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Suspect who shot three Houston police officers is taken into custody after standoff

Houston police took a man suspected of shooting three officers into custody, after an hours-long standoff ended Thursday evening.  Houston Police Department Chief Troy Finner confirmed that the suspect, who police have not identified, came out at 7:45 p.m. CT with his hands raised and surrendered.  Houston police tweeted that the officers who were shot are being treated at Memorial Hermann Hospital, and all are in stable condition.

After fleeing the shooting scene in a Mercedes he carjacked, the suspect barricaded himself in a home for hours. Chief Finner said: “Officers surrounded that house. The suspect fired multiple times. Thank God he did not strike any of the officers. Officers returned fire. Again, we don’t know if that suspect is injured.” Finner said at a later press conference that authorities believe the man lived at the house and he fired multiple times at a SWAT team.

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Michigan school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley planning insanity defense

The Michigan school shooting suspect who is accused of killing four people in a shooting at Oxford High School last November is planning on using an insanity defense at trial. The defense attorneys for the alleged shooter, Ethan Crumbley, filed a notice on Thursday saying that they plan to “assert the defense of insanity at the time of the alleged offense.”  Oakland County Chief Assistant Prosecutor David Williams released  a statement that Crumbley would be evaluated by a doctor from the Center for Forensic Psychiatry, saying:  “As expected, Ethan Crumbley’s attorney has requested an evaluation of his criminal responsibility. This is standard procedure.” At Crumbley’s arraignment last month, the judge entered a plea of not guilty at the request of Crumbley’s attorney.

Crumbley faces 24 charges, in connection with the shooting at Oxford High School, including one count of terrorism causing death and four counts of first-degree murder. Crumbley was 15-years-old at the time of the shooting, and is being charged as an adult.  Additionally, Crumbley’s parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, were arrested days after the shooting and charged with four counts each of involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors allege that the parents disregarded signs their son was a threat, and gave him easy access to the gun used in the shooting. At a hearing earlier this month, prosecutor Mark Keast alleged Crumbley’s parents were negligent in addressing issues with their son, who allegedly texted his mother while his parents were not home, saying he saw demons or ghosts, or that he believed someone was inside the house. Crumbley’s parents have pleaded not guilty.

Authorities say that teachers at the high school had reported concerning behavior from Crumbley. Hours before the killings, Crumbley was found with a drawing that essentially depicted a shooting.  The teen’s notebooks also included concerning content including entries about how he wanted to shoot guns, shoot up a school and other dark thoughts. Crumbley searched online for information about guns and school shootings so much that he started to get spam advertisements regarding guns and mental health, the prosecutor said.

Four students — Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17 — were killed at Oxford High School, located 40 miles north of downtown Detroit. Another six students and one teacher were wounded in the attack, making it the deadliest school shooting since 2018 in the United States.

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Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire at end of term

Justice Stephen Breyer will step down from the Supreme Court at the end of the current term. Breyer is one of the three remaining liberal justices, and his decision to retire after more than 27 years will allow President Biden to appoint a successor who could maintain the current 6-3 split between conservative and liberal justices. CNN reports that Breyer does not plan to leave until a new nominee is confirmed to the nine-member court.

Breyer, at 83, is the court’s eldest member. He was appointed by former President Bill Clinton and joined the court in 1994. Prior to that he served on the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals for from 1980 to 1994, the last four years of which he was chief judge. He was nominated to the appellate court by former President Jimmy Carter. Prior to his judicial career, Breyer served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg and as a special assistant to the attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. During his career he also worked on the Warren Commission and the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.

Liberal activists have urged Breyer to retire while Democrats hold both the White House and the Senate; an appointment by Biden could keep Breyer’s seat on the liberal side of the court for years or decades to come. President Biden declined to comment, saying that he will leave it to Breyer to formally announce his retirement. White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted saying, “It has always been the decision of any Supreme Court Justice if and when they decide to retire, and how they want to announce it, and that remains the case today.”

During his 2020 campaign, Biden pledged to select a Black woman to be his first nominee to the Supreme Court should there be an opening. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Biden plans to stick to that promise: “The president has stated and reiterated his commitment to nominating a Black woman to the Supreme Court and certainly stands by that. For today, again, I’m just not going to be able to say anything about any specifics, until, of course, Justice Breyer makes any announcement, should he decide to make an announcement.”  Among likely contenders are U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, a former Breyer law clerk; and Leondra Kruger, a justice on California’s Supreme Court.

