Florida school shooting

Another horrific mass shooting in the US, this time at a school in Florida.

Reuters: FBI was warned about alleged Florida gunman, could not locate

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was warned last year about an ominous online comment by the 19-year-old man accused of killing 17 people in his former high school but was unable to locate him, an agent said on Thursday.

Authorities said the ex-student, identified as Nikolas Cruz, walked into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, near Miami, on Wednesday and opened fire with an AR-15-style assault rifle in the second-deadliest shooting at a public school in U.S. history.

Cruz may have left warning signs on social media. A person with his name wrote a comment last year under a YouTube video that read “I‘m going to be a professional school shooter.” The man who posted the video, Ben Bennight, a Mississippi bail bondsman, was alarmed and contacted the FBI, according to a video he posted online late Wednesday.

Wednesday’s shooting was the 18th in a U.S. school this year, according to gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety. It stirred the long-simmering U.S. debate on the right to bear arms, which are protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

President Donald Trump addressed the shooting in a White House speech that emphasized school safety and mental health while avoiding any mention of gun policy.

“It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference,” Trump said at the White House. “We must actually make that difference.”

The big question is, given the number of guns and the lax gun laws in the US – how? There is no obvious answer that the NRA lobby and politicians they fund are likely to accept.

Las Vegas shooting – many dead and injured

The death toll from shooting at a concert in Las Vegas is now 58, with hundreds injured. It is reported that a single gunman using at least 10 weapons fired on the crowd from the 32nd floor of a resort.

Motive for the killing appears to be unknown at this stage.

Fox News: Las Vegas shooting: At least 58 dead in massacre Trump calls ‘act of pure evil’

A gunman turned a Las Vegas concert into a killing field Sunday night from his perch on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, using at least 10 guns to rain down a steady stream of fire, murdering at least 58 people and injuring more than 500 others in the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history.

The gunman, who fired down on the Route 91 Harvest Festival from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound just as police made entry to the room, according to LVMPD undersheriff Kevin McMahill.

The suspect was identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a resident of Mesquite, Nevada. Federal law enforcement sources told Fox News that Paddock “was known to local authorities” in Vegas.

Alleged killer, retired accountant Stephen Paddock

Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said an “excess of 10 rifles” were found in the room, but did not immediately reveal a motive. Paddock had been in the hotel room since September 28, according to Lombardo.

A horrible act in a country awash with firearms.

The question inevitably asked is whether there are wider terrorist links.

At this time, federal officials do not see any connection to international terrorism and little is known about Paddock’s motivation, sources said. The Islamic State terror group took credit for the Las Vegas shooting, saying the gunman converted to Islam months ago, but provided no evidence back up the claim.

FBI Special agent-in-charge Aaron Rouse said at a news conference the agency has “determined to this point no connection with an international terrorist group.”

This is by far the worst massacre in the US for some time, but here are statistics for the year to date from the Gun Violence Archive:

Gun violence  and crime incidents are collected/validated from 2,500 sources daily – incidents and their source data are found at the gunviolencearchive.org website.

1: Actual number of deaths and injuries
2: Number of INCIDENTS reported and verified

Police recently visited Whangarei killer

In a new development in the Whangarei shooting, in which two female property inspectors were shot dead and a maintenance man injured, the police have revealed that they visited the property last month.

RNZ:  Whangarei shooting: Police recently visited killer

Quinn Patterson killed property manager Wendy Campbell, 60, and her 37-year-old daughter Natanya on Wednesday morning when they visited his home with a contractor to install smoke alarms. The contractor was also shot, but managed to escape and raise the alarm.

Northland District Commander Superintendent Russell Le Prou said police investigated a structure being built there last month, and were told it was to be used for target practice.

Police decided it was a tenancy matter, rather than one for them.

Police said the visit to the property formed part of the ongoing investigation into Patterson’s background.

There have been reports that Patterson, aged in his 50s, had multiple guns and other weapons, including grenades and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

People using firearms in rural areas is common. There can be many legitimate and innocent reasons for using them.

