- A gunman opened fire on multiple NYPD officers in targeted attacks last weekend, injuring two. The suspect was taken into custody.
- Commissioner Dermot Shea and Mayor Bill de Blasio called the attacks an “assassination attempt,” and linked them to recent protests against police.
- President Trump blamed the violence on the “weak leadership” of de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
- The head of an association of active and retired NYPD sergeants also blamed the mayor, saying that NYPD members are “declaring war” on de Blasio.
- Social justice advocates were upset at de Blasio for their own reasons, arguing that he shouldn’t blame them for the violence that happened.
Two New York Police Department officers were shot in separate “assassination” attempts over the weekend by the same gunman, who told officials that he committed the crime because he hates cops.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea discussed the targeted attack at a news conference on Sunday.
“This is not a crime gone bad. This is not a liquor store robbery interrupted, that a tragedy erupts from. This is a premeditated assassination attempt,” Shea said.
Shea linked the violence to criticism of police, particularly recent protests against increased police presence on the subway.
“These things are not unrelated. We’ve had people marching through the streets of New York City recently,” he said on Sunday.
“Words matter and words affect people’s behavior,” Shea added.
On Saturday night, a gunman walked up to two on-duty officers in a police van and opened fire. One of the officials, Paul Stroffolino, was shot in the neck and chin area. The officers drove off without returning fire. Stroffolino received medical attention and was released from the hospital on Sunday.
Just a few hours after the first attack, a gunman opened fire on officers in the NYPD’s 41st Precinct station house. One officer, Lt. Jose Gautreaux, was shot in the arm.
The gunman surrendered once he ran out of bullets, according to Commissioner Shea, and was taken into custody. Shea said that the suspect had served time in prison until 2017 after being convicted of attempted murder in 2002. On Monday, he was formally charged again, this time with 14 counts of attempted murder.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio reported that Lt. Gautreaux was in stable condition after being wounded.
De Blasio called the shootings “an attack on all New Yorkers” and emphasized the need for peace and respect. He also tied the violence to the public backlash against law enforcement, saying that people who express hatred toward police are “aiding and abetting this kind of atmosphere.”
“I want New Yorkers to be clear, this was an attempt to assassinate police officers,” de Blasio said at a news conference. “There is too much hatred out there, too much hatred in general and too much hatred directed at our officers.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that he was “horrified” by the multiple attacks.
“NY’s law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. These attacks are heinous,” he tweeted. “Those responsible will be brought to justice & held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Pushback Against NY Politicians
President Donald Trump spoke out about the incidents as well, asserting that de Blasio and Cuomo, who are both Democrats, were partly to blame for the committed crimes.
“I grew up in New York City and, over many years, got to watch how GREAT NYC’s “Finest” are,” Trump tweeted. “Now, because of weak leadership at Governor & Mayor… our wonderful NYC police are under assault. Stop this now!”
De Blasio responded to Trump’s tweet, saying this is “no time for division.”
“Our city is hurting right now,” the mayor said. “The only appropriate response is thoughts, prayers and solidarity with our officers.”
Edward Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association whose members consist of active and retired NYPD sergeants, agreed with the president. He went even further by saying NYPD members are “declaring war” on de Blasio, a move that has been condemned by elected officials from both major parties.
“Mayor DeBlasio, the members of the NYPD are declaring war on you,” the SBA wrote on Twitter. “We do not respect you, DO NOT visit us in hospitals. You sold the NYPD to the vile creatures, the 1% who hate cops but vote for you. NYPD cops have been assassinated because of you. This isn’t over, Game on!”
Furthermore, some criminal justice activists resisted de Blasio and Shea’s claims that demonstrations were connected to the attack against the officers.
Robert Gangi, head of the Police Reform Organizing Project, told USA Today that the officials’ accusations were “irresponsible,” particularly because the police haven’t linked the gunman to the protests in any way.
Gangi stood behind the protests in response to a tweet from de Blasio about the first shooting incident.
The transit protests are organized in part by Decolonize This Place, a group that pushes for the removal of police from the transit system, among other things.
“Linking the right to protest and to take direct action with unassociated and random acts of violence is a well-worn and gratuitous tactic long used by authorities to suppress dissident speech,” DTP said in a statement. “The Mayor, at least, should pretend to know better.”
Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murderers or suspected murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.
Lincoln College to Close for Good After COVID and Ransomware Attack Ruin Finances
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.
One of the Only Historically Black Colleges in the Midwest Goes Down
After 157 years of educating mostly Black students in Illinois, Lincoln College will close its doors for good on Friday.
The college made the announcement last month, citing financial troubles caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a ransomware attack in December.
Enrollment dropped during the pandemic and the administration had to make costly investments in technology and campus safety measures, according to a statement from the school.
A shrinking endowment put additional pressure on the college’s budget.
The ransomware attack, which the college has said originated from Iran, thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data. Systems for recruitment, retention, and fundraising were completely inoperable at a time when the administration needed them most.
In March, the college paid the ransom, which it has said amounted to less than $100,000. But according to Lincoln’s statement, subsequent projections showed enrollment shortfalls so significant the college would need a transformational donation or partnership to make it beyond the present semester.
The college put out a request for $50 million in a last-ditch effort to save itself, but no one came forward to provide it.
A GoFundMe aiming to raise $20 million for the college only collected $2,452 as of Tuesday.
Students and Employees Give a Bittersweet Goodbye
“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.
Lincoln counts nearly 1,000 enrolled students, and those who did not graduate this spring will leave the institution without degrees.
Gerlach has said that 22 colleges have worked with Lincoln to accept the remaining students, including their credits, tuition prices, and residency requirements.
