Connect with us

U.S.

Heroes Praised for Taking Action During San Diego Synagogue Shooting

Published

on

  • A gunman opened fire at a synagogue outside of San Diego, California on Saturday, killing one person and injuring three.
  • Several people, including the synagogue’s rabbi, have been applauded as heroes for their actions to help others.
  • The attacker turned himself in shortly after the shooting, and now faces one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.

Shooting at Chabad of Poway

A gunman opened fire at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, California on Saturday, killing one woman and injuring three others.

The attacker fled the synagogue after his gun jammed, escaping by car. However, shortly after fleeing, the gunman called the California Highway Patrol to report his location. He then surrendered to a police officer who responded to the scene.

The attacker was then taken into custody and charged with one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder, according to a press release from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

The press release also stated that officials believed the shooter was acting alone and gave no indication that he was part of an organization.

Heroes Emerge After Attack

Following the shooting, a number of people are being hailed as heroes for the actions they took during the crisis.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who is the leader of the synagogue, has been applauded for his efforts to protect and unify his congregation both during and after the attack. Rabbi Goldstein was preparing his sermon for the day when he heard shots ring out in the synagogue’s banquet hall.

He then turned around and was confronted by the gunman, who shot the rabbi in the hand, badly injuring him. After being shot, the Goldstein ran to help a group of children escape outside to safety.

Members of the synagogue have commended Goldstein’s leadership, saying that despite his injuries, he did not leave his congregation until he had finished calming them, speaking of resilience and unity.

Goldstein was later taken to a hospital where he lost an index finger after undergoing extensive surgery.

Others, including the rabbi himself, have applauded Oscar Stewart, a veteran who chased after the gunman and tried to tackle him. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department acknowledged Stewart in a press release, saying: “Stewart risked his life to stop the shooter and saved lives in the process.”

Rabbi Goldstein also praised Johnathan Morales, an off-duty border patrol, who chased after the gunman when he fled the synagogue. Morales reportedly followed the attacker to his car and shot at the vehicle while the gunman drove away.

Donald Trump also echoed this in a tweet, thanking Morales. Although to be clear, Morales did not succeed in stopping the attacker.

Finally, Rabbi Goldstein has commended Lori Gilbert-Kaye, the member of the synagogue who was shot and killed by the gunman. During an emotional press conference on Sunday, Goldstein reflected on her life, which he believed she sacrificed for the congregation.

“In my own interpretation, Lori took the bullet for all of us. She died to protect all of us. She didn’t deserve to die,” said Rabbi Goldstein. “This is Lori. This is her legacy, and her legacy will continue. It could have been so much worse if the sequence of events didn’t happen the way it happened, it could have been a much worse massacre.”

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in a shooting at a San Diego County synagogue on April 27.

Social Media Aspect

Saturday’s attack fell on the last day of Passover, which is one of the holiest days in Judaism. Authorities, including the mayor of Poway, have condemned the shooting as a hate crime.

The attack also comes six months to the day after a gunman murdered 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, Saturday’s attack bares another significant similarity to other religious attacks that have been seen recently: the use of social media.

According to reports, the attacker had a helmet camera and was trying to live stream the shooting, but fortunately, his video equipment failed to work. This move was seemingly inspired by the Christchurch attacker, who killed 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand while live streaming the massacre.

Additionally, a man claiming to be the attacker posted on the anonymous message board 8chan, linking to an “open letter” and a Facebook page, claiming that the attack would be broadcast on Facebook live.

In the letter, the writer identifies as an “anti-Semite” and “white supremacist.” The writer references the shooters at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue and the New Zealand mosques as well as Adolf Hitler as role models.

The writer also confessed to setting fire to a mosque in Escondido, California last month, and explicitly dedicated the fire to the Christchurch shooter. The letter also included instructions for spreading the news of the planned shooting and called for others to commit more violent hate crimes.

Law enforcement and other authorities are still investigating if the letter was in fact written by the shooter.

The Facebook page that linked in the 8chan post has since been disabled on the platform. While Facebook was able to identify and block the page before it became widespread, the letter was reproduced on the text storage site Pastebin before Facebook was able to take it down.

The Pastebin link was circulating on Twitter for hours after the shooting, and it was shared nearly 100 times before Twitter blocked the link.

In an article, Slate reported that while Twitter and Facebook seemed to be removing the links and the open letter, the letter itself was “easily found when searching for key details about the shooting on YouTube.”

“According to the site, the video has since been removed for not adhering to its community guidelines,” Slate reported.

The letter and its social media presence were contained a lot faster than the Christchurch shooting live stream. Video of the Christchurch attack was viewed and reposted millions of times while social media sites like Facebook and Twitter scrambled to take it down. This latest attack could have had similar social media reach had the gunman been successful in his efforts to stream his crime.

Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.

U.S.

