Microsoft Executive Shot in cold blood in front of his 2-year-old Daughter

Matthew 24:12 “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Mystery surrounds cold-blooded execution of Microsoft exec who was shot dead in front of his two-year-old daughter when he got out of car to move tire from middle of road in affluent Florida neighborhood
  • Microsoft executive Jared Bridegan, 33, was shot dead February 16 as his two-year-old daughter watched from a car seat
  • He was moving a tire obstructing the road in a Florida neighborhood when he was gunned down
  • Police believe the killing may have been targeted, and said the assailant shot Bridegan from close range, about four feet away
  • ‘It was specific, [Bridegan] used this route all the time. Whoever [killed him] knew the route,’ said Jacksonville Beach Police Detective Sergeant David Young
  • A $30,000 reward is being offered for information – currently, there are no leads
  • ‘I still have hope… but it’s frustrating that it’s been two months and whoever did this is still out there,’ Bridegan’s wife, Kirsten, said

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Husband of former Miss Mississippi Christine Kozlowski Hand was shot while sharing the gospel

Mark 13:12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Husband of Pregnant Former Miss Mississippi Reportedly Killed in Front of 2-Year-Old Son While Sharing His Faith
  • Sources told the outlet Thomas Hand was discussing faith on Saturday when a mumbling man approached and decided to open fire. A 17-year-old named Jerimiah Walker was reportedly arrested and charged with capital murder.
  • Christian Hand, pregnant with the couple’s second child, took to Facebook Jan. 23 to thank friends and loved ones for reaching out and briefly updating everyone on what unfolded.

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Afghan woman shot, blinded, for getting a job

By Abdul Qadir Sediqi

KABUL (Reuters) – The last thing 33-year-old Khatera saw were the three men on a motorcycle who attacked her just after she left her job at a police station in Afghanistan’s central Ghazni province, shooting at her and stabbing her with a knife in the eyes.

Waking up in hospital, everything was dark.

“I asked the doctors, why I can’t see anything? They told me that my eyes are still bandaged because of the wounds. But at that moment, I knew my eyes had been taken from me,” she said.

She and local authorities blame the attack on Taliban militants – who deny involvement – and say the assailants acted on a tip-off from her father who vehemently opposed her working outside the home.

For Khatera, the attack caused not just the loss of her sight but the loss of a dream she had battled to achieve – to have an independent career. She joined the Ghazni police as an officer in its crime branch a few months ago.

“I wish I had served in police at least a year. If this had happened to me after that, it would have been less painful. It happened too soon … I only got to work and live my dream for three months,” she told Reuters.

The attack on Khatera, who only uses one name, is indicative of a growing trend, human rights activists say, of an intense and often violent backlash against women taking jobs, especially in public roles. In Khatera’s case, being a police officer could have also angered the Taliban.

The rights activists believe a mix of Afghanistan’s conservative social norms and an emboldened Taliban gaining influence while the United States withdraws its troops from the country is driving the escalation.

The Taliban are currently negotiating in Doha, Qatar, with the Afghan government to broker a peace deal in which many expect them to formally return to power, but progress is slow and there has been an uptick in fighting and attacks on officials and prominent women around the country.

In recent months, the Taliban have said they will respect women’s rights under Sharia law but many educated women say they have doubts. The insurgent group has opposed a reform to add mother’s names to identity cards, one of the first concrete stances they have revealed on women’s rights as they engage in the peace process.

“Though the situation for Afghan women in public roles has always been perilous, the recent spike in violence across the country has made matters even worse,” said Samira Hamidi, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan campaigner. “The great strides made on women’s rights in Afghanistan over more than a decade must not become a casualty of any peace deal with the Taliban.”

CHILDHOOD DREAM DASHED

Khatera’s dream as a child was to work outside the home and after years of trying to convince her father, to no avail, she was able to find support from her husband.

But her father, she said, did not give up on his opposition.

“Many times, as I went to duty, I saw my father following me … he started contacting the Taliban in the nearby area and asked them to prevent me from going to my job,” she said.

