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Found 40 results

  1. T-shirts hang on a fence near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, US, February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper In the week since 17 of David Hogg?s classmates and teachers were gunned down in Florida, he and his fellow high schoolers have launched a movement that reshaped the gun control debate almost overnight and may influence the US midterm elections. Staring boldly into TV cameras, Hogg and other students who survived the Feb. 14 Parkland school massacre, have demanded lawmakers restrict gun sales and are targeting politicians funded by the pro-gun National Rifle Association (NRA) lobby. They have taken to social media to urge peers to hold a National School Walkout on March 14 and converge on Washington 10 days later for the ?March For Our Lives.? Plunging into a debate that has long polarized the United States between those defending gun ownership as a constitutional right and those demanding measures to stop mass shootings, the students are now focusing on the November elections. ?We get out there and make sure everybody knows how much money their politician took from the NRA,? Hogg said. They want to influence not only those casting their first ballot this year but all voters to make choices along gun-rights lines. Aid from Oprah, George Clooney The students seem to have made more progress in a few days than years of anti-gun advocacy that has stumbled on opposition from congressional Republicans who fiercely defend their constitutional rights to own guns. The students? movement is forcing donors to cut funding to the NRA and pressuring lawmakers to stop taking money from the politically influential gun rights group. The teenage activists themselves are collecting millions of dollars from celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney, enjoy pro-bono advertising from people in Hollywood and organizational know-how from groups including the Women?s March. What may be different about the Parkland students is their almost instantaneous mobilization and the power of social media, where their passionate speeches have gone viral, experts said. ?It?s this perfect storm of young people whose authority to speak cannot be denied because their friends were just murdered, have control of social media, the ability to speak to mass media, have celebrity support and organizational infrastructure,? said Sasha Costanza-Chock, an associate professor of civic media at MIT. Democrats have rushed to support the teenagers, hoping the movement can help them in the midterm elections by boosting historically-low turnout among young Democratic voters. ?We need to embrace this movement,? said Democratic strategist Rodell Mollineau. ?It very well may be that the solution to gun violence in this country is a generational solution instead of a partisan one. This might be the generation that finally breaks through on this issue.? Republicans, on the other hand, warned that it was unclear whether the students would gain momentum beyond Florida, where they pushed Republican Governor Rick Scott to propose tighter gun laws on Friday. ?I would be cautious to recognize any national trend based on one week in which passions have been high,? said Republican strategist Rory Cooper. Economic aid 'the government has failed to provide' The NRA did not respond to a request for comment. In recent days, NRA officials have lashed out at gun control advocates, arguing that Democratic elites are politicizing the Parkland rampage to erode gun rights. Showing their support for the students, dozens of US colleges and universities - including at least three Ivy League schools - have said their application processes will not consider disciplinary action taken against high schoolers who protest last week?s killings in Florida. Hogg took to Twitter on Saturday to urge vacationing students to boycott Florida during their upcoming spring breaks and instead visit Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from a devastating hurricane in September. The US Caribbean territory is ?a beautiful place with amazing people. They could really use the economic support that the government has failed to provide,? Hogg wrote. To gun rights groups, Hogg and his friends are being used by gun-control organizations to seek the same gun ban proposals that failed after mass shootings including the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. 'Politicians need to be afraid' Dave Workman, the senior editor of The Gunmag.com, said he suspected the high schoolers had support from gun-control groups based on their increasingly polished arguments. ?That may be more of a problem with credibility than an asset,? said Workman, whose magazine is the publication of gun rights group The Second Amendment Foundation. The students themselves say they do not need anyone?s approval and refuse to align with any political party, pointing out that both Republicans and Democrats take NRA money. ?Honestly, both sides are pretty corrupt and I?m not willing to take a side unless I know the person,? said Hogg. ?These politicians need to be afraid.? Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest US gun control advocacy group, formed a youth branch this week after receiving thousands of enquiries from students around the country and is opening chapters in four states. Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the 2016 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, praised the Parkland students for bringing an end to years of inaction. ?These teenagers have done the impossible,? said Wolf, a member of the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. ?And all it took was a group of angry children with the right message to slap some sense into somebody.?
  2. Florida Governor Rick Scott listens during a meeting with law enforcement, mental health, and education officials ? about how to prevent future tragedies in the wake of last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School ? at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida, US, February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Colin Hackley PARKLAND: Florida Governor Rick Scott, a loyal ally of the U.S. gun lobby under mounting pressure to act in the aftermath of last week?s deadly mass shooting, urged state lawmakers on Friday to tighten access to firearms for young people and the mentally disturbed. Scott said he would work with the Republican-controlled legislature over the next two weeks to raise the minimum legal age for buying any gun in Florida from 18 to 21, with some exceptions for younger individuals serving in the military or law enforcement. That proposal put the Republican governor at odds with the National Rifle Association, which has opposed higher age limits in Florida, where a person must be at least 21 to buy a handgun but can be as young as 18 to purchase an assault rifle. But Scott, who has been endorsed by the NRA and received its highest rating for supporting the rights of gun owners, said he opposed an outright ban on assault rifles, as some gun control advocates have demanded. His plan closely mirrored proposed measures unveiled on Friday by leaders of the state legislature. The 17 people slain on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Parkland were shot with a semiautomatic AR-15-style assault weapon, which authorities say was purchased legally last year by the accused gunman, Nikolas Cruz, when he was 18 years of age. Cruz, now 19, a former Stoneman Douglas student who authorities said had a history of run-ins with the law and was expelled from school for disciplinary problems, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Broward County Sheriff?s Office have since acknowledged receiving several tips over the past two years from callers saying they had reason to believe Cruz was inclined to commit a school shooting. In addition to age limits, Scott said he wanted to change state laws to make it ?virtually impossible for anyone who has mental issues to use a gun,? echoing similar calls by U.S. President Donald Trump. The governor called in particular for a new program allowing a family member, police officer or community welfare expert to seek a special court order barring the purchase or possession of a firearm by anyone shown to pose a safety threat due to mental illness or violent behavior. Scott also urged that state laws on involuntary commitment of the mentally ill be amended so that anyone hospitalized by court order is stripped of all access to firearms, with a court hearing required before their gun rights could be restored. Renewed focus on background checks Federal law bars possession of firearms by anyone found by a court or other legal authority to be a danger to themselves or others. Convicted felons, fugitives and people with a record of drug addiction also are banned from owning guns. But many states have been slow in furnishing mental health records to the FBI database used in flagging prospective buyers who are supposed to be prohibited from owning a weapon. The governor?s proposals come amid a reignited national debate on gun rights, led in part by some of the student survivors of last week?s massacre, ranked as the second deadliest U.S. public school shooting on record. Students and parents calling for tougher gun controls traveled earlier this week to meet with politicians in Tallahassee, the state capital, and with Trump at the White House. Trump has suggested arming teachers as a way of curbing gun violence in schools, as advocated by the NRA. He has also called for raising the legal age for buying rifles nationally to 21, and for beefing up background checks on prospective gun buyers. On Capitol Hill on Friday, a group of 18 House Republicans urged House Speaker Paul Ryan to schedule a vote on legislation strengthening background checks. The legislation already passed the House in December. But it was coupled with a controversial measure aimed at significantly expanding permits for carrying concealed weapons. The group of House Republicans urged Ryan to bring it to the House floor as a stand-alone bill so that it will have a greater chance of approval by the Senate and enactment into law. Scott also called for a mandatory law enforcement officer in every public school and for mandatory ?active shooter training? for students and faculty. He spoke as staff members were returning to Stoneman Douglas High School for the first time since the massacre. ?Everything was quiet, and looked like it was frozen in time,? said Greg Pittman, a social studies teacher. Some colleagues were still too shaken to return, he said. Outside the school, some teachers gazed at the flowers and makeshift memorials to the victims. One woman who brought balloons to add to the memorials fell to her knees in tears. Students are due to return to class next Wednesday, two weeks after the shooting. The building where the shooting occurred will remain closed. In remarks to reporters on Friday, Trump criticized the armed sheriff?s deputy assigned to the school for doing a ?poor job.? The deputy, Scot Peterson, resigned after an internal investigation found he failed to go inside and confront the shooter, the Broward County sheriff said on Thursday. ?When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn?t have the courage or something happened,? Trump said. Gun control advocates welcomed Scott?s steps to tighten laws, but some wanted more. Julie Kessel, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, told reporters that Scott?s proposals were ?very small, incremental changes.? ?None of them gets to the heart of what would really change gun violence, which is to ban assault weapons and close these loopholes immediately in background checks,? Kessel said.
