Investigators find officer wounded in Tennessee not shot by student’s gun

(Reuters) – A police officer wounded during a shooting incident inside a high school in Knoxville, Tennessee, was struck by a bullet that was not fired by the gun of the student who police shot and killed, according to a preliminary investigation.

A 17-year-old high school student, who opened fire at an Austin-East Magnet High School, was fatally shot on Monday during a confrontation with the police.

The officers, who were responding to the scene, tracked the gunman to a bathroom where shots were fired. The student died at the scene, and police initially said the wounded officer had been hit when the student opened fire on them.

“Preliminary examinations indicate the bullet that struck the KPD (Knoxville Police Department) officer was not fired from the student’s handgun,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a statement Wednesday.

TBI said student fired first, and the officers fired back.

The wounded policeman, Adam Willson, was serving as a school resource officer. Having been shot in the upper leg, Willson was in a serious condition following surgery, but was said to be recovering on Tuesday.

Investigators declined to say whether the bullet that struck Willson came from his own gun or from another officer’s weapon, according to the New York Times.

TBI was not immediately available to Reuters’ request for comment late in U.S. hours.

The findings of the investigation, which is active and ongoing, will be shared with the District Attorney General.

(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Reports of shooting at Knoxville, Tennessee high school with multiple victims – police

(Reuters) – Police in Knoxville, Tennessee said on Monday they were responding to reports of a shooting at a high school, with at least several victims.

“Multiple gunshot victims reported, including a KPD officer. The investigation remains active at this time,” Knoxville police said on Twitter.

Television news images showed police and fire crews surrounding Austin-East High School in east Knoxville.

“Knox County Schools is responding to a shooting that occurred this afternoon at Austin-East Magnet High School. We are gathering information about this tragic situation and will provide additional information as soon as possible,” Knoxville schools superintendent Bob Thomas said on Twitter.

“The school building has been secured and students who were not involved in the incident have been released to their families,” Thomas said.

Local 10 News reported that the school had been placed under a “hard lockdown” and that parents were told to go to the back of the campus to pick up their children.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Grant McCool)

Michigan, Washington state impose severe COVID-19 restrictions as U.S. infections soar

By David Shepardson and David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Michigan and Washington state on Sunday imposed sweeping new restrictions on gatherings, including halting indoor restaurant service, to slow the spread of the coronavirus as total U.S. infections crossed the 11 million mark, just over a week after hitting 10 million.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered a ban on in-person high school and college classes as well as indoor dining service for three weeks starting on Wednesday as increasingly cold weather drives people indoors where the virus can spread more easily.

She banned public events at concert halls, casinos, movie theaters, skating rinks and other venues, while in-home gatherings will be limited to 10 people from no more than two households.

Whitmer, a Democrat, warned that without aggressive action, Michigan could soon suffer 1,000 COVID-19 deaths per week.

“We are in the worst moment of this pandemic to date,” she told a news conference. “The situation has never been more dire. We are at the precipice and we need to take some action.”

White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas reacted to the Michigan orders by urging state residents on Twitter to “rise up” against them. After this drew criticism from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Atlas said he “NEVER was talking at all about violence.”

Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, announced a one-month ban on indoor services at restaurants and gyms, and a reduction of in-store retail capacity to 25%.

Indoor gatherings would be prohibited outside of one’s household and outdoor gatherings would be limited to five people in Washington state under Inslee’s order.

The new restrictions come as daily new infections in recent days have more than doubled from single-day highs reported during the previous U.S. peak in mid-July. The number of COVID-19 patients in U.S. hospitals also has reached an all-time high.

‘DANGEROUS PERIOD’

Earlier on Sunday, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s top advisers called for urgent action to address COVID-19, warning that Republican President Donald Trump’s refusal to begin a transition of power could further jeopardize the battle against the rampaging virus. Biden’s advisers also said it would inhibit vaccine distribution planning and could jeopardize additional government financial aid before Biden, a Democrat, takes office in January.