She said that he provided the Taliban with a copy of her ID card to prove she worked for police and that he had called her throughout the day she was attacked, asking for her location.

Ghazni’s police spokesman confirmed they believed the Taliban were behind the attack and that Khatera’s father had been taken into custody. Reuters was unable to reach him directly for comment.

A Taliban spokesman said the group was aware of the case, but that it was a family matter and they were not involved.

Khatera and her family, including five children, are now hiding out in Kabul, where she is recovering and mourning the career she lost.

She struggles to sleep, jumps when she hears a motorbike and has had to cut off contact with her extended family, including her mother, who blame her for her father’s arrest. She hopes desperately that a doctor overseas might somehow be able to partially restore her sight.

“If it is possible, I get back my eyesight, I will resume my job and serve in the police again,” she said, adding in part she needed an income to avoid destitution. “But the main reason is my passion to do a job outside the home.”

(Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi; Additional reporting by Orooj Hakimi and Charlotte Greenfield; Writing by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Louisville officer calls for peace after being shot during protests

(Reuters) – One of the Louisville, Kentucky, police officers who was shot last week during protests following the grand jury’s decision in the Breonna Taylor case on Wednesday called for a de-escalation of tensions between demonstrators and police.

“Hate and violence progresses nothing. It’s only when we can come together in mutual respect and love that we can communicate in an effective way and we can make real change,” Major Aubrey Gregory told a briefing on Wednesday.

Gregory and Officer Robinson Desroches were shot last Wednesday amid protests that erupted following news that a grand jury would not bring murder charges against three police officers involved in the March 13 killing of Taylor during a botched raid at her home.

Larynzo Johnson, 26, is the only suspect in the shootings of the two police officers last week. He was charged with two counts of assault and multiple counts of wanton endangerment. He pleaded not guilty.

Gregory’s calls for calm come as pressure builds on Kentucky’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, over his handling of the case. Cameron, who presented evidence to the grand jury, said in a Louisville television interview that he did not recommend any charges against the two police officers who shot Taylor, saying the jurors needed to make that decision on their own.

A recording of the grand jury proceedings was scheduled to be made public on Wednesday, but Cameron asked a Jefferson County Circuit Court judge for another week to redact private information, according to a court filing released on Wednesday.

Gregory, who said he had been playing a leading role working with protest organizers to keep demonstrations peaceful, added he was concerned about violence.

“The willingness to profess openly in public the desire to harm, kill, hurt the police and their families has really ratcheted up,” he said.

“We support the demonstrations we do not support violence in any shape, form or fashion,” said Raoul Cunningham, president of the Louisville chapter of the NAACP on Wednesday.

“We hope that the situation here will come to a peaceful conclusion. And we also hope that justice will come regarding the murder of Breonna Taylor.”

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

Five police shot during U.S. protests, Trump says he could bring in military

By Jonathan Ernst and Brendan O’Brien

WASHINGTON/MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) – At least five U.S. police were hit by gunfire during violent protests over the death of a black man in police custody, police and media said, hours after President Donald Trump said he would deploy the military if unrest does not stop.

Trump deepened outrage on Monday by posing at a church clutching a bible after law enforcement officers used teargas and rubber bullets to clear the way for him to walk there after he made his remarks in the White House Rose Garden.

Demonstrators set fire to a strip mall in Los Angeles, looted stores in New York City and clashed with police in St Louis, Missouri, where four officers were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

An emotional St Louis police commissioner, John Hayden, said about 200 protesters were “jumping up and down like crazy people”, looting and throwing fireworks and rocks at officers.

“We had to protect our headquarters building, they were throwing fireworks on officers, fireworks were exploding on officers,” he told reporters. “They had officers with gas poured on them. What is going on? How can this be? Mr Floyd was killed somewhere else and they are tearing up cities all across the country.”

A police officer was also shot during protests in the Las Vegas Strip area, AP news agency said, quoting police. Another officer was “involved in a shooting” in the same area, the agency said.