  3. A student hoists a sign as hundreds of high school and middle school students from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia staged walkouts and gather in front of the Capitol in support of gun control in the wake of the Florida shooting, Washington, US, February 21, 2018. AFP/Olivier Douliery NEW YORK: In the wake of the Florida school shooting, survivors like David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez have become faces of the fight for US gun control ? and targets for far-right pundits and conspiracy theorists who paint the students as puppets of the political left. In a polarized climate where the most fervent supporters of President Donald Trump are quick to cry "fake news," the students had barely started calling for action to stop mass shootings when wild theories began swirling on the far-right internet. At the forefront were websites Infowars and The Gateway Pundit ? known for relaying bogus theories including the notion that the shooting of 26 children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 was a hoax. "Evidence mounts Florida attack is a giant false flag," ran the title of one video on Infowars. Gateway Pundit lashed out at "string-pullers" it said were manipulating the students, in support of a "vehemently anti-gun, anti-American, and anti-Trump" agenda. The site namely implicated organizers of the "Women?s March" ? which has voiced support for a student-led gun control march on Washington on March 24. #CrisisActors, #ParklandHoax Hogg, a student journalist and one of the movement?s most visible faces, and Gonzalez, who called out Donald Trump over his links to the National Rifle Association in an impassioned televised address last weekend, have been on the receiving end of particularly fierce attacks. Infowars alleged the pair were coached by CNN ? the cable network regularly assailed by the American right for its supposed liberal bias ? interpreting their ease in front of the camera as evidence they were in reality "crisis actors" working on behalf of the far left. Meanwhile, Hogg?s father?s status as a retired FBI agent ? an organization in Trump?s crosshairs over its probe into Russian meddling in his election campaign ? served as further conspiracy fodder. A YouTube video presenting the theory was the site?s most shared footage Tuesday with around 200,000 views ? before it was taken down. Similar allegations were circulating on social media under the hashtags #CrisisActors and #ParklandHoax, triggering immediate calls for the accounts to be blocked. Still, another Parkland survivor, Cameron Kasky, who launched the movement?s rallying cry #NeverAgain, said Wednesday he was suspending his Facebook account after receiving death threats from radical supporters of the National Rifle Association. ?Unbelievable? Conservative anchor Bill O?Reilly ? who was fired by Fox News last year over sexual harassment allegations, but still broadcasts on his website and to his 2.6 million Twitter followers ? also questioned the movement?s genesis. "The national press believes it is their job to destroy the Trump administration by any means necessary. So if the media has to use kids to do that, they?ll use kids," he wrote on his website Tuesday. The theories reached the president?s inner circle as president?s son Donald Trump Jr "liked" two tweets related to Gateway Pundit?s accusations against Hogg, according to the site Trump Alert which tracks the family?s activity on Twitter. And in Florida, Republican lawmaker Shawn Harrison on Tuesday fired an aide who repeated the crisis actor allegations on his Twitter account. Harrison said he was "appalled" by the comments. Questioned by CNN about the accusations, Hogg simply dismissed them as "unbelievable." "I am not a crisis actor," he said. "I am somebody who had to witness this and live through this and I continue to have to do that."
  4. Hundreds of high school and middle school students from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia staged walkouts and gather in front of the White House in support of gun control in the wake of the Florida shooting. -AFP1 FLORIDA: Student survivors of the Florida school shooting that saw 17 people killed in a hail of bullets last week descended on the state capital Wednesday to ramp up the pressure on lawmakers to enact tougher gun control measures. Holding signs reading "Never Again" and "Be The Adults, Do Something," students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School rallied with thousands of supporters outside the imposing white stone-columned capitol building in Tallahassee. "I am here to demand change from my government," student Lorenzo Prado told the crowd. "To let these victims lives be taken without any change in return is an act of treason to our great country." "To let our fellow countrymen fall beside us without fighting back is to me equal to leaving a soldier to die on the battlefield." Rallying in solidarity, students staged walkouts from other high schools in Florida and elsewhere vowing to make the tragedy a turning point in America´s deadlocked debate on gun control. In Washington, hundreds of local high school students gathered outside the White House chanting slogans against the National Rifle Association (NRA), the powerful gun lobby, and demanding action from President Donald Trump. Faced with the massive outpouring of grief and outrage over the Parkland, Florida shooting, Trump was to meet with parents, students and teachers at the White House on Wednesday to discuss school safety. Trump - who received strong backing from the NRA during his White House run - is also showing a new-found willingness to take at least some steps on gun control. The president threw his support on Tuesday behind moves to ban "bump stocks" - an accessory that can turn a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic one. Calls to ban bump stocks have been mounting since Stephen Paddock, a retired accountant, used them on several of his weapons to kill 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas in October 2017 in the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history. Although the former student who shot dead 17 people in Florida last week did not have bump stocks on his gun, there has been a renewed focus on the devices because outlawing them is a rare point of agreement between Democrats, some Republicans and the NRA. In Florida, more than 100 students from Stoneman Douglas travelled eight hours in buses on Tuesday to meet with state legislators and demand they action on gun laws. 'Things are going to change' "My classmates and I are probably the most determined group of people you will ever meet," said student Sofie Whitney. "People are talking about how we aren't serious because we're children, but... we're serious." The students' push for change hit a hurdle Tuesday when the Republican-dominated Florida House of Representatives declined to take up a debate on legislation that would have banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. The US Congress is also deadlocked on the gun debate, accomplishing nothing since the shooting in Las Vegas. "We must actually make a difference," Trump said Tuesday. "We must move past cliches and tired debates and focus on evidence-based solutions and security measures that actually work," he said. "We must do more to protect our children." "This includes implementing common sense security measures and addressing mental health issues," he said, "including better coordination between federal and state law enforcement to take swift action when there are warning signs." Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz, 19, had a history of troubling behavior and a person close to him warned the FBI five weeks before the shooting that he was a threat - but no action was taken. Cruz legally bought the gun he used in the attack - an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle - and the White House said Tuesday it would consider raising the age for such purchases. "I think that's certainly something that's on the table," spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. Students are planning a march on Washington next month and on Tuesday, they earned two million dollars in pledges from Hollywood A-listers George Clooney and his human rights lawyer wife Amal, Oprah Winfrey, director Steven Spielberg and film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg. The "March for Our Lives" is scheduled to take place on March 24, with sister rallies planned across the country. Americans support stricter gun laws by a 66 to 31 percent margin, according to a poll released on Tuesday by Quinnipiac University. It described the margin as "the highest level of support" for stricter gun control since it began surveys on the question in 2008.
