- Numerous stories of heroes have come out in the wake of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
- Those being hailed as heroes in El Paso include a soldier who grabbed several children in a playpen and moved them to safety, as well as a young mother and father who died protecting their child.
- In Dayton, the police officers who stopped the shooter in 30 seconds are among those who have been praised as heroes.
Heroes From El Paso
Stories of heroes have begun to emerge in the days since two separate mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio left 31 dead and dozens more injured.
On Saturday morning, a man opened fire on a Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso killing 22 people and injuring at least 24 others. According to reports from the El Paso police, authorities began receiving calls about an active shooter around 10:30 a.m.
Eyewitnesses said the shooter fired at people in the parking lot before entering the building. Police reportedly responded to the shooting in six minutes, and the shooter surrendered shortly after without incident, or without the police firing any shots.
One of the most widely circulated stories from El Paso was that of Jordan and Andre Anchondo. The Anchondo’s were young parents of three who died saving the life of one of their children.
According to reports, Jordan died directly shielding her baby, while Andre died trying to shield them both. The baby was injured but lived because his parents saved him.
Another person being hailed as a hero in the El Paso shooting is a man named David Johnson, who reportedly stepped in front of the gunman to save his wife and granddaughter. Both survived, though Johnson was killed.
A solider named Glendon Oakley who was at the mall at the time of the shooting has also been praised as a hero.
In an interview with CNN, Oakley said after he heard gunfire, he ran towards a playpen where children were playing without their parents and grabbed as many children as he could to move them out of harm’s way.
“I was just focused on the kids, I wasn’t really worried about myself. So just put my head down and just ran as fast as I could,” Oakley told CNN. “I did that because that’s what I was trained to do and that’s what the military has taught me to do.”
Heroes From Dayton
Just 13 hours after the shooting in El Paso, a man wearing a mask and bulletproof vest opened fire outside a popular neighborhood in downtown Dayton, killing nine people, and wounding 27 others.
Among the dead is the shooter’s sister. The shooter was killed by police 30 seconds after opening fire. Currently, there is no known motive for the shooting, though it has been reported that in high school the shooter had a “hit list” and a “rape list.”
In Dayton, officials are hailing the officers who killed the shooter as a hero. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the officers saved “literally hundreds of lives.”
A nurse named Kayla Miller stopped to perform CPR while dodging gunfire is also being praised in Dayton. According to reports, witnesses say she tried to resuscitate five people.
“I’m grateful to be able to be alive and talk to my family and friends and tell them I’m OK, but my heart breaks for these families. It’s just not fair,” Miller told the TODAY Show.
What We Know About the El Paso Shooter
While little is known at least publicly about the motive of the Dayton shooter, more information has come out about the El Paso shooter, who is currently in police custody.
Investigators and police later found what they described as a “manifesto” they believe was written by the alleged shooter. The manifesto was posted on the message board 8Chan less than 20 minutes before the police received the first call about the attack.
That post has since been deleted, but an archived version of the post contained an attachment of what the author referred to as “the actual manifesto.” Another document with the first initial and last name of the shooter was also attached.
In the manifesto, the author wrote, “In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto. This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.”
The author referred to immigrants as “invaders” four separate times. They also say that they are against “race mixing” and said that the country should be divided up so each race has their own territory.
The author notably included a list of the type of guns they wanted to use for their attack and said they did not spend much time planning the attack or writing the manifesto.
The manifesto concludes with the author saying that their views predate President Donald Trump and his campaign and that Trump should not be blamed.
The author also added that the media will call them a white supremacist and blame their actions on Trump’s rhetoric, which they believes is an example of “fake news.”
On Sunday, officials in Texas formally announced that they would be treating the alleged shooter as a domestic terrorist.
U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas John Bash made the announcement in a press briefing.
Bash also said that his office was “seriously considering” bringing federal hate crime and federal firearm charges against the shooter, which carry a possible death penalty sentence.
The El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza separately said that his office has already charged the shooter with capital murder and will seek the death penalty in any state-level prosecution.
The federal domestic terrorism case, however, depends on whether or not it is confirmed that the alleged shooter wrote the manifesto.
To that point, El Paso Police Department Chief Greg Allen said it looks increasingly like the alleged shooter in custody wrote the manifesto, according to NPR. The New York Times also reported that a federal law enforcement official confirmed that it was written by the suspect.
Others have also pointed out at the fact that the suspect was from the suburbs of Dallas but drove nearly 10 hours to get to El Paso, a border town where more than 80% of residents are Hispanic or Latino, according to the most recent census.
The legal charges involving the El Paso shooting are also not limited to the U.S. On Sunday, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard announced that the Mexican government will be taking legal action against the U.S., but did not specify what that would be.
On Monday, Ebrard said that eight Mexican nationals had been killed in the shooting.
Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murderers 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. Instead, we will be linking to donation pages for those impacted by the shootings.
Fire Officials Warn of Viral TikTok “Outlet Challenge”
- Massachusetts firefighters are warning of an electrical “outlet challenge” seen on Tiktok that can cause fires or electrocution.
- The challenge involves partially inserting a cell phone charger into an outlet and trying to produce a spark by touching the exposed prongs with a penny.
- In two local schools, teens started a fire or torched outlets and are now facing charges of arson, attempted arson, and malicious damage to property.
“Outlet Challenge” Warning
Massachusetts fire officials are warning of a dangerous electrical “outlet challenge” spreading across TikTok after at least three reported incidents raised concerns.
The challenge involves partially inserting a cell phone charger into an outlet, then trying to produce a spark by touching the exposed prongs with a penny.
Massachusetts Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey issued a letter to all of the state’s fire chiefs on Monday warning of the viral social media challenge that has lead to copycat behavior. In the memo, Ostroskey said that his office had already received reports of two instances where teens tried to recreate the stunt.
“The result is sparks, electrical system damage, and in some cases fire,” Ostroskey wrote.
He advised fire officials to reach out to local news outlets, school officials, and parent organizations to make them aware of this trend, writing, “Alert them to this challenge, advise them to, not only look for signs of fire play like scorched outlets, but to have conversations about fire and electrical safety with tweens and teenagers.”
Charges Against Teens Involved
One of the incidents Ostroskey cited resulted in damage to an outlet inside a home. The other sparked a fire inside Westford Academy. The spark at Westford Academy created smoke that set off the school’s fire alarm, local authorities reported.
The student responsible for that incident is now facing charges, including arson and malicious damage to property, Westford Police Captain Victor Neal told CNN.
Meanwhile, NBC Boston reported that two students at Plymouth North High School were caught attempting the challenge twice in a matter of minutes inside a classroom on Tuesday.
Firefighters found two scorched outlets and a phone charger with a penny fused to the prongs, according to Plymouth Fire Chief Edward Bradley. There were no injuries, but the school’s superintendent Gary Maestas said the students involved could face serious consequences.
“We are working with the Plymouth Police and Fire Departments to fully understand the scope of this issue and pursue charges to the fullest extent of the law,” Maestas wrote in a statement.
Plymouth police said the two 15-year-old male students face charges of attempted arson and malicious damage to property under $1,200.
Dangers of the Stunt
“I don’t think students comprehend the reality that they can be electrocuted and killed, or start a fire,” said Chief Bradley.
Aside from starting fires or facing potential electrocution, Bradley said the challenge could also cause damage to electrical wiring behind walls, which could allow fires to burn within the walls undetected and endanger everyone in the building.
“Social media elevates it,” Bradley added. “They see it online, they see someone do it, they start laughing, they run away and no one gets hurt and they assume the same will happen when they do it, so they think it’s funny to do it in a classroom.”
“Parents need to talk to their children and tell them if you see this stuff, don’t try to imitate it.”
Virginia Senate Votes in Favor of ‘Red Flag’ Gun Bill
- Virginia’s Senate passed a “red flag” law, which allows law enforcement to temporarily take firearms away from an individual who is deemed a threat to themselves or others.
- The vote was close and fully along party lines, with 21 Democrats voting in favor and 19 Republicans voting against it.
- Democrats believe the law will prevent gun violence in the state, but Republicans see it as a threat to the Second Amendment.
- The vote happened just a few days after a large, and mainly peaceful, pro-gun rally was held in Virginia’s capital, Richmond.
- The bill still has to go to the state’s House of Delegates, which has a slight Democratic majority.
Red Flag Law Passes Senate
Virginia’s State Senate narrowly passed a bill Wednesday allowing law enforcement to temporarily confiscate firearms from someone deemed a threat, commonly referred to as a ‘red flag’ law.
The tight vote was strictly along party lines, with all 21 Democrats in the Senate voting yes, and 19 Republicans voting no. The bill, SB 240 specifically states that a law-enforcement officer or attorney can apply for an emergency substantial risk order. This order would “prohibit a person who poses a substantial risk of injury to himself or others from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm.”
If that order is issued, a judge or magistrate can issue a search warrant allowing for firearms to be temporarily removed from that person. Democrats in Virginia have long been fighting for gun-control measures to be passed. They stand behind SB 240 because they believe it will lead to fewer mass shootings and other forms of gun violence in general.
State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32) tweeted that she believes this bill will prevent crime.
Sen. George Barker (D-39) first introduced the bill. According to the Washington Post, he said it moved the state in “a positive direction” and the law could “protect lives and reduce violence in Virginia.”
State Democrats are not alone in supporting this measure. Nationally, red flag laws generally have a lot of support from the public. According to an August 2019 study from APM Research Lab, Americans are generally in favor of these kinds of legislation.