“We are in a very dangerous period,” Dr. Michael Osterholm, a member of Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board and director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, told NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

Unless action is taken now, “we’re going to see these numbers grow substantially,” Osterholm warned. “Our future’s in our hands.”

Basic public health measures such as face covering to curb the spread have become politicized under Trump, who has eschewed mask mandates even after contracting COVID-19 last month, while Biden has backed their widespread use.

Still, some Republican governors in recent days have been forced to act, with North Dakota joining 35 other states over the weekend in mandating masks and Iowa this week requiring them in certain circumstances.

Forty U.S. states have reported record increases in COVID-19 cases in November, while 20 saw a record rise in deaths and 26 reported record hospitalizations, according to a Reuters tally.

The latest 7-day average, shows the United States is reporting more than 144,000 daily cases and 1,120 daily deaths, the highest for any country in the world.

Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming White House chief of staff, on Sunday urged Congress to immediately pass COVID-19 relief legislation with new restrictions certain to take a toll.

“This could be a first example of bipartisan action post-election,” Klain told NBC. He said Biden has spoken to congressional Democratic leaders, but not to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who has refused to publicly acknowledge Biden as president-elect.

‘PASSING A BATON’

Klain said there had been no formal contact between Biden’s advisory panel and the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which requires transition authorization from the General Services Administration.

“It’s really important in the smooth handing over of the information,” top U.S. infectious disease expert and White House task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “It’s almost like passing a baton in a race, you don’t want to stop and give it to somebody, you just want to essentially keep going.”

Biden’s team this week planned to meet with Pfizer Inc., which last week released positive initial data on its experimental novel coronavirus vaccine, and other drugmakers, Klain said.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, head of Biden’s COVID team, told Fox News the coronavirus surge was “deeply alarming” but that a national lockdown was “a measure of last resort.”

“The better way to think about these safety restrictions is more a dial that we turn up and down depending on severity” in a given area, he said.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and David Shepardson; additional reporting by Michelle Price, Nathan Layne, Sarah N. Lynch, Linda So and Anurag Maan; Writing by David Lawder; Editing by Bill Berkrot, Diane Craft, Robert Birsel)

Teen gunman who killed 10 at Texas school planned suicide: governor

Police keep a roadblock on a main road to Santa Fe High School where police found explosives after an early morning shool shooting that left several people dead in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger

By Liz Hampton and Erwin Seba

SANTA FE, Texas (Reuters) – Texas officials charged a 17-year-old student with murder in the shooting of 10 people, including fellow pupils, at his high school on Friday in an attack similar to the massacre at a Florida high school earlier this year.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the suspect in the Santa Fe High School shooting is shown in this booking photo at the Galveston County Jail, released by the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office in Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. Courtesy Galveston County Sheriff’s Office/Handout via REUTERS

Students said a gunman, identified by law enforcement as Dimitrios Pagourtzis, opened fire in a classroom at Santa Fe High School shortly before 8 a.m. CT (1300 GMT) on Friday, and that they fled in panic after seeing classmates wounded and a fire alarm triggered a full evacuation. Ten people were hurt in the attack, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said.

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

The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office identified Pagourtzis and said he had been charged with capital murder in a post on its Facebook page. More charges could follow.

Speaking to reporters before the teen was identified, Abbott told reporters that the suspect had used a shotgun and a .38 revolver taken from his father in the fourth-deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. public school.

“Not only did he want to commit the shooting, but he wanted to commit suicide after the shooting,” Abbott said, citing a police review of the suspect’s journals. “He didn’t have the courage to commit suicide.”

Two other people are in custody, Abbott said.

Investigators are talking to the suspect, Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said.

Abbott said that investigators had seen a T-shirt on the suspect’s Facebook page that read “Born to Kill.”

Explosive devices had also been found at the school, located about 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Houston, and off campus, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted.