  5. US President Donald Trump talks about banning devices that can be attached to semiautomatic guns to make them automatic, during a Public Safety Medal of Valor Awards Ceremony at the White House in Washington, US, February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said Tuesday his administration would take steps to outlaw an accessory that enables a rifle to shoot hundreds of rounds a minute, as the White House added he may consider other firearms restrictions after last week?s school shooting in Florida. ?Just a few moments ago, I signed a memorandum directing the attorney general to propose regulations to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns,? Trump told a White House event. The move would bypass Congress, where legislation to ban ?bump stocks? has failed to advance since an October massacre in Las Vegas that killed 58 people. It puts Trump at odds with powerful gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association that previously opposed efforts to ban them. The president?s announcement came shortly after White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said he would consider raising the minimum age for buyers of the assault-style rifle used last week by a teenage gunman in the fatal shooting of 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The White House said on Monday that Trump also supported legislation that would tighten the national criminal background check system for gun buyers. Those steps fall far short of what gun-control advocates have called for but would mark a change in course for Trump, who courted the support of gun rights groups during his 2016 presidential bid and has loosened gun ownership rules since taking office.
  6. Nikolas Cruz, facing 17 charges of premeditated murder in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, appears in court for a status hearing before Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US, Feb 19, 2018. Photo: Reuters FORT LAUDERDALE: A former student accused of last week?s deadly shooting at a Florida high school returned to court for a hearing on Monday in a case that has galvanised advocates of stricter gun control, including many of the rampage survivors. Nikolas Cruz, his head bowed, hands shackled at his waist and wearing a red, jail-issued jumpsuit, showed no emotion during the procedural session in Fort Lauderdale. The hearing ended with Broward Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Scherer ruling that a defence motion filed last week remain sealed from public view. The content of the motion, sealed by another judge, was not described in the hearing. In a second hearing, Broward Circuit Court Judge Charles Greene ordered the release of parts of a mental health assessment of Cruz by the Florida Department of Children and Families in November 2016. The report has already been leaked to South Florida?s Sun Sentinel newspaper. 17 killed in Florida school shooting; suspect in custody Live television showed dozens of students running and walking away from the school Cruz, who did not attend the second hearing, is facing 17 counts of premeditated murder after the attack on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, near Fort Lauderdale. It is the deadliest shooting ever at a US high school. The suspect, whose mother died in November, was investigated by authorities after videos surfaced on the social media platform Snapchat showing him cutting himself, the assessment by the Department of Children and Families said. ?Cruz has fresh cuts on both his arms. Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun. It is unknown what he is buying the gun for,? the released report said. In a statement, department secretary Mike Carroll said the records showed Cruz was getting mental health services before, during and after the assessment. Cruz was living with his mother and attending school when it concluded, he said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has acknowledged it failed to act on a tip called in last month warning that Cruz possessed a gun and the desire to kill. Trump turns on FBI over school shooting after criticism from survivors 'They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign' Greene agreed to the request by Cruz?s team of public defenders to release the assessment. But he stopped short of allowing the release of details of Cruz?s mental health history and child abuse records. Student survivors gathered with teachers and gun safety advocates to plan a visit to the state capital of Tallahassee on Wednesday. They will demand state lawmakers enact a ban on the sale of assault weapons in Florida. The White House said on Monday that President Donald Trump supports efforts to improve federal background checks for gun purchases. Trump angered some students by suggesting in a tweet on Saturday that the FBI had missed signs that the shooter was troubled because it was distracted by its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.
  7. The "March for Our Lives" will take place on March 24, with sister rallies planned across the country, a group of students told ABC News? "This Week." WASHINGTON: Students who survived a mass shooting at their Florida school on Sunday announced plans to march on Washington in a bid to "shame" politicians into reforming laws that make firearms readily available. The "March for Our Lives" will take place on March 24, with sister rallies planned across the country, a group of students told ABC News? "This Week." They pledged to make Wednesday?s slaughter in Parkland, Florida a turning point in America?s deadlocked debate on gun control. Nikolas Cruz, 19, a troubled former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, confessed to killing 17 people with a legally-purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the latest such atrocity in a country with more than 30,000 gun-related deaths annually. Among the students announcing the march was Emma Gonzalez, who captured worldwide attention with a powerful speech in which she assailed President Donald Trump over the multi-million-dollar support his campaign received from the gun lobby. She vowed Stoneman Douglas school would be "the last mass shooting." On Sunday, Gonzalez, 18, urged politicians to join a conversation about gun control -- citing Trump as well as his fellow Republicans Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Rick Scott. "We want to give them the opportunity to be on the right side of this," she said, as she and her four classmates called on students nationwide to help push the message. White House ?listening session? Gonzalez and other Stoneman Douglas students were scheduled to be part of a nationally televised, prime-time "town hall" event on CNN on Wednesday. Rubio, who has attracted criticism for accepting millions in political help from pro-gun groups, tweeted that he would participate. That same day, Trump will host a "listening session" with high school students and teachers, the White House said in a statement, though it did not specify who would attend. The president met Sunday with top Republican lawmaker Paul Ryan, discussing "the recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida," among other topics. Singling out links between politicians and the powerful National Rifle Association, Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky said any politician "who is taking money from the NRA is responsible for events like this." "This isn?t about the GOP," he said, referring to the Republican Party. "This isn?t about the Democrats." The NRA, a traditional ally of the Republicans who currently control Congress and the White House, defends a literal view of the US Constitution?s 2nd Amendment which promises a right "to keep and bear arms." Even after last October?s killing of 58 people by a gunman in Las Vegas who amassed 47 firearms to commit the worst mass shooting in recent US history, legislators accomplished nothing in the way of tighter controls. Accusing the NRA of "fostering and promoting this gun culture," Kasky said the students seek "a new normal where there?s a badge of shame on any politician who?s accepting money from the NRA." ?They want action? "People keep asking us, what about the Stoneman Douglas shooting is going to be different, because this has happened before and change hasn?t come?" said Kasky. "This is it," he continued. "We are going to be marching together as students begging for our lives." The students did not indicate how many people they expected to join their rallies. But their aims won support from Florida Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch, who said they can make a difference. "After what they saw, the worst things imaginable, they?re not going to just sit back and take it," he told "This Week." "All I?ve heard all week is how frustrated people are with rhetoric. They want action." Florida Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo, speaking on the same program, said he is working towards bipartisan solutions that could prevent similar tragedies. "There are a lot of Republicans who are prepared to support reasonable, common-sense gun safety laws," he said. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff said that although Republicans have faced a bigger hurdle in making gun control a priority, "it?s been a challenge in the Democratic Party as well." Speaking on CNN?s "State of the Union," Schiff asked, "How much more of this are we gonna to take? How many more shootings?" Congress has to get "off its backside" to "stare down the NRA and do the right thing," he said. The student survivors? calls for change "should matter," said Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut whose wife, former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was shot and wounded by a deranged gunman. He said on "Fox News Sunday" that the student activists "are going to vote on this issue probably for the rest of their lives and they?re going to encourage others to do that as well." But conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, speaking on the same show, said neither legislation nor marches are the answer. "It?s not the fault of the NRA," he said, calling for concealed weapons to be allowed in schools. "If we are really serious about protecting the kids, we need a mechanism to be defensive."
