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Around Red Deer April 12th…..

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2:34 pm – Recruitment is underway for a Citizen Engagement Group that will play an important role in shaping the future of environmental sustainability in Red Deer. Read More.

2:28 pm – The redevelopment of Red Deer’s Riverlands neighbourhood is about to gear up. Read More.

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12:25 pm – Saskatoon Police are hoping to identify a woman believed to be from the Red Deer or Rocky Mountain House area that may have information that could be helpful to a series of investigations they’re involved in. Read More.

10:35 am – On April 11th, Edmonton Police arrested Michael James Racicot on his outstanding warrants from events on March 16 in Ponoka. Racicot has been remanded into custody and is scheduled to appear in Ponoka Provincial Court on April 21 at 9:30 am. He’s accused of being involved in a series of multi-jurisdictional traffic offences and identity theft incident last month.

10:26 am – Red Deer RCMP are looking for public assistance to identify a man who stole a kitten from the Petland store located in south Red Deer shortly after 2:30 pm on April 7. Staff are concerned for the well-being of the kitten as it requires medication for a heath condition. If you have information about this incident, please contact Red Deer RCMP at 403-343-5575. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or report it online at www.tipsubmit.com.

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10:18 am – The Town of Blackfalds is preparing for it’s Annual Municipal Census next month! Read More.

10:13 am – Middle and high school band students (Grades 5-12) in the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division will participate in the Red Deer Festival of the Performing Arts at Red Deer College on the mainstage on April 18, 19 and 20. Read More.

10:01 am – Red Deer RCMP are looking for two men in a stolen truck accused of trying to steal an ATM from a north end convenience store this morning. Read More.

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9:52 am – Red Deer City Councillors rolled up their sleeves to lead by example and take part in this year’s Green Deer Campaign on Tuesday. Councillors picked up garbage and other debris south of 67th Street between Taylor Drive and 59th venue in the annual city-wide spring clean-up. Green Deer encourages residents to pick up garbage around their homes and businesses to help keep our community looking it’s best after the winter snow melt.

9:45 am – Road crews will be street sweeping on the following Innisfail streets today:

50 St from tracks to Hwy 2A
49 Ave from 53 St to 48 St
50 Ave from 53 St to 48 St
51 Ave from 53 St to 48 St
Alley from 53 St to 49 Ave
Alley from 51 Ave to 49 Ave
Hwy 2A and 50 St Intersection
Hwy 2A from 51 St to Cottonwood Rd

9:41 am – Registrations are now open for Programs in Innisfail. Read More.

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9:36 am – Innisfail Municipal Enforcement is hosting a FREE Child Car Seat Clinic today at 6 p.m.! Learn how to safely install your child’s car seat, and have it inspected by a certified car seat safety technician. The clinic will be held in the Municipal Enforcement bay adjoining the Town Office (4943 53 St.).

9:30 am – Sylvan Lake Town Council is preparing for the upcoming busy summer season by tweaking some of it’s bylaws. Read More.

9:22 am – Annual Fire Hydrant testing and flushing is underway in Sylvan Lake. Read More.

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9:16 am – Parking restrictions in effect in Sylvan Lake for street sweeping. Details here.

9:09 am – The following streets are scheduled for sweeping in Blackfalds today:

Aspen Lakes Boulevard
Almond Cr.
Ash Cl.
Arrowwood Cl.
Aurora Heights Boulevard
Alderwood Cl.
Artemis Pl.
Aztec Cr.

8:52 am – A search of the Red Deer River in Red Deer on Tuesday turns up nothing after reports that a man may have entered the river at the Gaetz Avenue Bridge. Read More.

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8:47 am – Lacombe City Council has awarded construction contracts for it’s Main Street Improvement Project getting underway 24th. Read More.

8:35 am – Lacombe City Council has voted to renew it’s Emergency Services Mutual Aid Agreement with the City of Red Deer. Read More.

8:28 am – Red Deer Mounties arrested over half a dozen people committing traffic infractions between April 6th-10th, with most found to have outstanding warrants out for their arrest. RCMP also seized stolen vehicles, drugs, weapons and counterfeit currency in the process. Read More.

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Crime

Buffalo suspect: Lonely, isolated — and a sign of trouble

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By Bernard Condon And Michael Hill in Conklin

CONKLIN, N.Y. (AP) — In the waning days of Payton Gendron’s COVID-19-altered senior year at Susquehanna Valley High School, he logged on to a virtual learning program in economics class that asked: “What do you plan to do when you retire?”

“Murder-suicide,” Gendron typed.

Despite his protests that it was all a joke, the bespectacled 17-year-old who had long been viewed by classmates as a smart loner was questioned by state police over the possible threat and then taken into custody and to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation under a state mental health law.

But a day and a half later, he was released. And two weeks after that, he was allowed to participate in graduation festivities, including riding in the senior parade, where he was photographed atop a convertible driven by his father and festooned with yellow-and-blue balloons and signs reading, “Congratulations” and “Payton Gendron.”