I wouldn’t mind if police asked to see my firearms license just as a check.

Perhaps if there are any checks on rural properties it should include a check of whether firearms are present and whether there are firearms licenses.

Northland shootings

The killing of two women and injuring of a man in Northland looks like a tragic and sad mix of mental illness and firearms.

It was known that the murderer was a frequent user of firearms.

It seems to have been known that he suffered from mental illness and depression, and he had a record of violence.

He didn’t have a firearms license but had somehow acquired a lot of weapons.

RNZ:  Gunman had multiple weapons – reports

Police are refusing to discuss how a convicted criminal who shot two women was able to collect firearms without a licence.

Quinn Patterson killed property manager Wendy Campbell, 60, and her 37-year-old daughter Natanya on Wednesday morning when they visited his home with a contractor to install smoke alarms. The contractor was also shot, but managed to escape and raise the alarm.

There are reports that Patterson, aged in his 50s, had multiple guns and other weapons, including grenades and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Police have confirmed he did not have a firearms licence.

He served 18 months in prison for stabbing a police officer multiple times with a 33cm hunting knife in Hamilton in 1983.

Patterson’s only sister, Gloria, says her brother’s mental and physical health deteriorated rapidly this year and she had urged him to seek help.

NZ Herald: Northland shooting: A portrait of killer Quinn Patterson

Friend Leah Cameron said Quinn’s father brought his children up with a “Doomsday” mentality.

“He was fatalistic about the world, that it was not a good place. He could have been classed as being a bit of a fanatic”.

He made his children dig graves with him and he and his wife apparently wrote a book about UFOs.

Patterson liked guns despite friends saying he did not have a licence and was not a hunter. Neighbours would often hear him shooting in his backyard.

“He just shot in his back lawn by the sounds of it, you could hear it from here, you could hear it from everywhere,” Walters said.

“They were big guns. we’re talking automatics, semi-automatics, big calibres. They sounded like cannons, you could hear them going off with, like, 16 rounds.

“He was just sort of a law unto his own.”

He became paranoid and started to accumulate several weapons. A friend told Newshub he had grenades, shotguns, rifles and hand guns. He had “barricaded” himself in the property with bars on the windows.

He was becoming more and more depressed and paranoid, friends said.

He had taken several types of medication over the years, including sleeping tablets and had tried natural medication, vitamins and exercise in an attempt to get better.

There are some obvious questions that need to be asked about all this.

Fox promotes the violent left

Fox news has been pushing quite a bit on ‘left bad, right good’ following the shooting of Republican House Whip Steve Scalise by a Bernie Sanders supporter.

This is all on their current twitter feed:

That’s toned down?

They do have the occasional attempt on balance and conciliation:

But the division goes on. just tweeted:

Levels of rhetoric, division and violence look likely to continue unabated, despite what should have been a wake up call for politicians on both sides of the chasm.

Scalise shooting – unity and recriminations

It is no surprise to see condemnation of the shooting of the republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise from across the political divide.

CNN: GOP House Whip Steve Scalise remains in critical condition

But there have already been political swipes.

Dan Balz: After the shootings, calls for unity amid recriminations and finger-pointing

In the charged environment of 2017, it took only a few hours for a baseball diamond to be transformed from a peaceful practice field to a horrific crime scene and then to a vivid symbol of the tensions between the angry politics of our time and the better angels of the American people.

From President Trump to congressional leaders of both parties to ordinary citizens came calls for prayers for the victims of the shootings in Alexandria, Va., praise for the Capitol Police officers who prevented an even worse tragedy and, above all, words of reconciliation and unity.

But barely on the edges of those remarks was another round of recriminations and a renewed debate about what has brought the country to a point of such division, what is to blame for what happened on that baseball field shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday and what, if anything, can be done to lower temperatures for more than a few minutes.

Large taps of anger can’t be just turned off, even after wake up calls as serious as the shooting of a politician.

The country has been in this place before, perhaps too many times after violence that has left Americans feeling shaken and insecure. At those times, elected officials have reached across the aisle, embracing one another in friendship and unity. Ordinary citizens have rallied behind those leaders as one nation, vowing to put aside partisanship and recalling what it means to be an American.

