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Parkland Grieves After 2 Shooting Survivors Commit Suicide

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  • A second student who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last year died in an apparent suicide Saturday, less than a week after another survivor took her own life.
  • The two deaths prompted families and local leaders to come together and discuss new ways to address mental health issues in their community.

Student Dies of Apparent Suicide

Two Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students took their own lives this month, about a year after surviving a mass shooting at the school that left 17 dead.

On March 17, 19-year-old Sydney Aiello, a recent graduate of Stoneman Douglas, died of an apparent suicide. Her family said that she struggled with survivor’s guilt and had recently been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Sydney Aiello/ GoFundMe

In the shooting, Aiello lost her longtime friend, Meadow Pollack. She also lost her fellow classmate Joaquin Oliver and a school staff member, Coach Aaron Feis. She wrote a Facebook post dedicated to them a few days after the shooting.

A funeral for Aiello, who was a student at Florida Atlantic University, took place on Friday.

Second Death

A few days after Aiello’s death, on March 23, another student who survived the shooting also took his own life. According to Broward County District 3 Commissioner Michael Udine, the student was a 17-year-old male sophomore who attended Stoneman Douglass.

Coral Springs police spokesperson Tyler Reik said the death was an apparent suicide, but explained that authorities were still conducting an investigation and said that ”the cause of death hasn’t been officially confirmed yet.”

Police did not release the second student’s name and said that it is not known whether or not his death can be linked to the school shooting.

Community Reacts

Local leaders met Sunday to grieve and find a way to deal with the new tragedy that has hit their community.

Over 60 teachers, mental health specialists, parents, and school, city, county and law enforcement officials met for an emergency meeting to discuss a plan to better address mental health issues.

“You must communicate with your children, and children, you’ve got to talk to your friends,” said Cindy Arenberg Seltzer, president of the Children’s Services Council of Broward County.

Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina was killed during the shooting said this was something parents and officials had warned about immediately after the tragedy last year.

Almost as many people died after Columbine as died during the event, and that was suicide.” he said.

“We lost 17 beautiful souls on Feb. 14 and… now it’s not only 18, it’s 19… The way to prevent number 20 is for parents to ask the questions: have you thought about killing yourself? … If they answer yes to those questions, they’re at risk and you need to get help.”

Parents who attended the meeting said the Broward County Schools Superintendent’s Office is working to reach every parent in the district via text, email, social media, and robocalls.

Petty also said that the district would be giving parents the “Columbia Protocol,” a set of six questions to ask their children. Based on their answers, they will be given several emergency resource options to reach out to for help.

Several nonprofits are also dispatching therapy groups that will offer free services.

Superintendent Robert Runcie encouraged parents to take time to speak with their children in everyday settings. “We need to remove the stigma from talking about suicide,” Runcie said.

Parkland survivor and activist David Hogg tweeted calling for action from the government and school district after learning of the deaths.

Jared Moskowitz, Florida’s emergency management director and a former state representative from Parkland, also called on the Florida legislature to help.


Sandy Hook Parent

The news of the two deaths in Parkland highlight the longterm impact mass shootings can have on victims and their families.

Unfortunately, news of recent suicides are not only appearing in Parkland. On Monday morning, the father of a Sandy Hook school shooting victim was found dead in an apparent suicide in Newtown, Conn.

Jeremy Richman

Jeremy Richman, 49, was found at about 7:00 a.m. in the Edmond Town Hall, a movie theater and event space in Newtown. Richman was the father of Avielle Richman, one of the 20 children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

See what others are saying: (CBS News) (The Miami Herald) (The New York Times)

If you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of additional resources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources

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Florida Deputy on Restrictive Duty After Video of Him Slamming Teen’s Head Goes Viral

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  • Video went viral over the weekend showing two Florida sheriff’s deputies pepper-spraying a teenager, tackling him to the ground, slamming his head against the concrete, and punching him.
  • Social media users, celebrities, and Broward County’s Mayor were outraged by the incident, calling for an investigation, firings, and potential prosecution of the deputies involved.

Viral Video

A Florida police deputy has been placed on restrictive duty after cellphone video went viral showing him and another officer using excessive force on a black teenager.

The incident happened Thursday afternoon near J.P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs, Florida. Social media users shared clips of the incident online over the weekend using #justiceforlucca.

The footage shows two Broward County sheriff’s deputies jumping on a teen to hold him down. One officer slams his head against the pavement and punches him while another teen in handcuffs lays nearby.

One post that gathered over 8 million views was shared on Twitter by activist and Church of God in Christ Bishop Talbert Swan. In the post, Swan wrote that the teen, identified only as Lucca, “picked up a cell phone that fell out of the pocket of a Black boy who was being arrested.”

