- 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.
Contradicting Studies Leave Biden’s COVID-19 Booster Plan Up in the Air
While some studies show that the effectiveness of Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID vaccines decrease over time, other publications argue the decline is not substantial and a full-flung booster campaign is premature.
Booster Rollout in Flux
President Joe Biden’s plan to offer COVID-19 booster shots is facing serious hurdles just a week before it is set to roll out. Issues with the plan stem from growing divisions among the scientific community over the necessity of a third jab.
The timing of booster shots administration has been a point of contention for months, but the debate intensified in August when Biden announced that, pending regulatory approval, the government would start offering boosters on Sept. 20 to adults eight months after they received their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna.
The announcement was backed by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, among others.
However, many scientists and other health experts both inside and outside of the government have continually criticized the plan. They have claimed the data supporting boosters was not compelling and argued that, while the FDA approved third doses for immunocompromised Americans, the push to give them to the general public was premature.
The plan also drew international backlash from those who argued the U.S. should not launch a booster campaign when billions of people around the world have not gotten their first dose yet. Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) extended its request that wealthy countries hold off on giving boosters until at least the end of the year.
Those arguments appeared to be bolstered when federal health regulators said earlier this month that they needed more time to review Moderna’s application for booster shots, forcing the Biden Administration to delay offering third shots to those who received that vaccine.
Now, Pfizer recipients will be the only people who may be eligible for boosters by the initial deadline, though that depends on a forthcoming decision from an FDA expert advisory committee that is set to vote Friday on whether or not to recommend approval.
Debate Continues in Crucial Week
More contradictory information has been coming out in the days leading up to the highly anticipated decision.
On Monday, an international group of 18 scientists, including some at the FDA and the WHO, published a review in The Lancet arguing that there is no credible data to show the vaccines’ ability to prevent severe disease declined substantially over time, so boosters are not yet needed for the general, non-immunocompromised public.
The experts claimed that any advantage boosters may provide does not outweigh the benefit of giving the extra doses to all those who are unvaccinated worldwide.
On the other side, a study released Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people who received a third shot of Pfizer in Israel were much less likely to develop severe COVID than those who just had the first two jabs.
The same day, both Pfizer and Moderna published data backing that up as well. Pfizer released an analysis that said data on boosters and the Delta variant from both Israel and the U.S. suggested “that vaccine protection against COVID-19 infection wanes approximately 6 to 8 months following the second dose.”
Moderna also published data, that has not yet been peer-reviewed, which also found its jab provided less immunity and protection against severe disease as time went on.
Further complicating matters was the fact that the FDA additionally released its report on Pfizer’s analysis of the need for a booster shortly after Pfizer’s publication. Normally, those findings would shine a light on the agency’s stance on the issue, but the regulator did not take a clear stand.
“Some observational studies have suggested declining efficacy of [Pfizer] over time […] while others have not,” the agency wrote. “Overall, data indicate that currently US-licensed or authorized COVID-19 vaccines still afford protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death.”
It remains unclear what the FDA panel will determine when they meet Friday, or what a similar CDC expert panel that is expected to meet next week will decide regarding vaccination policies.
Notably, officials at the two agencies are not required to follow the recommendations of their expert panels, though they usually do.
Even if the FDA approves Pfizer’s application as it stands to give boosters to those 16 and older, people familiar with the matter said the CDC might recommend the third jabs only for people 65 and older or those who are especially at risk.
Regardless of what is decided, experts have said that it is absolutely essential for the agency to stand firm in its decision and clearly explain its reasoning to the public in order to combat further confusion and misinformation.
“F.D.A. does the best in situations when there are strongly held but conflicting views, when they’re forthcoming with the data and really explain decisions,” Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a vice dean at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told The New York Times. “It’s important for the F.D.A. not to say, ‘Here’s our decision, mic drop. It’s much better for them to say, ‘Here’s how we looked at the data, here are the conclusions we made from the data, and here’s why we’re making the conclusions.’”
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CNBC) (The Guardian)
Kansas Lawmaker Accused of Kicking Teen in Groin Receives Suspended Sentence
Before allegedly assaulting the teenager in class, the lawmaker and former substitute teacher ranted to students about God, the Bible, Masturbation, and more.
Samsel Displays Inappropriate Behavior
Kansas Rep. Mark Samsel (R) was given a 90-day suspended jail sentence and one year of probation Monday after pleading guilty to three misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct.
Samsel, a former high school substitute teacher in Wellsville, initially caused outrage in April after displaying bizarre classroom behavior. Footage recorded by students and published by the Kansas City Star showed Samsel ranting about the wrath of God, the Bible, masturbation, suicide, and other topics. At one point, he allegedly even pushed a student against a wall and kicked him in the groin.
While that specific altercation doesn’t appear to have been caught on video, student footage shows what seems to be the aftermath of the alleged assault.