The 911 attacks united and galvanised the country, for a while.

Trump spoke as other presidents have done in times of tragedy or terrorism, saying, “We are strongest when we are unified and when we work for the common good.”

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) called on his colleagues to set an example. “Show the world we are one House, the people’s House, united in our humanity,” he said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) implored her colleagues to make the Congressional Baseball Game an occasion “that will bring us together and not separate us further.”

But their are too many people in the US with their own entrenched agendas.

But with past as prologue, other voices and other emotions threatened to drown out the words of the nation’s leaders. Six years ago, after the shootings that left then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) badly wounded and six others dead, it was the political right that was on the defensive.

Those on the left charged that the incendiary rhetoric aimed at then-President Barack Obama and his supporters during his early years in office gave rise to a climate that made violence possible.

But the sides have changed.

On Wednesday, it was the political left that became a target from some on the right. The gunman, James T. Hodgkinson III, who was pronounced dead at a hospital after the shootout, was a longtime critic of the Republicans and a particularly harsh critic of the president. His Facebook page included angry and vulgar words aimed at Trump.

Some Republicans viewed the shootings as evidence that the president’s critics have crossed the line of decency in their opposition and fostered a climate that could produce what happened on Wednesday morning.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and a strong supporter of Trump:

Speaking at midday on Fox News Channel, decried what he called “an increasing hostility on the left,” whether from comedians, from artists, from politicians or from ordinary citizens posting their views on social media.

“You’ve had a series of things that send signals that tell people it’s okay to hate Trump,” he said. “And now we’re supposed to rise above it?”

Some major irony there as he justifiably condemns hostility from the left against Trump, but ignores Trump’s own record of hostility against opponents and critics, notably but not only directed against Hillary Clinton – and also Trump’s deliberate efforts to stir up hatred against Clinton and promoting some fairly extreme consequences.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), whose many past statements have inflamed the debate about illegal immigration, was near the Capitol when the shootings took place.

Without referring to the shooter, he said critics of the president have created a climate of hate that threatens the country. He pointed to the massive demonstrations in Washington and elsewhere the day after Trump was inaugurated, and protests that have continued since.

Without referring to the shooter, he said critics of the president have created a climate of hate that threatens the country. He pointed to the massive demonstrations in Washington and elsewhere the day after Trump was inaugurated, and protests that have continued since.

“America has been divided, and the center of America is disappearing and the violence is appearing in the streets and it’s coming from the left,” he said.

Some of it is certainly coming from the left, but division and intolerance has also come from the right as well.

Just last week: Fearing for her life, Iowa Democrat abandons race to unseat GOP Rep. Steve King

The Democratic candidate running against anti-immigrant Republican Congressman Steve King (IA) announced Saturday that she is dropping out of the race for her own safety.

In a Facebook post published Saturday night, Kim Weaver wrote, “Over the last several weeks, I have been evaluating personal circumstances along with the political climate regarding this campaign. After much deliberation, I have determined that the best decision for me is to withdraw my candidacy for the US House race in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District.”

She explained that beginning during her 2016 campaign, she has been receiving threats of physical violence and murder, and said that “recent events at my home” were forcing her to re-evaluate her decision to run against King.

“While some may say enduring threats are just a part of running for office, my personal safety has increasingly become a concern,” Weaver said.

King didn’t mention this when criticising hostility from the left.

Back to the Balz article:

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), whose district cuts across central Illinois to the Mississippi River just above Hodgkinson’s home town of Belleville, was on the baseball field when the shootings took place.

Davis condemned what he called “political, rhetorical terrorism” practiced by both sides. He appealed passionately for everyone to step back and find a better way to hash out and then resolve their differences.

“Is this America’s breaking point?” he asked on CNN. “It’s my breaking point. We’ve got to end this.”

But when it again becomes a blame game between left and right the end looks nowhere in sight.

Wednesday’s shootings can act as a temporary circuit breaker to some of the hostilities, and Thursday’s Congressional Baseball Game can become an emotional and poignant coming together.