Police were searching two homes and a vehicle linked to the suspect, where they have found multiple homemade explosive devices, Abbott said.

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

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

‘THE GUY BEHIND ME WAS DEAD’

Courtney Marshall, a 15-year-old freshman at the school, said the gunman came into her art class shooting.

“I wanted to take care of my friends, but I knew I had to get out of there,” Marshall said, saying that she saw at least one person hit. “I knew the guy behind me was dead.”

Orlando Gonzalez said that his 16-year-old son Keaton, fled the attack, but one of his friends was shot and wounded.

“I was really worried, I didn’t know what was going on … I almost couldn’t drive,” Gonzalez said. “I just imagine what he’s going through … He’s still scared.”

The school has some 1,462 students, according to federal education data.

U.S. President Donald Trump called the latest school massacre “absolutely horrific.”

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

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

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

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

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

 

Police detain suspect in shooting at Southern California school

Police vehicles are seen on the road near Highland High School, in Palmdale, California, U.S., May 11, 2018 in this picture grab obtained from social media video. MELENDEZ N JUNIOR/via REUTERS

(Reuters) – A 14-year-old student at a California high school shot and wounded a fellow student on Friday morning before being detained by police, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.

The victim, a 14-year-old boy, was hit in the arm and was in stable condition at a hospital. The suspect, also a boy, was detained off campus by officers, who recovered a rifle, according to the department.

Deputies responded to Highland High School in Palmdale, about 60 miles north of Los Angeles, at around 7 a.m. (1400 GMT) after receiving multiple reports of an armed person on campus.

The initial reports of a possible school shooting drew immediate attention from major news outlets and cable TV networks. It underscored the national debate over gun control and gun rights that was reignited by the mass shooting of 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Police were also called to a nearby elementary school after reports of gunfire but found no evidence of any crime.

Palmdale, a city of about 160,000 people, boasts that it is the “aerospace capital of the United States.” It is home to a U.S. Air Force aircraft manufacturing plant that includes production facilities operated by Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin Corp and Northrop Grumman Corp.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax, Jonathan Allen, Peter Szekely and Bernie Woodall; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Investigators probe motive in deadly Kentucky school shooting

Tiffany Moreland and her daughter Emily Moreland attend a prayer vigil for students killed and injured after a 15-year-old boy opened fire with a handgun at Marshall County High School, at Life in Christ Church in Marion, Kentucky, U.S., January 23, 2018.

(Reuters) – Investigators in western Kentucky on Wednesday were probing why a 15-year-old boy opened fire in a rural high school, killing two students and injuring 18 others in the latest in a series of deadly shootings in American schools.

Police have not yet identified the gunman or released any information about what motivated the Tuesday morning attack at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky, about 120 miles (190 km) northwest of Nashville, Tennessee.

The suspect, who police said was arrested without a struggle, was due to appear in court by Thursday and could be charged as an adult, according to Marshall County Attorney Jeff Edwards.

He will be charged with two counts of murder and multiple counts of attempted murder, according to the Kentucky State Police, who said they believe he acted alone.

Students attend a prayer vigil for students killed and injured after a 15-year-old boy opened fire with a handgun at Marshall County High School, at Life in Christ Church in Marion, Kentucky, U.S., January 23, 2018.

Students attend a prayer vigil for students killed and injured after a 15-year-old boy opened fire with a handgun at Marshall County High School, at Life in Christ Church in Marion, Kentucky, U.S., January 23, 2018. REUTERS/Harrison McClary

All classes were canceled in the Marshall County school system on Wednesday as the community struggled to understand the outbreak of violence.

“A tragedy beyond words occurred in our community today,” school Superintendent Trent Lovett said in a statement late Tuesday. “As parents, our greatest fear is something happening to our children, and today that fear became a reality.”

The suspect on Tuesday entered a common area at the school, pulled out a handgun and began firing at students, state police said in a statement.