  8. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez reacts during her speech at a rally for gun control at the Broward County Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US, February 17, 2018. AFP/Rhone Wise FORT LAUDERDALE: Student survivors of the Parkland school shooting called out US President Donald Trump Saturday over his ties to the National Rifle Association (NRA), at an emotional anti-gun rally in Florida. "To every politician taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!" said Emma Gonzalez, assailing Trump over the multi-million-dollar support his campaign received from the powerful gun lobby ? prompting the crowd to chant in turn: "Shame on You! Shame on You!"
  9. Protesters hold signs at a gun control at the Broward County Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US, February 17, 2018. AFP/Rhona Wise CORAL SPRINGS: When the gunshots rang out at her Florida high school, Lorena Sanabria hid in a classroom with friends, forced to listen to the blood-curdling screams of victims as they waited for help and prayed they wouldn?t be next. Now, Lorena, 16, is among a new wave of survivors determined to add their uniquely powerful voices to the cause of gun control, which has failed to make headway despite the alarming frequency of such attacks in the United States. Seventeen perished and more than a dozen were wounded in the hail of bullets at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the latest mass shooting to devastate a small US community and renew calls for gun control. In an emotional interview in which she frequently fought back tears, the dark-haired teen admitted that despite a keen interest in women?s rights and equality, she had never considered herself particularly interested in politics ? until now. "I think that now more than ever, us as students, we should use our voice, you know the voices through the cameras ? we should use this to speak directly to the government... and beg them to please make changes to the policies," she told AFP. Among the policies Lorena wants to see reformed are the ease with which Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old gunman behind the massacre, was able to purchase his military-grade AR-15 assault rifle legally because he did not have a criminal record. "It shouldn?t be normal that parents should be worrying about sending their kids with bulletproof backpacks" to school, she added. Demand has reportedly surged for such backpacks in the aftermath of the shooting, which online giant Amazon sells from $140 up. New visibility Since January 2013, there have been at least 291 school shootings across the country ? an average of one a week, according to the non-profit group Everytown for Gun Safety. But the Parkland massacre has been distinguished by students? new willingness to step into the media glare and grant interviews that are particularly critical of the Republican Party and its deep financial ties to the powerful National Rifle Association lobby. In an eloquent essay published online, 17-year-old student Cameron Kasky blasted both Republican and Democratic politicians for not doing anything. "We can?t ignore the issues of gun control that this tragedy raises," he wrote. "And so, I?m asking ? no, demanding ? we take action now." President Donald Trump, who received $30 million from the NRA during his election campaign, has suggested root cause of mass shootings including the Parkland massacre was a crisis of mental health ? and defied calls to address gun control. Marco Rubio, a Florida senator who himself has received large NRA donations, has also been dismissive toward stricter gun controls, saying that someone planning an attack "will figure out a way to evade those (gun) laws." Such arguments get short shrift from Lorena. "Look at other countries," she argued. "You have to go through a process and tests, mental tests, background checks, you have to get through so much just to get a small gun, not a rifle, not a AR-15." Lorena said that what hurt her the most was that under current laws, repeated warnings to authorities about a person?s erratic behaviour cannot factor into their ability to own a firearm. Cruz was reported to local police by his late mother on numerous occasions, CNN reported Friday, while the FBI has also admitted it did not follow up on a tip about him. As Lorena and her classmates hunkered down beneath the tables and chairs of their classroom that fateful Wednesday afternoon, glued to their phones, the revelation of the shooter?s identity was far from shocking. "Everyone was just like, ?We?re not surprised, we?re not surprised that it was him,?" she recalled. "You know, he had shown signs that he would do something like this including his Instagram pictures. He was fetishizing killing animals and you know, showing off his guns, and just the fact that people weren?t surprised, it makes you think, you know."
