Manhunt shifts for gunman who killed one on Utah campus

By Barbara Goldberg

(Reuters) – Hundreds of police officers poured into a canyon near the University of Utah’s Salt Lake City campus on Tuesday in a search for a gunman suspected of killing a student during a carjacking attempt.

The search shifted from the campus to Red Butte Canyon, a research area on the east side of the school, where classes were canceled on Tuesday following the shooting on Monday night, authorities said.

An overnight “secure-in-place” alert for the entire campus was lifted early on Tuesday.

University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy said the suspect, identified as Austin Boutain, 24, had assaulted his wife while camping in the canyon, which is used for research and has a public botanical garden, arboretum and hiking trails.

Brophy said Boutain then tried to hijack a car, fatally shooting ChenWei Guo, a pre-computer science student from China.

“ChenWei was parked near the gate in Red Butte Canyon when the suspect fatally shot him while attempting to hijack his vehicle,” University President David Pershing said in a statement.

Salt Lake City Police Detective Greg Wilking said the gunman did not take the car and fled on foot from the scene, just a few miles from downtown Salt Lake City.

Guo worked as a peer adviser in the International Student and Scholar Services Office, Pershing said. In his profile on WayUp, a social media site, Guo said he worked as an interpreter and technology supporter at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, headquartered in Salt Lake City.

The FBI and more than 200 law enforcement officers joined the hunt for Boutain, who police believe fled into the Wasatch Mountains, where Red Butte Canyon is located, and was “considered armed and dangerous,” Brophy said.

“We want to be sure we check all the nooks and crannies, anywhere this person might be hiding,” Brophy said. “We will continue our search until we are confident he’s not in the mountains or we find Mr. Boutain.”

Brophy declined to give more information about the suspect, including whether he was a student or where he lives.

Boutain’s wife approached campus police at about 8:15 p.m. on Monday to report being assaulted by her husband, Brophy said. She later was treated and was released, he said.

Shortly thereafter, police received reports of shots fired.

Commuter train services were suspended near the school, local media reported.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Angela Moon in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Trott)

Two fatally shot at Louisiana’s Grambling State University

(Reuters) – Two men were shot and killed at Grambling State University in Louisiana, and police searched on Wednesday for the assailant who fled the scene, school and law enforcement officials said.

A student, Earl Andrews, 23, and Monquiarious Caldwell, 23, who was not enrolled at the university, were fatally shot during an altercation in a campus courtyard shortly after midnight Wednesday, the officials said.

The shooting came after an argument in a dormitory room, said Major Chad Alexander of the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Department, the agency investigating the incident.

Grambling spokesman Will Sutton said in an email, “Our prayers go out to the victims and their families. Violence has no place on our campus.”

Classes were scheduled on Wednesday, Sutton said.

“It is homecoming week, a normally joyful time,” he said. “We would never have anticipated anything like this. It’s such senseless violence.”

Both of the shooting victims were from Farmerville, Louisiana, Sutton said.

Grambling State University is a historically black college attended by about 4,800 students in Grambling in northern Louisiana.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Florida police brace for protests with speech by white nationalist

Florida Highway Patrol officers stand guard the day before a speech by Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist and spokesperson for the so-called alt-right movement, on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By Zachary Fagenson

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Reuters) – Hundreds of police will be deployed at the University of Florida on Thursday as thousands are poised to protest a speech by an avowed white nationalist, an event that prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency in preparation for possible violence.

Richard Spencer’s speech at the university in Gainesville comes about two months after rallies by neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, led to violent clashes with counter-protesters and killed at least one person. The flare-up challenged U.S. President Donald Trump and stoked a smoldering national debate on race.

Spencer, who heads the National Policy Institute, is scheduled to speak from 2:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) at a performing arts center. The university said no one at the university invited him to speak and it was obligated under law to allow the event.

The National Policy Institute is vetting which reporters it will allow inside to cover the speech, university officials said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups in the United States, said Spencer is “a radical white separatist whose goal is the establishment of a white ethno-state in North America.”

