News Roundup

Two incidents of mass murder made national headlines this week, one occurred in Nashville, Tennessee, and the other in Toronto, Canada.  Early Sunday morning, Travis Reinking killed four people and wounded two others with an AR-15 style rifle at a Waffle House in Nashville.  After being disarmed by a customer, Reinking fled the scene, sparking a 34-hour manhunt that ended when he was discovered in a wooded area a few miles from the Waffle House.  On Monday, Alek Minassian killed ten people and wounded many others by intentionally driving a moving van into pedestrians on a sidewalk in Toronto.  Keep reading for more news.

Nashville.  Early reports indicate that Travis Reinking was required to surrender three rifles and a handgun to law enforcement authorities last summer after a bizarre incident where he was arrested near the White House after crossing a security barrier in an apparent effort to meet with President Donald Trump. One of the rifles Reinking surrendered to authorities last year was used in the shooting, and there are indications that his father may have returned the weapons to him after retrieving them from authorities.

A customer of the Waffle House, James Shaw Jr., is being hailed as a hero because he was able to stop the attack by wrestling Reinking’s rifle away from him.  Shaw repeatedly has downplayed the praise, saying that he is just a regular person who did what he expects many others would in the same situation and sending his condolences to the families of the victims.

Toronto.  Remarkable video has emerged showing Toronto police officer Ken Lam arresting Minassian after the van attack.  Despite Minassian’s multiple statements that he had a gun, possession of a threatening object, and feigned movements suggesting that he was drawing a gun, Lam did not fire his weapon and was able to take Minassian into custody after using de-escalation tactics such as turning off his car’s siren during the confrontation.

Drones.  Carolina Public Press recently published an article discusses the increasing use of drones by North Carolina law enforcement agencies.  The article says that the relatively low cost of the drones coupled with the wide variety of law enforcement tasks for which they are well suited has caused a number of agencies across the state to invest in drone programs over the past year.  The article suggests that most agencies are attempting to avoid thorny Fourth Amendment issues by using the drones for search and rescue operations, crime scene photography, and other “post-incident” activities.

Durham DA Debate.  The candidates for Durham District Attorney will participate in a debate at the NCCU School of Law on Tuesday, May 1 at 6:30pm, according to the Independent Weekly.  Three Democrats are running for the position — incumbent DA Roger Echols and challengers Satana Deberry and Daniel Meier.  There are no Republican candidates.

Witchcraft.  Jamie previously has blogged about the issue of practicing a religious faith while incarcerated – inmates do not forfeit the right to practice their faith but the right is not unlimited.  The Charlotte Observer reports that an inmate at Lanesboro Correctional Institution, Jennifer Ann Jasmaine, recently filed a lawsuit alleging that the prison is unlawfully preventing her from practicing Pagan Witchcraft.  Lanesboro apparently permits Jasmaine to conduct services during eight Wicca holy festivals each year, but she wants to hold outdoor services twice a week and be permitted to use fire.  The report says that Christian inmates are allowed six worship services a week and that Native Americans are allowed three.  Jasmaine also is asking that she be served vegan meals.

Golden State Killer.  The L.A. Times reports that a special task force has arrested a man suspected of committing 12 murders, 45 rapes, and more than 125 residential burglaries during a nearly decade-long crime spree in California beginning in  the late 1970’s.  On Wednesday, Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., who is now 72 years old, was arrested in Citrus Heights, California.  DeAngelo is a former police officer.

In an interesting coincidence, a book about the crime spree, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, by Michelle McNamara was recently released posthumously.  McNamara, a true crime writer who was married to comedian Patton Oswalt, became obsessed with solving the crimes and the stress of that pursuit combined with an undiagnosed heart condition contributed to her death in 2016.

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