  10. Participants hold placards with the names of victims of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, during a candlelight vigil at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, US, February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper PARKLAND: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said Friday it had failed to act on a tip warning that the man now accused of killing 17 people at a Florida high school possessed a gun, the desire to kill and the potential to commit a school shooting. The disclosure sparked angry disbelief from residents of the Miami suburb of Parkland still reeling from Wednesday?s massacre ? the deadliest shooting ever at a US high school ? and led Florida?s governor to call for the FBI chief to resign. A person described as someone close to accused gunman Nikolas Cruz, 19, called an FBI tip line on January 5 ? weeks before the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School ? to report concerns about him, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement. ?The caller provided information about Cruz?s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting,? it said. That information should have been forwarded to the FBI?s Miami field office for further investigation, but ?we have determined that these protocols were not followed?, the agency said. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he has ordered a review of FBI procedures following the shooting, carried out by a gunman armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and numerous ammunition cartridges. ?We have spoken with victims and families, and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy,? FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement. The mishandled information followed a tip to the FBI in September about a YouTube comment, in which a person named Nikolas Cruz said, ?I?m going to be a professional school shooter.? The FBI said it investigated that comment but was unable to trace its origins, closing the inquiry until Cruz surfaced in connection with Wednesday?s mass shooting. The FBI?s lapse regarding the January 5 tip was met with anger in Florida after US President Donald Trump made remarks seeming to chastise local residents for failing to alert authorities to Cruz?s sometimes erratic and violent behaviour prior to Wednesday?s shooting rampage. Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. Florida Governor Rick Scott said Wray ? appointed to head the FBI by Trump last year after the president fired James Comey ? should step down over the agency?s blunder. ?The FBI?s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable,? Scott, a Republican, said in a statement. ?We constantly promote ?See something, say something,? and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act.? The FBI separately has been criticized by some Republicans over its investigation of issues relating to Russia and the 2016 presidential election. At the funeral on Friday for massacre victim Meadow Pollack, an 18-year-old senior, family friend Jeff Richman expressed dismay at the FBI?s failure. ?The FBI apologized? Tell that to families,? said Richman, 53, an advertising executive who lives in Parkland. Broward County?s chief public defender, Howard Finkelstein, was quoted by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper as saying that Cruz?s legal team planned to meet with prosecutors to offer a guilty plea in exchange for a life prison term. ?There is only one question: ?Should this young man live or die by execution?'? Finkelstein told the Sun Sentinel. ?We believe it?s in nobody?s best interest to go through a circus of a trial.? The public defender?s office could not immediately be reached by Reuters for comment. 'Kids don't need guns' The massacre has raised concerns about potential lapses in school security and stirred the ongoing US debate pitting proponents of tougher restrictions on firearms against advocates for gun rights, which are protected by the US Constitution?s Second Amendment. Authorities acknowledged that the tips to the FBI were not the only indications that Cruz was troubled. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told a news conference his office had received about 20 ?calls for service? in the last few years regarding Cruz and would scrutinize all of them to see if they were handled properly. Israel indicated law enforcement should not be held responsible for Wednesday?s tragedy. ?The only one to blame for this killing is the killer himself,? he said. Some political leaders including Trump have said mental illness prompted the shooting. Cruz had been expelled for undisclosed disciplinary reasons from the school where the attack occurred. Former classmates have described him as a social outcast trouble-maker with a fascination for weaponry. Some relatives and friends of shooting victims blamed Florida?s lenient gun laws, which allow an 18-year-old to buy an assault rifle. Outside a vigil on Friday, a sign read: ?Kids don?t need guns. No guns under 21.? The outpouring of grief was reflected in a multitude of prayer services and vigils on Friday - a total of six at various places of worship in and around Parkland. Funerals for at least two victims were also held. Late in the day, the Republican president and first lady Melania Trump visited a hospital where survivors from the shooting were treated, meeting privately with victims and medical staff. ?The job they?ve done is incredible and I want to congratulate you,? the president said as he shook one doctor?s hand in front of reporters afterwards. Trump did not respond when asked if the nation?s gun laws needed to be changed, then walked into another room. He later appeared at the Broward County Sheriff?s Office, along with the governor and other politicians, offering praise to first responders for the ?great job you?ve done.? The vice mayor of Broward County, a strongly Democratic area, earlier blasted any visit by Trump, saying Republicans had failed to back common-sense gun laws and rolled back measures restricting severely mentally ill people from buying weapons.
  11. People attend a candlelight vigil the day after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, February 15, 2018. Photo: Reuters FLORIDA: As families prepared on Friday to bury victims of another US mass shooting, grief mixed with anger amid signs of possible lapses in school security and indications that law enforcement may have missed clues about the suspected gunman?s plans. One distraught mother who said she had just spent two hours making funeral preparations for her 14-year-old child expressed disbelief that a gunman could just stroll into school and open fire, and she appealed to President Donald Trump to take action. Nikolas Cruz, 19, identified as a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who had been expelled for disciplinary problems, walked into the school on Wednesday and opened fire with an assault rifle, killing 17 students and facility members and injuring 15 others, police said. The shooting has raised questions among anguished parents about the adequacy of school security measures and renewed a national debate on Capitol Hill and elsewhere about the epidemic of gun violence in American schools. 17 killed in Florida school shooting; suspect in custody Live television showed dozens of students running and walking away from the school ?How do we allow a gunman to come into our children?s school? How did they get through security? What security is there?? Lori Alhadeff shouted into the camera in an emotionally raw appearance on CNN. ?The gunman, the crazy person, just walks right into the school, knocks down the window to my child?s door and starts shooting, shooting her ...,? cried Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was among the dead. Cruz, charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, made a brief initial court appearance on Thursday, in which he was ordered held without bond. ?He?s a broken human being,? his lawyer, public defender Melissa McNeill, told reporters. ?He?s sad, he?s mournful, he?s remorseful.? 'Professional school shooter' Cruz may have foreshadowed the attack in a comment on YouTube, investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI disclosed it received a tip in September about the message that read: ?I?m going to be a professional school shooter,? by a user named Nikolas Cruz. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Photo: Reuters However, FBI agents had no information pointing to the ?time, location or true identity? of the person behind the message, Robert Lasky, special agent in charge of the FBI?s Jacksonville office, told reporters. YouTube ultimately removed the material in question, and the FBI?s inquiry was dropped until the name Nikolas Cruz surfaced again in connection with Wednesday?s massacre. Authorities say Cruz, identified as a former student at Stoneman Douglas High who had been expelled for disciplinary problems, walked into the school shortly before dismissal time, pulled a fire alarm and opened fire as students and teachers streamed out of classrooms into the halls. The sheriff said Cruz arrived at the school by way of the Uber ride-sharing service and left the scene on foot, mixing in ?with a group that were running away, fearing for their lives.? He walked into a Walmart, bought a beverage at a Subway outlet inside the store, then visited a McDonald?s before he was spotted and detained by a police officer in the adjacent town of Coconut Creek, Israel said. Former classmates have described Cruz as a social outcast with a reputation as a trouble-maker, as well as someone who was ?crazy about guns.? The sheriff has said some of the online and social media activity Cruz engaged in was ?very, very disturbing.? Former student confesses to Florida school shooting The FBI earlier admitted it had received a tip-off about the 19-year-old gunman yet failed to stop him Wednesday?s shooting ranks as the greatest loss of life from school gun violence after the 2012 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 20 first-graders and six adult educators dead. ?It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference,? Trump said at the White House in a speech that emphasised school safety and mental health while avoiding any mention of gun policy. ?We must actually make that difference.? Democrats in the US House of Representatives criticised the Republican leadership on Wednesday for refusing to take up legislation on tightening background checks for prospective gun buyers. For school gun massacre survivors, fear and grief takes hold In the morning the school had conducted a fire drill, and the school´s approximately 3,000 students had been told at the beginning of the year that a simulation shooting might be held Some gun control proponents and legal experts said Wednesday?s shooting might have been averted if Florida were among the handful of US states with laws allowing police and family members to obtain restraining orders barring people suspected of being a threat from possessing guns. Cruz had recently moved in with another family after his mother?s November death, said Jim Lewis, a lawyer representing the family, bringing his AR-15 along with other belongings. The family believed Cruz was depressed, but attributed that to his mother?s death, not mental illness, Lewis said.