“In response @browardsheriff officers Christopher Krickovich & Greg LaCerra pepper sprayed, brutally beat, and arrested him,” the post continued.

In another angle of the incident, one deputy is seen pepper-spraying Lucca in the face before slamming him to the ground.

Deputy Says Teen Had “Aggressive Stance”

In an arrest report, officer Christopher Krickovich said that he and his partner Sgt. Greg LaCerra responded to a call from a McDonald’s in Tamarac at 3 p.m. on Thursday. They were called to the scene by employees who reported a large group of teenagers gathering for a fight outside the restaurant.

Krickovich said the McDonald’s is a popular after-school gathering place for students from the school nearby, which is also known for frequent fights. In fact, a fight at the location occurred just a day before and caused damage to a bystander’s car.

According to the arrest report, Krickovich and LaCerra arrived and ordered the crowd of teens to disperse. During this time, they identified one of the perpetrators from Wednesday’s fight who had been warned not to trespass in the area again and took him into custody.

“While I was dealing with the male on the ground, I observed his phone slide to the right of me and then behind me. I observed a male wearing a red tank top reach down and attempt to grab the male student’s phone,” Krickovich wrote.

He went on to say that LaCerra ordered the teen to stay back, but he “took an aggressive stance” toward the officer and “bladed his body and began clenching his fists.”

LaCerra then pepper-sprayed the teen in the face and forced him to the ground, Krickovich wrote. The affidavit goes on to say that the officers feared for their safety during the arrests because they were surrounded by around 200 students.

Krickovich said he worried someone would try to grab one of the weapons off his belt or vest after he had pushed the boy to the ground.

“At one point, his left arm was free and next to him, while he placed his arm under his face,” Krickovich said. “I struck the male in the right side of his head with a closed fist as a distractionary technique to free his right hand.”

“This technique was successful and I was able to place him into handcuffs without further incident.”

Public Responds

The video sparked massive outrage, with many calling this another instance of police brutality against a black teen.

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr called the incident “demoralizing,” while NBA star LeBron James said, “to think that could be my sons.”

Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen also released a statement calling the incident “outrageous and unacceptable.” He suggested that the deputy who initially made contact with the teen be fired and potentially prosecuted.

Investigation Announced

Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a statement Friday that the department would conduct a “thorough investigation” into the matter. He added that Deputy Christopher Krickovich had been placed on restrictive administrative duty.  The status of LaCerra is unclear.

In a pre-scheduled meeting with black leaders Saturday, Tony said that he was taking the investigation into the incident seriously. However, he also emphasized the importance of following the appropriate procedures.

“There’s been a large cry of ‘just go out and fire them and get rid of them,’ and all these other things. Folks it don’t work that way. You all understand that. There has to be an investigative process and due process elements and so it’s going to be done the right way. “


The police report indicated that the teen at the center of the viral video didn’t suffer any serious injuries. However, the 15-year-old appeared in court Friday morning, where he was formally charged with assault, resisting arrest, and trespassing.

See what others are saying:(CBS Miami) (Sun-Sentinel) (Complex)  

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California Parents Who Starved and Shackled Their Children Sentenced to Life in Prison

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  • Louise and David Turpin, the parents who pled guilty to locking up and abusing their children, have been sentenced to life in prison.
  • The abuse included beating, starving, and chaining up 12 of their 13 children, among other acts.
  • The couple has the possibility of parole in 25 years.

Louise and David Turpin Receive Life Sentence

The California couple who pled guilty to locking up and abusing 12 of their 13 children were sentenced to life in prison on Friday.

Both Louise and David Turpin pled guilty to fourteen charges of torture, dependent adult abuse, child endangerment, and false imprisonment in February. They were charged with the crimes in January 2018, when one of the children escaped from their Perris, California home. The child climbed out of a window and eventually alerted police of the situation.

The Turpin children ranged in age from two to 29-years-old at the time they were found in the house. Of the 13 kids, only the youngest appeared to have never been subject to abuse.

The Turpins chained their children to beds and other furniture, starved them, beat them. They would sometimes keep them chained for months at a time, not allowing them access to the bathroom.

The children were only allowed to shower once a year and seldom left the house. Their parents would also bake pies and not let the kids eat them and buy toys and not let the kids open or play with them. The abuse lasted for over a decade.

The Turpin’s Speak Out

The Turpins’ life sentence leaves them with the possibility of parole after 25 years. Louise Turpin spoke at the sentencing in Riverside County Superior Court, apologizing for the pain she caused her children.

“I’m sorry for everything I’ve done to hurt my children. I love my children so much,” she said. “I want them to know that mom and dad are going to be ok.”

David Turin also had a prepared statement, but it was read by his attorney, as he was too emotional to deliver it himself.