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One body found, 38 missing amid Coast Guard search after boat capsizes off Florida

One body has been recovered as a search continued Wednesday for 38 other passengers on a boat that capsized in the northern Straits of Florida.  The boat, carrying 40 people, left the Bahamas in a suspected human smuggling attempt, the U.S. Coast Guard said.  Officials say that a man was found clinging to the overturned hull of the boat Tuesday morning.

During a news conference Wednesday morning, a U.S. Coast Guard official said search and rescue crews are in a race against time to find any survivors. Capt. Jo-Ann F. Burdian said that finding the other migrants alive is their highest priority: “It is dire. The longer they remain in the water … exposed to the marine environment … with every moment that passes, it becomes much more dire and more unlikely that survivors will be found.” 

The 25-foot capsized boat was discovered around 8 a.m. on Tuesday roughly 40 miles east of Florida’s Fort Pierce Inlet. A commercial tug-in barge operator radioed in that one survivor was found clinging to the hull of the overturned vessel.   The man said he was part of a group of 40 people who left the island of Bimini in the Bahamas on Saturday evening in what the maritime security agency suspects was a human smuggling operation The man said they capsized shortly thereafter, and none of them were wearing life jackets.

The survivor was brought to a hospital for symptoms of dehydration and sun exposure. Capt. Burdian wouldn’t provide more details about him, saying he’s now in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security. Burdian said searchers saw indications of more victims, but no more bodies yet. “The aircraft have reported items in the debris field that’s consistent with a number of people being on the vessel,” she said.

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Pfizer begins testing an omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Tuesday that they have begun a clinical trial to evaluate a new, omicron-specific vaccine for COVID-19. People who are vaccinated and boosted appear to be better protected against severe disease and hospitalization from omicron, but the highly contagious variant has still led to breakthrough cases and a surge in overall infections.

Kathrin U. Jansen, Pfizer’s senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development, said in a statement: “While current research and real-world data show that boosters continue to provide a high level of protection against severe disease and hospitalization with Omicron, we recognize the need to be prepared in the event this protection wanes over time and to potentially help address Omicron and new variants in the future.”

The study will include over 1,000 participants divided into three groups — One group includes people who have already received two doses of the current Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and will also receive the omicron vaccine;  another group includes those with three doses of the current Pfizer vaccine who will also get the omicron vaccine; and the third group includes unvaccinated people who will receive three shots of the omicron vaccine.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the current Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in people ages 5 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for adults.

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2nd NYPD officer, Wilbert Mora, dies from injuries in Harlem shooting

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell announced Tuesday that NYPD officer Wilbert Mora, who was shot while responding to a domestic call in Harlem last Friday, has died from his injuries.  Mora was 27 years old. Commissioner Sewell said: “It’s with great sadness I announce the passing of Police Officer Wilbert Mora. Wilbert is 3 times a hero. For choosing a life of service. For sacrificing his life to protect others. For giving life even in death through organ donation. Our heads are bowed & our hearts are heavy.”

Mora is the 2nd NYPD officer to die as a result of the shooting. Mora’s partner, rookie officer Jason Rivera, 22, was struck first at the scene and died from his injuries.  The suspect, 47-year-old Lashawn McNeil, was shot in the head and arm and remained in critical condition until he died Monday from his injuries.

Mora, a four-year veteran of the NYPD, was shot in the head Friday night in Harlem during the incident.  NYC Mayor Eric Adams said: “Wilbert Mora was a hero. He served his city, protected his community and gave his life for our safety. Our hearts are heavy. Our city is in mourning. To his family, loved ones, and brothers and sisters in the NYPD: Your city is standing with you today and always.”

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Wall Street recovers from early losses after investors jump in before the closing bell

The stock market recovered from big early losses on Monday after investors jumped in before the closing bell. The Dow Jones Industrial Average swung 1,217 points and closed up 0.3% after dropping 1,000 points as investors worried over possible conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and anticipated inflation-fighting measures from the Federal Reserve.