The attack at the school of nearly 1,150 students in a small farming town was the latest outbreak of gun violence that has become a regular occurrence at schools and college campuses across the United States over the past several years.

The students killed were Bailey Holt, a 15-year-old girl who was pronounced dead at the scene, and Preston Cope, a 15-year-old boy who died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, state police said.

“Bailey Holt and Preston Cope were two great people. I have never heard one negative thing come from their mouths,” Marshall County High student Gabbi Bayers said on Facebook. “It hurts knowing we won’t be able to share the laughs anymore.”

Police investigators are seen at the scene of a shooting at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky, U.S., January 23, 2018.

Police investigators are seen at the scene of a shooting at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky, U.S., January 23, 2018. REUTERS/Harrison McClary

Five female and 13 male students 14 to 18 years old were also injured. Sixteen of the injuries were from gunshot wounds. The remaining four teenagers suffered other kinds of injuries in the panic.

Five victims were still receiving care at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville on Wednesday. Hospital officials said all were in stable condition.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and David Gregorio)

Gunman, two students dead after New Mexico high school shooting

police sirens

(Reuters) – A suspected shooter opened fire at a high school in New Mexico on Thursday, killing two students before being killed, according to police and officials from the nearby Navajo Nation.

Few other details were immediately available about the incident at Aztec High School in the city of Aztec, about 200 miles (322 km) northwest of Santa Fe, including whether the shooter was a student or if the shooter was killed by police.

The New Mexico State Police said no other injuries were reported, that the school was evacuated, and families of the victims were notified. Police said there were no other credible threats to students.

Garrett Parker, a sophomore at Aztec High School, told Hearst news affiliate KOAT, that he initially thought the gunshots were other kids banging on locker doors.

“As it got closer and louder and it was obvious it was gunshots. All I could think of was that definitely, this is it today, if whoever it is comes in then I’m probably done,” Parker said. “Thankfully our teacher always locked his door. When they called over the intercom that this was not a drill, we went over to the corner to the classroom out of sight of the door and just started hiding.”

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a statement that all schools in the area were placed on preventative lockdown as a precaution.

“It’s tragic when our children are harmed in violent ways especially on school campuses,” Begaye said in the statement.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Additional reporting by Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Andrew Hay)

North Dakota Schools Reverse Action; Will Recognize Pro-Life Student Groups

Good news for students of two North Dakota school districts; they will be able to join and operate pro-life groups this fall.

Fargo North High School and Davies High School, both in the Fargo Public School District Number 1, will allow and formally recognize Students For Life Club groups.

The school district initially refused the clubs, although they told the Christian Post in a statement it had nothing to do with content but rather incomplete paperwork.

“Administration at Davies High School has not received an application for students to form a Davies Teens for Life group at Davies High School. Students did approach administration in September 2014 regarding the possibility of starting the club,” read the statement.

“In February, administration at North High School received an incomplete application for students to form a Spartans for Life group. … Included in the ‘potential advisor of the club’ area of the application were names of two staff members that serve as paraprofessionals at North High School. Paraprofessionals cannot serve as coaches or advisors of student groups due to the Fair Labor Standards Act.”

However, the school’s claim was undermined with an assistant principal was found to have sent emails to other faculty saying the students could be connected with a church and that because of their connection to a church they couldn’t meet.

The Thomas More Society stepped in to help the students.

“Public schools are required by law to treat all student groups equally,” said Jocelyn Floyd, associate counsel of Thomas More Society, in a statement.

“Fargo North and Davies High Schools are treating pro-life students as second class citizens, forcing them to abide by a policy that was designed to protect students from exploitation by businesses, not to censor the students’ own free speech.”

Students expressed joy at the news they will be able to meet next school year.

“We are thankful to the attorneys at Thomas More Society and to Students for Life of America for supporting all our efforts,” said Fargo North sophomore Brigid O’Keefe.  “We look forward to educating our fellow students on the beauty of life at all stages and offering assistance to those in need in our community.”