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2 dead, motive unclear in North Carolina campus shooting

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A student with a pistol and no motive that was immediately apparent killed two people and wounded four others at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte before campus police disarmed and arrested him, authorities said.

“I just went into a classroom and shot the guys,” the suspect, Trystan Andrew Terrell, told reporters Tuesday as officers led him away in handcuffs.

The shooting had people scrambling to find safe spaces and enduring a lengthy lockdown as officers secured the campus on the last day of classes. A vigil was planned for Wednesday, and the governor vowed a hard look to see what can be done to prevent future attacks.

“A student should not have to fear for his or her life when they are on our campuses,” Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, told reporters. “Parents should not have to worry about their students when they send them off to school. And I know that this violence has to stop. … In the coming days we will take a hard look at all of this to see what we need to do going forward.”

Campus Police Chief Jeff Baker said authorities received a call in the late afternoon that someone with a pistol had shot several students. Officers assembling nearby for a concert rushed to the classroom building and arrested the gunman in the room where the shooting took place.

“Our officers’ actions definitely saved lives,” Baker said at a news conference.

Two people were killed, and three remained in critical condition late Tuesday. Baker said a fourth person’s injuries were less serious. Students were among the victims, but officials would not say how many.

Terrell, 22, was booked into the Mecklenburg County jail on two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder, possessing and firing a weapon on educational property, and assault with a deadly weapon.

The suspect’s grandfather, Paul Rold of Arlington, Texas, said Terrell and his father moved to Charlotte from the Dallas area about two years ago after his mother died. Terrell taught himself French and Portuguese with the help of a language learning program his grandfather bought him and was attending UNC-Charlotte, Rold said. But Terrell never showed any interest in guns or other weapons, and the news he may have been involved in a mass shooting was stunning, said Rold, who had not heard about the Charlotte attack before being contacted by an Associated Press reporter.

“You’re describing someone foreign to me,” Rold said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. “This is not in his DNA.”

Monifa Drayton, an adjunct professor, was walking onto campus when she heard the shots. She said she directed students fleeing the scene to take cover inside a parking deck.

“I heard one final gunshot and I saw all the children running toward me,” she said. “We started to get all the children pulled into the second floor of the parking deck and the rationale was if we’re in the parking deck and there’s a shooter and we don’t know where he is, he won’t have a clear shot.”

She added: “My thought was, I’ve lived my life, I’ve had a really good life, so, these students deserve the same. And so, whatever I could do to help any child to safety, that’s what I was going to do.”

The shooting prompted a lockdown and caused panic across campus. Aerial shots from local television news outlets showed police officers running toward a building, while another view showed students running on a campus sidewalk.

“Just loud bangs. A couple loud bangs and then we just saw everyone run out of the building, like nervous, like a scared run like they were looking behind,” said Antonio Rodriguez, 24, who was visiting campus for his friend’s art show.

The university has more than 26,500 students and 3,000 faculty and staff. The campus is northeast of the city centre and is surrounded by residential areas.

Spenser Gray, a junior, said she was watching another student’s presentation in a nearby campus building when the alert about the shooting popped up on everyone’s computer screens.

She said she panicked: “We had no idea where he was … so we were just expecting them at any moment coming into the classroom.”

Susan Harden, an UNCC professor and Mecklenburg County Commissioner, left home when she heard of the shooting and went to a staging area to provide support.

Harden said she has taught inside the Kennedy building, where the shootings happened.

“It breaks my heart. We’re torn up about what’s happened,” Harden said. “Students should be able to learn in peace and in safety and professors ought to be able to do their jobs in safety.”

___

Associated Press writers Martha Waggoner and Emery Dalesio in Raleigh contributed to this report.

Tom Foreman Jr. And Sarah Blake Morgan, The Associated Press





















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Liberals, opposition clash with days left to pass legislation before House rises

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OTTAWA — Parliamentarians are in their final week before a summer break in the House of Commons, where federal parties are using the minority makeup to posture for a potential election.

With only days left before the House rises, the Trudeau government has begun to single out the Conservatives for using procedural tactics to block the passage of legislation around climate accountability, banning conversion therapy, changes to the Broadcasting Act and a bill to implement its budget.

In Monday’s question period Liberal House leader Pablo Rodriguez told the party it should “support us, support Canadians.”

The Conservatives and New Democrats hit back at the government’s cries over urgency, saying the Liberals mismanaged the agenda and delayed introducing bills until it was too late to pass them.

Members of Parliament entered the chamber, some in person, but most virtually, where they are scheduled to sit until Wednesday for what could be the last time under the current makeup, with several bills still outstanding.

Given the minority government, the possibility of a general election at any time hangs over the House — autumn marks two years since the Liberals were re-elected to power.

Last week, the possibility of a vote happening later this year was heightened when MPs not seeking re-election delivered farewell speeches to Parliament.

All of Canada’s federal leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have spent months saying they don’t want to send Canadians to the polls while provinces battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the situation is improving, with infections steadily falling as millions more Canadians get vaccinated against the virus, and provinces are moving to lift some of the strictest measures to allow people to socialize again.

Trudeau used his government’s briefing on the pandemic last Friday to blast the Conservatives for obstructing its agenda, and the Bloc Québécois as well as NDP for joining in the political games, including on legislation around pandemic supports.

“If the Liberals are planning to go to an election in August or September then why introduce these bills at all?” NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Monday.

“To me, it looks like they are just putting on a show.”

