- Mark Aguirre, a 63-year-old man accused of holding an air conditioner repairman at gunpoint in an attempt to prove an outlandish election fraud conspiracy theory, had his arraignment hearing postponed after he tested positive for COVID-19.
- The judge overseeing the case asked if the arraignment could be rescheduled for Friday on Zoom, but according to Aguirre’s attorney, Aguirre is not “doing well,” does not own a phone, and may not own a computer.
- According to prosecutors, Aguirre believed the repairman he targeted had been hoarding 750,000 fraudulent ballots which he maintained had all been signed by Hispanic children “because the children’s fingerprints would not appear in any databases.”
- After tracking the repairman for four days, Aguirre attempted to make a citizen’s arrest on Oct. 19 by slamming into the man’s truck and faking an injury before pulling a gun on him while two co-conspirators searched the truck.
- Aguirre is being charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, a second-degree felony. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
Ex-Houston Cop Charged In Attack Over Bogus Election Fraud Plot
The Thursday arraignment hearing for a former Houston police captain, who was arrested after acting on what may be one of the most bizarre election fraud conspiracy theories to come out of 2020, has been postponed because he’s now tested positive for COVID-19.
According to his attorney who presented the test results in court, that man — 63-year-old Mark Aguirre — “wasn’t doing well” as of Thursday night.
The judge presiding over the case asked if Aguirre would be able to appear Friday on a Zoom call. While Aguirre’s attorney said he would try to make that work, he also claimed that Aguirre does not own a phone and said he was not sure if Aguirre owns a laptop, either.
On Tuesday, Aguirre was arrested nearly two months after he violently held a man at gunpoint while trying to prove that the 2020 Presidential Election had been rigged against President Donald Trump.
According to prosecutors, in October, Aguirre and two other unidentified people reportedly tracked a man for four days on the suspicion that he was hiding 750,000 fraudulent ballots in his truck and home. Prosecutors have also claimed that Aguirre believed these ballots had all been signed by Hispanic children “because the children’s fingerprints would not appear in any databases.”
Aguirre also allegedly believed that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had given the man, David Zuniga, $9.37 billion for “ballot harvesting.”
With that information in hand, Aguirre then reached out to three different Texas law enforcement agencies — the Texas Office of the Attorney General, the Texas Rangers, and the Texas Department of Public Safety. His concerns were rejected by all three.
Following Aguirre’s call with the attorney general’s office, Lt. Wayne Rubio alerted police that Aguirre might try to “handle” the situation on his own. In fact, according to prosecutors, that’s exactly what he did.
Early in the morning on Oct. 19, Zuniga noticed a black SUV swerve into his lane while he was driving. According to prosecutors, Zuniga just barely avoided getting hit by the SUV.
A few seconds later, the SUV then allegedly slammed into the back of Zuniga’s truck. From there, Zuniga pulled off the side of the road and got out of his truck to check on the SUV driver. That’s when Aguirre reportedly stepped out of the SUV while faking an injury.
“He said, ‘Help me! Help me!’ with his hand inside his coat,” Zuniga told KPRC News. “Then when I tried to help him, he pulls out a gun. That is when I was told to get on the ground.”
As Zuniga complied, Aguirre then pushed his knee into Zuniga’s back as two other unidentified co-conspirators arrived on the scene and searched Zuniga’s truck before driving away with it.
The truck was later found abandoned a few blocks away, but notably, no ballots were ever discovered in Zuniga’s truck or home. In fact, the Harris County district attorney’s office has described Zuniga as an “innocent and ordinary” air conditioner repairman.
Aguirre now faces a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
Aguirre Was Paid $266,000 to Investigate Fraud
Aguirre is believed to have been paid $266,400 by the group Liberty Center for God and Country to investigate election fraud claims. Court records indicated $211,400 of that was given to Aguirre on Oct. 20, one day after he held Zuniga at gunpoint.