It gave no details of the shootings or the officers’ condition. Police declined to comment to Reuters.

Trump has condemned the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who died after a white policeman pinned his neck under a knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25, and has promised justice.

But, with anti-police brutality marches and rallies having turned violent after dark each day in the past week, he said rightful protests could not be drowned out by an “angry mob”.

“Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled,” Trump said. “If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

Floyd’s death has reignited simmering racial tensions in a politically divided country that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with African Americans accounting for a disproportionately high number of cases.

CRITICISM OF CHURCH VISIT

After his address, Trump posed for pictures with his daughter, Ivanka, and U.S. Attorney General William Barr at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House.

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church diocese in Washington D. C., Michael Curry, was among those who criticized Trump’s use of the historic church for a photo opportunity.

“In so doing, he used a church building and the Holy Bible for partisan political purposes,” he said on Twitter. The church suffered minor fire damage during protests on Sunday night.

The White House said it was clearing the area before a curfew.

A few hours later, thousands of people marched through Brooklyn, shouting “Justice now!” while some passing drivers honked in support.

Television images showed crowds smashing windows and looting luxury stores along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan before the city’s 11 p.m. curfew. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the curfew would be moved to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

Two police officers were struck by a car at a demonstration in Buffalo, New York, on Monday night. Officials said the driver and passengers were believed to be in custody. It was not clear whether the incident was intentional.

In Hollywood, dozens of people were shown in television images looting a drug store. Windows were shattered at a nearby Starbucks and two restaurants.

AUTOPSIES

A second autopsy ordered by Floyd’s family and released on Monday found his death was homicide by “mechanical asphyxiation,” or physical force that interfered with his oxygen supply. The report says three officers contributed to his death.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner later released autopsy findings that also called Floyd’s death homicide by asphyxiation. The county report said Floyd suffered cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by police and that he had arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease, fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use.

Derek Chauvin, the 44-year-old Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd, was arrested on third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges. Three other officers involved in the arrest have not been charged.

Floyd’s death was the latest case of police brutality against black men that was caught on videotape and prompted an outcry over racism in U.S. law enforcement.

Dozens of cities are under curfews not seen since riots after the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The National Guard deployed in 23 states and Washington, D.C.

 

(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla, Subrat Patnaik, Lisa Lambert, Andy Sullivan, Maria Caspani, Peter Szekely, Lucy Nicholson, David Shepardson, Michael Martina, Brendan O’Brien, Sharon Bernstein, Lisa Richwine and Dan Whitcomb; Writing by Dan Whitcomb and Nick Macfie; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Lincoln Feast, and Timothy Heritage)

South Korea warns North not to repeat armistice violation

South Korean Defence Minister Song Young-moo looks around a spot where a North Korean collapsed wounded by gun shot by North Korean soldiers while crossing the border on November 13, at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone, South Korea, November 27, 2017.

PANMUNJOM, South Korea (Reuters) – North Korea violated an armistice agreement with South Korea this month when North Korean soldiers shot and wounded a North Korean soldier as he defected across their border and it must not do so again, South Korea’s defense minister said on Monday.

The defector, a North Korean soldier identified only by his surname, Oh, was critically wounded but has been recovering in hospital in South Korea.

The incident comes at a time of heightened tension between North Korea and the international community over its nuclear weapons program, but the North has not publicly responded to the defection at the sensitive border.

South Korean Minister of Defence Song Young-moo issued his warning to the North while on a visit to the border where he commended South Korean soldiers at a Joint Security Area (JSA), in the so-called Truce Village of Panmunjom, in the demilitarized zone, for rescuing the defector.

A North Korean border guard briefly crossed the border with the South in the chase for the defector on Nov. 13 – a video released by the U.N. Command (UNC) in Seoul showed – a violation of the ceasefire accord between North and South at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

“Shooting towards the South at a defecting person, that’s a violation of the armistice agreement,” Song said.

