Spurned advances provoked Texas school shooting, victim’s mother says

Candles are lit behind images of the victims killed in a shooting at Santa Fe High School during a vigil in League City, Texas, U.S., May 20, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

By Liz Hampton

SANTA FE, Texas (Reuters) – A teenage boy charged with fatally shooting eight students and two teachers during a gun rampage at a Houston-area high school had been spurned by one of his victims after making aggressive advances, her mother told a newspaper.

Sadie Rodriguez, the mother of Shana Fisher, 16, who was killed in the attack, told the Los Angeles Times that her daughter rejected four months of aggressive advances from Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, who is in jail accused of murdering 10 people early on Friday at the high school in Santa Fe.

Fisher finally stood up to him and embarrassed him in class, the newspaper quoted her mother as writing in a private message to the Times.

(For graphic on timeline of major mass shootings in the United States since 2007 click https://tmsnrt.rs/2LfKug6)

“A week later he opens fire on everyone he didn’t like,” she said. “Shana being the first one.”

Rodriguez could not independently be reached for comment.

If true, it would be the second school shooting in recent months driven by such rejection.

In March, a 17-year-old Maryland high school student used his father’s gun to fatally shoot a female student with whom he had been in a recently ended relationship.

Police said Pagourtzis confessed to Friday’s killings after he was taken into custody, but authorities have offered no motive yet for the massacre, the fourth-deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. public school in modern history.

The Santa Fe Independent School District (ISD) denied accounts from some classmates that Pagourtzis had been bullied, including by a football coach.

“Administration looked into these claims and confirmed that these reports are untrue,” it said on Saturday in a statement.

Classmates at the school, which has some 1,460 students, described Pagourtzis as a quiet loner who played on the football team. He wore a black trench coat to school in the Texas heat on Friday and opened fire with a pistol and shotgun.

Mourners attend a vigil in memory of the victims killed in a shooting at Santa Fe High School in League City, Texas, U.S., May 20, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Mourners attend a vigil in memory of the victims killed in a shooting at Santa Fe High School in League City, Texas, U.S., May 20, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

‘THE AFTERMATH’

In Santa Fe on Sunday, many churches and businesses had signs outside with messages such as “Santa Fe strong” and “Santa Fe ISD we are here for you.”

About 100 people attended an emotional service at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church. Service dogs were in a nearby hall to help console grieving victims.

Jared Black, one of the students killed, attended a youth group at the church, and many of its members embraced his mother Pam when the family arrived.

At a mosque in another Houston suburb, mourners crowded around the coffin of 17-year-old Sabika Sheikh, a Pakistani exchange student who died in the rampage.

It was the latest rampage to stoke a long-running national debate over gun ownership, three months after a student-led gun control movement emerged from a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17 teens and educators.

Many of those student activists have taken aim at the pro-gun National Rifle Association.

Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” NRA President Oliver North said students should not be afraid to attend class, but that his gun-rights advocacy group did not think the solution was to limit the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

“I believe that we can make sure kids are protected without taking away the rights of law-abiding citizens,” North said, calling for metal detectors in schools and more use of the NRA’s offer to schools of free security assessments.

Pagourtzis has provided authorities little information about the shootings, his attorney, Nicholas Poehl, said, adding: “Honestly because of his emotional state, I don’t have a lot on that.”

Texas’ governor, Greg Abbott, a Republican, told reporters that Pagourtzis obtained the firearms from his father, who had likely acquired them legally.

Abbott also said Pagourtzis wanted to commit suicide, citing the suspect’s journals, but lacked the courage to do so.

Pagourtzis’ family said in a statement it was “saddened and dismayed” by the shooting and “as shocked as anyone else” by the events. The family said it was cooperating with authorities.

(Reporting by Liz Hampton; Additional reporting by Erwin Seba in Houston and Ian Simpson in Washington; Writing by Rich McKay and Daniel Wallis; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Peter Cooney)

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)

 

Kuwait condemns Philippine president’s call to evacuate workers

Kuwait's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah al Khalid Al Sabah attends the Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq, in Bayan, Kuwait February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee

KUWAIT (Reuters) – A top Kuwaiti official condemned on Tuesday a call by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to evacuate his country’s workers from Kuwait, suggesting Duterte could damage ties between the two countries.

Duterte said last week that his government would ask private airlines to evacuate Filipino nationals from Kuwait within 72 hours, after the discovery of the dead body of a Filipino migrant worker in a freezer.