The price of oil and bitcoin fell, and so did the yield on 10-year Treasury notes, a sign of investor concern about the economy. The decline in stock prices has come as the Fed has signaled its readiness to begin raising its benchmark short-term interest rate in 2022 to try to tame inflation, which is at its highest level in nearly four decades. By early afternoon on Monday, the selling lost momentum —  the Dow was down 598 points, or 1.8%, to 33,570 after falling more than 1,000 points earlier. The S&P 500 fell 2% to 4,310, and is now down about 10.1% from the closing high it set on Jan. 3. A close of 4,316.90 or lower will put it into a correction. The Nasdaq fell 1.8% after having been down 4.9% in the early going.

The market is waiting to hear from Federal Reserve policymakers after their latest meeting ends Wednesday. Economists have expressed concern that the Fed is already moving too late to combat high inflation, or say they worry that the Fed may act too aggressively.  Investors are also keeping an eye on the tension between Russia and the West over concerns that Moscow is planning to invade Ukraine, with NATO outlining potential troop and ship deployments.

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Pentagon announces 8,500 troops are on ‘heightened alert’ amid Russia-Ukraine tensions

The Pentagon announced Monday it has put up to 8,500 U.S. troops on heightened alert to deploy to Eastern Europe amid escalating tensions over Russia’s build-up of troops on its border with Ukraine. Defense Department press secretary John Kirby told reporters that “prepare to deploy orders” had been issued by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to troops stationed at several installations, however, they have not yet been officially activated.

NATO also announced Monday that it was placing additional military forces on standby and sending ships and fighter jets to Eastern Europe to deter and guard against a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Kirby also said: “In the event of NATO’s activation of the NRF or a deteriorating security environment, the United States would be in a position to rapidly deploy additional brigade combat teams, logistics, medical, aviation, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, transportation and additional capabilities into Europe.”

President Joe Biden conferred with European leaders in a secure video call to formulate a plan to handle new developments in the standoff.  Biden spoke with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Polish President Andrzej Duda, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Council President Charles Michel.

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Los Angeles-area ‘ambush’ shooting at house party leaves 4 dead, 1 injured

A Los Angeles area shooting at a house party early Sunday left four people dead and another injured.  According to local reports and city officials, the shooting took place in Inglewood — a city of about 100,000 people 10 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles — around 1:30 a.m.

Three people were pronounced dead at the scene, and paramedics rushed two others to the hospital. One of them died en route to the hospital, and the other is expected to survive. The victims who died were reportedly two females and two males.

Inglewood Mayor James Butts spoke to reporters on Sunday and described the shooting as an “ambush” involving multiple shooters firing multiple weapons including a rifle and a handgun. The mayor said it was the largest number of single shooting victims in Inglewood since the 1990s.  Said Butts of the shooters: “These are sociopathic killers that have to be sequestered from society. Turn yourselves in. We will find you, and we will prosecute you.”

Police haven’t released a potential motive or said if any of the victims were targeted. The man who survived allegedly admitted to being a member of a street gang in another city, and investigators are trying to determine if the shooting was gang-related.

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Chairman says former Attorney General William Barr has spoken to January 6 committee

The Chairman of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol said on Sunday that the panel has spoken with former U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

The Chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told CBS News’ Face the Nation that the committee had spoken to Barr and Department of Defense officials about reports that former President Donald Trump had been presented a draft of an executive order directing the defense secretary to seize voting machines in battleground states in December 2020. Said Thompson:  “To be honest with you, we’ve had conversations with the former attorney general already. We have talked to Department of Defense individuals. We are concerned that our military was part of this big lie on promoting that the election was false. So, if you are using the military to potentially seize voting machines, even though it’s a discussion, the public needs to know, we’ve never had that before.”

Thompson also said on Sunday that the committee was “in the process of reviewing” 700 pages of Trump administration documents that were handed to the panel after the Supreme Court ruled to deny Trump’s request to block their release.  He said:  “We’ll see if that information leads us to additional individuals to make requests. But it’s so significant to our investigation to have the documents and executive privilege and other things obviously had no bearing and we’re just happy for the Supreme Court decision. We’ll look forward to reviewing it and based on the review, we’ll take next steps.”   Thompson added the committee still expected to hold public hearings for its investigation in the spring: “We are reviewing thousands of pages of documents, hundreds of witnesses,” he said. “It’s taken a good bit of time for the committee to put together. And hearings at this point, we expect to be sometime in the spring.”

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