“I was shocked and saddened by that news because of me being a freshman, so now I have to find someplace for me to go,” one student told WMBD News after the closure was announced.
When a group of students confronted Gerlach at his office about the closure, he responded with an emotional speech.
“I have been fighting hard to save this place,” he said. “But resources are resources. We’ve done everything we possibly could.”
On April 30, alumni were invited back to the campus to revisit the highlights of their college years before the institution closed.
On Saturday, the college held its final graduation ceremony, where over 200 students accepted their diplomas and Quentin Brackenridge performed the Lincoln Alma Mater.
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Herald Review) (CNN)
U.S. Tops One Million Coronavirus Deaths, WHO Estimates 15 Million Worldwide
India’s real COVID death toll stands at about 4.7 million, ten times higher than official data, the WHO estimated.
One Million Dead
The United States officially surpassed one million coronavirus deaths Wednesday, 26 months after the first death was reported in late February of 2020.
Experts believe that figure is likely an undercount, since there are around 200,000 excess deaths, though some of those may not be COVID-related.
The figure is the equivalent of the population of San Jose, the tenth-largest city in the U.S., vanishing in just over two years. To put the magnitude in visual perspective, NECN published a graphic illustrating what one million deaths looks like.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the White House predicted between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans would die from the coronavirus in a best-case scenario.
By February 2021, over half a million Americans had died of COVID.
The coronavirus has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.
The pandemic’s effects go beyond its death toll. Around a quarter of a million children have lost a caregiver to the virus, including about 200,000 who lost one or both parents. Every COVID-related death leaves an estimated nine people grieving.
The virus has hit certain industries harder than others, with food and agriculture, warehouse operations and manufacturing, and transportation and construction seeing especially high death rates.
People’s mental health has also been affected, with a study in January of five Western countries including the U.S. finding that 13% of people reported symptoms of PTSD attributable to actual or potential contact with the virus.
Fifteen Million Dead
On Thursday, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly 15 million people have died from the pandemic worldwide, a dramatic revision from the 5.4 million previously reported in official statistics.
Between January 2020 and the end of last year, the WHO estimated that between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people died either due to the coronavirus directly or because of factors somehow attributed to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, such as cancer patients who were unable to seek treatment when hospitals were full of COVID patients.
Based on that range, scientists arrived at an approximate total of 14.9 million.
The new estimate shows a 13% increase in deaths than is usually expected for a two-year period.
“This may seem like just a bean-counting exercise, but having these WHO numbers is so critical to understanding how we should combat future pandemics and continue to respond to this one,” Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious diseases specialist at the Yale School of Public Health who was not linked to the WHO research, told the Associated Press.
Most of the deaths occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
According to the WHO, India counts the most deaths by far with 4.7 million, ten times its official number.
See what others are saying: (NBC) (U.S. News and World Report) (Scientific American)
Official Says Missing Alabama Convict and Corrections Officer Had a “Special Relationship”
Authorities have also said they now believe the officer willfully helped the inmate escape.
New Information on Missing Inmate & Officer
Authorities in Alabama revealed Tuesday that Assistant Director of Corrections for Lauderdale County Vicky White, who is accused of helping a murder suspect Casey Cole White escape from jail, had a “special relationship” with the inmate.
“Investigators received information from inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Center over the weekend that there was a special relationship between Director White and inmate Casey White,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said in a statement. “That relationship has now been confirmed through our investigation by independent sources and means.”
Officials have previously said that the two are not related, despite their shared surname.
Singleton elaborated on the nature of the relationship while speaking to CNN later on Tuesday. He said it took place “outside of her normal work hours” and added that although it did not include “physical contact,” he still characterized it as “a relationship of a different nature.”
“We were told Casey White got special privileges and was treated differently while in the facility than the other inmates,” Singleton said.
Also on Tuesday, the Marshals Service issued a statement confirming that authorities believe Officer White had helped Mr. White escape. The authorities described her as a “wanted fugitive” and offered a $5,000 reward for any information on her whereabouts. Earlier this week, the Marshals Service also offered a $10,000 reward for any information that could lead to Mr. White’s capture.
Singleton echoed the belief that Officer White’s actions were intentional while speaking to Good Morning America Wednesday.
“I think all of our employees and myself included were really hoping that she did not participate in this willingly. But all indications are that she absolutely did,” he said. “We’re very disappointed in that because we had the utmost trust in her as an employee and as an assistant director of corrections.”
Vicky White and Casey White were last seen leaving the Lauderdale County jail just after 9:30 a.m. Friday. The officer told other employees that she was taking the inmate to a mental health evaluation at a courthouse just down the road, and that she would be going to a medical appointment after because she was not feeling well.
Officials later said her actions violated an official policy that required two sworn deputies to transport people with murder charges. In 2020, Mr. White was charged with two counts of capital murder in connection to a fatal stabbing he confessed to and was awaiting his trial in Lauderdale County.
Mr. White was also serving time for what officials said was a “crime spree” in 2015 which included home invasion, carjacking, and a police chase. He had also previously tried to escape from jail, police said.
It wasn’t until 3:30 p.m. on Friday that a jail employee reported to higher-ups that he was not able to reach Officer White on her phone and that Mr. White had never been returned to his cell.
During a press conference that same night, Singleton told reporters that there had never even been a scheduled mental health evaluation. At another briefing Monday, he announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Vicky on a charge of “permitting or facilitating an escape in the first degree.”
At the time, Singleton said it was unclear “whether she did that willingly or was coerced or threatened” but added, “we know for sure she did participate.”