Two planes full of workers arrived in Manila from Kuwait on Monday on flights provided for free by commercial airlines at the president’s request. On Sunday, the Philippine labor minister said more than 2,200 Filipinos were ready to take up Duterte’s offer.

“We are surprised and we condemn statements from the Philippine president, especially as we are in contact with the Philippines on a high level to explain the workers’ conditions in Kuwait,” said Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah.

He was speaking at a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a meeting in Kuwait of the global coalition against Islamic State.

“Escalation does not serve the ties between Kuwait and the Philippines,” Sheikh Sabah said, adding that 170,000 Filipinos “live a decent life in Kuwait … but separate accidents unfortunately happen, and we are providing our Filipino counterparts with the results of the investigations.”

The Philippines suspended sending workers to Kuwait in January after reports that abuse by employers had driven several to suicide.

(Reporting by Ahmed Hagagy; Additional reporting by Martin Petty; Writing by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Andrew Torchia, William Maclean)

Trump to order mental health aid to prevent suicide among military veterans

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin (L) after signing the Veterans Affairs Choice and Quality Employment Act at Trump's golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey U.S. August 12, 2017.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday was set to sign an executive order that will direct government departments to try to prevent suicide among military veterans by treating mental health problems before they become more serious.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin told reporters on a conference call that Trump wants to address an alarming trend, that of 20 veterans a day taking their own life.

“That is just an unacceptable number and we are focused on doing everything we can to try to prevent these veteran suicides,” Shulkin said.

Trump’s order will direct the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs to develop a plan in 60 days to provide access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources for uniformed service members in the first year following military service.

The new order will cost about $200 million year to implement, money that will be diverted from the agencies’ current budget, a senior administration official said.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by David Gregorio)

Facebook to expand artificial intelligence to help prevent suicide

A 3D plastic representation of the Facebook logo is seen in this photo illustration

By David Ingram

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc will expand its pattern recognition software to other countries after successful tests in the U.S. to detect users with suicidal intent, the world’s largest social media network said on Monday.

Facebook began testing the software in the United States in March, when the company started scanning the text of Facebook posts and comments for phrases that could be signals of an impending suicide.

Facebook has not disclosed many technical details of the program, but the company said its software searches for certain phrases that could be clues, such as the questions “Are you ok?” and “Can I help?”

If the software detects a potential suicide, it alerts a team of Facebook workers who specialize in handling such reports. The system suggests resources to the user or to friends of the person such as a telephone help line. Facebook workers sometimes call local authorities to intervene.

Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president for product management, said the company was beginning to roll out the software outside the United States because the tests have been successful. During the past month, he said, first responders checked on people more than 100 times after Facebook software detected suicidal intent.

Facebook said it tries to have specialist employees available at any hour to call authorities in local languages.

“Speed really matters. We have to get help to people in real time,” Rosen said.

Last year, when Facebook launched live video broadcasting, videos proliferated of violent acts including suicides and murders, presenting a threat to the company’s image. In May Facebook said it would hire 3,000 more people to monitor videos and other content.

Rosen did not name the countries where Facebook was deploying the software, but he said it would eventually be used worldwide except in the European Union due to sensitivities, which he declined to discuss.

Other tech firms also try to prevent suicides. Google’s search engine displays the phone number for a suicide hot line in response to certain searches.

Facebook knows lots about its 2.1 billion users – data that it uses for targeted advertising – but in general the company has not been known previously to systematically scan conversations for patterns of harmful behavior.

One exception is its efforts to spot suspicious conversations between children and adult sexual predators. Facebook sometimes contacts authorities when its automated screens pick up inappropriate language.

But it may be more difficult for tech firms to justify scanning conversations in other situations, said Ryan Calo, a University of Washington law professor who writes about tech.

“Once you open the door, you might wonder what other kinds of things we would be looking for,” Calo said.

Rosen declined to say if Facebook was considering pattern recognition software in other areas, such as non-sex crimes.

 

 

(Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Susan Thomas)

 

Opioid abuse crisis takes heavy toll on U.S. veterans

Needles used for shooting heroin and other opioids along with other paraphernalia litter the ground in a park in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. October 26, 2017.

By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Opioid drug abuse has killed more Americans than the Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam wars combined, and U.S. veterans and advocates this Veteran’s Day are focusing on how to help victims of the crisis.

Veterans are twice as likely as non-veterans to die from accidental overdoses of the highly addictive painkillers, a rate that reflects high levels of chronic pain among vets, particularly those who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to federal data.

