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13 dead including gunman in shooting at California bar

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  • THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Using a smoke bomb and a handgun, a hooded gunman dressed all in black opened fire during “college night” at a country music bar in Southern California, killing 12 people and sending hundreds fleeing in terror, authorities said Thursday. The gunman was later found dead.

    Authorities said the motive for the attack Wednesday night was under investigation.

    Patrons screamed in fear, shouted “Get down!” and used barstools to smash second-floor windows and jump to safety as gunfire erupted at the Borderline Bar & Grill, a popular hangout for college students. The dead included 11 people inside the bar and a sheriff’s sergeant who was the first officer inside the door, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.

    “It’s a horrific scene in there,” Dean said in the parking lot. “There’s blood everywhere.”

    A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that authorities had identified the gunman. The official said the 29-year-old man deployed a smoke device and used a .45-calibre handgun. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. since 17 students and teachers were slain at a Parkland, Florida, high school nine months ago. It also came less than two weeks after a gunman killed 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. That, it turn, closely followed the series of pipe bombs mailed to critics of President Donald Trump.

    Trump praised police for their “great bravery” in the California attack and said, “God bless all of the victims and families of the victims.”

    The gunman was tall and wearing all black with a hood and his face partly covered, witnesses told TV stations. He first fired on a person working the door, then appeared to shoot at random at people inside, they said.

    Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus and a passing highway patrolman were responding to several 911 calls when they arrived at the Borderline at about 11:20 p.m., the sheriff said. They heard gunfire and went inside.

    Helus was immediately hit with multiple gunshots, Dean said. The highway patrolman pulled Helus out, then waited as a SWAT team and scores more officers arrived. Helus died early Thursday at a hospital.

    By the time they entered the bar again, the gunfire had stopped, according to the sheriff. They found 12 people dead inside, including the gunman. It was not immediately clear how the gunman died, Dean said.

    The shooting happened on college night. Two-step lessons in country dancing were being offered Wednesday at the Borderline, according to its website.

    The bar, which includes a large dance hall with a stage and a pool room along with several smaller areas for eating and drinking, is popular with students from nearby California Lutheran University who enjoy country music. It is also close to several other universities, including California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, Pepperdine University in Malibu and Moorpark College in Moorpark.

    Nick Steinwender, a Cal Lutheran student body president, told KTLA-TV he immediately started receiving messages about the shooting, and he and his roommate went to the scene to offer rides back to campus or moral support.

    “It’s going to be a very sombre day,” Steinwender said. “I know we don’t have all the details in yet, but you know, it just feels like it’s an attack on our community. You know, I think it’s going to be something that we’re going to have to come together and move past.”

    When the gunman entered, people screamed and fled to all corners of the bar, and a few threw barstools through the windows and helped dozens to escape, witnesses said.

    Video accessed by the AP showed law enforcement officers and vehicles speeding to the scene and people running from bar. Rapid-fire gunshots could be heard as officers crouched down behind a police vehicle, weapons drawn. Three people were seen carrying someone, and later paramedics applied bandages to the man, who has blood on his back.

    Cole Knapp, a freshman at Moorpark College, said he was inside the bar when the shooting began, but he thought at first that it was “just someone with an M-80, just kind of playing a prank.” Then he said he saw the gunman, wearing a black beanie and black hoodie and holding a handgun.

    “I tried to get as many people to cover as I could,” Knapp said. “There was an exit right next to me, so I went through that. That exit leads to a patio where people smoke. People out there didn’t really know what was going on. There’s a fence right there so I said, ‘Everyone get over the fence as quickly as you can,’ and I followed them over.”

    He said a highway patrol officer was nearby who just happened to be pulling someone over.

    “I screamed to him, ‘There’s a shooter in there!’ He was kind of in disbelief, then saw that I was serious,” Knapp said. He said he had friends who hadn’t been accounted for.

    Tayler Whitler, 19, said she was on the dance floor with her friends nearby when she saw the gunman shooting and heard screams to “Get down!”

    “It was really, really, really shocking,” Whitler told KABC-TV as she stood with her father in the parking lot. “It looked like he knew what he was doing.”

    Sarah Rose DeSon told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she saw the shooter draw his gun. “I dropped to the floor,” she said. “A friend yelled ‘Everybody down!’ We were hiding behind tables trying to keep ourselves covered.”

