, Canada, July 22, 2018. REUTERS/Chris H

TORONTO (Reuters) – Fourteen people, including a young girl, were shot near downtown Toronto, police in Canada’s biggest city said on Sunday, with one person killed and the gunman also dead.

The young girl was in a critical condition, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said.

People react after the sounds gunshots were heard near the scene of a mass shooting in Toronto, Canada, July 22, 2018, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. Twitter @NSXOXOII/via REUTERS

People react after the sounds gunshots were heard near the scene of a mass shooting in Toronto, Canada, July 22, 2018, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. Twitter @NSXOXOII/via REUTERS

“We are looking at all possible motives… and not closing any doors,” Saunders told reporters at the site of the shooting.

Paramedics, firefighters and police converged on the shooting in Toronto’s east end, which has many popular restaurants, cafes and shops.

Police said the gunman had used a handgun. Earlier reports said nine people had been shot.

Reports of gunfire in the city’s Greektown neighborhood began at 10 p.m. local time (0200 GMT Monday), CityNews.com said.

Witnesses said they heard 25 gunshots, the news website reported.

Toronto is grappling with a sharp rise in gun violence this year. Deaths from gun violence in the city jumped 53 percent to 26 so far in 2018 from the same period last year, police data last week showed, with the number of shootings rising 13 percent.

Toronto deployed about 200 police officers from July 20 in response to the recent spate in shootings, which city officials have blamed on gang violence.

Toronto Mayor John Tory told reporters that the city has a gun problem and guns were too readily available to too many people.

(Reporting by Denny Thomas and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Paul Tait)

Maryland teen wounds two at school, dies after gunfight with officer

Emergency services and law enforcement vehicles are seen outside the Great Mills High School following a shooting on Tuesday morning in St. Mary's County, Maryland, U.S., March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Sait Serkan Gurbuz

By Ian Simpson

GREAT MILLS, Md. (Reuters) – A 17-year-old student shot and critically wounded two fellow students at a Maryland high school on Tuesday morning before dying after a gunfight with a campus security officer, a law enforcement official said.

The shooting, which came amid a renewed national debate over gun violence following last month’s Florida high school massacre, occurred just before 8 a.m. (1200 GMT) at Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County, about 70 miles (110 km) south of Washington.

The 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy who were wounded were taken to hospitals, county Sheriff Timothy Cameron said. The girl was in intensive care with life-threatening critical injuries, while the boy was in good condition, the sheriff said.

The gunman was identified as Austin Wyatt Rollins, and Cameron said there was “an indication” of a prior relationship between him and the female student, though he added that was still under investigation.

The latest in a long string of deadly shootings at U.S. schools and colleges took place a little more than a month after 17 students and educators were shot dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

That massacre sparked a new student movement against gun violence, including a national school walkout last week that included some Great Mills students. It occurred just days before a planned Saturday march in Washington calling for new restrictions on guns.

“We recently had a protest about school violence last week, and now this has happened,” said Kameron Norwood, a 16-year-old sophomore, as he and other students who had been transported to another nearby high school waited to be picked up by relatives.

Sheriff Cameron said Rollins pulled out a Glock semiautomatic handgun around 7:55 a.m. (1155 GMT) in a hallway and shot the students.

The attack, which lasted less than a minute, ended after the school resource officer, Deputy 1st Class Sheriff Blaine Gaskill, ran inside the building and confronted Rollins, with both firing a single shot almost simultaneously.

The officer was not harmed, Cameron said. Rollins was confirmed dead at 10:41 a.m. (1441 GMT) after being taken to a hospital.

The incident appeared to be one of the only instances in which a school resource officer, typically a sworn law enforcement member, was able to intercede in the midst of an active shooting.

In one example, in Arapahoe County, Colorado, a school resource officer was credited with helping to end a 2013 fatal high school shooting after he approached the gunman’s position in the library. The shooter, a student, took his own life.

An armed school resource officer had also been on the campus of Stoneman Douglas at the time of that shooting, and was criticized for failing to stop the gunman, who was armed with an AR-15 assault-style rifle. The officer, who resigned, said he had not been sure where the gunfire was coming from.

U.S. President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association have proposed arming teachers trained in firearms use to combat the threat of school shootings, while gun safety advocates have demanded a ban on semiautomatic rifles, among other laws.