  12. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/f7072551930376a5823318133f56ea0a.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9Mi8xNi8yMDE4IDU6MTQ6NDUgQU0maGFzaF92YWx1ZT0xZU1lNHoyeVZJSmxzUGtDNEptZllnPT0mdmFsaWRtaW51dGVzPTYwJmlkPTE= style=center] PARKLAND: A troubled teen has confessed to gunning down 17 people at his former high school in Florida, court documents showed Thursday, as the FBI admitted it had received a tip-off about the 19-year-old gunman yet failed to stop him. As Americans reeled from the country´s worst school massacre since the horror at Sandy Hook six years ago, President Donald Trump suggested the root cause of the violence was a crisis of mental health -- and defied calls to address gun control. Terrified students hid in closets and under desks on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, texting for help as the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, stalked the school with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle. Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, appearing Thursday afternoon via video link before a judge who ordered him held without bond. More than a dozen other people were injured in the shooting spree. "Today is a day of healing. Today is a day of mourning," Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. After being read his legal rights, "Cruz stated that he was the gunman who entered the school campus armed with a AR-15 and began shooting students that he saw in the hallways and on the school grounds," court documents showed. Cruz also admitted to police that he discarded his rifle -- which he bought legally in Florida -- and tactical gear in order to blend in with the crowd to flee the campus, the documents showed. After the shooting, he stopped at a Wal-Mart and then McDonald´s, Israel told reporters. He was detained 40 minutes later, after police identified him using school security camera footage. In a somber televised address to the nation in response to the 18th school shooting so far this year, Trump vowed to make mental health a priority -- after tweeting about the "many signs" the gunman was "mentally disturbed" -- while avoiding any talk of gun curbs. Earlier in the day, Trump had asserted that "neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!" Expelled from school for disciplinary reasons, Cruz was known to be fixated on firearms -- and had reportedly been identified as a potential threat to his classmates. But US authorities themselves were under scrutiny, after the FBI confirmed it was alerted last September to a message posted on YouTube, in which a user named Nikolas Cruz vowed: "I´m going to be a professional school shooter." In a statement, the FBI said it had carried out "database reviews and other checks" but was unable to identify the person who made the post. ´Something was off´ A mugshot of Cruz depicts an ordinary-looking young man -- cleanly-cut chestnut hair, hazel eyes, his face speckled with freckles. But the information emerging since his attack suggests there were red flags that should have set off danger alerts. "I met him last year, he was in my class at the beginning of the year and when I first met him, I knew that something was off about him and he was kind of weird," Manolo Alvarez, 17, told AFP. Fellow students knew he posted violent messages online, and on Thursday the Anti-Defamation League reported he was a member of a white supremacist group and had taken part in military-style training exercises. White supremacist says Florida shooter was group member Expelled from school for disciplinary reasons, Cruz was known to have firearms at home Fifteen people were killed at the high school, and two later died in hospital. One of those killed was Aaron Feis, a well-loved football coach in Parkland, a city of about 30,000 people located north of Miami where Trump was due to travel to meet the shocked community. Many others were first-year students at the school like Gina Montalto, who was a member of the school´s winter color guard squad. Thousands of people turned out at numerous vigils throughout the day. Officials released silver balloons in honor of the 17 victims. "President Trump, please do something. Do something. Action. We need it now. These kids need safety now," an emotional Lori Aldaheff, whose daughter Alyssa was among the dead, told CNN. ´We have to change´ While the latest shooting reignited questions about America´s gun laws, Trump -- the first president to have addressed the powerful National Rifle Association gun lobby -- staunchly opposes any additional controls. Opponents of gun curbs have sought to steer public debate onto the motives -- and mental health -- of people using the weapons. Former Democratic president Barack Obama issued a new appeal for action Thursday, insisting "we have to change" and calling for "long overdue, common-sense gun safety laws that most Americans want." But many have given up hope of meaningful reform in a majority-led Republican Congress driven by partisan rancor. Since January 2013, there have been at least 291 school shootings across the country -- an average of one a week, according to the non-profit group Everytown for Gun Safety. "It is pretty clear that we´re failing our kids here," said Melissa Falkowski, a teacher who squeezed 19 students into a closet at the high school to shield them from harm.
  13. Nikolas Cruz. Picture released by the office of Broward's sheriff PARKLAND: A troubled teenager accused of murdering 17 people at his former high school in Florida had white supremacist ties, it emerged Thursday, as the FBI admitted it received a tip-off about the 19-year-old gunman, yet failed to stop him. As Americans reeled from the country?s worst school massacre since the horror at Sandy Hook six years ago, President Donald Trump suggested the root cause of the violence was a crisis of mental health ? and defied calls to address gun control. Terrified students hid in closets and under desks on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, texting for help as the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, stalked the school with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle. Charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, Cruz appeared Thursday afternoon before a judge who ordered him held without bond. In a sombre televised address to the nation in response to the 18th school shooting so far this year, Trump announced plans to travel to Florida to meet the shocked community, located north of Miami. He vowed to make mental health a priority ? after tweeting about the "many signs" that the shooter was "mentally disturbed" ? but avoided any talk of gun curbs to stem the bloodshed. "My fellow Americans, today I speak to a nation in grief," said Trump, calling on his fellow citizens to "come together as one nation" and "answer hate with love, answer cruelty with kindness." Earlier in the day, Trump had asserted that "neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!" But US authorities themselves were under scrutiny after the FBI confirmed it was alerted last September to a message posted on YouTube, in which a user named Nikolas Cruz vowed: "I?m going to be a professional school shooter." In a statement, the FBI said it had carried out "database reviews and other checks" but was unable to identify the person who made the post. ?Something was off? Expelled from school for disciplinary reasons, Cruz was known to have firearms at home ? and had reportedly been identified as a potential threat to his classmates. "I met him last year, he was in my class at the beginning of the year and when I first met him, I knew that something was off about him and he was kind of weird," Manolo Alvarez, 17, told AFP. Troubling new details emerged Thursday about Cruz?s past, as the Anti-Defamation League reported he was a member of a white supremacist group and had taken part in military-style training exercises. Jordan Jereb, believed to lead the shadowy Republic of Florida (ROF), told the rights group that his organization had not supported Cruz?s attack. "Nobody I know told him to do that, he just freaked out," Jereb said in a separate interview with The Daily Beast, adding that Cruz "seemed like just a normal, disenfranchised, young white man." "I don?t know precisely what he believes," he said. "I know he knew full well he was joining a white separatist paramilitary proto-fascist organization." Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel previously said authorities were dissecting Cruz?s social media history, and that "some of the things... are very, very disturbing." He also suggested the authorities were powerless to stop such crimes. "If a person is predisposed to commit such a horrific event by going to a school and shooting people ... there?s not anybody or not a lot law enforcement can do about it," Israel said. ?Failing our kids? Fifteen people were killed at the high school, and two later died in hospital. One of those killed was Aaron Feis, a well-loved football coach in Parkland, a city of about 30,000 people. Two of the wounded remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition, while six others were on the way to a full recovery, officials told a news conference. The school shootings are part of a broader epidemic of gun violence in a country that loses 33,000 people to gun-related deaths each year, two-thirds of them suicides. While the latest mass shooting reignited questions about America?s gun laws, Trump ? the first president to have addressed the powerful National Rifle Association gun lobby ? staunchly opposes any additional gun controls. Opponents of gun curbs have sought to steer public debate onto the motives ? and mental health ? of people using the weapons. Former Democratic President Barack Obama issued a new appeal for action Thursday, insisting "we are not powerless." "Caring for our kids is our first job. And until we can honestly say that we?re doing enough to keep them safe from harm, including long overdue, common-sense gun safety laws that most Americans want, then we have to change," he tweeted. But many have given up hope of meaningful reform in a majority-led Republican Congress where Obama failed to enact gun curbs amid partisan rancour. Since January 2013, there have been at least 291 school shootings across the country ? an average of one a week, according to the non-profit group Everytown for Gun Safety. "It is pretty clear that we?re failing our kids here," said Melissa Falkowski, a teacher who squeezed 19 students into a closet at the high school to shield them from harm.
