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Philadelphia gunman in custody after hourslong standoff

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PHILADELPHIA — Authorities say a gunman who barricaded himself for hours inside a Philadelphia home, shooting at and wounding six officers, is in police custody.

Philadelphia police Sgt. Eric Gripp said early Thursday morning that the man was taken in custody after an hourslong standoff with police.

The shooting started around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Officers were serving a narcotics warrant at a home and had already entered when gunfire erupted. The gunman and police exchanged gunfire for hours.

Six officers were shot, but have been released from hospitals. Two officers had been trapped in the house during the standoff but were safely evacuated.

A heavy police presence was in the neighbourhood for hours with businesses, including day care centres, on lockdown and roads closed.

Christina Paciolla And Claudia Lauer, The Associated Press








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Singh says he won’t be used as Trudeau PR ‘tool’ to help him deal with blackface

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OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he’s still waiting to hear back from Justin Trudeau about whether the Liberal leader is willing to meet his condition for a discussion about the blackface scandal.

Singh reiterated his contention on Saturday that he not be used as a public relations “tool” by Trudeau to whitewash the controversy that has erupted over his past dressing in blackface.

Singh said Saturday he’s willing to talk to Trudeau but that he wants their conversation be private, and out of the media’s glare.

“I don’t want to be used as a tool to exonerate Mr. Trudeau. I don’t want to be a part of a PR process to say he checked off these boxes and, look, he made this call, and he’s all good. I don’t want to be a part of that,” Singh said while campaigning in Toronto. 

“I will always say, yes. It’s important to have dialogue, but I made the condition it has to be a private conversation.”

The Liberal campaign had no immediate response on Saturday afternoon.

Singh was answering questions at his second campaign stop of the day after holding a roundtable discussion on racism with Toronto community leaders.

The discussion was open to the media, and some participants expressed the view that they didn’t want Trudeau’s behaviour to embolden white supremacists.

Singh said he wants to see a broader public discussion about racism in Canada, stressing that the issue is larger than one person.

“I’m worried, because as some of the folks here said, the conversation has been about Mr. Trudeau instead of about the impact on people,” said Singh.

That means people who have “faced violence, physical, words, barriers, economic injustice because of the colour of their skin, because they’re Indigenous, because they’re racialized. If we don’t make it about the people, it could be easily forgotten.”

Trudeau re-election bid has been rocked controversy this past week after new images showed he chose to put on black- or brownface as part of costume events. Trudeau’s has repeatedly apologized, calling the act of darkening one’s skin racist, and says he remains committed to fighting racism, and continuing to lead the Liberals.  

Trudeau had to contend with global mockery on Friday, including from late-night American comedians, as images of the three times he chose to put on black- or brownface as part of costume events continued to flash around the world. U.S. President Donald Trump said he was surprised by the images of Trudeau. 

Liberal cabinet minister Catherine McKenna said Saturday Canada still has credibility on the world stage as a climate change champion despite the controversy.

“The measure of a person and of a party should be based on what you have done, and whether it’s action we are taking internationally to tackle climate change and provide a leadership role at the table, or it’s action to combat racism or our announcement yesterday, that we would eliminate assault weapons,” she said.

McKenna, the environment minister, tried to push the fractious federal election campaign onto more familiar territory for her and her embattled party, framing the fight against climate change as the core issue facing voters.

“This election could not be more important,” noting that issues like climate change are at stake,” she said.

“We have (a) Conservative Party and Conservative politicians who do not believe in action on climate change.”

McKenna promised to advocate for a ban on single-use plastics from federal government buildings, museums and parks at an event on the shores of the Ottawa River just west of Parliament Hill. The pledge was part of her local campaign as the MP for Ottawa Centre, and was not a plank in her party’s federal platform.

Trudeau wasn’t campaigning Saturday and neither was Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. Both were taking a break from the road, as is common on Saturdays during federal elections, after keeping up full-tilt schedules since the federal election call on Sept. 11.

Singh campaigned earlier in day in Toronto, reiterating his commitment to help self-employed workers who are feeling left behind economically. He was joined by Andrew Cash, a former NDP MP who is trying to take back his Davenport seat from the Liberals. They held a discussion on precarious work at a neighbourhood coffee shop.

Green Leader Elizabeth May is in Winnipeg, where she’s to make an announcement and campaign with Manitoba Green candidates at The Forks later.

People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier is in northern Ontario for a plowing match and a rally in North Bay.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2019.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

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Father’s testimony at murder trial like plot of ‘bad low-budget movie:’ Crown

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VANCOUVER — A father accused of murdering his two daughters has told his trial a “yarn” about the day the girls were killed, a Crown attorney argued Friday.

Patrick Weir alleged in his closing arguments in the B.C. Supreme Court that Andrew Berry is responsible for the deaths of his daughters on Christmas Day in 2017 in Oak Bay, near Victoria.

As Christmas Day loomed, Berry was “so destitute he didn’t even have food for the girls” and he had no one he could turn to for help, Weir told the jury.  

Berry has testified that he owed thousands of dollars to a loan shark named Paul and that he was attacked in his apartment by a “dark haired, dark skinned” man on the day of his daughters’ deaths.

He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of four-year-old Aubrey Berry and six-year-old Chloe Berry. 

In his testimony, Berry told the jury that two henchmen connected to the loan shark visited his apartment and stored a bag of drugs there in the months before the attack on Christmas Day.

Weir said Berry’s testimony was “like the plot from a bad low-budget movie.”

“Like everything in his life, he wouldn’t accept his responsibility,” he said. “There was no Paul … no dark-skinned child murderer… .”

Weir alleged Berry’s “entire story of Christmas Day is a lie.”

“It’s self-serving, illogical and at some points defies the laws of physics,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, this attack simply didn’t happen.”

How is it that Berry could remember a doctor’s exact words when he was in the hospital after he says he was stabbed but cannot provide more than a “generic” description of Paul than “tall, Chinese, and in his 50s,” Weir asked.

“He has no explanation of things that cry out for explanation,” Weir told the jury. “Andrew Berry’s evidence is selective and it’s self-serving.”

Weir said evidence presented during the trial showed the father tried to kill himself after killing his daughters, but “in the end, Mr. Berry was destined to survive this nightmare he created.”

When Weir cross-examined Berry, he suggested the accused had stopped opening mail, paying bills and ignored a Christmas invitation from his sister in 2017 because he had decided to end his life.

Berry denied he was planning to kill himself.

“He cannot be believed, and his evidence cannot raise a reasonable doubt. His story has conflicts at every turn,” Weir said.

It is an “elaborate yarn,” he said.

The only person who knows what happened on that Christmas Day in 2017 is Berry, Weir told the court.

But the only reasonable conclusion is that “Berry took the lives of his girls,” he said.

Weir said the motive for the murders was Berry’s “long-simmering animosity” towards his estranged wife, Sarah Cotton.

Berry believed she wanted to get him out of their daughters’ lives, he said.

Weir said Berry believed he would lose custody of the girls after that Christmas.

“If he couldn’t have them, Sarah couldn’t either,” he told the jury.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2019.

 

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

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