Last October is when the Liberals reintroduced their proposed ban on conversion therapy, a widely discredited practice that aims to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

It was initially tabled in March 2020, but delayed when the pandemic hit and then died when the government prorogued parliament last summer in the midst of the WE Charity scandal.

Bardish Chagger, minister of diversity, inclusion and youth, shared a letter on social media she penned to Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole ahead of Monday’s debate on the bill, asking his MPs to stop talking so that a vote can happen.

Several Conservative members have raised concerns about the Liberals’ definition of conversion therapy.

These Tories say they don’t support the coercive practice, but worry the government’s definition is too broad and could threaten individual conversations about sex and gender, particularly between adults and children.

Also on the Liberals’ agenda is a proposed a law that would track Canada’s progress on reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Conservatives, along with Green MP Elizabeth May, have raised concerns over the speed at which the Liberals, with the help of the NDP, are trying to get the proposed climate accountability law passed through the House of Commons, saying it needs more scrutiny.

O’Toole’s MPs have so far voted against the bill for what they say is a lack of inclusion from the oil and gas industry and presence of “climate activists” on a government-assembled advisory panel, designed to provide feedback on how to drastically cut Canada’s emissions by mid-century.

“To say this bill is urgent after not calling it for months and indeed after proroguing the house and delaying everything … is the height of hypocrisy,” said Conservative environment critic Dan Albas said in a debate on Monday.

For their part, the Greens have said what the Liberals are proposing is a lacklustre regime of timelines and goals compared to similar laws in other countries that keep nations on track to reach their climate goals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 21, 2021.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

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TORONTO — Officials and experts emphasized the interchangeability of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines on Monday as shipment delays led to changes in Canadians’ second-dose appointments.

The federal government has said Pfizer’s weekly shipment of 2.4 million doses is delayed and will arrive mid-week. That left provinces switching Pfizer appointments for Moderna, and urging people not to cancel their jabs.

In Ontario, residents were informed they might get a different mRNA vaccine for their second dose as many became eligible to book accelerated second shots on Monday.

The province’s top doctor urged people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot.

“We want you getting the full protection as soon as possible,” said Dr. David Williams, noting that the highly transmissible Delta variant was still spreading in the province. “The vaccines are safe to mix.”

Alberta also advised residents that the vaccine appointments might have to change based on supply, and noted that the two mRNA shots are considered interchangeable.

“At this time, there is more Moderna available. If you book for Moderna, you will be able to get an earlier appointment and thus complete your series,” Alberta Health Services said in a tweet Monday.

In Manitoba, officials encouraged adults to get Moderna shots and warned the province might have to cancel Pfizer appointments booked after July 7 due to the supply slowdown.

Quebec Premier François Legault told reporters that experts have suggested there’s slight additional protection associated with changing vaccines for a second dose, with a low risk of secondary effects from mixing.

“Our public health is saying you can have the same one, or a mix, the advantages are a lot higher than the very small risk,” Legault said Monday.

In Ontario – where 76 per cent of adults have had a first dose and 24 per cent are fully immunized – those who got a first dose of an mRNA vaccine on or before May 9 were able to book second doses starting at 8 a.m. Monday. Residents in Delta variant hot spots who got their initial jabs on or before May 30 can do the same on Wednesday.

Some said they were still digesting the news regarding mixing mRNA vaccines.

Krystyna Szajkowski, who received Pfizer as her first shot, said she was nervous about the possibility of mixing doses.

“I was concerned and I was prepared to say no,” said the 81-year-old Mississauga, Ont., resident who ended up being offered Pfizer for her second jab Monday.

Many others, however, had no qualms over mixing mRNA shots.

“I did my research and got comfortable with it,” Matab Shehab, 22, said heading into her Moderna appointment. “Besides my fear of needles, I’m fine.”

Toronto’s Humber River Hospital started switching to Moderna appointments on Sunday, following direction from Toronto Public Health.

Lisa Bitonti-Bengert, the hospital’s senior director for clinical innovation, estimated that between 25 and 30 per cent of people opted to wait for Pfizer when informed of the change.

Staff have been talking to people outside the mass clinic at Downsview Arena, she said, explaining the science, the risks posed by variants of the virus, and offering reassurance.

“People aren’t quite convinced yet of the interchangeability,” Bitonti-Bengert said.

Many of those choosing to wait for Pfizer are able to work from home, she said, while essential workers appeared more likely to make the switch to Moderna for second doses.

Several experts took to social media encouraging people to get whichever of the two mRNA shots they’re offered as their second dose.

“With this week’s delayed Pfizer vaccine shipments, I’m concerned about people delaying dose 2 because they are being offered Moderna vaccine,” Dr. Jeff Kwong, an epidemiologist with the University of Toronto, said on Twitter. “The last thing we want is any loss of momentum in our flourishing vaccine rollout.”

Kwong said analyses of data compiled by the independent research organization ICES show that two doses of Moderna are “just as good” as two of Pfizer in preventing infections.

As a result, he said there’s no reason to think one dose of Pfizer and a second of Moderna would be any worse than two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Other experts expressed similar sentiment, noting people regularly get different brands of other vaccines without thinking twice.

“If you got a flu shot this year, you likely don’t know the brand. Neither do I. They’re made by separate companies,” Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist at St. Joseph’s hospital in Hamilton, said in a tweet. “Moderna and Pfizer are interchangeable.”

Governments have noted that youth will continue to receive the Pfizer shot since it is currently the only one approved in Canada for those under 18.

– With files from Paola Loriggio, Denise Paglinawan in Mississauga, Ont., Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg and Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 21, 2021.

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

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