  14. Nikolas Cruz (C) appears via video monitor with his public defender Melisa McNeill (R) at a bond court hearing ? after being charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder ? in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US, February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Susan Stocker/Pool PARKLAND: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was warned in September about an ominous online comment by the 19-year-old man accused of killing 17 people at his former high school but was unable to locate him, an agent said on Thursday. Authorities said the ex-student, identified as Nikolas Cruz, walked into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, near Miami, on Wednesday and opened fire with an AR-15-style assault rifle in the second-deadliest shooting at a public school in US history. Cruz may have left warning signs on social media in the form of a comment on a YouTube video that read ?I?m going to be a professional school shooter.? That comment troubled the person whose video Cruz commented on, Mississippi bail bondsman Ben Bennight, who passed it on to the FBI, according to a video he posted online late Wednesday. ?No other information was included with that comment which would indicate a time, location or the true identity of the person who made the comment,? FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Lasky told reporters. Investigators were unable to find the commenter, he added. The FBI is conducting an extensive review of how it handled that tip to see if mistakes were made, a federal law enforcement official told Reuters. Wednesday?s shooting was the 18th in a US school this year, according to gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety. It stirred the long-simmering US debate on the right to bear arms, which is protected by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. President Donald Trump addressed the shooting in a White House speech that emphasized school safety and mental health while avoiding any mention of gun policy. ?It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference,? Trump said at the White House. ?We must actually make that difference.? Broward County schools superintendent Robert Runcie called for action on gun laws. ?Now is the time for this country to have a real conversation on sensible gun control laws,? Runcie told a news conference. Democrats in the US House of Representatives criticized the Republican leadership for refusing to take up legislation on tightening background checks for prospective gun buyers. ?It?s appalling,? Representative Mike Thompson told reporters. ?Thirty people every day are killed by someone using a gun, and the best we can do is say we need more information?? The Republican-controlled Congress last year revoked Obama-era regulations meant to make it harder for those with severe mental illness to pass FBI background checks for guns, saying the rule deprived the mentally ill of their gun rights. At least one member of Trump?s cabinet called for action. ?Personally I think the gun violence, it?s a tragedy what we?ve seen yesterday, and I urge Congress to look at these issues,? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers. Fifteen people were injured in Wednesday?s shooting, according to local hospital officials. ?Broken human being? Cruz?s court-appointed lawyer said he had expressed remorse for his crimes. ?He?s a broken human being,? public defender Melisa McNeill told reporters. ?He?s sad, he?s mournful he?s remorseful.? Cruz had done paramilitary training with a white nationalist militia called the Republic of Florida, a leader of the group said. ?He had some involvement with the Clearwater Republic of Florida cell at some point,? Jordan Jereb said in a telephone interview. Reuters could not immediately verify the claim. Cruz loved guns and had been expelled from high school for disciplinary reasons, police and former classmates said. Authorities said he marched into the school wearing a gas mask and tossed smoke grenades, as well as pulling a fire alarm that sent students and staff pouring from classrooms as he began his rampage, according to Florida?s two US senators, who were briefed by federal authorities. In a brief court appearance, Cruz spoke only two words, ?Yes ma?am,? when a judge asked him to confirm his name. He was ordered held without bond. Cruz had recently moved in with another family after his mother?s death in November, according to Jim Lewis, a lawyer representing the family and local media, bringing his AR-15 along with his other belongings. The family believed Cruz was depressed but attributed that to his mother?s death, not the mental illness. Victims included an assistant football coach who sheltered students, a social science teacher and multiple students. People who live on the same street as Cruz said he alarmed them by shooting squirrels and rabbits in the neighbourhood as well as chickens being raised in a nearby backyard. Several times a year, they observed law enforcement officials at his house. ?Killing animals was no problem for this young man,? said Rhoda Roxburgh, 45, who lived on the block for several years and whose parents continue to live there.
  15. Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. Photo: FIle KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has expressed grief over the Florida school carnage, saying there is a strong need for United States and it administration to search for undetected reasons that lead to such massacres. "Our hearts go out to the victims and their deeply bereaved families," the PPP chairperson said, adding that such cowardly attacks in schools in the developed states of America have sent shock waves across the world. The people of Pakistan equally share the pain and grief of their American brothers and sisters and were praying for the victims of the Florida school attack. A former student at a Florida high school opened fire in the institute on Wednesday, causing numerous fatalities and wounding at least 50 before he was arrested by police, authorities said. 17 killed in Florida school shooting; suspect in custody Live television showed dozens of students running and walking away from the school At least 17 people were reported dead, according to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Nikolaus Cruz, 19, the gunman, surrendered to police quietly, Israel said. ?There was a time when he did attend the school,? Israel said. ?I don?t know why he left, I don?t know when he left.? "We have already begun to dissect his websites and things on social media that he was on and some of the things... are very, very disturbing," Israel said. "If a person is predisposed to commit such a horrific event by going to a school and shooting people... there's not anybody or not a lot law enforcement can do about it." A teacher at the school said Cruz had been identified previously as a potential threat to his classmates. "We were told last year that he wasn't allowed on campus with a backpack on him," math teacher Jim Gard said in a Miami Herald interview.