That account of Gendron’s brush with the law last spring, according to authorities and other people familiar with what happened, emphasized the same point school officials made in a message to parents at the time: An investigation found no specific, credible threat against the school or any individual from that sign of trouble.

That same young white man bought a Bushmaster XM-15 rifle, traveled three hours to Buffalo and went on what authorities say was a racist, livestreamed shooting rampage Saturday in a crowded supermarket that left 10 Black people dead.

Gendron, now 18, was arraigned on a state murder charge over the weekend and a court-appointed public defender entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. He remained jailed under suicide watch as federal prosecutors contemplate hate-crime charges.

Even as the FBI swarmed the comfortable home where Gendron lived with his parents and two younger brothers, neighbors and classmates in this community of 5,000 near the New York-Pennsylvania line say they saw no inkling of the young man now being described on television.

And they say they saw nothing of the kind of racist rhetoric seen in a 180-page online diatribe, purportedly written by Gendron, in which he describes in minute detail how he researched ZIP codes with the highest concentrations of Black people, surveilled the Tops supermarket in Buffalo, and carried out the assault to terrorize all nonwhite, non-Christian people into leaving the country.

Classmates described Gendron as a quiet, studious boy who got high marks but seemed out of place in recent years, turning to online streaming games, a fascination with guns and ways to grab attention from his peers.

When school partially opened again early last year after COVID-19-related shutdowns, Gendron showed up covered head to toe in a hazmat suit. Classmate Matthew Casado said he didn’t think the stunt -– he called it “a harmless joke” — went down well with other students.

“Most people didn’t associate with him,” he said. “They didn’t want to be known as friends with a kid who was socially awkward and nerdy.”

Gendron excelled in sciences, once earning top marks in a state chemistry competition. But he was known for keeping to himself and not talking much. And when he did talk, it was about isolation, rejection and desperation.

“He talked about how he didn’t like school because he didn’t have friends. He would say he was lonely,” said Casado, who graduated with Gendron last year.

At one point last winter, Gendron’s mother called Casado’s mother with a request: Please have Matthew call Payton because he had no friends and needed to talk.

The two boys ended up going to flea markets together, watching YouTube videos and shooting guns on nearby state land over the next few months. Casado said that he had never heard his friend talk of anything violent.

“I didn’t think he would hurt a fly,” he said.

Some neighbors had a similar view, seeing the family as happy and prosperous, with both Paul Gendron and his wife, Pamela, holding stable jobs as civil engineers with the New York state Department of Transportation, earning nearly $200,000 combined, according to online records.

Dozens of their Facebook posts over the years show the parents and their three boys — often dressed in matching outfits — enjoying amusement park vacations, going on boat trips, shooting laser tag guns and opening presents on Christmas morning.

Carl Lobdell, a family friend who first met Gendron on a camping vacation a dozen years ago, said he was shocked that Payton was identified as the suspect in the mass shooting.

“He was very friendly, very respectable,” said Lobdell, adding that his family had grown so close to the Gendrons that they even attended Payton’s graduation party last year. “When I heard about the shooting … I just cried.”

The family did not respond to a request for comment over the weekend, nor did Gendron’s attorney. No one answered the door Monday at the family home, surrounded by a neat, spacious lawn. Near the front door was a tiny right hand pressed in concrete with a heart symbol and the words, “PAYTON 2008.”

One parent of a Susquehanna Valley High student said she was furious that the student who was investigated for making the threat last year — whom she later discovered was Gendron — was still allowed to participate in all graduation activities. The woman asked not to be identified because she feared harassment.

According to a recording of a conference call of federal and local law enforcement officials Monday that was obtained by The Associated Press, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Gendron’s comments he made in school in June 2021 were “generalized statements” and not targeted at anyone in particular or at a specific location, which is why no criminal charges were filed. He said the state police “did everything within the confines of the law.”

Gendron enrolled at Broome County Community College and later dropped out. The school wouldn’t say why. And according to online writings attributed to him, he began planning his assault on the Buffalo supermarket beginning at least in November, saying he was inculcated into his racist views online.

“I was never diagnosed with a mental disability or disorder, and I believe to be perfectly sane,” according to one passage.

A new, 589-page document of online diary postings emerged Monday that authorities have attributed to Gendron, and some of its passages tracked with the account AP’s sources gave of his high school threat investigation.

“Another bad experience was when I had to go to a hospitals ER because I said the word’s ‘murder/suicide’ to an online paper in economics class,” said one entry. “I got out of it because I stuck with the story that I was getting out of class and I just stupidly wrote that down. That is the reason I believe I am still able to purchase guns.”

“It was not a joke, I wrote that down because that’s what I was planning to do.”

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Condon reported from New York. Eric Tucker in Washington, Michael R. Sisak in New York and news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed.