The Orlando Sentinel newspaper quoted Spencer as saying the emergency declaration issued this week was “flattering” but “most likely overkill.”

About 3,000 people have signed up on a Facebook page to say they will be attending a protest rally called “No Nazis at UF,” which will be held outside the venue where Spencer is speaking.

The university said it will spend more than $500,000 on security. It did not provide details on tactics but among the groups dispatched will be the University of Florida Police Department, Gainesville Police Department, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida Highway Patrol.

Classes at the university will be conducted as planned except for those held in close proximity to the speech venue, the school said.

University President Kent Fuchs urged students not to attend the event and denounced Spencer’s white nationalism.

“By shunning him and his followers we will block his attempt for further visibility,” Fuchs said in a statement earlier this month.

The death in Charlottesville, home to the flagship campus of the University of Virginia, occurred as counter-protesters were dispersing. A 20-year-old man who is said by law enforcement to have harbored Nazi sympathies smashed his car into the crowd, killing a 32-year-old woman.


(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Leslie Adler)


California university system sues Trump over roll back of ‘dreamers’ program

U.S. President Donald Trump stops to answer reporters' questions as he and first lady Melania Trump depart for a weekend retreat with his cabinet at Camp David, from the White House in Washington, U.S., September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Mica Rosenberg

(Reuters) – A former top security official who helped put in place a program protecting people brought to the United States illegally as children, is suing the Trump White House as head of the University of California system over plans to roll back the policy.

Janet Napolitano, the former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama, said in a lawsuit filed on Friday that ended the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, or DACA, violates the due process of about 800,000 beneficiaries, known as “dreamers,” who were granted permits that protected them from deportation.

“The University has constitutionally-protected interests in the multiple educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body,” the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Northern California said. “If these students leave the University before completing their education, UC will lose the benefits it derives from their contributions, as well as the value of the time and money it invested in these students.”

The lawsuit also argues Trump did not follow the proper procedures needed to cancel a program of this magnitude.

California has more DACA recipients than any other state, many are in their 20s and are current students.

“They’ve grown up here, they’ve gotten their educations here, many of them don’t even speak the language of the country to which they would be deported if this decision were allowed to stand,” Napolitano said on a call with reporters.

The legal challenge comes on top of a separate lawsuit filed earlier in the week by 16 Democratic Attorneys General saying the president’s decision to end the program was based in part on racial animus towards Mexicans, who are the largest beneficiaries.

Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley gave the same comment about Napolitano’s lawsuit as he did in response to the lawsuit by the states. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in announcing his decision to end the program said it was “inconsistent with the Constitution’s separation of powers.”

Obama enacted DACA through an executive action implemented by the Department of Homeland Security after Congress failed to pass legislation.

“While the plaintiffs in today’s lawsuit may believe that an arbitrary circumvention of Congress is lawful, the Department of Justice looks forward to defending this Administration’s position,” O’Malley said in a statement.

Trump, who delayed the end of the program until March 5, shifted responsibility to a Congress controlled by his fellow Republicans, saying it was now up to lawmakers to pass immigration legislation that could address the fate of those protected by DACA. Trump’s move was criticized by business and religious leaders, mayors, governors, Democratic lawmakers, unions and civil liberties advocates.

Legal experts have said that court challenges to Trump’s actions could face an uphill battle, since the president typically has wide authority when it comes to implementing immigration policy.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York; Additonal reporting by Yehaneh Torbati; editing by Grant McCool)

Duke University removes contentious Confederate statue after vandalism

The empty plinth where a statue of Confederate commander General Robert E. Lee once stood is flanked by statues of Thomas Jefferson and the poet Sidney Lanier at the entrance to Duke University's Duke Chapel after officials removed the controversial statue early Saturday morning in Durham, North Carolina, U.S., August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Miczek

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) – Duke University removed a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the entrance of a chapel on the Durham, North Carolina, campus, officials said on Saturday, days after it was vandalized.

The decision to take down the statue followed discussions among students, faculty, staff and alumni about maintaining safety on campus, university President Vincent E. Price said in a statement.

“I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university,” Price said.