But will that be enough to prevent a swift return to the kind of debilitating political conflict that has become so accepted as the norm? History shows how difficult that could be.

Some of the reactions to yesterday’s shooting also show how difficult it could be.


Mass shooting, but so what?

Five dead at a shooting in Mexico in a tourist town, at least one Kiwi present at the night club.

RNZ: Mexico shooting: Five dead in Playa del Carmen music festival nightclub shooting

At least five people have been killed, three of them foreigners, when a gunman opened fire outside the Blue Parrot nightclub in the Mexican resort town of Playa del Carmen during the BPM electronic music festival, police say.

More than 2000 people were said to be in the club at the time of the attack, many of them Australians. The festival is popular with foreign tourists.

In contrast to some shootings there doesn’t seem to have been any jumping to conclusions. Whale Oil hasn’t posted on it and there doesn’t seem to be any mention in comments – they mustn’t care about Mexicans and non-Israeli tourists.

Fort Lauderdale shooting

Here we go again.

Boston Globe: At least 5 people dead in Fla. airport shooting

At least five people are dead and eight are wounded after a shooting at a Fort Lauderdale airport, the Broward County sheriff’s office said Friday.

The shooter is in custody and appears to have acted alone, Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief told CNN Friday.

“At this time the airport is shut down,” she said.

Eight people were injured and brought to the hospital, the sheriff’s office said in a tweet.

Motive currently unknown but there was one report that the killer was wearing a Star Wars t-shirt.

As usual the speculation is likely to run rampant ahead of facts becoming known.

See Missy’s comment here.

Telegraph live updates:

  • Shots fired in Fort Lauderdale airport
  • Five dead, 13 injured
  • Suspect named by Florida senator as Esteban Santiago, who had military ID
  • Terminal evacuated a second time 90 mins after first incident
  • People seen running across tarmac, crouching behind fire engines
  • Mayor of Broward County: ‘No second gunman’

UPDATE: There are now reports of a second shooter at Fort Lauderdale.

A sheriff is now being reported saying there was no second shooter.

It’s now being reported that the suspect flew into Fort Lauderdale from Alaska and picked up a checked-in bag containing firearm at the airport, and then started shooting. He apparently had a license to carry it (but not in flight).  With the proper paperwork for this is legal.

This may well force a rethink of the right to carry arms in the US. Or it should.

Update: there are now reports the suspect was involved in an altercation or argument on the flight before landing in Fort Lauderdale.

Attack in Munich

Several days after an attack in a train in Bavaria that injured several people before the attacker was shot dead there is news of a shooting in a shopping mall in Munich.

Spiegel Online: Tote in München – Polizei spricht von Terrorverdacht

Die Welt: München ruft “Sonderfall” wegen einer “Amoklage” aus

CNN: Munich shooting: Police operation underway, report says several killed at mall

A police operation is underway after gunfire erupted at a shopping center in Munich Friday. CNN affiliate NTV reports several are dead and others are wounded. Authorities shut down public transportation and warned people to stay home or seek protection.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • At least one shooter is still on the loose after a shooting inside a McDonald’s across from the Olympia shopping mall, police spokeswoman Claudia Küntzel said. “There could be several dead and one or even several shooters are on the loose,” Küntzel said. The shooting at the McDonald’s happened around 5:50 p.m. (11:50 a.m. ET), she said. It’s unclear whether shootings have occurred at other locations, and whether the gunfire has stopped.
  • Gunfire also broke out inside the mall, witnesses said.
  • On Facebook, police said gunfire was reported in several locations, and that witnesses report seeing three different people with firearms.
  • “At the moment, we have not been able to arrest any perpetrators. The manhunt is underway at high speed,” police said. “Because of the unclear situation we ask all people in the city area to stay at home or to look for protection in any nearby building. The operation of public transportation service has been stopped.”