The study found that 77% support family initiated orders and 70% support police initiated orders. Even when it comes to political parties, both a majority of Republicans and Democrats support it. Gun owners also support it, though by a lesser margin, with 67% of the demographic supporting family initiated orders and 60% supporting police initiated ones.
Still, Virginia’s Senate Republicans were strongly opposed to the measure. They believed it was a heavy infringement on peoples’ right to bear arms.
“Each legislator that votes in favor of this bill in my opinion is a traitor to Virginia, a traitor to the Second Amendment and a traitor to our constitutional freedoms,” said Republican Sen. Amanda Chase (D-11).
The NRA called SB 240 an “unnecessary attack on Second Amendment rights.”
Pro-Gun Rally and What Happens Next
SB 240 is one of many gun control laws Virginia is working on passing. This Senate vote came just a few days after a major pro-gun rights rally happened in Richmond, Virginia’s capital city.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency ahead of Monday’s event, and guns were not allowed at the rally, largely over fears that there could be a repeat of what happened in Charlottesville in 2017.
According to reports, about 22,000 people attended the rally, which remained largely peaceful. No violence was reported, though some extremist groups were present.
At the rally, several of the gun-rights activists spoke out against the gun control legislation floating through Virginia. One clip from the rally, shared by BuzzFeed News reporter Andrew Kimmel went viral. In it, Richard Vaughan, Sheriff of Grayson County in Virginia, said he and his county would not enforce enacted gun control legislation.
This is Sheriff Richard Vaughan of Grayson County, VA. “If the bills go through as proposed, they will not be enforced. They are unconstitutional.” This is not true, according to the Exec. Dir. of the VA Assoc. of Chiefs of Police… #Richmond2ARally pic.twitter.com/mjpQupE6of— Andrew Kimmel (@andrewkimmel) January 20, 2020
“If the bills go through as proposed, they will not be enforced,” he said. “They are unconstitutional. We support and uphold the constitution of the United States and the constitution of Virginia. And that’s what we’ll do.”
SB 240 is not set in stone yet, though. The bill still has to go to Virginia’s House of Delegates, which has a Democratic majority but only by a slim margin.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hill) (WRIC ABC 8)
Michelle Carter, Who Encouraged Her Boyfriend’s Suicide, Released From Prison Early
- Michelle Carter was released early from prison for good behavior after serving 11 months of her 15-month sentence for involuntary manslaughter.
- Carter was charged in 2017 after encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself through text messages and phone calls as he contemplated suicide.
- Her release comes about a week after the US Supreme Court said it would not hear her appeal to overturn her conviction.
Who is Michelle Carter?
Michelle Carter, the Massachusetts woman who encouraged her boyfriend’s suicide when she was 17-year-old, was released from prison Thursday, months ahead of schedule.
The now 23-year-old was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in 2017 after making a series of texts and calls to 18-year-old Conrad Roy III, convincing him to carry out plans to take his own life. Roy died by suicide in 2014 when he poised himself with carbon monoxide inside of his pickup truck.
According to investigators, Carter suggested multiple ways for Roy to end his life and at one point even pushed him to return to his car when he was having second thoughts.
Carter was released from the women’s center at the Bristol County House of Corrections after serving 11 months of her 15-month sentence. She had previously been denied parole in September but according to the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, she has now earned enough credit for good behavior and attending jail programs to qualify for an early exit.
“Ms. Carter has been a model inmate in Bristol County,” a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “She has attended programs, had a job inside the jail, has been polite to our staff and volunteers, has gotten along with other inmates, and we’ve had no discipline issues with her whatsoever.”
Carter’s released comes about a week after the US Supreme Court said it would not hear her appeal to vacate her conviction.
During her 2017 sentencing, the judge ruled that her “virtual presence” made her responsible for Roy’s death. Her legal team fought against the verdict, but Carter ultimately began serving her prison sentence last February after Massachusetts’ highest court refused to overturn her conviction.
Carter’s lawyers then filed a petition to the Supreme Court last July, arguing that it was against her First Amendment rights to free speech to convict her “based on words alone.” Her lawyers also questioned whether the conviction was constitutional in regard to the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause.
The Supreme Court’s refusal to see Carter’s case left her conviction intact and while she has now completed her time behind bars, Carter still has five years of probation to serve.
In response to the news of her release, Roy’s family said, “news of the Supreme Court denying to hear her case far out shadowed the news of her early release. Her time in jail, no matter how long or short, will not change the outcome of a guilty verdict which is thankfully being upheld.”
“July 12, 2014, our lives were forever changed, and the world lost a beautiful soul. Michelle Carter is the reason for that,” the statement continued. “She was the only person who could have saved him. She didn’t, in fact she was on the line with him as he was dying, moaning in pain, gasping for last breaths. Who could do that?”
“She did, and we’ll never really know why.”