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The Journal Gazette

Friday, November 09, 2018 7:04 am

AP News in Brief at 6:04 a.m. EST

The Associated Press

Southern California city mourns in wake of bar massacre

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The mourners gathered to hold hands, to sing and to wonder how one of the safest cities in America could become a killing zone.

Hundreds of people gathered Thursday evening to remember the dozen people shot and killed by a Marine veteran at the packed Borderline Bar & Grill the night before.

It was a scene of horror enacted in many places around the country in recent months, but never before in Thousand Oaks.

Terrified patrons who had gathered for the weekly line dancing and college night hurled barstools through windows to escape or threw their bodies protectively on top of friends as shots erupted. Twelve people were killed including Ventura County sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran nearing retirement who responded to reports of shots fired and was gunned down as he entered the bar.

He and other first responders "ran toward danger," Sheriff Geoff Dean said at the vigil.

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California gunman was volatile but passed mental assessment

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Neighbors of Ian David Long described the man who shot and killed 12 people at a country music bar as distant in public but combative with his mother inside the suburban Los Angeles home the two shared.

One ruckus in April was so extreme that they called law enforcement. Authorities brought in a mental health specialist who concluded that Long could not be involuntarily committed for psychiatric observation but worried the 28-year-old Marine veteran might have post-traumatic stress disorder.

"The mental health experts out there cleared him that day," Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said Thursday, the morning after Long opened fire inside a bar that was hosting a night for local college students.

Julie Hanson, who lives next door to Long's ranch-style home, described him as "odd" and "disrespectful" well before he left home a decade ago, got married and enlisted in the Marines, becoming a machine gunner.

She could often hear him yelling and cursing, but several months ago unusually loud banging and shouting prompted her husband to call authorities.

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Eagle Scout, aspiring lawyer, father killed in bar attack

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — One was a veteran police officer who didn't hesitate to run toward danger. Another was an art student who worked with children at her church. Others were a Navy veteran, an a cappella singer who worked as a caregiver, and a security guard with a "big personality" who was known for making sure everyone got home safely.

They were among a dozen people killed in a shooting at a country music bar in Southern California. Authorities believe the gunman , Ian David Long, ultimately killed himself.

The victims' stories began to emerge Thursday. It was going to be a "very difficult day for many people," said Andrew Fox, mayor of Thousand Oaks, California, where the attack happened Wednesday night.

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RON HELUS: 'COP'S COP'

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Heroism, harrowing escapes as fire destroys California town

PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — A fast-moving wildfire that ravaged a Northern California town Thursday sent residents racing to escape on roads that turned into tunnels of fire as thick smoke darkened the daytime sky, wiping out what a Cal Fire official said was a couple of thousand structures.

"We were surrounded by fire, we were driving through fire on each side of the road," said police officer Mark Bass, who lives in the hard-hit town of Paradise and works in neighboring Chico. He evacuated his family and then returned to the fire to help rescue several disabled residents, including a man trying to carry his bedridden wife to safety. "It was just a wall of fire on each side of us, and we could hardly see the road in front of us."

Harrowing tales of escape and heroic rescues emerged from Paradise, where the entire community of 27,000 was ordered to evacuate. Witnesses reported seeing homes, supermarkets, businesses, restaurants, schools and a retirement home up in flames.

"Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it's that kind of devastation," said Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean late Thursday. He estimated that a couple of thousand structures were destroyed in the town about 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

Meanwhile, portions of Southern California remained under siege early Friday as two large fires threatened numerous Ventura County communities. The National Weather Service issued red-flag warnings for fire dangers in many areas of the state, saying low humidity and strong winds were expected to continue through the evening

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Australian police say stabbing attack linked to terrorism

SYDNEY (AP) — A knife-wielding man stabbed two people, one fatally, in Australia's second-largest city on Friday in an attack likely linked to terrorism, police said.

The attack during the afternoon rush hour brought central Melbourne to a standstill.

Police said the man got out of a vehicle, which then caught fire, and attacked three bystanders with a knife before being shot by police. The suspect died later at a hospital. One of the victims also died and the two others were hospitalized.

Victoria state police Commissioner Graham Ashton said the suspect, who was originally from Somalia, was known to police and the incident is being treated as terrorism.

State police Superintendent David Clayton said police responded to reports of a burning vehicle.

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Indictments? Final report? White House braces for Mueller

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is bracing for the probe of Donald Trump's presidential campaign to fire up again. Trump's advisers are privately expressing worries that the special counsel, who's been out of the news for the past month, has been stealthily compiling information and could soon issue new indictments or a damning final report.

Trump abruptly altered the chain of command above Mueller on Wednesday, putting his work under the supervision of a Republican loyalist who has been openly skeptical of the special counsel's authority and has mused about ways to curtail his power. But Trump and his aides are concerned about Mueller's next move with the work that is complete, according to a White House official and a Republican with close ties to the administration.