The prestigious university will preserve the statue of Lee, who led Confederate forces in the American Civil War of 1861-1865, and use it as an educational tool so that students can study “Duke’s complex past,” Price added.

The Confederacy, comprised of 11 Southern states, broke from the Union largely to preserve the institution of slavery.

Symbols of the Confederacy have come into focus since last weekend, when white nationalists, angered at the planned removal of a statue of Lee from a park in Charlottesville, Virginia, engaged in violent protests where a counter-protester was killed.

The Robert E. Lee statue, one of 10 outside Duke Chapel, was vandalized and defaced late on Wednesday night. Campus security discovered the damage early Thursday, according to university officials. The incident was under investigation.

“Wednesday night’s act of vandalism made clear that the turmoil and turbulence of recent months do not stop at Duke’s gates,” Price said.

“We have a responsibility to come together as a community to determine how we can respond to this unrest in a way that demonstrates our firm commitment to justice, not discrimination,” he said.

Duke will form a committee to advise the school on how to properly memorialize historical figures on campus, and to recommend teaching programs, exhibitions and forums to explore its past.

There are more than 1,500 symbols of the Confederacy, including 700 monuments and statues, in public spaces across the United States, the Southern Poverty Law Center said.

The large majority of these were erected long after the Civil War ended in 1865. Many went up early in the 20th century during a backlash among segregationists against the civil rights movement.

More than a half-dozen have been taken down since last week.


(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)


College professor, second man sought in fatal Chicago stabbing

College professor, second man sought in fatal Chicago stabbing

By Ian Simpson

(Reuters) – A nationwide manhunt was under way for a Northwestern University professor and an employee of Britain’s Oxford University who are accused in a fatal stabbing in Chicago last week, police said on Thursday.

Wyndham Lathem, 42, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Northwestern, and Andrew Warren, 56, who works at Oxford, are both at large, but Chicago police said the authorities have some idea where they might be.

“We strongly encourage Professor Lathem and Mr. Warren to do the right thing and turn themselves into any police department,” the statement said.

Officers who responded to a call last Thursday found a 30-year-old man in central Chicago with several cuts to his body, police said. The man was pronounced dead at the scene and has not been officially identified.

The police have not given a motive for the slaying or what relationship the man may have had with Lathem and Warren.

Police have restricted Lathem’s passport and Warren’s visa, and arrest warrants were out for them. Federal officials are aiding in the case and a national alert has been sent to law enforcement agencies, it said.

Northwestern said that Lathem, a faculty member since 2007, had been placed on administrative leave and banned from the Chicago-area school.

“There is no indication of any risk to the Northwestern community from this individual at this time,” it said in a statement.

Warren is a senior treasury assistant at Somerville College, part of the Oxford University network, the college said in a statement.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson)

Case of missing China scholar rattles compatriots at U.S. colleges

Chinese student Yingying Zhang is seen in a still image from security camera video taken outside an MTD Teal line bus in Urbana, Illinois, U.S. June 9, 2017. University of Illinois Police/Handout via REUTERS

By Julia Jacobs

CHICAGO(Reuters) – For many of the 300,000 Chinese students at U.S. colleges and their parents back home, the presumed kidnapping of a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois confirmed their worst fears about coming to America to study.

Xinyi Zhang, a 21-year-old student from China who is studying accounting at the same Illinois school that the missing woman was attending, said the case has stirred deep anxiety for her and her family in China.

She said she had tried to shield her parents from details of the disappearance of Yingying Zhang, 26, who came to Illinois several months ago to study photosynthesis and crop productivity. But the Chinese media had covered the story too closely to keep them in the dark.

“I just don’t want them to be panicked,” said Xinyi Zhang, who is not related to the missing woman. “I am the only child they have, and the risk of losing me is just too huge to handle.”

The business school student, who is home for the summer before returning to Illinois next month for her senior year, said her parents worry about her going back to her off-campus apartment. They have even suggested she apply to graduate school in a different country.

The case came to a head this month when a 28-year-old former Illinois graduate student, Brendt Christensen, was charged with kidnapping Zhang, who went missing on June 9. Authorities believe she is dead, though no body has been found.