U.S. government and healthcare officials have been struggling to stem the epidemic of overdoses, which killed more than 64,000 Americans in the 12 months ending last January alone, a 21 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. About 65,000 Americans died in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

President Donald Trump named opioids a national public health emergency and a White House commission last week recommended establishing a nationwide system of drug courts and easier access to alternatives to opioids for people in pain.

“Our veterans deserve better than polished sound bites and empty promises,” said former Democratic Congressman Patrick Kennedy, a recovering addict and a member of the president’s opioid commission.

Kennedy said in an e-mail that more funding was needed for treatment facilities and medical professionals to help tackle the problem.

One effort to address the issue has stalled in Congress – the proposed Veterans Overmedication Prevention Act, sponsored by Senator John McCain. That measure is aimed at researching ways to help Veterans Administration doctors rely less on opioids in treating chronic pain.

“The Veterans Administration needs to understand whether overmedication of drugs, such as opioid pain-killers, is a contributing factor in suicide-related deaths,” McCain, one of the nation’s most visible veterans, said in an e-mail on Thursday. He noted that 20 veterans take their lives each day, a suicide rate 21 percent higher than for other U.S. adults.

The VA system has stepped up its efforts to address the crisis, having treated some 68,000 veterans for opioid addiction since March, said Department of Veterans Affairs spokesman Curtis Cashour.

The department’s Louis Stokes VA Center in Cleveland has also begun testing alternative treatments, including acupuncture and yoga, to reduce use of and dependency on the drugs, the VA said.

A delay in naming a Trump administration “drug czar” to head the effort, however, has fueled doubts about immediate action on the opioid crisis. Last month the White House nominee, Representative Tom Marino, withdrew from consideration following a report he spearheaded a bill that hurt the government’s ability to crack down on opioid makers.

 

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Dan Grebler)

 

Texas gunman’s in-laws sometimes attended church, sheriff says

The playground at the site of a shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 6, 2017.

By Jon Herskovitz and Lisa Maria Garcia

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (Reuters) – A man thrown out of the U.S. Air Force for beating his wife and child shot and killed 26 people in a Texas church where his in-laws had sometimes worshipped before shooting himself, officials said on Monday, in the latest in a string of U.S. mass shootings.

The gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, walked into the white-steepled First Baptist Church in rural Sutherland Springs carrying an assault rifle and wearing black tactical gear, then opened fire during a Sunday prayer service. He wounded at least 20 others, officials said.

After he left the church, two local residents, one of whom was armed, chased him in their vehicles and exchanged gunfire, and Kelley crashed his car and shot himself, dying of his wounds, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told CBS News in an interview on Monday morning.

“At this time we believe that he had a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Tackitt said.

Tackitt said Kelley’s in-laws sometimes attended services at First Baptist, which was cordoned off by yellow crime-scene tape on Monday morning.

“I heard that they attended church from time to time,” Tackitt told Reuters. “Not on a regular basis.”

The attack came a little more than a month after a gunman killed 58 people in Las Vegas in the deadliest shooting by a sole gunman in U.S. history.

The initial death toll matched the fatalities at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where a man shot and killed 26 children and educators and his mother before taking his own life in December 2012. Those attacks now stand as the fourth deadliest by a single gunman in the United States.

 

‘POWDER KEG’

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott told CBS there was evidence that Kelley had mental health problems and that he had been denied a Texas gun permit.

“It’s clear this is a person who had violent tendencies, who had some challenges, and someone who was a powder keg, seeming waiting to go off,” Abbott said.

Abbott and other Republican leaders were quick to say that the attack did not influence their support of gun ownership by U.S. citizens – the right to bear arms protected under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“This isn’t a guns situation. I mean we could go into it but it’s a little bit soon to go into it,” U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters while on trip to Asia. “But fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise … it would have been much worse. But this is a mental health problem at the highest level.”

Democrats renewed their call to restrict gun ownership following the attack.

“How many more people must die at churches or concerts or schools before we stop letting the @NRA control this country’s gun policies,” Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren said on Twitter.

The victims in Sutherland Springs, a community of fewer than 400 people, located about 40 miles (65 km) east of San Antonio, included the 14-year-old daughter of church pastor Frank Pomeroy, the family told several television stations.

A woman prays after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 5, 2017. Nick Wagner/AMERICAN-STATESMAN via REUTERS

A woman prays after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 5, 2017. Nick Wagner/AMERICAN-STATESMAN via REUTERS

One couple, Joe and Claryce Holcombe, told the Washington Post they lost eight extended family members, including a pregnant granddaughter-in-law and three of her children.