They insisted on anonymity to comment on conversations they were not authorized to describe.

Mueller kept a low profile for the past month as voters were mulling their choices for this week's elections.

But a flurry of activity during his quiet period, including weeks of grand jury testimony about Trump confidant Roger Stone and negotiations over an interview with the president, hinted at public developments ahead as investigators move closer to addressing key questions underpinning the special counsel inquiry: Did Trump illegally obstruct the investigation? And did his campaign have advance knowledge of illegally hacked Democratic emails?

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Possible recounts loom in tight Florida gov, Senate contests

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Razor-thin margins in Florida's bitter races for the U.S. Senate and governor are raising the specter of possible recounts, potentially prolonging two of the most closely watched contests of the nation's midterm elections.

In the governor's race, Democrat Andrew Gillum's campaign said Thursday it's readying for a possible recount. He conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis on Tuesday night, though the race has since tightened. As of Thursday afternoon, DeSantis led Gillum by 0.47 percentage point.

Meanwhile, Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson has begun preparing for a potential recount in a race still too close to call against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Nelson's lawyer called that race a "jump ball" — though Scott's campaign urged Nelson to concede. Scott held a 0.21 percentage lead over Nelson on Thursday afternoon.

The tight races underscored Florida's status as a perennial swing state where elections are often decided by the thinnest of margins. Since 2000, when Florida decided the presidency by 537 votes in a contest that took more than five weeks to sort out, the state has seen many close elections, but never so many dead heats in one year.

And like 2000, the counting process is becoming contentious.

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A year apart, some country music fans face 2 mass shootings

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Barely a year after surviving a massacre at a country music festival in Las Vegas, Brendan Kelly found himself in a terrifyingly familiar scene.

Kelly, 22, said he was dancing with friends at a bar in suburban Los Angeles on Wednesday night when the bullets began flying. When the gunfire was over, 12 people were dead, including a Navy veteran who had lived through the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history a year ago.

"I already didn't wish it on anybody to begin with for the first time," Kelly said outside his home in Thousand Oaks. "The second time around doesn't get any easier."

Kelly, a Marine, said he heard "pop, pop" at Borderline Bar and Grill and instantly knew it was gunfire.

"The chills go up your spine. You don't think it's real — again," he said.

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Expert: Acosta video distributed by White House was doctored

NEW YORK (AP) — A video distributed by the Trump administration to support its argument for banning CNN reporter Jim Acosta from the White House appears to have been doctored to make Acosta look more aggressive than he was during an exchange with a White House intern, an independent expert said Thursday.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted the video, which shows Acosta asking President Donald Trump a question on Wednesday as the intern tries to take his microphone away. But a frame-by-frame comparison with an Associated Press video of the same incident shows that the one tweeted by Sanders appears to have been altered to speed up Acosta's arm movement as he touches the intern's arm, according to Abba Shapiro, an independent video producer who examined the footage at AP's request.

Earlier, Shapiro noticed that frames in the tweeted video were frozen to slow down the action, allowing it to run the same length as the AP one.

The tweeted video also does not have any audio, which Shapiro said would make it easier to alter. It's also unlikely the differences could be explained by technical glitches or by video compression — a reduction in a video's size to enable it to play more smoothly on some sites — because the slowing of the video and the acceleration that followed are "too precise to be an accident," said Shapiro, who trains instructors to use video editing software.

Sanders, who hasn't said where the tweeted video came from, noted that it clearly shows Acosta made contact with the intern. In her statement announcing Acosta's suspension, she said the White House won't tolerate "a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job."

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AP NewsBreak: Michelle Obama rips Trump in new book

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former first lady Michelle Obama blasts President Donald Trump in her new book, writing how she reacted in shock the night she learned he would replace her husband in the Oval Office and tried to "block it all out."

She also denounces Trump's "birther" campaign questioning her husband's citizenship, calling it bigoted and dangerous, "deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks."

In her memoir "Becoming," set to come out Tuesday, Obama writes openly about everything from growing up in Chicago to confronting racism in public life to her amazement at becoming the country's first black first lady. She also reflects on early struggles in her marriage to Barack Obama as he began his political career and was often away. She writes that they met with a counselor "a handful of times," and she came to realize that she was more "in charge" of her happiness than she had realized. "This was my pivot point," Obama explains. "My moment of self-arrest."

Obama writes that she assumed Trump was "grandstanding" when he announced his presidential run in 2015. She expresses disbelief over how so many women would choose a "misogynist" over Hillary Clinton, "an exceptionally qualified female candidate." She remembers how her body "buzzed with fury" after seeing the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape, in which Trump brags about sexually assaulting women.

She also accuses Trump of using body language to "stalk" Clinton during an election debate. She writes of Trump following Clinton around the stage, standing nearby and "trying to diminish her presence."