Her misfortune has become a near-obsession with many of the 300,000 Chinese international students at U.S. colleges and their parents half a world away, lighting up social media and animating long-distance phone calls.

State-sponsored Chinese news media outlets have framed the case as emblematic of a security problem in the United States. The People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper, wrote earlier this month that the kidnapping shows that China is “much safer” than America.

On Weibo, a Chinese blogging site, commenters have repeatedly questioned the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s effectiveness in investigating the case, said Berlin Fang, a Chinese newspaper columnist based in the United States.

Xiaotong Gui, a 20-year-old math student at Pomona College outside Los Angeles, said reading about the case made her feel unsafe on her own campus nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from the Illinois university, which draws thousands of students from China.

On Johns Hopkins University’s Baltimore campus, Luorongxin Yuan, a 20-year-old biology student from outside Nanjing, said the fact that the accused kidnapper was a graduate student has made her mother particularly anxious. “She doesn’t trust anyone here anymore,” Yuan said.

Before Christensen’s arrest, federal agents put him under surveillance and heard him say that he had kidnapped Zhang, court documents show. A search of the suspect’s cellphone revealed that he had visited a website that included threads on “perfect abduction fantasy.”

His attorney has said his client is still presumed innocent. If convicted, Christensen could face up to life in prison.

Shen Qiwen, a spokesman for the Chinese consulate in Chicago, said Chinese officials hoped the FBI would step up efforts to find the missing scholar. The FBI is involved in the case because kidnapping is a federal crime. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Illinois business student Xinyi Zhang said many Chinese students are hoping for a miracle.

“That could be me,” she said. “For some reason I’m still holding my hope, though, that there’s a tiny, tiny chance that she’s alive right now.”

(Reporting by Julia Jacobs; editing by Frank McGurty and Jonathan Oatis)

UCLA campus bomb scare ends, students return

FILE PHOTO: Students walk on the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) campus in Los Angeles, September 18, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

(Reuters) – The University of California Los Angeles allowed students to go back to their dormitories and resume activities early on Thursday, hours after a bomb threat forced the evacuation of campus buildings, the school said on social media.

The school said that emergency operations ended at about 12:15 a.m. Thursday, about two hours after a bomb threat was reported at the Sunset Recreation center, the university’s alert system said in a series of Tweets.

“ALL CLEAR. Resume normal activities, please use caution and increase your awareness,” the school said on the social media platform.

Josh Harmon, 16, a pre-college student at the university said he was one of about 2,500 people who were evacuated from dormitories and campus buildings to Drake Stadium, one of the school’s sports arenas.

“A lot of people are on their phones. It’s pretty relaxed,” he said in a phone interview with Reuters during the evacuation.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Toby Chopra)

U.S. judge rejects Texas professors’ bid to halt student gun carry

FILE PHOTO: Members of the University of Texas of the Guns Free UT group that includes faculty and staff protest against a state law that allows for guns in classrooms at college campuses, in Austin, Texas, U.S. August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Jon Herskovitz/File Photo

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – A U.S. judge rejected efforts by three University of Texas professors to ban students from bringing guns to their classrooms after the state granted them that right last year, court documents showed on Friday.

Professors Jennifer Glass, Lisa Moore and Mia Carter had argued in a federal district court in Austin that academic freedom and classroom debate could be chilled under the so-called “campus carry” law backed by the state’s Republican political leaders.

The law allows concealed handgun license holders aged 21 and older to bring handguns into classrooms and other university facilities, including the University of Texas system, one of the nation’s largest with more than 221,000 students.

“Plaintiffs present no concrete evidence to substantiate their fear,” U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel wrote in his decision dismissing the professors’ complaint. Defendants included Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, University President Gregory Fenves and the university’s Board of Regents.

Paxton, who backed the law, praised the decision.

“The fact that a small group of professors dislike a law and speculate about a ‘chilling effect’ is hardly a valid basis to set the law aside,” he said in a statement.