“I’m sorry if I’ve done anything to cause them harm,” his attorney read on his behalf.

Judge Bernard J. Schwartz condemned them both for their actions and spoke about the long-term effects of their abuse.

“Their lives have been permanently altered in their ability to learn, grow and thrive,” he said in court. “What the parents did was selfish, cruel, inhumane treatment.”

The Children Share Statements

The children, who have not been named since the case was first reported, also had a chance to speak in court.

“My parents took my whole life from me, now I’m taking my life back,” one daughter, who is now a college student, said. “Life may have been bad, but it made me strong.”

One son said he still often thinks about what he and his siblings went through.

“Sometimes, I still have nightmares of things that have happened,” he read. “Like my siblings getting chained up or beaten.”

Another child was sympathetic to their parents and expressed that they believed the Turpins deserved less jail time.

“I think 25 years is too long,” the child read in a statement. “I believe our parents did their best to raise all 13 of us.”

See what others are saying: (Fox News) (LA Times) (NBC)

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U.S. Labeled ‘Problematic’ Place for Journalists

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  • Reporters Without Borders dropped the U.S. to No. 48 out of 180 countries on its annual World Press Freedom Index.
  • The ranking is three places lower than it was last year, changing the U.S. label from “satisfactory” to “problematic.”
  • The Index states that increased threats against journalists in the U.S. are becoming more normalized.
  • The report specifically cites the U.S. ranking as “marred by the effects of President Donald Trump’s second year in office.”

World Press Freedom Index

The United States has been ranked as a “problematic” place for journalists, as the threats they face continue to become more standard, according to a new report about press freedom.

The 2019 World Press Freedom Index, an annual report compiled by Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) or Reporters Without Borders (RWB), downgraded the U.S. to No. 48 out of 180. The ranking is three spots lower than its place last year.

The downgrade officially changes the press freedom status of the U.S. from “satisfactory” to “problematic,” marking the first time the country has received that label.

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“Never before have US journalists been subjected to so many death threats or turned so often to private security firms for protection,” the report said.

According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, 10 journalists have faced physical attacks this year, and 46 journalists were physically attacked in 2017.

The World Press Freedom Index report also cited the five journalists who were shot and killed at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland last June. The attack was carried out by a man who had threatened the publication for years before the attack.

The report also cited the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey last October.

Trump’s Involvement

The section of the report on North America specifically stated that the drop in rankings was “marred by the effects of President Donald Trump’s second year in office.”

“Amid one of the American journalism community’s darkest moments,” the report said.“President Trump continued to spout his notorious anti-press rhetoric, disparaging and attacking the media at a national level.”

Since being elected, Trump has referred to journalists as the “enemy of the American people,” and continuously accused nearly every mainstream media outlet of reporting “fake news.” He has also commended violence against journalists, like giving praise to a GOP congressman who assaulted a reporter in 2017.

According to the report, Trump has also called for the revocation of broadcasting licenses and attempted to block certain media outlets from access to the White House. In November, the Trump administration was forced to restore the press credentials of a CNN reporter that had been stripped of his pass after a heated exchange with Trump.

Back in August, United Nations human rights leaders stated that Trump’s attacks have undermined press freedom, and increase the risk of violence against journalists.

“The president’s relentless attacks against the press has created an environment where verbal, physical and online threats and assault against journalists are becoming normalized,” RSF Interim Executive Director Sabine Dolan told NPR.

Other Findings

The Index also found that the Americas has experienced “the greatest deterioration” in its press freedom regional score.

This is not just because of the United States. The report also cited instances in Brazil, where journalists have been targeted by supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro “both physically and online.” Experts often noted that Bolsonaro uses the same “fake news” refrain to discrediting negative media about him.

The report also stated that Mexico is one of the world’s deadliest countries for journalists, noting that “at least ten journalists were murdered in 2018.”

RSF identified North Korea and Turkmenistan as the most dangerous countries for the media, stating that their governments control the flow of information and censor journalists who defy them by using tactics including arrest, torture or killing.

In contrast, Norway ranked as the safest country, a title it has held for the past three years. Finland received second place.

Only 24 percent of the 180 countries in the report were given the rank of being “safe” or “satisfactory” for the press. This is lower than the 2018 Index, which gave 26 percent of countries “safe” or “satisfactory” rankings.


Source: 2019 World Press Freedom Index

“If the political debate slides surreptitiously or openly towards a civil war-style atmosphere, in which journalists are treated as scapegoats, then democracy is in great danger,” said RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire. “Halting this cycle of fear and intimidation is a matter of the utmost urgency for all people of good will who value the freedoms acquired in the course of history.”

See what others are saying: (NPR) (Time) (CNN)

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