In rural areas like Sutherland Springs, gun ownership is a part of life and the state’s Republican leaders for years have balked at gun control, arguing that more firearms among responsible owners make the state safer.

John Stiles, a 76-year-old retired U.S. Navy veteran, said he heard the shots from his home about 150 yards (137 m) from the church.

“The wind was blowing and there was a bang, bang, bang. It was the gunshots,” Stiles said. “My wife and I were looking for a peaceful and quiet place when we moved here but now that hasn’t worked out.”

Kelley served in its Logistics Readiness unit at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge in 2014, according to the U.S. Air Force.

Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 on charges of assaulting his wife and child, and given a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for 12 months and a reduction in rank, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said.

Kelley’s Facebook page has been deleted, but cached photos show a profile picture where he appeared with two small children. He also posted a photo of what appeared to be an assault rifle, writing a post that read: “She’s a bad bitch.”

 

(Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, Phil Stewart in Washington, and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Jeffrey Benkoe)

 

Two dead, including suspect in Dallas-area college shooting -police

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – A gunman on Wednesday shot and killed a woman on a college campus in the Dallas area, before committing suicide, police said, two days after a deadly stabbing at another college in Texas.

Adrian Victor Torres, 21, shot and killed Janeera Nickol Gonzalez, 20, in a common study area at North Lake College in Irving, before taking his own life in a locker room shower in a nearby building, the Irving Police Department said.

“It is unclear at this time if there was a prior connection between the victim and suspect,” it said in a statement.

Local news showed video footage of students running out of school buildings, located about 10 miles (16 km) west of downtown Dallas, at about 11:30 a.m., as police swarmed the campus.

Gonzalez’s mother Lucia told an ABC affiliate that Torres “had been stalking her for quite a while but she didn’t make anything of it.”

The family told the WFAA that the two never dated and were not friends. Gonzalez was studying kinesiology and planned to graduate in a few weeks.

“There is no justice for my daughter,” Gonzalez said.

College officials announced the school would be closed for the rest of the week.

On Monday, a man enrolled at the University of Texas went on a stabbing spree with a large hunting knife at the school’s Austin campus about 200 miles (320 km) south of Irving, killing one student and wounding three, police said.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; , Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Clarence Fernandez)

Chicago police department struggles with officer suicide

Ark Maciaszek poses with a photo of his cousin, former Chicago police officer and suicide victim Scott Tracz, at his home in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. May 2, 2017. Picture taken May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

By Timothy Mclaughlin

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Rookie Chicago police officer Scott Tracz sat in a black sports car outside his girlfriend’s suburban house late last year, put his gun to his head and fatally shot himself.

The normally upbeat Tracz, 30, had become withdrawn and sullen, struggling with the violence he witnessed as an officer but rejecting advice from friends and family to seek help, fearing it would end his career, relatives said.

“He said, ‘I will lose my job,'” his cousin, Ark Maciaszek, said. “Just like that.”

Tracz is believed to be the latest contributor to the Chicago Police Department’s suicide rate, which stands 60 percent higher than the national average according to a recent U.S. Department of Justice report.

Critics say the problem has been exacerbated by a lack of mental health resources. Chicago officials said they are working to improve their mental health services.

The pressure on Chicago’s police officers has intensified as the city has dealt with a surge in murders and increased scrutiny around tactics following the 2015 release of video showing the shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald by a white officer.

In 2016, the number of murders in the city jumped nearly 60 percent to over 760, more than New York and Los Angeles combined. There were more than 4,300 shooting victims in the city last year, according to police.

The McDonald video sparked outrage and thrust Chicago into the nationwide debate over police use of force. The subsequent Justice Department report in January found Chicago police routinely violated civil rights, and also cited suicide as a “significant problem” for the city’s officers.

“Chicago is a war zone,” said Alexa James, the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Chicago. “They (officers) are seeing the worst day of everybody’s life every day.”

Chicago police’s suicide rate was 29.4 per 100,000 department members between 2013 and 2015, the report said, citing police union figures. The department disagreed in the report, putting the rate at 22.7 suicides per 100,000 members. Both estimates were higher than the national average of 18.1 law enforcement suicides per 100,000.

RELUCTANT TO SEEK HELP

While each case contributing to Chicago’s suicide rate is different, interviews with mental health professionals and legal experts, as well as current and former officers, reveal deep-rooted stigma for those seeking help from its Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Some officers believe that seeking counseling will result in the loss of their Firearm Owner Identification Card, a requirement to carry a firearm under state law, according to current and former officers, as well as health officials. That view is mistaken, say Justice Department officials.

