Mervo High School Student Fatally Shot After Dismissal

A Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School student was shot and killed on campus Friday afternoon.

Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) said the shooting happened around 2:53 p.m. during dismissal, reports CBS News. The victim, 17-year-old Jeremiah Brogden, was confronted in the parking lot by a student from another Baltimore City school. Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the confrontation became “heated” and the suspect fired multiple shots.

Baltimore City School Police officers who were outside chased down the suspect and apprehended him. Officers performed CPR on Brogden. He was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital and pronounced dead at 3:26 p.m.

The 17-year-old suspect has been formally charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bail at a Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services facility.

Sergeant Clyde Boatwright, president of the Maryland State Fraternal Order of Police, said the school police officers were armed and that they retrieved the suspect’s weapon, according to The Baltimore Sun. He said city school police officers cannot be armed during the school day, but because the shooting took place after dismissal, the officers had their weapons.

BCPS CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises praised the officers’ response.

“What is important for families to know is that the school safety plan was in place,” she said. “It was because of the swift action of our Baltimore City Public School police officers that the suspect was apprehended within seconds of the incident.”

Cristina Duncan Evans, the Baltimore Teachers union teacher chair, said educators need more support.

“We need to prepare and equip staff not just to process their own trauma but to also be a resource to students who may have witnessed a violent incident,” she said.

Santelises said counselors would be available this week for students and school staff.

Anyone with information about the incident should call Metro Crime Stoppers at 866-756-2587.

Police Commissioner, Mayor Condone Baltimore Gun Violence

Commissioner Harrison said easy access to guns and “the willingness to use them just to solve conflict” is a common problem in Baltimore City.  

“This is conflict resolution, or the failure to solve conflict in a peaceful, sensible way, but rather someone using a gun that they are not allowed to have in the first place to solve their conflict and take out their anger on someone else,” he said. “And now the community is at a loss.”

Several other violent incidents occurred at Baltimore schools last school year. Last February, a 16-year-old student was injured in a shooting in a parking lot at Catonsville High School. Last March, an 18-year-old was shot outside Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. Toward the end of the school year, two Mervo students were stabbed by a classmate at lunch.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott urged members of the community to get more involved in the lives of young people.

“Get up, get out there, get involved, get off your a** and get involved with these young people,” he said. “We can’t keep seeing this over and over and over again. There are too many young people that are being harmed in our city, but there are also so many others that are out there just waiting for someone to care for them, to show them a better way, to help them grow into the best version of themselves.”

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Photo Credit: @BaltimorePolice Twitter

Texas Law Enforcement Scrutinized for Response to Uvalde School Shooting

Officials said the gunman entered the school unobstructed and that he was barricaded inside a classroom for nearly an hour-and-a-half before being killed.

In a press conference held around 9 a.m. local time on Friday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw released an updated sequence of events and said the classroom should have been immediately breached by law enforcement.

McCraw said nearly 20 officers were outside of the classroom where the gunman was for more than 45 minutes before agents used a master key to open the door and confront the gunman. The on-site commander, who McCraw identified as the school district’s chief of police, believed the gunman was barricaded in a classroom and that the children were not at risk, reports The Associated Press.

“Where I’m sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision, period. There’s no excuse for that,” McCraw said. “But again, I wasn’t there.”

“We believe there should have been an entry as soon as you can,” McCraw continued. “When there’s an active shooter, the rules change.”

McCraw also revealed an updated sequence of events. At 11:27 a.m., a teacher propped open the exterior door that the shooter entered through, according to video evidence. One minute later, the gunman crashed his vehicle in the ditch next to the school. Two men went to help and the gunman shot at them.

The teacher who propped open the door heard the commotion and ran to retrieve a phone and walked back to the door which remained propped open. The teacher called 911 at 11:30 a.m. A minute later, the gunman started walking in the school parking lot and shooting into classroom windows. At the same time, patrol cars arrived at the crash site.

At 11:33 a.m., the gunman entered the school and began shooting into a classroom. By 11:35 a.m., seven officers were on the scene and two of them were shot near the classroom door. The gunman then continued to fire inside the classroom with the door closed and locked.

“We do know that he shot more than 100 rounds based on the audio evidence at that time,” McCraw confirmed. “At least 100 rounds.”

The backup and tactical team did not arrive on the scene to make entry into the classroom until 12:57 p.m., he added. At 12:58 p.m., nearly an hour and a half after the gunman entered the school, it was confirmed over law enforcement radio that the gunman had been killed.

ORIGINAL POST 9:46 A.M. — The gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday was not confronted by police before he entered the school, contradicting earlier comments made by officials and raising questions about law enforcement response.