Purdue Pharma Agrees To Plead Guilty To 3 Opioid-Related Charges in $8B Settlement, But Don’t Expect Them To Pay the Full Amount

Published

on

  • As part of a more than $8 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Purdue Pharma will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and two counts of violating anti-kickback, or bribery, laws.
  • Because Purdue filed for bankruptcy last year, that full figure likely won’t be collected by the government.
  • Under the settlement, which will need approval in bankruptcy court, Purdue would become a public benefit corporation that is controlled by the government, with revenue from opioid sales being used to fund treatment options and programs.
  • A number of state attorneys generals and Democratic lawmakers have said the settlement does not hold Purdue or its owners fully accountable and could derail thousands of other cases against the company.
  • They have also argued that the government should “avoid having special ties to an opioid company… that caused a national crisis.”

Purdue to Plead Guilty to 3 Criminal Charges

The Justice Department announced Wednesday that Purdue Pharma has agreed to plead guilty to three criminal charges related to fueling the country’s opioid epidemic. 

Notably, those guilty pleas come as part of a massive settlement worth more than $8 billion, though Purdue will likely only pay a fraction of that amount to the government.

Purdue is the manufacturer of oxycontin, which is a powerful and addictive painkiller that’s believed to have driven the opioid crisis. Since 2000, opioid addiction and overdoses have been linked to more than 470,000 deaths. 

As part of the settlement, Purdue will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. There, it will admit that it lied to the Drug Enforcement Administration by claiming that it had maintained an effective program to avoid opioid misuse. It will also admit to reporting misleading information to the DEA in order to increase its manufacturing quotas.

While Purdue originally told the DEA that it had “robust controls” to avoid opioid misuse, according to the Justice Department, it had “disregard[ed] red flags their own systems were sending up.”

Along with that guilty plea, Purdue will also plead guilty to two anti-kickback, or bribery, related charges. In one charge, it will admit to violating federal law by paying doctors to write more opioid prescriptions. In the other, it will admit to using electronic health records software to increase opioid prescriptions.

According to a copy of the plea deal obtained by the Associated Press, Purdue “knowingly and intentionally conspired and agreed with others to aid and abet” the distribution of opioids from doctors “without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice.”

The $8 billion in settlements will be split several different ways.

In one deal, the Sackler family — which owns Purdue — will pay $225 million to resolve civil fines. 

As part of the main deal, another $225 million will go directly to the federal government in a larger $2 billion criminal forfeiture; however, the government is actually expected to forego the rest of that figure.

In addition to that, $2.8 billion will go to resolving Purdue’s civil liability. Another $3.54 billion will go to criminal fines, but because Purdue filed bankruptcy last year, these figures also likely won’t be fully collected — largely because the government will now have to compete with other claims against Purdue in bankruptcy court.”

Purdue Will Become a “Public Benefit Company”

Since Purdue is in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings, a bankruptcy court will also need to approve the settlement.

“The agreed resolution, if approved by the courts, will require that the company be dissolved and no longer exist in its present form,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said. 

However, that doesn’t mean that Purdue’s fully gone or that it will even stop making oxycontin. In fact, as part of this settlement, the Sacklers would relinquish ownership of Purdue, and it would then transform into what’s known as a public benefit company.

Essentially, that means it would be run by the government. Under that setup, money from limited oxycontin sales, as well as from sales of several overdose-reversing medications, would be pumped back into treatment initiatives and other drug programs aimed at combating the opioid crisis.

For its part, the Justice Department has endorsed this model. 

Should Purdue Be Punished More?

There has been strong opposition to this deal, mainly from state attorneys general and Democratic members of Congress who say it doesn’t go far enough.

Those critics argue that the settlements don’t hold Purdue or the Sackler family fully accountable, especially the Sacklers since — unlike Purdue — they didn’t have to admit any wrongdoing.

“[W]hile our country continues to recover from the pain and destruction left by the Sacklers’ greed,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said, “this family has attempted to evade responsibility and lowball the millions of victims of the opioid crisis. Today’s deal doesn’t account for the hundreds of thousands of deaths or millions of addictions caused by Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family.”

“If the only practical consequence of your Department’s investigation is that a handful of billionaires are made slightly less rich, we fear that the American people will lose faith in the ability of the Department to provide accountability and equal justice under the law,” A coalition of 38 Democratic members of Congress said in a statement to Attorney General Bill Barr last week.

While this settlement doesn’t include any convictions against the Sacklers specifically, as the Justice Department noted, it also doesn’t release them from criminal liability and a separate criminal investigation is ongoing. 

Still, last week, 25 state attorneys general asked Barr not to make a deal that includes converting Purdue into a public benefit company, urging the Justice Department to “avoid having special ties to an opioid company, conflicts of interest, or mixed motives in an industry that caused a national crisis.” 

Part of their concern is that the government would essentially run this new company while also holding the original one accountable. Those attorneys general instead argued that Purdue should be run privately but with government oversight. 

See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (The New York Times) (Fox Business)

Continue Reading

U.S.

