Multiple people shot at Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

 

Multiple people shot at Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis

A shooting has occurred at the Capital Gazette in Anne Arundel County, a paper that is owned by The Baltimore Sun, according to reports from Gazette staff.

Anne Arundel County Police confirmed there was an “active shooter” at 888 Bestgate Road, where the newspaper’s offices are located. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed it was responding to a “shooting incident” at the Gazette.

Phil Davis, a Gazette crime reporter who was there at the time of the shooting, said that multiple people had been shot. Police did not immediately respond to requests for further information.

“Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees. Can’t say much more and don’t want to declare anyone dead, but it’s bad,” Davis wrote on Twitter as he waited to be interviewed by police. “There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload.”

Police said the building was being evacuated as officers continue searching it.

Agents with the ATF were on the scene in Annapolis to provide support to local law enforcement, said Amanda Hils, a spokeswoman for the federal agency. ATF can help with tracing weapons, conducting interviews and other assistance.

Gov. Larry Hogan, on Twitter, wrote, “Absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy in Annapolis.”

He said he was in contact with County Executive Steve Schuh, and that Maryland State Police were on the scene assisting county police.

“Please, heed all warnings and stay away from the area. Praying for those at the scene and for our community,” he wrote.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen wrote on Twitter, “My heart is with the families, friends, and loved ones of the victims as we learn more about this terrible situation. We must unite to end the violence.”

Police were also at The Baltimore Sun newsroom in Baltimore. Police said there was no threat on the Sun, and that their presence was a precaution.

This story will be updated.

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General Kelly Defends A Coward

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

 

The photo of a young Army widow clutching the flag-draped casket of her husband is daunting. Myeshia Johnson’s pain seemed to run so deep that it pierced her soul.

She had been called upon to perform a duty that only the truest of American patriots, our Gold Star families, must do — claim the body of a fallen soldier upon his return home.

On this day, it could not have mattered to the pregnant mother of two small children that Sgt. La David Johnson had joined the Army of his own free will. Perhaps the soldier did realize that there was a chance he could be killed in an ambush while serving in Niger.

This was not the day to remind his wife of that. Yet, it is what Donald Trump did in a phone call to Johnson while she rode in a car to the airport in Miami to retrieve her husband’s remains.

As it turns out, the words were not even his own.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly would have us forget about Johnson’s grief and reserve our empathy for Trump.

In a rare appearance before the news media on Thursday, Kelly reminded us that the president is, after all, inexperienced in making condolence calls to Gold Star families.

Kelly implored Americans to understand how difficult it was for someone who has never worn the uniform, who has never been in combat, to make such a call. Some presidents send a letter instead, he said. But Trump chose to call.

Our president is incapable of speaking from the heart, though. So Kelly, a retired four-star general who lost his own son in Afghanistan, stood by the president’s side and fed the words to him.

Perhaps the general found it comforting when his best friend and casualty officer told Kelly that his fallen son was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed and that he knew what he was getting into.

Myeshia Johnson clearly did not feel the same. She is said to have been devastated. In the brief conversation, Trump repeatedly referred to the soldier as “your guy,” a signal to the wife that the president didn’t even know her husband’s name.

A decent and caring person would have readily acknowledged his mistake and offered an apology. But not Trump. He acted like a coward and sent his most fearless attack dog out to deflect the issue.

The problem wasn’t what Trump said to the grieving widow, Kelly intimated. It was the fact that a Florida congresswoman, an “empty barrel” as he referred to her, spoke out about it.

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson had been in the car with Johnson that day when the call came. She heard every word and was appalled that a president would speak to a grieving widow in that manner. She found it offensive and disrespectful, and she said so publicly.

Kelly was so anxious to discredit her that he mischaracterized what Wilson said in 2015 at a dedication of a new FBI field office in Miami.

Kelly made false claim about Rep. Wilson speech in dispute over Trump call »

In Kelly’s view, it is Wilson — the messenger — that Americans should take aim at. She had overheard Trump’s conversation with Myeshia Johnson and had the gall to say what she thought about it.

In response to the uproar, Trump tweeted, “Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!”

Kelly revealed during the news conference, albeit unintentionally, that Trump had lied. What Wilson said was true. Trump had repeated in the telephone call exactly what Kelly had told him to say.

The fact that he works for a man who is both a coward and a liar is not what concerns Kelly, though. He is most troubled that details of the telephone conversation got out.

Kelly said he is stunned that the things that were sacred in our country when he was growing up are no longer sacred. Most Americans are stunned, too.

“Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor,” Kelly said. “But that’s obviously not the case anymore.”

He could have added that his boss, the president of the United States, has contributed immensely to the growing irreverence for women.

Religion seems to be gone as well, Kelly said. He should have pointed out that no president ever has been so determined to undermine religious freedom in America as Trump.

As for the sanctity of Gold Star families, “that left in the convention over the summer,” Kelly said.

Analysis: Kelly might not be like Trump, but he seems like many Trump voters »

Kelly did not mention Trump’s brutal verbal attack on the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan after they appeared at the Democratic National Convention. But we remember Trump’s attack on the Muslim-American family well. His vile, disrespectful verbiage directed at the Khans was an affront to every military family that has lost a loved one.

This time, he once again showed a troubling lack of understanding regarding the sacrifices Gold Star families make for their country.