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Contact AP’s global investigative team at [email protected]

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International

Clinton campaign lawyer sought to ‘use’ FBI, prosecutor says

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By Eric Tucker in Washington

WASHINGTON (AP) — A lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign who is charged with lying to the FBI early in the Trump-Russia probe sought to “use and manipulate” federal law enforcement to create an “October surprise” in the final weeks of the presidential race, a prosecutor alleged Tuesday at the start of his trial. Defense lawyers told jurors he never lied.

Michael Sussmann is accused of misleading the FBI during a September 2016 meeting by telling the bureau’s top lawyer that he wasn’t acting on behalf of a particular client when he presented computer data that he said might connect Russia to then-candidate Donald Trump. In reality, prosecutors say, he was acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign and another client who had provided him with the data.

He lied, prosecutors told the jury, in hopes of generating an “October surprise” of FBI investigations into Trump and negative news coverage of him, and because he knew the FBI would consider the information less credible if it thought it was being presented on behalf of the Clinton campaign.

“He told a lie that was designed to achieve a political end, a lie that was designed to inject the FBI into a presidential election,” said prosecutor Brittain Shaw.

But Sussmann’s lawyers sought to counter each of the prosecution’s allegations, presenting him as a well-respected attorney with deep experience in law enforcement intelligence matters who never lied to the FBI and never would. The fact that he represented Democratic clients was well-known to the FBI and not anything he intended to hide.

“He was someone the FBI knew represented partisan clients,” defense lawyer Michael Bosworth said in his opening statement. ”The FBI knew that he represented the Clinton campaign that summer. The FBI knew that he was an attorney for the DNC, the Democratic Party itself.”

In any event, Bosworth said, it would be impossible for prosecutors to prove that Sussmann had lied because only he and the FBI lawyer he met with, James Baker, were present and neither took notes. Five and a half years after the meeting, Baker’s memory of what was said is “clear as mud,” Bosworth said.

Sussmann’s trial is the first arising from special counsel John Durham’s investigation into the FBI’s original probe into Russian election interference and potential ties with the Trump campaign. Though Durham was thought to be focused at least initially on misconduct by government officials during the course of the Russia investigation, the Sussmann case alleges wrongdoing by a tipster to the FBI rather than the FBI itself.

In an early recognition of the politically loaded nature of the case, Shaw urged jurors to put aside any feelings they might have about Trump, Russia or Clinton.

“Some people have very strong feelings about politics and Russia, and many people have strong feelings about Donald Trump and Russia. But we are not here because these allegations involved either of them, nor are we here because the client was the Hillary Clinton campaign,” Shaw said.

Rather, she added, “We are here because the FBI is our institution. It should not be used as a political tool.”

At issue is a Sept. 19, 2016 meeting in which Sussmann presented Baker, the FBI’s then general counsel, with computer data gathered by another of his clients that purported to show furtive contact between computer servers of the Trump Organization and Russia-based Alfa Bank.

That connection, if true, would have been explosive at a time when the FBI was examining whether the Trump campaign and Russia were conspiring to sway the election.

The FBI did investigate the data but found nothing nefarious, and the communication instead reflected what Shaw described as a “spam email server” used to send out marketing.

“The server did not reflect a crime,” Shaw told jurors, “nor was it a threat to national security.”

Bosworth said he took the computer data seriously because it appeared to show “weird contacts” between Trump’s business organization and Russia and because it was given to him by Rodney Joffe, a client who Bosworth said was such a respected technology executive that the FBI had asked him to be an informant.

He said Sussmann had sought out the meeting to give Baker a heads-up that a story about the computer data might be published imminently by The New York Times. Shaw, the prosecutor, had a different take, saying Sussmann had grown frustrated that a reporter he’d been working with had not yet written about the data and wanted to prompt investigations by the FBI that could ensure news media coverage.

But after the meeting, the FBI asked the newspaper to delay publication. That’s the opposite of what the Clinton campaign would have wanted, Bosworth said, suggesting that he wasn’t acting on the campaign’s behalf when he scheduled the meeting.

“The FBI meeting was something that they didn’t authorize, that they didn’t direct him to do, and that they wouldn’t have wanted,” Bosworth said.

Durham was appointed in 2019 by then-Attorney General William Barr to look for any misconduct as the U.S. government was examining potential coordination between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign. An investigation by an earlier special counsel, Robert Mueller, did not find a criminal conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign though it did find that Russia sought to aid Trump’s election bid.

The Alfa Bank matter was a peripheral part of the FBI’s investigation and the allegations of potentially secretive contact were not even mentioned in Mueller’s 2019 report.

Durham’s work has resulted in three cases. Only the one against Sussmann has reached trial.

In 2020, a former FBI lawyer named Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty to altering an email related to FBI surveillance of an ex-Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page. In applying for warrants to eavesdrop on Page, the FBI relied on research files of anti-Trump information known colloquially as the “Steele dossier” that contained rumors and uncorroborated claims.

Last year, Durham charged a Russia analyst who was a source for that dossier with lying to the FBI about his own sources of information — among them, a longtime Hillary Clinton supporter. Igor Danchenko has pleaded not guilty.

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Follow Eric Tucker on http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP.

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