Guardian: Munich shooting: at least three people killed – live updates

  • German interior ministry confirms three deaths
  • Witnesses report three gunmen in area around shopping centre
  • Authorities declare emergency and advise residents not to leave home

What I don’t know and I don’t know if anyone knows is whether the recent attacks in Nice, Wurzburg and now Munich have any connection as some sort of campaign, or whether they are a spate of individual attacks with one perhaps precipitating the next independently.

Newstalk ZB seem to be overhyping their headlines: Many killed in Munich shopping mall shooting

But: “German NTV is reporting the Bavarian interior ministry has confirmed three people have died in the shooting” and “German NTV is reporting the Bavarian interior ministry has confirmed three people have died in the shooting”.

Guardian updates:

Six dead, German police say
German police confirm that there was a shooting in Hanauer Street, adjacent to the shopping centre. Six people have been killed and an unknown number injured.

Police are now saying that there are nine people are dead. They do not know at this stage – and are checking – whether the additional person is one of the gunmen.

Asked if this was a terror attack, a police spokesman said: “If a man with a long gun in a shopping centre opens fire and eight people are dead, we have to work on the assumption that this was not a normal crime and was a terrorist act.”

He confirmed that the police were looking for three perpetrators and said officers were getting support from elite units but have not found any weapons.

Another death confirmed but a suggestion it could be an attacker.

There are now unconfirmed reports in local media that about 20 people are injured; some of them very gravely. Earlier, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, said that local authorities were doing all the could to save lives.

Guardian: Here’s where things stand at 3:30am GMT

Nine people were shot and killed, and a further 21 injured, in an attack at a shopping center in Munich on Friday evening
Despite early reports of multiple attackers, there was only one gunman, whom police identified as an 18-year-old with dual German and Iranian citizenship.
The gunman shot himself, bringing the death toll to ten
His motive is still “fully unknown”, the chief of Munich police told a press conference in the early hours of Saturday morning
Sixteen people remain in hospital, police said, three of whom are in “serious” condition

Another police shooting

For the second time this week the police have shot someone. The first was killed in a drug raid in Hamilton on Tuesday, and another was shot and seriously wounded in Rotorua yesterday.

Rotorua shooting: Tasered three times before being shot, police suspect man was high on methamphetamine

And this has already renewed debate about the arming of police officers.

Stuff: Two police shootings in a week renew calls to limit officers’ access to firearms

The latest figures released under the Official Information Act show police have shot 22 in the last decade – nine of them fatally.

Greg O’Connor from the NZ Police Association said the fatal police shooting of Nicholas Marshall in Hamilton Tuesday night was the end of an unfortunate spiral where a successful businessman’s life was destroyed by crystal meth.

Pepper spray and tasers were apparently ineffective. The armed man was running into a busy area in the middle of the day.

Police have a very difficult job to do, trying to protect the community against some of the worst and most dangerous people in our society. But it is always going to be contentious when someone is shot by the police.

I think it’s too soon to judge whether either shooting was justified or not. They will be investigated in time.

The figures show nine people were killed by police and another 13 people injured when police have discharged a firearm in the last 10 years. But police records only go back to 2007.

Professor Greg Newbold, a professor of sociology at Canterbury University, has been keeping his own records since 1941. His records detail the deaths of 34 people shot by police.

He also notes accidental killings by police including a choking in 1989, suffocation in 1994, running a man over with a car in 1994 and the 2009 killing where police shot bystander Halatau Naitoko, 17, at an AOS callout.

Since 2011, police have had firearms in all frontline vehicles. But routinely arming police on patrols is another step.

It has been claimed that drugs were significant factors in both this week’s shootings. Methamphetamine does seem to be a growing problem.

US police have killed more people in the last month than all New Zealand shootings since World War II. According to The Washington Post, US police have killed 518 people so far in 2016 and 990 people in 2015.

I’m not sure that using the US as a comparison is a good idea. We don’t want to go anywhere their level of firearm use by the police or by the public.

A Kiwi officer is justified in using “necessary force” to overcome someone resisting police unless a warrant, or process, can be carried out in a less violent manner or an arrest made by other reasonable means.

Should the police be routinely armed? Or should they use firearms less?

I think these are difficult questions to answer.