More than 29,000 public schools in the United States, or roughly 30 percent, reported having at least one full- or part-time school resource officer in 2013, according to a 2015 survey by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Great Mills High School senior Wayne Waul (2nd L) and his mother Jill Ryan (4th L) leave Leonardtown High School in Leonardtown, Maryland, U.S., March 20, 2018. Great Mills students and parents reunited at Lenoardtown after the shooting at their school. REUTERS/Sait Serkan Gurbuz

Great Mills High School senior Wayne Waul (2nd L) and his mother Jill Ryan (4th L) leave Leonardtown High School in Leonardtown, Maryland, U.S., March 20, 2018. Great Mills students and parents reunited at Lenoardtown after the shooting at their school. REUTERS/Sait Serkan Gurbuz

‘WHY US?’

Rollins was a fan of the Dallas Cowboys football team and NASCAR racing, according to his Facebook page, where he also “liked” the sort of tastes typical of an American teenager: McDonald’s, Wrangler jeans, the “Transformers” movie and Sour Patch Kids candy. He appeared several times on the school’s honor and merit rolls for good grades, according to lists published in a local newspaper.

Parkland students and Great Mills students exchanged supportive messages on Twitter following Tuesday’s shooting.

“We are here for you, students of Great Mills, together we can stop this from ever happening again,” tweeted Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Stoneman Douglas High School who survived last month’s rampage.

“You never think it’ll be your school and then it is,” posted Mollie Davis, who identified herself as a student at the school and tweeted during the lockdown. “Great Mills is a wonderful school and somewhere I am proud to go. Why us?”

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen, Gina Cherelus and Elizabeth Diltz in New York; writing by Joseph Ax; editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

U.S. House passes bill to help schools combat gun violence

People supporting gun control attend a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee during a hearing about legislative proposals to improve school safety in the wake of the mass shooting at the high school in Parkland, Florida, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

By Lisa Lambert and Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation to help schools and local law enforcement prevent gun violence, one month after the mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people.

The House passed the bill by a vote of 407-10, sending it to the Senate for consideration.

Earlier on Wednesday, the White House announced President Donald Trump’s support of the bill, which is far short of the broader gun control legislation he talked about shortly after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Since that massacre, student protesters have successfully lobbied for tighter gun controls in Florida. Hundreds of them gathered outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to take their argument to a Congress that has long resisted placing new limits on firearms and gun sales.

The House-passed bill would authorize federal grants, totaling $50 million a year, to fund training, anonymous reporting systems, threat assessments, intervention teams and school and police coordination.

The measure, however, would not allow any of the funding to be used for arming teachers or other school personnel. The White House said the legislation would be improved by lifting that restriction.

“The best way to keep our students and teachers safe is to give them the tools and the training to recognize the warning signs to prevent violence from ever entering our school grounds, and this bill aims to do just that,” said Republican Representative John Rutherford of Florida, a former sheriff who sponsored the school safety bill.

It was not yet clear when the Senate would take up the House-passed bill.

Already awaiting action in the Senate is a bill to strengthen existing background checks of gun purchasers. It enjoys broad bipartisan support but has not been scheduled for debate.

Congressional aides said there were ongoing discussions about possibly folding the school safety and background check bills into a massive government funding bill that Congress aims to pass by March 23.

Eleven organizations, including some gun control and law enforcement groups, on Wednesday sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer urging passage this month of the background checks bill.

Neither the House nor Senate bills address many of the gun control initiatives backed by students, teachers and families of shooting victims at the Florida school.

In emotional testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Katherine Posada, a teacher at the school, recounted the horror she experienced the day of the shooting and urged Congress to ban assault-style weapons like the AR-15 rifle used by Nikolas Cruz, who has been charged in the murders.

“Some of the victims were shot through doors, or even through walls – a knife can’t do that,” Posada said. “How many innocent lives could have been saved if these weapons of war weren’t so readily available?”

Since the Florida shooting, the Republican-led Congress and Trump’s administration have considered a variety of measures to curb gun violence while trying to avoid upsetting the powerful National Rifle Association lobby group or threatening the right to bear arms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

Protesters with signs targeting the NRA and advocating an assault rifle ban filled the hearing room in the Senate on Wednesday and occasionally applauded as some Democrats on the panel spoke about enacting stricter gun laws.

Meanwhile, the No. 2 official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation told lawmakers in testimony Wednesday that his agency dropped the ball by mishandling several tips about Cruz before the shooting, and said reforms were underway.

“The FBI could have and should have done more to investigate the information it was provided prior to the shooting,” Acting Deputy Director David Bowdich said.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Lisa Lambert, David Alexander and Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Tom Brown and Jonathan Oatis)