The group’s CEO, Steve Hotze, is an active GOP donor and was a major figure in trying to restrict 2020 voting efforts in Texas.
Alongside State. Rep Steve Toth (R), Hotze joined a lawsuit that unsuccessfully attempted to throw out nearly 127,000 Harris County ballots just before Election Day. Notably, those ballots were cast at drive-thru polling sites, which were established to provide a safe voting experience for people who might be nervous about going to traditional polling locations during the coronavirus pandemic.
In another lawsuit, Hotze failed to stop Gov. Greg Abbott (R) from extending the state’s early voting period, which was also a response to the pandemic. At the time, Aguirre provided an affidavit with that lawsuit, claiming he was investigating a “wide-ranging and fraudulent ballot harvesting scheme” in Harris County.
In 2017, Hotze — who is intensely opposed to same-sex marriage and trans rights — also backed an unsuccessful piece of Texas legislation aimed at keeping transgender people from using restrooms that align with their gender identity.
During this past summer’s protests over the in-custody killing of George Floyd, Hotze infamously left a voicemail for Abbott’s chief of staff, in which he said:
“I want to make sure that [Abbott] has National Guard down here and they have the order to shoot to kill if any of these son-of-a-bitch people start rioting like they have in Dallas, start tearing down businesses — shoot to kill the son of a bitches. That’s the only way you restore order. Kill ’em. Thank you.”
Unlike Aguirre, the Liberty Center for God and Country hasn’t been implicated in the attack against Zuniga. Reportedly, Aguirre was only one of 20 investigators it hired to look into election fraud claims in Texas. As Hotze’s attorney also claimed, the CEO “did not direct or lead any of the investigations.”
“Unless there is evidence that tends to connect Dr. Hotze or anybody else to the commission of this aggravated assault, that is the beginning and the end of this matter,” Brian Wice, a legal analyst for KPRC News, said.
What About Aguirre’s Conspirators?
Attorneys are still trying to determine the identities of Aguirre’s co-conspirators, but that’s been made difficult because since being arrested, Aguirre has claimed he doesn’t know who they are.
“This is a political prosecution,” Aguirre’s attorney said of the charges against his client. “Retaliation for the investigation that was being done.”
Aguirre worked for the Houston Police Department for 24 years but was fired in 2003 following a controversial raid at a Kmart parking lot.
On Tuesday, the same day he was arrested for the attack against Zuniga, Aguirre was released from jail on $30,000 bond.
See what others are saying: (KPRC) (CNN) (Texas Tribune)
Bodycam Footage Shows Adam Toledo Wasn’t Holding Gun When an Officer Shot Him
- Chicago officials released body camera footage Thursday which showed that 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was shot and killed by police last month, had put his hands up in the air right before the officer opened fire.
- The graphic video showed the officer, who has now been identified as Eric Stillman, yelling at Adam to stop as he chases him through an alley.
- The teenager obeyed and stopped by a fence, where he can be seen holding what appears to be a gun behind his back. Stillman ordered him to drop it, and then shot him a split second after Adam raised his empty hands in the air.
- The footage prompted renewed outrage, protests, and calls for an investigation. A lawyer for the Toledo family called the killing “an assassination,” while Stillman’s lawyer defended the officer, and claimed he acted appropriately.
Officer Bodycam Footage Made Public
Body camera footage released by Chicago officials Thursday showed that Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy killed by police last month, had his hands up when he was fatally shot.
The footage, which was released as part of a report by the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), showed officers chasing Adam, who was Latino, through an alley in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Little Village during the early hours of March 29.
The officer ordered Adam to stop. The teenager complied and halted by the side of a fence, holding what looks like a gun in one of his hands behind his back. The policeman yelled at him to drop it and show his hands.
Adam turned and lifted his empty hands, and the officer fired his weapon, striking the teenager once in the chest. The policeman is then seen administering CPR and asking him, “You alright? Where you shot?” while blood poured out of his mouth.