“Crossing the military demarcation line, a violation. Carrying automatic rifles (in the JSA), another violation,” he added as he stood near where South Korean soldiers had found Oh, collapsed and bleeding from his wounds.

“North Korea should be informed this sort of thing should never occur again.”

Since the defection, North Korea has reportedly replaced guards stationed there. Soldiers have fortified a section of the area seen aimed at blocking any more defections by digging a trench and planting trees.

As Song was speaking 10 meters away from the trees North Korean soldiers planted, four North Korean soldiers were spotted listening closely.

South Korean military officials pointed out two bullet holes in a metal wall on a South Korean building, from North Korean shots fired at Oh as he ran.

Oh has undergone several operations in hospital to remove bullets. His lead surgeon, Lee Cook-jong, told Reuters his patient has suffers from nightmares about being returned to the North.

In South Korea, six soldiers, three South Korean and three American, were given awards by the U.S. Forces Korea last week in recognition for their efforts in rescuing the defector.

After inspecting the site on Monday, Song met troops stationed there for lunch and praised them for acting ‘promptly and appropriately’.

South Korea has been broadcasting news of the soldier’s defection towards North Korea via loudspeakers, according to the South’s Yonhap news agency.

South Korean military officials have declined to confirm that.

 

(Reporting by Do-gyun Kim; Writing by Christine Kim; Editing by Soyoung Kim, Robert Birsel)

 

In grieving Texas town, faith sustains those left behind

A member of the media walks inside the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed one week ago, as the church opens to the public as a memorial to those killed, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 12, 2017.

By Tim Reid

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (Reuters) – Joe Holcombe and his wife, Claryce, lost eight members of their family in the Texas church shooting last Sunday, including their son, grandchildren, a pregnant granddaughter-in-law and a great- granddaughter who was still a toddler. But they are serene.

Chairs and roses mark where worshipers were found dead at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed one week ago, as the church opens to the public as a memorial to those killed, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 12, 2017.

Chairs and roses mark where worshipers were found dead at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed one week ago, as the church opens to the public as a memorial to those killed, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

“It’s just not a problem to us,” said Holcombe, 86, adding that he and 84-year-old Claryce believe their dead family members are now alive again in heaven.

“We know exactly where the family is, and it’s not going to be long until we’ll both be there,” he said. “And we’re really sort of looking forward to it.”

Chairs and roses show where Joann and Brooke Ward and others were found dead at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed one week ago, as the church opens to the public as a memorial to those killed, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 12, 2017.

Chairs and roses show where Joann and Brooke Ward and others were found dead at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed one week ago, as the church opens to the public as a memorial to those killed, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The Holcombes were upbeat and full of good humor during a telephone interview, and they are not an exception in this deeply evangelical part of Texas.

What is so striking about relatives and friends of the 26 victims of the church shooting in tiny Sutherland Springs is that they all believe good will come from this act of evil and that their loved ones are now safe for eternity, and breathing again, with God.

Psychologists say such deep faith can help families deal with such a ghastly event. Even so, they warn that leaning too heavily on one’s religious beliefs can stunt the natural grieving period and result in post-traumatic stress later.

A cross with a crown of thorns and a Bible open to the book of Proverbs are seen at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed one week ago, as the church opens to the public as a memorial to those killed, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 12, 2017.

A cross with a crown of thorns and a Bible open to the book of Proverbs are seen at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed one week ago, as the church opens to the public as a memorial to those killed, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

“I can see potentially it could be some form of denial, a delayed traumatic reaction, and if you don’t have some kind of negative feelings, it can catch up with you,” said clinical psychologist and trauma expert Bethany Brand.

Gina Hassan, a psychologist in northern California, said Sutherland Spring’s faith was invaluable in the wake of the shooting, “but if it’s relied upon in a rigid way, then it’s going to be a problem down the line and come back to bite you later on.”

Local veterinarian George Hill, a relative of the Holcombes, said an evangelical belief in Christ was the only way to deal with such a tragedy.

“We haven’t lost hope,” he said. “They are not gone. They are just gone ahead. And we know we’ll see them again.”