“He walked in unobstructed initially,” Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Victor Escalon said Thursday. “So from the grandmother’s house, to the (ditch), to the school, into the school, he was not confronted by anybody.”

The day prior, a DPS representative said a school resource officer had “engaged” with the shooter before he went into the school, reports CNN.

Escalon’s contradictory statement was made during a news conference and has raised questions regarding the timeline of the shooting and officers’ response. During Thursday’s conference, Escalon said the gunman shot his grandmother and then crashed his truck in a ditch outside the school at 11:28 a.m.  He exited the truck armed with a rifle and shot at two people across the street.

The shooter then approached the school and shot at the building multiple times before walking in through an unlocked door at 11:40 a.m., Escalon said. There was no school resource officer on-site or available at the time, he added. The district has four police officers, including a chief, detective, and two officers. It also employs additional security staff who patrol door entrances, parking lots, and campus perimeters.

Officers arrived on the scene at 11:44 a.m. When they confronted the gunman, he fired at them and they took cover, Escalon continued. Three law enforcement officers went in the same door the shooter used and four went through another entrance, said DPS spokesperson Chris Olivarez. Officers called for more resources and personnel, evacuated students and teachers in other parts of the school, and eventually entered negotiations with the suspect, according to Escalon.

Gunman Inside School for Almost an Hour Before Being Killed

Olivarez said Thursday morning that the suspect had barricaded himself in a classroom that was attached to an adjoining room. He said all of the 21 killed and 17 injured were inside those classrooms which corroborates statements made by officials Wednesday.

“We’re still trying to establish if that classroom was locked, and if it was locked, was there some type of barricade, was there some type of locking mechanism that did not allow those officers to make entry,” he added.

The shooter was locked inside the classroom with the victims for nearly an hour. “Numerous” police officers had assembled just outside the room, authorities said, but did not make any attempt to break through the door, according to The Guardian. They waited until the US Border Patrol tactical team arrived.

“The bottom line is law enforcement was there,” said McCraw. “They did engage immediately. They did contain (the shooter) in the classroom.”

A law enforcement official who spoke to AP News on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation said Border Patrol agents had trouble breaching the classroom door and had to get a key from a staff member.

The public and victims’ families are demanding answers regarding why the gunman was able to remain in the classroom for an hour. As parents and other locals arrived at the active scene, some confronted officers, asking why they weren’t entering the building. One father, whose son survived, reportedly asked a law enforcement officer for gear.

“I told one of the officers myself, if they didn’t want to go in there, let me borrow his gun and a vest and I’ll go in there myself to handle it, and they told me no,” he told CNN.

Juan Carranza, who lives next to the school, told The Associated Press he witnessed women shouting at officers, “Go in there! Go in there!”

Javier Cazares, whose 10-year-old daughter Jacklyn was killed, said police appeared unprepared and that he and other residents who had gathered outside the school started to make their own plans for entering the school.

“Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to,” he said.

When Escalon was asked whether the police officers could have broken into the classroom sooner, he said, “Could anyone have gone [into the classroom] sooner? You have to understand, this is a small town.”

“There are a lot of possibilities,” he continued. “There were numerous officers at that classroom. Once we interview all those officers, we’ll have a better idea.”


19 Children, 2 Teachers Killed in Robb Elementary School Shooting

Officials say the shooter, who was armed with a handgun and an assault rifle, barricaded himself in a fourth-grade classroom where he killed at least 21 people.

UVALDE, Texas – Nineteen students and two teachers were killed by an 18-year-old gunman at an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday.

Before heading to Robb Elementary School, officials say Salvador Ramos, who was a student at Uvalde High School, shot his grandmother, reports CBS News. He then crashed his vehicle outside the school and entered the building around 11:32 a.m.

Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety said the shooter, who was wearing body armor, barricaded himself in a fourth-grade classroom and “just began shooting numerous children and teachers that were in that classroom.” Two law enforcement officials said the suspect had a handgun, an AR-15 assault weapon, and high-capacity magazines.

When tactical law enforcement officers arrived, they were able to make forcible entry into the classroom. Gunfire was exchanged and multiple officers were shot, including a Border Patrol agent who was able to walk out of the school. The gunman was killed by responding officers.

Olivarez said all of the victims were in that one classroom, reports The Associated Press. Seventeen others were injured in the rampage.

Victims who have been identified by their families include teachers Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles, and students Nevaeh Bravo, Jackie Cazares, Makenna Elrod, Jose Flores, Eliana Garcia, Uziyah Garcia, Amerie Garza, Xavier Lopez, Jayce Luevanos, Tess Mata, Maranda Mathis, Alithia Ramirez, Annabell Rodriguez, Maite Rodriguez, Alexandria Rubio, Layla Salazar, Jailah Silguero, Eliahana Torres, and Rojelio Torres. The shooter’s grandmother, who is said to have survived but whose condition is unknown, previously work at Robb Elementary but left in 2020.