The COPA report published Thursday also identified the officer who shot Adam as 34-year-old Eric Stillman, who is white, and whose lawyer said he had been put on administrative duties for 30 days.
Stillman’s lawyer also argued that the shooting was justified, as did John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.
“He was 100% right,” Catanzara said. “The offender still turned with a gun in his hand. This occurred in eight-tenths of a second.”
Renewed Backlash and Protests
Adeena Weiss Ortiz, an attorney obtained by Adam’s family, said they are looking into taking legal action against Stillman.
“If you’re shooting an unarmed child with his arms in the air, it’s an assassination,” she said at a news conference Thursday.
Ortiz acknowledged the bodycam footage did appear to show Adam holding something that “could be a gun,” but argued the video must be independently analyzed to confirm.
“It’s not relevant because he tossed the gun,” she said. “If he had a gun, he tossed it.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois also echoed Ortiz’s demands on Thursday, calling for a “complete and transparent” investigation.
“The video released today shows that police shot Adam Toledo even though his hands were raised in the air,” said Colleen Connell, executive director of the ACLU of Illinois.
“The people of Chicago deserve answers about the events surrounding this tragic interaction. The anger and frustration expressed by many in viewing the video is understandable and cannot be ignored.”
Hours before the video was released, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot pleaded for calm in the city, where anti-police protests have taken place in the weeks following the shooting.
“We must proceed with deep empathy and calm and importantly, peace,” she said. “No family should ever have a video broadcast widely of their child’s last moments, much less be placed in the terrible situation of losing their child in the first place.”
Some businesses in downtown Chicago boarded prepared for violence ahead of the video’s publication by boarding up their windows. City vehicles stood by to block traffic.
However, the demonstrations that took place Thursday were small, peaceful, and spread out over several parts of the city. Organizers said they plan to hold more protests Friday.
See what others are saying: (The Chicago Sun-Times) (The New York Times) (The Chicago Tribune)
Eight Dead in Indianapolis Shooting
- Eight people were killed and several more were injured after a gunman opened fire at a FedEx Ground Facility in Indianapolis late Thursday.
- The gunman took his life after opening fire. Authorities have not identified his motive yet.
- According to the Gun Violence Archive, in 2021, there have been 147 U.S. mass shootings, defined as verified incidents with four or more gunshot victims.
- President Joe Biden released a statement calling gun violence “an epidemic in America,” adding, “We should not accept it. We must act.”
Eight Killed in Shooting
Eight people were killed and several others have been wounded after a gunman opened fire at a FedEx Ground Facility in Indianapolis late Thursday.
The gunman killed four people in the parking lot then four people inside before taking his own life, according to local officials. Authorities have identified the gunman and are searching his home, but have not disclosed any potential motives.
“There was no confrontation with anyone that was there,” Deputy Chief Craig McCartt of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said during a press conference. “There was no disturbance, there was no argument. He just appeared to randomly start shooting.”
Several witnesses told local outlets they initially thought the gunshots were engines backfiring or another type of mechanical noise until they saw the gunman. Some said they heard him shouting indistinctly before opening fire. The investigation is still in very early stages and victims have not yet been identified.
The facility employs 4,500 team members. It is unclear how many were working at the time of the shooting. FedEx released a statement expressing its condolences to the victims and their families.
“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of our team members following the tragic shooting at our FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis,” the statement read. “Our most heartfelt sympathies are with all those affected by this senseless act of violence. The safety of our team members is our top priority, and we are fully cooperating with investigating authorities.”
Gun Violence in the U.S.
This tragedy follows a recent string of mass shootings in the U.S., including in Atlanta, Colorado, Southern California, and Texas. According to the Associated Press, this is at least the third in Indianapolis this year.
The Gun Violence Archive has logged a total of 147 mass shootings in the U.S. so far in 2021. The organization defines mass shootings as reported and verified incidents with at least four gunshot victims.