    Shootings of any kind are very rare in Thousand Oaks, a city of about 130,000 people about 40 miles (64 kilometres) west of Los Angeles, just across the county line.

    Helus was a 29-year veteran of the force with a wife and son and planned to retire in the coming year, said the sheriff, who choked back tears as he talked about the sergeant who was also his longtime friend.

    “Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff’s sergeant who was totally committed,” Dean said, “and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero because he went in to save lives.”

    ___

    AP journalists Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles, Michelle A. Monroe in Phoenix and Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.

    Krysta Fauria, The Associated Press































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    Mistrial declared in Dennis Oland murder retrial, jury is dismissed

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  • SAINT JOHN, N.B. — A mistrial has been declared in the retrial of Dennis Oland for the second degree murder of his father.

    The stunning development comes just over a month after jury selection was completed for the complex trial, which was expected to take at least four months.

    Justice Terrence Morrison of the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench announced the mistrial on Tuesday at what was expected to be the start of evidence presentation in Oland’s second trial for the 2011 bludgeoning death of his father, Richard Oland.

    The 16-member jury has been dismissed, and the trial will continue Wednesday by judge alone. 

    Morrison said there were improprieties in the selection process.

    Oland will have to be re-arraigned and enter his plea.

    Then there will be opening arguments and, finally, the retrial of Dennis Oland will get underway.

    “It cannot be helped,” Morrison told the jury as he thanked them for their service.

    “Your services are no longer required.”

    Richard Oland’s body was discovered on July 7, 2011, in his uptown Saint John office.

    The 69-year-old businessman and former executive of Moosehead Breweries Ltd. had been beaten to death.

    Dennis Oland, his only son, was charged with second-degree murder in 2013 and tried in 2015, but the jury verdict in that case was set aside on appeal in 2016 and a new trial ordered.

    The Canadian Press


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    Judge bars US from enforcing Trump asylum ban

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  • HOUSTON — A federal judge barred the Trump administration from refusing asylum to immigrants who cross the southern border illegally.

    President Donald Trump issued a proclamation on Nov. 9 that said anyone who crossed the southern border between official ports of entry would be ineligible for asylum. As the first of several caravans of migrants have started arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump said an asylum ban was necessary to stop what he’s attacked as a national security threat.

    But in his ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar agreed with legal groups that immediately sued, arguing that U.S. immigration law clearly allows someone to seek asylum even if they enter the country between official ports of entry.

    “Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” said Tigar, a nominee of former President Barack Obama.

    The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately comment on the ruling, which will remain in effect for one month barring an appeal. In issuing the ban, Trump used the same powers he used last year to impose a travel ban that was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court.

    If enforced, the ban would potentially make it harder for thousands of people to avoid deportation. DHS estimates around 70,000 people a year claim asylum between official ports of entry. But Tigar’s ruling notes that federal law says someone may seek asylum if they have arrived in the United States, “whether or not at a designated port of arrival.”

    “Individuals are entitled to asylum if they cross between ports of entry,” said Baher Azmy, a lawyer for the Center for constitutional Rights, which sued the government alongside the American Civil Liberties Union. “It couldn’t be clearer.”

    Around 3,000 people from the first of the caravans have arrived in Tijuana, Mexico, across the border from San Diego, California. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Monday that it closed off northbound traffic for several hours at the San Ysidro crossing. It has also installed movable, wire-topped barriers, apparently to stop a potential mass rush of people.

    As of Monday, 107 people detained between official crossings have sought asylum since Trump’s order went into effect, according to DHS, which oversees Customs and Border Protection. Officials didn’t say whether those people’s cases were still progressing through other, more difficult avenues left to them after the proclamation.

    DHS has said it wants asylum seekers at the southern border to appear at an official border crossing. But many border crossings such as San Ysidro already have long wait times. People are often forced to wait in shelters or outdoor camps on the Mexican side, sometimes for weeks.

    ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt said that some people seeking asylum cross between official ports because “they’re in real danger,” either in their countries of origin or in Mexico.

    “We don’t condone people entering between ports of entry, but Congress has made the decision that if they do, they still need to be allowed to apply for asylum,” he said.

    ___

    Associated Press journalists Jill Colvin and Colleen Long in Washington contributed to this report.

    Nomaan Merchant, The Associated Press



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