Still, “If someone thinks I have talked to EAP they think I’m unstable, so I’m not going to call,” said one veteran officer, who asked not to be identified.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in February the department’s past approach to mental health was wrong. In a report issued in March, the department said it would review mental wellness support services.

“Law enforcement historically has been seen as a very macho profession,” Johnson said at a public forum about police reform. “To say you needed help was seen as a sign of weakness and we were wrong for looking at it that way, we were simply wrong.”

Tracz had long dreamed of becoming a police officer to help others. But working in the violence-stricken Chicago Lawn district, he came face to face with the city’s violent crime. The area accounted for 58 of the city’s more than 760 murders last year, as well as 228 shootings.

“He would say, ‘You can never imagine what the human race is capable of doing,’ then he would just put his head down,” said his cousin Maciaszek, 46. Tracz’s relationship with his long-time girlfriend also grew strained as he became more irritable and angry, Maciaszek said.

Even if officers like Tracz had sought help they would have found the department’s resources strained. Three clinicians serve roughly 12,500 sworn officers and also their families, providing nearly 7,500 consultations in 2015, the Department of Justice said in its report.

The program is hiring another psychologist, as well as another drug and alcohol counselor, Robert Sobo, the department director of counseling services, said in an interview. In addition, the unit has four officers who serve as substance abuse counselors and a peer support network, he said.

But this would still leave the department lagging other major police cities of similar size. For example, Los Angeles Police has 14 trained psychologists and plans to hire two more for fewer than 10,000 sworn officers.

“Suicide is killing officers, alcohol is killing officers, at a far greater rate than ambushes, but there is not the same sense of urgency around this issue,” said Christy Lopez, a former Justice Department official who led the Chicago federal probe.

(Editing by Ben Klayman and Matthew Lewis)

Suspect in Facebook video murder kills self in Pennsylvania: police

Coroner Lyell P. Cook (R) examines the car of a fugitive, who police said posted a video of himself on Facebook killing an elderly man in Cleveland, is seen after he shot and killed himself following a brief police pursuit in Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Robert Frank

By Robert Frank

ERIE, Pa. (Reuters) – A murder suspect who police said posted a video on Facebook of the killing of a Cleveland man fatally shot himself after a “brief pursuit” by Pennsylvania State Police officers on Tuesday, police said.

Steve Stephens was accused of shooting Robert Godwin Sr., 74, on a sidewalk on Sunday before fleeing in a car and uploading a video of the murder to Facebook, becoming the focus of a nationwide manhunt.

Pennsylvania State Police officers found Stephens in Erie County, Pennsylvania, after getting a tip from the public that his white Ford Fusion was parked outside a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant, Calvin Williams, the Cleveland police chief, told a news conference.

After a brief chase, Stephens stopped his vehicle, Williams said.

“As the officers approached that vehicle Steve Stephens took his own life,” Williams said. “We would have preferred that it had not ended this way,” he added, saying he and the community would have had “a lot of questions” for Stephens.

Stephens, who had no prior criminal record, was not suspected in any other killings, Cleveland officials said. Stephens said in a separate video on Facebook on Sunday that he had already killed a dozen others.

The shooting marked the latest video clip of a violent crime to turn up on Facebook, raising questions about how the world’s biggest social media network moderates content.

The company will do all it can to prevent content like Stephens’ post, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told Facebook’s annual conference for software developers on Tuesday in San Jose.

Facebook on Monday said it would review how it monitors violent footage and other objectionable material in response to the killing after Stephens’ post was visible on the social media site for about two hours.

Stephens is not believed to have known Godwin, a retired foundry worker who media reports said spent Easter Sunday morning with his son and daughter-in-law before he was killed.

Beech Brook, a behavioral health facility in a Cleveland suburb where Stephens had worked since 2008, said in a statement on Tuesday that Stephens had cleared an extensive background check.

In interviews before Stephens’ death, some of Godwin’s relatives forgave his killer.

“I forgive him because we are all sinners,” Robby Miller, Godwin’s son, said in an interview with CNN.

Others were less sympathetic.

“All I can say is that I wish he had gone down in a hail of 100 bullets,” Godwin’s daughter, Brenda Haymon, told CNN. “I wish it had gone down like that instead of him shooting himself.”

(Writing by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York, Timothy McLaughlin in Chicago and David Ingram in San Jose, CA.; Editing by Dan Grebler)