Explosive Investigation Uncovers Greed & Infighting at NRA, Shattering “Myth” of the Group’s Power

Is the National Rifle Association imploding? As the nation grieves over another deadly school shooting, we turn to look at how internal turmoil inside the NRA threatens the future of the gun lobbying group. A major new report published by The Trace in partnership with The New Yorker finds that while the NRA has blamed its recent financial woes on left-wing attacks on the Second Amendment, the real damage to the organization comes from within. Chief among the NRA’s problems is its three-decade-old relationship with Oklahoma-based public relations firm Ackerman McQueen. The firm, which is behind the NRA’s imaging, messaging and most of its initiatives, was paid more than $40 million dollars in 2017. We speak to Mike Spies, staff writer at The Trace.

Colorado student, Kendrick Castillo, 18, died charging school shooter

Kendrick CastilloKendrick Castillo, 18, was killed in the shooting at his school

A teenager died in a shooting at a Colorado high school – days before his graduation – while charging one of the attackers, his classmates say.

Eighteen-year-old Kendrick Castillo was the only fatality in Tuesday’s assault allegedly by two students near Denver.

Eight other pupils were injured before the assailants were arrested.

The attack took place just 8km (5 miles) from Columbine High School, the site of one of the country’s most notorious shootings 20 years ago.

America’s latest school shooting unfolded at the STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – School Highlands Ranch in an affluent suburb of Denver.

A school staff member comforts a child after the shootingA school staff member comforts a child after the shooting

‘I wish he had gone and hid’

Classmate Nui Giasolli told US media she was in her British literature class when one of the suspects turned up late and pulled out a gun.

Kendrick lunged at the gunman, “giving us all enough time to get underneath our desks to get ourselves safe, to run across the room to escape”, she said.

John Castillo, Kendrick’s father, described him as “the best kid in the world”, in an interview with the Denver Post.

He said it was not surprising to him that Kendrick was said to have charged one of the shooters as they entered a classroom.

“I wish he had gone and hid,” said Mr Castillo, “but that’s not his character.

“His character is about protecting people, helping people.”

Kendrick was an only child. Mr Castillo said he and his wife are “in a haze”.

The 18-year-old was passionate about science and robotics.

He was going to study at a local college in the autumn, planning to major in engineering, his father said.

Another STEM senior, Brendan Bialy, is also being praised as a hero for helping subdue one of the gunmen.

Brendan BialyBrendan tackled one of the gunmen

Brendan is a recruit for the US Marine Corps but was not trained specifically on active shooter protocols.

Marine Capt Michael Maggitti said in a statement that Brendan’s admirable courage “resulted in the safety and protection of his teachers and fellow classmates”.

Kendrick and Brendan are not the only examples of student heroism recently during a shooting.

Last month at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, a 21-year-old student, Riley Howell, died while tackling a gunman, buying classmates crucial moments to escape, said police.

18-year-old Devon EricksonDevon Erickson, 18, has been named as one of the suspects

How did the Colorado shooting unfold?

Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said the attack happened just before 14:00 local time (20:00 GMT) on Tuesday.

He told reporters the two attackers came in through an entrance that did not have a metal detector and attacked students in two locations.

Both suspects were pupils at the charter school.

There were around 1,800 students on campus at the time of the attack, Sheriff Spurlock said.

Officers arrived on scene within minutes.

“We did struggle with the suspects to take them into custody,” the sheriff said.

Florida teachers can arm themselves under new gun bill!

Critics question if the solution to gun violence is the presence of more guns, warn of the danger of teachers misfiring.
Firearms instructor Mike Magowan uses a rubber training pistol to demonstrate a shooting stance ,during a teachers-only firearms training class offered for free at the Veritas Training Academy in Sarasota, Florida  [File: Brian Blanco/Reuters]
Firearms instructor Mike Magowan uses a rubber training pistol to demonstrate a shooting stance ,during a teachers-only firearms training class offered for free at the Veritas Training Academy in Sarasota, Florida

Florida’s legislature on Wednesday passed a bill allowing teachers to carry guns in the classroom, expanding a programme launched after the deadly high school shooting in Parkland with the aim of preventing another such massacre.

Florida’s House of Representatives voted 65 to 47 to pass the bill after hours of debate over two days in which the Republican majority thwarted Democratic efforts to amend, stall or kill the measure. Florida’s Senate approved it 22 to 17 last week.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law, enabling school districts wishing to take part in the voluntary Guardian programme to arm those teachers who pass a 144-hour training course.

On February 14, 2018, a former student armed with a semiautomatic rifle opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and wounding 17 others.

President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association have argued an armed teacher could provide the best defence against a shooter bent on mass murder.