“I’m simply built different, Mark. I don’t feel pain,” the student jokingly tells Samsel after picking himself up off the ground. Samsel responds by asking if the student is about to cry.
“You want to go to the nurse? She can check it for you?” Samsel adds.
“Make babies! Who likes making babies? That feels good, doesn’t it? Procreate,” Samsel said at another point in the video. “You haven’t masturbated? Don’t answer that question.”
Other notable quotes include, “Would you like me to introduce [you] to a sophomore who’s tried killing himself three times because he has two parents and they’re both females?,” and, “I could put the wrath of God on your right now because that is what he is trying to do. You should run and scream cause the devil’s getting the hell out of my classroom.”
After students reported his behavior, Samsel told local news outlets that he didn’t do anything wrong and that the situation was actually “planned.”
“The kids and I planned ALL this to SEND A MESSAGE about art, mental health, teenage suicide, how we treat our educators and one another. To who? Parents. And grandparents. And all of Wellsville,” he also wrote on Snapchat, according to The Star.
However, he later told investigators that he what at his “wit’s end” with “misbehaving students.” Then last month, he announced via Facebook that he had sought mental health treatment and was giving up his substitute teaching license, describing the situation as an “isolated episode of mania with psychotic features’‘ prompted by “extreme stress, pressure and agitation.”
Samsel faced additional consequences in conjunction with his suspended sentence and year of probation. He was also banned from using social media, unless for political purposes. He cannot have contact with the students who reported him and must write apology letters to those involved. He must also follow mental health treatment recommendations and take any prescribed medications
Samsel, for his part, apologized in his court appearance via Zoom, saying he never “intended for anyone to get hurt.”
Some parents seem happy with the sentence, like Joshua Zeck, who told the Star, “From the beginning, all I wanted was for Mark to get some help.”
“I don’t want to see anybody go to jail. So if this does him so good and he’s doing better, I’m happy to hear that,” Zeck continued.
Others in the community told the paper that his sentencing was too lenient, including Mary Woods, whose niece had class with Samsel the day of the incident.
“I don’t think that’s enough. He laid his hands on a kid. … He traumatized a lot of these kids. I think it’s bullsh*t, to say so myself.”
As far as whether Samsel will keep his job in the state legislature, Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman said that’s up to voters to decide.
See what others are saying: (The Kansas City Star)(Insider)(NBC News)
Alabama Man Dies After Being Turned Away From 43 Hospitals Overwhelmed by COVID Patients, Family Says
Alabama currently has the second-highest COVID hospitalization average and fourth-lowest vaccination rate in the country.
Full ICUs Allegedly Delay Care for Emergent Cardiac Patient
The family of an Alabama man who died of heart issues is calling on people to get vaccinated after he was turned away by 43 hospitals in three states while having a cardiac emergency because all of their Intensive Care Units were at maximum capacity with COVID patients.
The man, 73-year-old Ray DeMonia, was taken to Cullman Regional hospital in Alabama on Aug. 23. The next morning — around 12 hours after he was admitted — his daughter said her mother got a call saying that hospital workers were unable to find him a specialized cardiac ICU bed in the area.
He was eventually transferred to a hospital in Mississippi about 200 miles away and died on Sept. 1, just three days before his birthday.
In DeMonia’s obituary, his family pleaded with people to get the vaccine.
“In honor of Ray, please get vaccinated if you have not, in an effort to free up resources for non COVID related emergencies,” they wrote. “He would not want any other family to go through what his did.”
Officials and healthcare providers in Alabama have said DeMonia’s case is not a one-off incident.
Jennifer Malone, a spokesperson for Cullman Regional, told The Washington Post that situations like this have been an “ongoing problem” reported by doctors at the hospital and others throughout the state.
“When patients are transported to other facilities to receive care that they need, that’s becoming increasingly more difficult because all hospitals are experiencing an increased lack of bed space,” she said.
On Friday, Scott Harris, the head of the Alabama Department of Public Health, said that the state’s spike in ICU patients has stabilized some. Still, he added there are not enough ICU beds for the number of patients that need intensive care, many of whom are unvaccinated.
Even with the spikes “stabilizing,” Alabama still has the second-highest COVID hospitalizations in the U.S., according to The Post tracker.
The calls from DeMonia’s family for people to get vaccinated also come as Alabama struggles with the country’s fourth-lowest vaccination rate. Despite those figures, top officials in the state are doing little to address the issue.
Last week, after President Joe Biden rolled out a sweeping vaccine mandate for 100 million people and promised he would use his power to circumvent Republican leaders “undermining” relief efforts, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) told the president to “bring it on.”
Ivey then doubled down on her refusal to mandate vaccines in her state, where people are being refused emergency hospital care because so many unvaccinated people are in ICU beds.
“You bet I’m standing in the way. And if he thinks he’s going to move me out of the way, he’s got another thing coming,” she said, referring to the mandates as “outrageous” and “overreaching” policies that will “no doubt be challenged in the courts.”