Reunification Center Set Up for Uvalde Families

After the shooting, Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD) urged residents to stay away from the school. Students were evacuated and brought to the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center which served as a reunification center.

At approximately 2:00 p.m. local time, the district said parents were cleared to pick up their children. Dozens of families waited for hours to receive updates on their children, according to The Texas Tribune.

Law enforcement, crisis counselors and local officials offered support to waiting families. Officials had to take DNA samples of some parents to confirm whether their child had died. Just before midnight, the estimated 30 to 40 people who still remained were informed their children did not survive.

Uvalde, which is located 85 miles west of San Antonio, has a predominantly Hispanic population of 15,200 people. Robb Elementary serves children in the second, third, and fourth grades, and has about 600 students.

The mass shooting is the deadliest school shooting since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 that took the lives of 26 people, including 20 children aged six and seven. It is also the deadliest school shooting in Texas history. In 2018, a gunman fatally shot 10 people at Santa Fe High School.

Mary Fowler, who worked at UCISD for three decades as a physical therapist and whose grandson was at the school during the shooting, told The Texas Tribune it had just started to feel like the small town had turned a corner after the pandemic disrupted jobs and school for the last two years.

“We aren’t the richest town,” she said. “Everybody is struggling, and it was just starting to feel like we were getting back on our feet. It’s going to be tough.”

The district was set to celebrate its last day of the school year on Thursday.

Gunman Made Hints of Attack on Social Media

According to numerous reports, three days before the shooting, a photo of two AR-15 assault rifles was posted on an Instagram account linked to the shooter. The gunman also reportedly posted a photo of himself holding a high-capacity magazine.

The same account shared a picture of two rifles to its stories and tagged another user. The user said she did not know the person who tagged her but that he also messaged her saying, “got a lil secret.” Just hours before the shooting, he sent her another message saying, “I’m about to.” When she asked what he meant, he responded, “I’ll tell you before 11.”

Just 30 minutes before the shooting, the gunman sent three private messages on Facebook. The first said that he was going to shoot his grandmother, followed by another that said he had shot her. He then posted that he was going to shoot up an elementary school.

The shooter legally purchased two assault weapons just days after he turned 18. Texas State Senator John Whitmire said one of the rifles was used in the shooting and the other was found in the gunman’s truck, according to The New York Post.

During a Friday press conference, DPS Colonel Steven McCraw said a total of 58 ammunition magazines were found on or near school grounds and on the gunman. He confirmed 11 magazines were found inside the school, of which three were on the shooter’s body, two were in one classroom, and six were inside another. Five other magazines were on the ground and one was in the shooter’s rifle.

An additional 32 magazines were found outside the school but on school property, and 15 were found in the shooter’s car. There were two other magazines found in his home.

Rampage Leads to Gun Law Debates

The attack has reignited debates regarding gun control laws. Last year, the House passed two bills to expand background checks on firearms purchases. One bill would have closed a loophole on private and online sales. The other would have extended the background check review period.

Both are currently tied up in the 50-50 Senate. Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes to overcome objections from a filibuster.

“I had hoped when I became president I would not have to do this — again,” President Joe Biden said in a press conference Tuesday night. “Another massacre. Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school. Beautiful, innocent second, third and fourth graders. And how many scores of little children who witnessed what happened — see their friends die, as if they’re in a battlefield, for God’s sake. They’ll live with it the rest of their lives.”


Homemade Rocket Fuel Explosion in BYU Dorm Displaces 22 Students

A 22-year-old Brigham Young University (BYU) student trying to cook up some homemade rocket fuel in his residence hall kitchen caused a fireball to erupt on Sunday afternoon.

The flames engulfed the kitchen, and the heat from the fire tripped Heritage Halls’ fire alarm system. When firefighters arrived at the scene, the building’s sprinkler system was flooding the main floor, reports KUTV. They were able to quickly extinguish the flames.

The explosion led to 22 BYU students being displaced from their dorm rooms, reports CNN. No one was injured, and many student residents weren’t on campus due to it being a holiday weekend.

“Keep your experiments in the lab and supervised by trained professionals,” BYU campus police told students in a Twitter post after the mishap.

Police are still investigating why the student responsible for the explosion tried to make homemade rocket fuel. Authorities say he is being very cooperative but that it’s possible he could face criminal charges. The experiment was not a class assignment.