Gun control

Opponents questioned whether the solution to gun violence should be the presence of even more guns and warned of the danger of a teacher misfiring during a crisis or police mistaking an armed teacher for the assailant.

More than 1,200 children in US killed by guns in the last year

Its passage marks a victory for gun-rights advocates, who were on the defensive a year ago when Parkland students inspired nationwide protests in favour of gun control.

After the Parkland shooting, Florida politicians rushed through legislation that required schools to place at least one armed staff member or law-enforcement officer at each campus.

The law also imposed a three-day waiting period for gun purchases and raised the age limit for buying rifles from 18 to 21.

Although last year’s law allowed some school personnel to carry weapons, guns were still banned from the classroom.

Backers of arming classroom teachers revived the issue this year, arguing that school shootings often erupt too quickly for law enforcement to respond.

Florida remembers Parkland high school shooting victims

In anticipation of passage, school employees in 40 of Florida’s 67 counties already enrolled in or planned to take the 144-hour course, a spokesman for the Speaker of the House said. Some counties have resolved not to participate in the Guardian programme.

Florida’s gun-control advocates had made stopping the proposal a top priority, among them Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense, which is funded by billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

 

The Aftermath: Mass Shootings in the US

Two dead in shooting at North Carolina university campus

Police say one suspect in custody after attack that also left four people wounded.

Television station WBTV reported that gunfire erupted about 5:45 pm local time near the university's Kennedy Hall administrative building. [Logan Cyrus/AFP]
Television station WBTV reported that gunfire erupted about 5:45 pm local time near the university’s Kennedy Hall administrative building.

Two people have been killed and four others wounded – two with life-threatening injuries – in a shooting at the University of North Carolina.

UNC Charlotte issued a campus lockdown late on Tuesday afternoon, saying shots had been fired. Later in the evening, the campus was declared secure after a suspect was taken into custody.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said in a statement on Twitter that one person was in custody and no one else is believed to be involved.

Television station WBTV in Charlotte reported that gunfire erupted about 5:45 pm local time (2145 GMT) near the university’s Kennedy Hall administrative building.

The Mecklenburg EMS, an independent agency that handles emergency services for the county, confirmed that two people were dead on the scene and that four others were taken to a nearby hospital, two of them with life-threatening injuries.

Embedded video

Breaking News Global@BreakingNAlerts

BREAKING: Video shows police responding to active shooter at UNCC Charlotte – 6 shot, one in custody.

Aerial shots from local television news outlets showed police officers running toward a building, while another view showed students running on a campus sidewalk.

The police later said that the campus had been secured and that officers were going through buildings to let people who had sheltered in place know that it was safe.

Sam Rice, a senior on UNC Charlotte’s tennis team, told Spectrum News that he was in the library studying for a final exam when he heard people yelling “shooter, shooter”.

He said he heard police yelling for people to stay down and stay on the floor.

He was “waiting for someone to tell us everything was going to be OK”.

When people were told to leave, he ran out in his socks, running over glass on the floor.

Students and faculty file out of buildings with their hands up during a lockdown after a shooting on the campus of University of North Carolina. [Logan Cyrus/AFP]

“We are in shock to learn of an active shooter situation on the campus of UNC Charlotte. My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives, those injured, the entire UNCC community and the courageous first responders who sprang into action to help others,” Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said on Twitter.

San Diego rabbi: ‘My fingers got blown away’

The shooting happened at a synagogue in Poway, north of San Diego

“I was face to face with this murder terrorist who was holding the rifle and looking straight at me.”

A rabbi has told US reporters about the synagogue shooting near San Diego on Saturday, in which one woman died and three people were wounded.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein was one of those injured, losing the index finger on his right hand.

A 19-year-old man named as John Earnest was arrested shortly afterwards in Poway, north of the Californian city.

The attack comes exactly six months after a shooting in Pittsburgh in which 11 people were killed, thought to be the worst anti-Semitic attack in recent US history.

What did the rabbi say?

Rabbi Goldstein was walking into the banquet hall at the synagogue when he heard a noise – what he thought initially was a table falling over or a congregation member collapsing.

“As soon as he saw me, he started to shoot toward me and that is when I put my hands up,” Rabbi Goldstein said on NBC’s Sunday Today programme. “I cannot erase that face from my mind.”

He held up his hands to shield himself but his fingers “got blown away”.

Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church members hold a candlelight vigil for victims of the synagogue shootingCongregants at a nearby Presbyterian church held a candlelight vigil for victims of the shooting

Rabbi Goldstein hurried through to the banquet hall where a number of children – including his granddaughter – were gathered.

“I just ran, not even knowing that my fingers were blown off and curled all the kids together and got them outside,” he said.

Lori Kaye, who helped found the synagogue with Rabbi Goldstein, was shot dead in the attack.

“Everyone in the community knew her,” he said. “I’m just so heartbroken and saddened by the senseless killing.”

A 34-year-old man and a young girl suffered shrapnel wounds in the attack.

How did the attack unfold?

Sheriff Gore said officers were called to the Chabad synagogue just before 11:30 (18:30 GMT) after the man opened fire with an “AR-15 type” assault rifle.

He said an off-duty border patrol officer had fired at the suspect as he fled the scene in a vehicle, but had not not hit him.

The suspect was later arrested by another officer, said San Diego chief of police David Nisleit.

“He clearly saw the suspect’s vehicle, the suspect jumped out with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody,” Mr Nisleit said.

“As the officer was placing this 19-year-old male into custody, he clearly saw a rifle on the front passenger seat of the suspect vehicle.”

Poway map

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore told reporters that investigators were reviewing the suspect’s social media activity and examining a virulently anti-Semitic “open letter” published online.

In the letter, which appeared on the online forum 8chan hours before the attack, the author – who identified himself as John Earnest – said he had been inspired by the attack on two Christchurch mosques last month, as well as the Pittsburgh shooting.

Authorities later said Mr Earnest was under investigation in connection with a fire at a mosque last month.

Anti-Semitic attacks on the rise

The racist, anti-Semitic document that police are investigating in relation to the shooting makes 10 references to Robert Bowers whom the author John Earnest calls an “inspiration”.

Mr Bowers is the man charged with killing 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last October – the deadliest attack on the US Jewish community in the nation’s history.

In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh attack, members of the US Jewish community began openly questioning whether the era of seeing the US as a safe haven was over.

“I had been dreading and expecting this day, and more like it, for two years,” wrote the Washington Post columnist Dana Millbank, in a column titled “Trump’s America is not a safe place for Jews”.

A woman reacts at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following Saturday's shootingA woman stands at a memorial at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last October

In the wake of Saturday’s attack in Poway, the Times of Israel published a blog post headlined, “Synagogue shootings – now a thing”. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors extremism in the US, says anti-Semitism is on the rise.

Mr Trump has publicly condemned anti-Semitism, and White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said it was “outrageous” to suggest he bore any responsibility for it, but many have accused him of using coded anti-Semitic language.

The ADL publicly called on him to stop using tropes such as “global special interests” and “those who control the levers of power” – both of which he ran in an ad alongside pictures of prominent Jews – as well as his claim that there were “very fine people on both sides” in Charlottesville, after white nationalists chanted “Jews will not replace us”.

“All of the Jewish community across the country is concerned,” Joel Rubin, a Democratic Strategist and member of the Tree of Life synagogue, told Fox News on Saturday. “My daughters go to Hebrew school and we see police cars often in front of the school, guarding it. That’s not the situation in America we want to be living in.”

A message of support outside the Chabad synagogue near San DiegoA message of support outside the Chabad synagogue near San Diego

California synagogue shooting leaves one dead, three wounded

Police say gunman opened fire on crowded Poway, California synagogue on the last day of Passover.

Two people hug as another talks to a San Diego County Sheriff''s deputy outside of the Chabad of Poway synagogue [Denis Poroy/AP Photo]
Two people hug as another talks to a San Diego County Sheriff”s deputy outside of the Chabad of Poway synagogue

A gunman walked into a southern California synagogue crowded with Sabbath worshippers on Saturday and opened fire with an assault-style rifle, killing one woman inside and wounding three others in a hate crime carried out on the last day of Passover, authorities said.

The suspect, 19-year-old John Earnest, fled the scene by car and was arrested a short time later when he pulled over and surrendered to police, authorities said.

There were indications that an AR-type assault weapon might have malfunctioned after Earnest fired numerous rounds inside the Congregation Chabad synagogue in the town of Poway, California, about 23 miles (37km) north of downtown San Diego, Sheriff William Gore said.

US President Donald Trump and other elected officials decried what they called an anti-Semitic attack exactly six months since 11 people were killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the deadliest assault on Jews in US history.

2018 saw most killings linked to US far right since 1995: ADL

Gore told reporters that four people were struck by gunfire and taken to Palomar Medical Center, where one of the victims, an “older woman”, died. The three other patients – “two adult males” and a “female juvenile” – were listed in stable condition, Gore said. The identities of the victims were not given.

Hate crime

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, speaking from a police command centre, characterised Saturday’s shooting as a “hate crime“, saying his assessment was based on statements uttered by the gunman when he entered the synagogue.

Nothing else was disclosed about a possible motive. But Gore said investigators were reviewing the suspect’s social media posts and “his open letter”.

Earnest has no criminal record, but investigators were looking into a claim he made in an online manifesto about setting a fire at a mosque in nearby Escondido last month, Gore said. There was damage but no injuries.

Speaking with reporters at the White House, Trump said: “My deepest sympathies go to the people that were affected.” He added that “it looks like a hate crime” and that authorities will “get to the bottom of it”.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore, left, walks past the Chabad of Poway Synagogue

The attack occurred shortly before 11:30am local time (18:30GMT) in Poway, a suburb of about 50,000 residents, when the suspect walked into the synagogue and started shooting, Gore said. As he was making his getaway, an off-duty US Border Patrol agent opened fire on the suspect, striking the vehicle but apparently missing the suspect, according to Gore.

The gunman was arrested a short time later when he peacefully surrendered to police.

US: Synagogue massacre suspect pleads not guilty to new charges

A San Diego officer was en route to the shooting scene when he overheard a California Highway Patrol (CHP) radio dispatch “of a suspect who had called into CHP to report that he was just involved in this shooting and his location,” San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit recounted.

“The officer was actually on the freeway and he clearly saw the suspect in his vehicle. The suspect pulled over and jumped out of his car with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody,” Nisleit said.

He said the assault-style rifle believed to be the murder weapon was found on the front passenger seat of the car.

‘You can’t break us’

Local television channel KGTV 10News said the synagogue was hosting a holiday celebration beginning at 11 am local time and due to culminate in a final Passover meal at 7pm . Authorities said about 100 people were inside the temple, where Saturday services marking the Jewish Sabbath would have been under way or have just concluded.

San Diego television station KGTV reported a woman whose husband was still inside the synagogue as saying the rabbi was among those shot.

US activists confront Republican Party over white nationalism

Minoo Anvari, an Iranian refugee who said her husband was attending services inside when gunshots rang out, told KUSI-TV the wounded included a female friend and the rabbi, who was shot in the hand. “We are united. You can’t break us.,” Anvari told KUSI.

Cantor Caitlin Bromberg of Ner Tamid Synagogue, down the street from the shooting scene, said her congregation learned of the shooting at the end of their Passover services and that they were heading to Chabad of Poway to show support and help.

“We are horrified and upset, and we want them to know we are thinking of them,” Bromberg told The Los Angeles Times, adding that she has not heard from Chabad of Poway leadership because they would not normally use the phone during the Sabbath.

“They would only do that on emergency basis, if they do it at all,” Bromberg told the newspaper.

US synagogue shooting: One person dead in Poway, California

A San Diego County Sheriff's Deputy secures the scene of a shooting incident at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, north of San Diego, California, U.S. April 27, 2019Police quickly sealed off the scene of the shooting in Poway

A gunman has opened fire at a synagogue in California, leaving one woman dead and three other people injured, police say.

A 19-year-old man has been arrested after the attack at Poway, north of the city of San Diego.

The synagogue had been hosting a Passover celebration when the shooting took place, reports said.

Police have not suggested a motive but US President Donald Trump said the attack “looks like a hate crime”.

The shooting comes six months after a gun attack killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. It was the worst anti-Semitic attack in recent US history.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore told reporters that investigators were reviewing the suspect’s social media activity and examining an open letter published online.

“During the shooting, four individuals were wounded and transported to Palomar hospital,” he said. “One succumbed to their wounds. The other three are in stable condition.”

Mayor Steve Vaus said the rabbi had been shot in the hand.

“For this to happen only a week later at the end of the Passover, only a week after Easter is horrific,” he told MSNBC.

How did the attack happen?

Sheriff Gore said officers were called to the Chabad synagogue just before 11:30 (18:30 GMT) after the man opened fire with an “AR-15 type” assault rifle.

He said an off-duty border patrol officer fired at the suspect as he fled the scene in a vehicle, but did not hit him.

San Diego Police secure the scene of a shooting incident at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, north of San Diego, California, U.S. April 27, 2019The synagogue had been marking the final day of Passover
San Diego Sheriff deputies look over the Chabad of Poway Synagogue after a shooting on Saturday, April 27, 2019 in Poway, California

The suspect was later arrested by another officer, added San Diego chief of police David Nisleit.

“He clearly saw the suspect’s vehicle, the suspect jumped out with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody.” he said.

“As the officer was placing this 19-year-old male into custody, he clearly saw a rifle on the front passenger seat of the suspect vehicle.”

What has the reaction been?

US Vice-President Mike Pence condemned the “evil and cowardly” shooting.

Speaking outside the White House, President Trump offered his “deepest sympathies”.

“At this moment it looks like a hate crime, but my deepest sympathies to all those affected and we’ll get to the bottom of it,” he said.

Minoo Anvari, whose husband was inside the synagogue, told the local CNN affiliate that the congregation was “standing together” in the wake of the attack.

“We are strong. You can’t break us,” she said.

Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter that she was “heartbroken” by the news.