Trump disrespected the memory of Sgt. La David Johnson by telling his wife that the soldier knew what he was getting into when he joined the Army.

Kelly drove the knife deeper when he said the soldier was exactly where he wanted to be, with exactly the people he wanted to be with, when his life was taken. If the general isn’t careful, Trump will carry him into the gutter, just has he has everyone else who tries to defend him.

Kelly knows better than anyone that there are many reasons our brave men and women enlist in the military. Wanting to die on field in a foreign land far away from home never has been one of them.

If Sgt. Johnson had a choice in his final moments of life, he undoubtedly would have chosen to be at home in Miami, surrounded by the people he loved most — his wife, his two young children and the baby he will never know.

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Copyright © 2017, Chicago Tribune

Deadly Storms Batters Fire Ravaged East Tennessee Tourists Towns

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

Search-and-rescue teams continued Wednesday to scour the charred hills and ridges around the mountain resort town of Gatlinburg, Tenn., after wildfires fueled by severe winds roared through eastern Tennessee.

As the death toll climbed to seven Wednesday, according to the Associated Press, hot spots continued to blaze around the quaint Appalachian tourism center that attracts 11 million people a year. Residents and visitors remained under a mandatory evacuation order after more than 250 homes, vacation cabins, motels and businesses were reduced to rubble.

While overnight storms dropped long-awaited rain early Wednesday, helping to douse the parched, fire-ravaged landscape, they also brought a risk of flooding. On Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service issued an urban and small stream flood advisory for Gatlinburg and surrounding Sevier County.

The storms also wreaked havoc on tiny, rural communities across the Southeast, killing five people and injuring dozens in Alabama and Tennessee.

Three people perished when a tornado demolished a mobile home in the small town of Rosalie, in northeastern Alabama. Five miles east, a daycare center in Ider, Ala., was destroyed, leaving four children in critical condition. A married couple was also killed in Polk County in southern Tennessee, the state Department of Health said.

“We don’t usually get tornadoes this time of year,” said Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen of Jackson County, Ala., where 50 buildings were damaged or destroyed. “But this has not been a normal weather year.”

Wildfires have been spreading for weeks in the Southeast, where severe drought persists. As many as 20 large fires are currently blazing across 142,000 acres, according to Adam Rondeau, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, who described the unusually parched conditions as creating the “perfect storm” for active wildfires.

On Monday night, high winds swept eastern Tennessee, blowing burning embers from a wildfire on Chimney Tops mountain into Gatlinburg, the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Local officials and residents in the town were taken aback by how swiftly the fires spread as winds ignited new fire spots and knocked live power lines down onto dry autumn leaves. In a span of just 15 minutes, the fire chief said, emergency workers were alerted to almost 20 burning buildings.

“You know, it happened so fast, it was staggering,” said Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner, who lost his two-story home as well as the condominium business he has managed for 31 years. “When you’ve got winds of up to 87 mph pushing fire, people were basically running for their lives.”

Michael Luciano, who lives in Chalet Village, west of downtown Gatlinburg, recorded on cellphone video his harrowing journey down a narrow mountain road in a pickup truck, past flaming orange trees and cabins. (Warning, video contains profanity.)

“Hit the gas,” he screamed at his brother, Anthony Fulton, as red flames engulfed both sides of the road and embers bounced off the windshield. Their frightened dog can be heard panting in the background

Smoke filled their truck as they hurtled past blazing, burnt-out structures. “No warning, nothing…” Luciano exclaimed. “Almost every cabin in Chalet Village is burning to the freakin’ ground!”

Dozens of guests and staff found themselves trapped inside the Park Vista, a modern, high-rise hotel perched on a ridge above downtown Gatlinburg. Some fled outside with their luggage, only to find the sole road to safety blocked by fallen trees and flames.

“Then the flames came up into the parking lot,” Logan Baker, a hotel guest, told WBIR-TV.

As Baker and his aunt frantically tried to help guests get back inside, he said, embers started flying through the doors and into the hotel. Firefighters barricaded the hotel and urged guests to huddle in the center of the smoke-filled lobby as they worked to beat the fire back from the building.

Across Gatlinburg and surrounding Sevier County, hundreds of structures were damaged and destroyed – from the Sleepy Bear Motel to Cupid’s Chapel of Love, a tiny wedding venue.

State Highway 441 into Gatlinburg remained closed, and more than 14,000 residents and tourists have been evacuated. At least 45 people were taken to the hospital.

“This is a fire for the history books,” Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller said at a news conference Tuesday.

“A lot of us have heavy hearts about what’s happened here,” Gov. Bill Haslam said at another news press conference Tuesday evening, noting that it was “a little numbing” to take in the extent of the devastation. “This is the largest fire in the last 100 years in the state of Tennessee.”

Still, much of downtown and some major tourist attractions appeared to have been spared. More than 10,000 animals at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg remained safe, even though staff had been forced to evacuate Monday. In nearby Pigeon Forge, some cabins at the Dollywood theme park — co-owned by country singer Dolly Parton, who is from the area — were damaged or destroyed, yet the park remained unscathed after firefighters dug a fire line.

With more than 10,000 people without power, emergency workers cleared debris Wednesday morning and went door to door checking on residents.

“We have not been able to get in all of the areas,” Miller said. “We pray that we don’t experience any more fatalities.”

Jarvie is a special Los Angeles Times correspondent. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2016, Chicago Tribune