University of Texas professors had lobbied unsuccessfully to prevent the law, arguing the combination of youth, firearms and college life could make for a deadly situation. Fenves reluctantly allowed campus carry, saying last year he was compelled to do so under state law.

Republican lawmakers said campus carry could help prevent a mass shooting.

A lawyer for the professors said the ruling was narrow and did not address the plaintiffs’ constitutional concerns.

“The order accompanying the dismissal doesn’t reach the merits of either the professors’ substantive First Amendment claims or any aspect of their Second Amendment and Equal Protection claims,” attorney Renea Hicks said in an email.

As of the start of May, 10 states had provisions allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on public college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state laws.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

U.S. college teaches veterans to heal each others’ mental wounds

Dr. Bob Dingman, Director of the Military and Veterans Psychology Concentration, speaks to Reuters at William James College of Psychology, the first in the nation to run a program focusing specifically on training military veterans to treat the mental health problems of their fellow soldiers and veterans, in Newton, Massachusetts, U.S., May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

By Scott Malone

NEWTON, Mass. (Reuters) – Former U.S. Army Specialist Tara Barney will never forget the 2013 night when a fellow soldier cried as he described holding a dying friend in his arms, a wartime memory he had not shared with anyone.

“I can’t even talk to my wife like this,” she recalled her friend saying. “Nobody would understand.”

Barney, now 34, says that moment defined her future.

She finished her four-year enlistment and enrolled in William James College, which says it is the only U.S. psychology graduate school focused on training veterans as counselors.

Founded in 2011, the school’s programs aim to address the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other mental health conditions experienced by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other conflicts.

“If you talk to most vets, they want to talk to people who have had the same sets of experiences,” said Robert Dingman, the director of military and veterans psychology at the school, located west of Boston. “We don’t believe by any means that only vets can help vets, but we think it’s a good career pathway.”

Estimates of how many of the country’s 19 million veterans experience mental health problems vary widely. A federal government report released last year found that about 40 percent of veterans who received care through the Veterans Health Administration were diagnosed with a mental health or substance abuse condition, most commonly depression, followed by post-traumatic stress disorder.

Other data suggest that figure may represent a higher rate of mental health and substance abuse than is seen among the overall population of veterans. An analysis of medical research by the RAND Corp think tank found that rates of PTSD likely range from 5 percent to 20 percent of veterans.


William James College wants to bridge the cultural divide between veterans, some of whom view seeking mental health care as akin to admitting weakness, and psychologists and counselors, many of whom know little about military culture.

The gap is wide enough that Barney’s fellow student, Adam Freed, left a graduate psychology program at Yale University when he realized he was failing to connect with patients’ issues related to their or their loved ones’ military service.

“It was just something that was completely alien to me,” said Freed, 31. “I became increasingly interested in why didn’t I get it?”

Freed decided the best way to understand was to enlist. He signed up for the New York Army National Guard and went on to serve a tour in Afghanistan before enrolling at William James. This month he returned to active duty as an Army captain and military psychologist.

The college, previously known as the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology before renaming itself after the 19th-century philosopher, regarded as one of the founding thinkers of American psychology and brother to novelist Henry James, boasts a growing population of veterans, who this year represented about 50 of its 750 students.

Barney said her friends and even her wife were skeptical when she told them she was planning a career in psychology after stints as a prison guard and working on Army missile systems.

But the experience with her fellow soldier friend had convinced her that her military service would be invaluable as a counselor, she said, adding, “Some people just don’t want to know the veteran’s experience.”

Several students in the program said they also hope to overcome the cultural gaps that can make it harder for therapists to connect with veterans.

Fewer than one in 12 adult Americans have served in the armed forces, and the students said many veterans are wary of discussing their wartime experiences with people who do not share a military background.

Freed recalled a psychologist asking him during a job interview what it felt like to be “blown up.” Freed had avoided such an incident in combat but said he did not consider the topic as appropriate for casual conversation.

“I don’t think people ask about other forms of trauma with the same laissez-faire attitude,” Freed said. “I would confidently say that they would not ask, ‘What was it like to be raped?’ These are both things that are extremely, extremely traumatic and yet they are treated in a very different way.”

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis)