A California man with connections to North Carolina, Kevin Janson Neal, killed five people and wounded eight others in a shooting spree in Northern California this week. After killing his wife, Neal drove the streets of Rancho Tehama firing randomly at houses and other structures. Eventually, Neal approached an elementary school and fired multiple shots into the building. The sound of the shots caused school officials to lock the building down, preventing Neal from entering the school and likely saving many lives. Keep reading for more news.
For the second time in a month, the leading criminal law news in our country is a staggeringly tragic mass shooting. The Las Vegas shooting in early October was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, and the shooting this week at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where 26 people were killed and 20 others injured, is the deadliest shooting by an individual in Texas history. News reports say that roughly half of the victims were children; one family lost members from three generations. The Dallas Morning News has profiles of the victims here. Keep reading for more news.
On Tuesday, Sayfullo Saipov killed eight people and injured twelve others by driving a truck down a bike lane in Manhattan in an apparent terror attack. It has been reported that Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, was inspired by Islamic State propaganda videos and closely followed instructions for committing such an attack published in an ISIS magazine last November. The attack is the deadliest terror attack in New York City since the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. Keep reading for more news.
President Donald Trump announced yesterday that he was directing the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the national opioid crisis a public health emergency. According to a White House press release, the declaration of a public health emergency allows for expanded access to prescriptions for medicines used for substance abuse and mental health treatment and allows the Department of Health and Human Services to quickly make temporary appointments of specialists who can respond to the emergency. Keep reading for more news.
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It’s been a year since a Molotov cocktail was thrown through the window of the Orange County Republican Party headquarters in Hillsborough, causing substantial damage to the building. The FBI announced Monday that it was offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in the unsolved case. Combined with $5,000 rewards offered by the state and the North Carolina Republican Party, the FBI reward brings the total reward money offered to $20,000. Contact information for the FBI’s Charlotte office is available at the link. Keep reading for more news.
Sports fans across the country were shocked this week to learn that for several years the FBI and federal prosecutors have been investigating what one prosecutor has described as “the dark underbelly of college basketball.” As part of an investigation that may reveal widespread corruption, federal criminal complaints against several people associated with various college basketball teams were made public on Tuesday. The story is complex and still developing, but a New York Times article says that “two broad schemes” have been alleged. One involves assistant coaches who allegedly were bribed to persuade players to use certain financial advisors after turning pro. The other involves Adidas secretly giving money to certain players and their families in exchange for the players’ commitments to play at Adidas-sponsored schools. Keep reading for more news.
Over the weekend a Georgia Tech student was shot and killed by a campus police officer in a tragic incident that set off protests on the school’s campus this week. 21-year-old student Scout Schultz was shot by 23-year-old campus police officer Tyler Beck on Saturday night. Reports suggest that Schultz, who had some history of mental illness, may have orchestrated the shooting, reportedly calling 911 to falsely report an armed suspicious person and then advancing on responding officers while carrying a multi-tool and disregarding their orders to stop. A few days after the shooting, a campus vigil held in remembrance of Shultz was followed by what has been described as a violent protest where a police car was set on fire and two officers were injured. Keep reading for more news.
A shooting at a high school near Spokane, Washington, on Wednesday morning left one student dead and three others injured. Caleb Sharpe, a sophomore at Freeman High School, is accused of killing fellow student Sam Strahan and wounding three other students. Reportedly armed with an AR-15 rifle and a handgun, Sharpe is said to have opened fire in a hallway just before classes were scheduled to begin. A report from local paper The Spokesman-Review says that Sharpe began the attack with the rifle, which soon jammed. He then began firing the handgun before being tackled and disarmed by a school custodian. The story was developing at the time of writing. Keep reading for more news.
A Raleigh murder made national news this week with reports indicating that the suspect told a 911 dispatcher that taking too much cough medicine may have contributed to the killing. Late last week, Matthew James Phelps was charged with murdering his wife, Lauren Ashley-Nicole Phelps. According to WRAL, Matthew called 911 to report that he had awoken from a dream to discover that Lauren was dead and that he was covered in blood. He also told the dispatcher that he had taken too much cough medicine, which he was using to help him sleep. The News & Observer has a story here that explores whether an ingredient in cough medicine can cause hallucinations, psychosis, or violent behavior. Keep reading for more news.
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Though there is not an immediate connection to criminal law, a roundup of news of any sort this week would be incomplete without recognition of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. As we all know, the storm brought relentless rain to southeastern Texas this week, causing unprecedented and ongoing flooding in the Houston area. We commend the law enforcement officers, the first responders, the emergency management professionals, the government officials, and the private citizens who have worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of their communities and neighbors. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the storm. Keep reading for more news.
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