Needless to say, exploding homemade rocket fuel is a highly unusual occurrence in college dorms. BYU Police spokesperson Jeff Long told KUTV that the fire department usually responds to burned Pop Tarts in that building.

BYUPD issued the following post on Twitter after the incident:

“Rocket Man”

On Sunday afternoon about 4:30 PM BYU police officers and Provo firefighters responded to a fire alarm at Heritage Halls Building 4. Upon arrival they found the fire sprinklers had been activated and were flooding the main floor. The subsequent investigation revealed that a resident had been making homemade rocket fuel on the stove when the volatile mixture suddenly exploded into a fireball. The flames from the explosion had engulfed the walls and ceiling around the stove and the intense heat tripped the fire sprinkler system. Firefighters quickly secured the scene and were able to put out the remnants from the fire.

Fortunately, no one was injured but some dorm residents will be displaced due to the flooding caused by this kitchen chemist incident. Please keep your experiments in the lab and supervised by trained professionals.


Man Killed in Officer-Involved Shooting Outside Middle School

Deputies received multiple reports of a man acting erratically and knocking on parents’ car windows during pick-up.

An officer-involved shooting is under investigation after a suspect was killed Tuesday in the parking lot of a Colorado middle school.

Deputies were called out to Liberty Point International Middle School during dismissal for multiple reports of a suspicious person, according to Chief David Lucero of the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies arrived three minutes later and confronted the man, reports The Denver Channel.

The man, who one witness said appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, was acting erratically and banging on the windows of parents’ cars around 3:30 p.m. Before police arrived, school staff approached him but he went into a nearby car. The school was subsequently locked down.

The man allegedly became “assaultive” with deputies. Lucero said a deputy was headbutted during the confrontation and may have suffered a broken nose. The suspect then attempted to grab the officer’s service weapon. The man was shot and pronounced dead at the scene. No students or staff were injured.

Once the all-clear was given by the sheriff’s department, the lockdown was lifted and staff began to escort students to alternate bus and parent pickup areas.

The 10th Judicial Critical Incident Response Team is investigating the shooting. More information will be released as it becomes available.

Classes were already set to be canceled today due to weather. Superintendent Ed Smith said counselors will be available when school reopens.


DHS Warns Colleges and Universities of Mass Casualty Attack Threats

The department warns that threats directed at HBCUs and other colleges and universities could inspire extremists to mobilize to violence.

Following the recent bomb threats received by multiple Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) late last month and at the beginning of February, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin, warning that  “mass  casualty attacks and other acts of targeted violence conducted by lone offenders and small groups acting in furtherance of ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances pose an ongoing threat to the nation.”

The bulletin said the following key factors are contributing to the heightened threat environment:

  1. The proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions:
    • For example, there is widespread online proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread election fraud and COVID-19. Grievances associated with these themes inspired violent extremist attacks during 2021.
    • Malign foreign powers have and continue to amplify these false or misleading narratives in efforts to damage the United States.
  2. Continued calls for violence directed at U.S. critical infrastructure; soft targets and mass gatherings; faith-based institutions, such as churches, synagogues, and mosques; institutions of higher education; racial and religious minorities; government facilities and personnel, including law enforcement and the military; the media; and perceived ideological opponents:
    • Foreign terrorist organizations and domestic threat actors continue to amplify pre-existing false or misleading narratives online to sow discord and undermine public trust in government institutions. Some of these actors do so to encourage unrest, which could lead to acts of violence against the facilities, individuals, institutions, and organizations cited above.
    • Violent extremists inspired by a range of grievances and ideologies continue to target crowded venues traditionally perceived to be soft targets, such as commercial and publicly accessible facilities, public gatherings, certain government and state facilities, and houses of worship.
    • The recent attack on a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas highlights the continuing threat of violence based upon racial or religious motivations, as well as threats against faith-based organizations.
    • Threats directed at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other colleges and universities, Jewish facilities, and churches cause concern and may inspire extremist threat actors to mobilize to violence.
    • As COVID-19 restrictions continue to decrease nationwide, increased access to commercial and government facilities and the rising number of mass gatherings could provide increased opportunities for individuals looking to commit acts of violence to do so, often with little or no warning. Meanwhile, COVID-19 mitigation measures—particularly COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates—have been used by domestic violent extremists to justify violence since 2020 and could continue to inspire these extremists to target government, healthcare, and academic institutions that they associate with those measures.
    • Domestic violent extremists have also viewed attacks against U.S. critical infrastructure as a means to create chaos and advance ideological goals, and have recently aspired to disrupt U.S. electric and communications critical infrastructure, including by spreading false or misleading narratives about 5G cellular technology.
    • Some domestic violent extremists have continued to advocate for violence in response to false or misleading narratives about unsubstantiated election fraud. The months preceding the upcoming 2022 midterm elections could provide additional opportunities for these extremists and other individuals to call for violence directed at democratic institutions, political candidates, party offices, election events, and election workers.
    • A small number of threat actors are attempting to use the evacuation and resettlement of Afghan nationals following the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan last year as a means to exacerbate long-standing grievances and justify attacks against immigrants.
  3. Calls by foreign terrorist organizations for attacks on the United States based on recent events:
    • Foreign terrorist organizations will likely continue to maintain a highly visible online presence to attempt to inspire U.S.-based individuals to engage in violent activity.
    • Supporters of foreign terrorist organizations have encouraged copycat attacks following the January 15, 2022 attack on a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.
    • Foreign terrorists remain intent on targeting the United States and U.S. persons, and may seek to capitalize on the evolving security environment overseas to plot attacks. The Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) or its affiliates may issue public calls for retaliation due to the strike that recently killed ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi.