Several politicians have released statements about the shooting, including Vice President Kamala Harris, who said this pattern “must end.”
“Yet again we have families in our country that are grieving the loss of their family members because of gun violence,” she said. “There is no question that this violence must end, and we are thinking of the families that lost their loved ones.”
President Joe Biden also released a statement saying that, “Too many Americans are dying every single day from gun violence. It stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation.”
“Gun violence is an epidemic in America,” Biden added. “But we should not accept it. We must act.”
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett echoed those remarks in a news conference.
“The scourge of gun violence that has killed far too many in our community and in our country,” he said.
“Our prayers are with the families of those whose lives were cut short,” he added on Twitter.
Hogsett is among 150 U.S. mayors who recently signed a letter asking the Senate to take up gun legislation, including expanding background checks.
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.
Soldier Charged With Assault After Shoving Black Man in Viral Video
- Authorities charged Army soldier Jonathan Pentland with third-degree assault and battery on Wednesday after a viral video showed him shoving a Black man while yelling at him to leave a South Carolina neighborhood.
- Many people, including dozens who protested outside Pentland’s home this week, condemned the confrontation as another instance of someone being attacked for “walking while Black.”
- Pentland and others claimed the unidentified man was picking a fight with neighbors, which the man denied, but police said nothing that may have happened earlier justified Pentland’s actions.
- If convicted, Pentland faces a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.
A U.S. soldier was charged with assault on Wednesday after a video that circulated online showed him yelling at and shoving a Black man in a South Carolina neighborhood.
Footage of the April 8 incident was posted to social media Monday. It shows the Army soldier, Jonathan Pentland, confronting the unidentified man and telling him to leave the neighborhood.
The other man explains that he’s just walking through the area and doing nothing wrong, but Pentland becomes increasingly aggressive. “You better walk away,” he shouts at the man after shoving him.
“You either walk away, or I’m gonna carry your ass out of here,” he continues before adding, “You’re in the wrong neighborhood motherf*ker. Get out!”
The man then tries to tell Pentland that he lives in the neighborhood, and Pentland then asks for his address, which he does not give.
The confrontation continues with Pentland cursing and getting in the man’s face. As he does so, the man says that Pentland smells drunk.
It’s unclear what exactly led up to the confrontation, but in the video, a woman off-camera says the man “picked a fight with some random young lady that’s one of our neighbors.”
“I don’t even know who she is. Nobody picked a fight when someone ran up on me,” the man replies. Another woman off-screen then encourages the man to leave with her, saying, “What’s your name? Come on. You don’t want no trouble.”
Video Triggers Protests Outside Pentland’s Home
After this video spread online, many social media users condemned it as another instance of someone being attacked for “walking while Black.”
In fact, protesters even began demonstrating outside of Penland’s home. Those protests started off peaceful, but deputies were then called after 8 p.m. because unknown individuals vandalized the house. That forced police to shut down access to the area and remove Pentland’s family to another location.
As far as the viral video, deputies were told that the man approached “several neighbors in a threatening manner” and that someone had asked Pentland to “intervene.”
Police did confirm that there are two reports of alleged assault against the unnamed man Pentland shoved that are being investigated. However, they also added that the man has “an underlying medical condition that may explain the behavior exhibited in the alleged incidents.”
Either way, police said whatever happened earlier did not justify Pentland’s actions. He was ultimately arrested Wednesday morning and was charged with third-degree assault and battery. He faces a $500 fine and 30 days in jail if convicted.
“We’re not going to let people be bullies in our community,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said at a news conference Wednesday. “And if you are, you’re going to answer for it, and that’s what we’ve done in this case.”
On top of that, the Justice Department reportedly was investigating. Pentland’s Commanding General even issued a statement condemning his behavior, adding that Pentland “brought disrespect to @fortjackson our Army and the trust with the public we serve.”