He expressed faith that evil would not prevail. “It looks like evil won, but it didn’t,” he said. “Good is going to win.”

Pastor Mike Clements of the First Baptist Church in Floresville, a small city 14 miles from Sutherland Springs, is officiating over the funeral services for the extended Holcombe family on Wednesday.

The dead include Bryan Holcombe, Joe and Claryce Holcombe’s son, and his wife Karla. Their son Danny Holcombe was killed as well, along with his 18-month-old daughter, Noah. Crystal Holcombe, who was 18 weeks pregnant, was Bryan and Karla Holcombe’s daughter-in-law.

Also shot and killed were Emily, Megan and Greg Hill, three children from Crystal’s first marriage, which had ended with her husband’s death.

Under Texas law, Crystal’s unborn child is also being counted as a victim, making a death toll of nine for the family.

People in Sutherland Springs are truly grieving, Clements said. But evangelicals accept Christ into their lives in a very real way, and because of that, their faith is incredibly liberating, especially at a time of such great tragedy.

Most fundamentally, he said, they believe people who have accepted Christ will go to heaven.

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” Clements said over lunch near his church. “There is nothing better than heaven when you are a believer.”

 

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Lisa Von Ahn)

 

Jordanian soldier who shot Israeli schoolgirls walks free from jail

Ahmad Daqamseh, a Jordanian soldier convicted of killing seven Israeli schoolgirls on March 13, 1997, is seen at Um Alluol prison in the city of Mafraq, Jordan, July 30, 2013. Picture taken July 30, 2013. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi

AMMAN (Reuters) – A Jordanian soldier who killed seven Israeli schoolgirls has been freed after serving 20 years in prison, with many Jordanians celebrating his release and calling him a national hero, witnesses and family sources said on Sunday.

Ahmad Daqamseh, 45, was taken to his family home in the village of Ibdir near the city of Irbid in northern Jordan where dozens of relatives and wellwishers gave him a rousing welcome.

Jordanian security services set up checkpoints around the village to restrict access as people flocked to see him.

In July 1997, a five-member Jordanian military tribunal found Daqamseh guilty of opening fire on a group of Israeli schoolchildren and killing seven of them before soldiers seized him and rushed to help the victims.

Daqamseh became a hero to many Jordanians and was embraced as a figurehead by a strong opposition movement led by Islamists and nationalists vehemently opposed to the country’s peace treaty with Israel.

During the trial, Daqamseh said the girls had mocked him while he was performing Muslim prayers in a border area returned to Jordanian sovereignty under the 1994 peace treaty.

He would have faced the death penalty but the tribunal ruled he was mentally unstable and sentenced him to life imprisonment, which is equivalent to 20 years under Jordanian law.

A few days after the incident, the late King Hussein personally apologized for the incident, traveling to Israel to visit and pay his respects to the girls’ families.

Many lawmakers welcomed his release. Neither the Jordanian nor the Israeli government made any comment.

“The release of this hero has cheered us. Israel has committed crimes against many Jordanians that were never accounted for,” Saleh Armouti, a leading parliamentarian, said.

One Israeli survivor, Keren Mizrahi, said Daqamseh’s release revived painful memories and he had served a light sentence.

“My feeling is that it’s like I’m being wounded again, mentally and physically, as if a knife is turned inside my heart,” she was quoted as saying on Israeli Channel 10 TV.

A defiant Daqamseh told Al Jazeera he did not recognize Israel, saying Arabs could not have normal ties with what he termed “the Zionist entity”.

Jordan’s biggest political opposition group, the Islamic Action Front, which is the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, hailed his release.

“We congratulate Jordan and the family of the hero Ahmad al Daqmaseh his release from prison,” it said in a statement.

Many lawmakers and politicians had lobbied to set him free in a kingdom where hostility toward Israel runs deep.

Many Jordanians see Israel as an occupier state which has driven them from their land. Palestinians originally from Jordan make up a large proportion of the country’s population.

(Editing by Louise Ireland)