DHS urged potential soft targets to be prepared for emergencies and remain aware of circumstances that could increase their risk. It also urged everyone to maintain digital and media literacy “to recognize and build resilience to false or misleading narratives.” Potential targets should also prepare for potential active shooter incidents and make efforts to prevent, protect against, respond, and mitigate the use of explosives. Additionally, anything suspicious should be reported to authorities.

The bulletin expires June 7.

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Sandy Hook Families Reach $73 Million Settlement with Remington Arms

The families of five children and four adults killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School have settled a lawsuit with the now-bankrupt gun manufacturer that made the weapon used in the massacre.

The nine families originally filed a lawsuit against Remington Arms in December 2014, claiming the Bushmaster rifle shouldn’t have been sold to the public because it is a military-style weapon, NPR reports.

As part of the settlement, Remington’s four insurers have agreed to pay the full amount of coverage available, which totals $73 million. The settlement also requires the manufacturer to release thousands of pages of internal company documents.

The suit accused Remington of “prioritizing profit over public safety.” It also accused the manufacturer of violating the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) when it “knowingly marketed and promoted the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle for use in assaults against human beings.”

Adam Skaggs, chief counsel and policy director at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said this is believed the be the first damages award of this size against a U.S. gun manufacturer following a mass shooting. In previous cases, gunmakers have “managed to invoke immunity and avoid liability, which just underscores how significant and unique the Sandy Hook outcome is,” Skaggs wrote in an email to NPR.

A 2005 federal law protects many gun manufacturers from wrongful death lawsuits brought on my family members but the marketing argument was what made this lawsuit unique, according to CNN. Lawyers for the plaintiffs claimed the company’s marketing strategy praised the militaristic qualities of the rifle and reinforced the image of a combat weapon.

Remington had proposed settling with the families for $33 million last year. In July, Josh Koskoff, an attorney for the victims’ families, said his clients turned the offer down because of its “glaring inadequacy.” rejected an attempt by Remington to prevent the company from being sued.

In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an attempt by Remington to prevent the company from being sued, which allowed the suit to move forward. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2020 — the second time in just over two years — and its assets were sold off.

“These nine families have shared a single goal from the very beginning: to do whatever they could to help prevent the next Sandy Hook. It is hard to imagine an outcome that better accomplishes that goal,” Koskoff wrote in a statement Tuesday. “This victory should serve as a wake-up call not only to the gun industry, but also the insurance and banking companies that prop it up. For the gun industry, it’s time to stop recklessly marketing all guns to all people for all uses and instead ask how marketing can lower risk rather than court it.”

Following Tuesday’s announcement, President Joe Biden praised the “perseverance of nine families who turned tragedy into action.”

“They have demonstrated that state and city consumer protection laws – like Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act – provide an opportunity to hold gun manufacturers and dealers accountable for wrongdoing despite the persistence of the federal immunity shield for these companies,” he wrote in a statement. “Together, we can deliver a clear message to gun manufacturers and dealers: they must either change their business models to be part of the solution for the gun violence epidemic, or they will bear the financial cost of their complicity.”

During a news conference to celebrate the settlement, Nicole Hockley, whose six-year-old son, Dylan, was killed in the shooting, called it a “landmark, historic victory.” Hockley said the thousands of internal documents the plaintiffs obtained “paint a picture of a company that lost its way,” and that the families are looking forward to sharing the documents with the public.

“Nothing will bring Dylan back. The closest I get to him now is by kissing his urn every night, telling him I love him and I miss him,” she continued. “But I made him a promise, and I’ll keep working to deliver that promise for the rest of my life.