Parents of 545 Children Separated at U.S. Border Still Can’t Be Found

Published

on

  • A Tuesday filing update from the ACLU and Department of Justice revealed that a Steering Committee in charge of reuniting families that were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border has not been able to find parents of 545 separated children. 
  • Efforts to reach these parents via telephone have been unsuccessful and those involved are not hopeful that will change. Two-thirds of these parents are believed to be in their respective countries of origin.
  • So far, parents for 485 kids have been reached.
  • Finding these parents is an already complicated process made even more strenuous by the coronavirus pandemic. On-the-ground searches were suspended because of COVID-19 but have now picked up in limited capacity.

Parents of 545 Children Remain Unfound

A Tuesday court filing from the U.S. Department of Justice and American Civil Liberties Union revealed that the parents of 545 children who had been separated at the U.S.-Mexico border have not been found or contacted.

Two thirds of those parents are expected to be in their respective country of origin. While there have been efforts to reach these families via phone, they have not been successful. Other efforts to reach these parents are in the works. 

Thousands of families were separated in 2018 under President Donald Trump’s zero tolerance policy, but a federal judge ordered that those families should be reunited. Soon after, many were, but in reality many more families had actually been separated. It was later revealed that the Trump Administration had been separating families back in 2017 under a pilot program. A court order reuniting those families was not issued until last year. 

A Steering Committee, of which the ACLU and other organizations are members, is now searching for these parents. According to the filing, the government provided a list of 1,556 children. The current focus on reaching children whose membership in this case is not contested and who have available contact information for a sponsor or parent. The Steering Committee has attempted to reach the families of all 1,030 children who fit that bill, and have successfully reached the parents, or their attorneys, for 485 kids. 

“There is so much more work to be done to find these families, Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, told NBC News, which broke the story.

“People ask when we will find all of these families, and sadly, I can’t give an answer. I just don’t know,” he continued. “But we will not stop looking until we have found every one of the families, no matter how long it takes. The tragic reality is that hundreds of parents were deported to Central America without their children, who remain here with foster families or distant relatives.”

Efforts to Find Parents

Because so much time has passed between family separation practices and today, initiatives to find those parents are difficult. They are also further complicated by the fact that during the pilot program, U.S. officials did not collect thorough information from these parents, and many were deported before courts ordered they be reunited with their kids. 

Nan Schivone, the legal director for Justice in Motion, which carries out on-the-ground searches for parents, told The Washington Post that attorneys “take the minimal, often inaccurate or out-of-date information provided by the government and do in-person investigations to find these parents.” 

Schivone said it is an “an arduous and time-consuming process on a good day.” Sometimes, these lawyers might find themselves in remote villages where outsiders are suspect and language barriers can slow down communication.

The pandemic halted these efforts as lockdowns and curfews made it impossible for Justice in Motion to look for parents abroad. Though, Tuesday’s filing revealed that “limited physical on-the-ground searches for separated parents has now resumed where possible to do so.” 

See what others are saying: (NPR) (NBC News) (Washington Post)

Continue Reading

U.S.

Scott Peterson’s Murder Convictions To Be Re-examined

Published

on

  • Scott Peterson was convicted in 2004 of murdering his wife, Laci, and their unborn child.
  • He was sentenced to death for the crimes, but the California Supreme Court overturned the death sentence in August of this year after finding that the trial court improperly dismissed potential jurors. The court did, however, uphold the convictions.
  • Now, the CA Supreme Court has ordered the San Mateo County Superior Court to review the convictions and determine whether Peterson should be given a new trial on the grounds that one juror “committed prejudicial misconduct by not disclosing her prior involvement with other legal proceedings.”
  • That juror had not disclosed the fact that she was granted a restraining order in 2000 against her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend for harassing her when she was pregnant.

Peterson’s Death Sentence Was Previously Overturned

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a review of Scott Peterson’s 2004 convictions for murdering his wife, Laci, and their unborn son.

Peterson was sentenced to death by lethal injection for those crimes in 2005, but in August of this year, the California Supreme Court overturned his death sentence. 

We reject Peterson’s claim that he received an unfair trial as to guilt and thus affirm his convictions for murder,“ the court said at the time. “But before the trial began, the trial court made a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection.”

As far as what errors the court is talking about, it said the trial judge wrongly discharged prospective jurors who expressed opposition to capital punishment but said they would be willing to impose it.

Court to Decide on Potential New Trial

Now, weeks later, the California Supreme Court has ordered that the case return to the San Mateo County Superior Court to determine whether Peterson should be given a new trial on the ground that a juror “committed prejudicial misconduct by not disclosing her prior involvement with other legal proceedings, including but not limited to being the victim of a crime.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, that juror had not shared the fact that she was granted a restraining order in 2000 against her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend for harassing her when she was pregnant. 

Peterson’s lawyers even say that when all potential jurors were asked whether they had ever been a victim of a crime or involved in a lawsuit, the juror said no to both questions.

They also say she was one of the two holdouts for convicting Peterson of first-degree murder for killing his unborn child, with the jury ultimately convicting Peterson of the first-degree murder of Laci and the second-degree murder of the unborn child. 

For now, it’s up to the San Mateo Court to decide what happens next, but the California Supreme Court did say that prosecutors could again seek the death penalty for Peterson at a new hearing.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Los Angeles Times) (NBC News)

Continue Reading