  16. SWAT and police are seen in Coral Springs, Florida, US, February 14, 2018. Image obtained from social media/Twitter/@Grumpyhaus At least three people died and 50 were wounded when a gunman opened fire at a Florida high school on Wednesday, local media reported, with dozens of police and emergency officials surrounding the building while students fled. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland ? about 72 kilometres (45 miles) north of Miami ? had been placed on a ?code red? lockdown but had no information on victims, a spokeswoman for the county sheriff?s office said. SWAT and police are seen in Coral Springs, Florida, US, February 14, 2018. Image obtained from social media/Twitter/@Grumpyhaus The sheriff?s office said on Twitter that the shooter was still at large. Florida?s WSVN-TV reported at least 20 people were injured. Live television showed dozens of students running and walking away from the school, weaving their way between large numbers of emergency vehicles including police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks. Image Courtesy: CNN/Screenshot Others, in the television images, were being led out of the school by heavily-armed police officers and an armoured vehicle filled with a SWAT team arriving at the scene. One injured victim was seen being placed into an ambulance on a stretcher. Local FOX-10 TV reported that five people were seen being treated by paramedics.
  17. American tennis star Venus Williams will not be charged in a fatal two car smash in June that killed a passenger in the other car, according to the US media quoting the Florida police. Police concluded neither driver was at fault and no charges would be filed in the collision which took place in a busy intersection in Palm Beach Gardens, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper reported on Wednesday. "Based upon this investigation and relevant Florida state statutes, no charges will be filed in this case," according to an 18-page traffic homicide investigation released by Palm Beach Gardens police. The police said an unidentified third car cut Williams off as she tried to cross a six-lane highway. That sparked a series of events that ended with a Hyundai sedan, driven by Linda Barson, running into the passenger side of Williams' SUV which was stopped in the intersection. Barson drove into the intersection when the light turned green, striking Williams' vehicle. Both Williams and Barson, were not injured but Barson's husband, Jerome, died 13 days after the smash. "The unknown dark-coloured vehicle ? started a sequence of events resulting in (Barson) crashing into (Williams)," the police report said. Barson's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Williams.
  18. A 20-year-old Florida man was responsible for the large data breach at Uber Technologies Inc last year and was paid by Uber to destroy the data through a so-called ?bug bounty? program normally used to identify small code vulnerabilities, three people familiar with the events have told Reuters. Uber announced on Nov. 21 that the personal data of 57 million users, including 600,000 drivers in the United States, were stolen in a breach that occurred in October 2016, and that it paid the hacker $100,000 to destroy the information. But the company did not reveal any information about the hacker or how it paid him the money. Uber made the payment last year through a program designed to reward security researchers who report flaws in a company?s software, these people said. Uber?s bug bounty service - as such a program is known in the industry - is hosted by a company called HackerOne, which offers its platform to a number of tech companies. Reuters was unable to establish the identity of the hacker or another person who sources said helped him. Uber spokesman Matt Kallman declined to comment on the matter. Newly appointed Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi fired two of Uber?s top security officials when he announced the breach last month, saying the incident should have been disclosed to regulators at the time it was discovered, about a year before. It remains unclear who made the final decision to authorize the payment to the hacker and to keep the breach secret, though the sources said then-CEO Travis Kalanick was aware of the breach and bug bounty payment in November of last year. Kalanick, who stepped down as Uber CEO in June, declined to comment on the matter, according to his spokesman. A payment of $100,000 through a bug bounty program would be extremely unusual, with one former HackerOne executive saying it would represent an ?all-time record.? Security professionals said rewarding a hacker who had stolen data also would be well outside the normal rules of a bounty program, where payments are typically in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. HackerOne hosts Uber?s bug bounty program but does not manage it, and plays no role in deciding whether payouts are appropriate or how large they should be. HackerOne CEO Marten Mickos said he could not discuss an individual customer?s programs. ?In all cases when a bug bounty award is processed through HackerOne, we receive identifying information of the recipient in the form of an IRS W-9 or W-8BEN form before payment of the award can be made,? he said, referring to U.S. Internal Revenue Service forms. According to two of the sources, Uber made the payment to confirm the hacker?s identity and have him sign a nondisclosure agreement to deter further wrongdoing. Uber also conducted a forensic analysis of the hacker?s machine to make sure the data had been purged, the sources said. One source described the hacker as ?living with his mom in a small home trying to help pay the bills,? adding that members of Uber?s security team did not want to pursue prosecution of an individual who did not appear to pose a further threat. The Florida hacker paid a second person for services that involved accessing GitHub, a site widely used by programmers to store their code, to obtain credentials for access to Uber data stored elsewhere, one of the sources said. GitHub said the attack did not involve a failure of its security systems. ?Our recommendation is to never store access tokens, passwords, or other authentication or encryption keys in the code,? that company said in a statement. ?SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS? Uber received an email last year from an anonymous person demanding money in exchange for user data, and the message was forwarded to the company?s bug bounty team in what was described as Uber?s routine practice for such solicitations, according to three sources familiar with the matter. Bug bounty programs are designed mainly to give security researchers an incentive to report weaknesses they uncover in a company?s software. But complicated scenarios can emerge when dealing with hackers who obtain information illegally or seek a ransom. Some companies choose not to report more aggressive intrusions to authorities on the grounds that it can be easier and more effective to negotiate directly with hackers in order to limit any harm to customers. Uber?s $100,000 payout and silence on the matter at the time was extraordinary under such a program, according to Luta Security founder Katie Moussouris, a former HackerOne executive. ?If it had been a legitimate bug bounty, it would have been ideal for everyone involved to shout it from the rooftops,? Moussouris said. Uber?s failure to report the breach to regulators, even though it may have felt it had dealt with the problem, was an error, according to people inside and outside the company who spoke to Reuters. ?The creation of a bug bounty program doesn?t allow Uber, their bounty service provider, or any other company the ability to decide that breach notification laws don?t apply to them,? Moussouris said. Uber fired its chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, and a deputy, attorney Craig Clark, over their roles in the incident. ?None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,? Khosrowshahi, said in a blog post announcing the hack last month. Clark worked directly for Sullivan but also reported to Uber?s legal and privacy team, according to three people familiar with the arrangement. It is unclear whether Clark informed Uber?s legal department, which typically handled disclosure issues. Sullivan and Clark did not respond to requests for comment. In an August interview with Reuters, Sullivan, a former prosecutor and Facebook Inc security chief, said he integrated security engineers and developers at Uber ?with our lawyers and our public policy team who know what regulators care about.? Last week, three more top managers in Uber?s security unit resigned. One of them, physical security chief Jeff Jones, later told others he would have left anyway, sources told Reuters. Another of the three, senior security engineer Prithvi Rai, later agreed to stay in a new role.
  19. A possible serial killer is on the loose in Tampa, Florida, picking out victims seemingly at random on the street, and shaken residents are looking over their shoulders fearing he could be someone they know. Photo: AFP file TAMPA: A possible serial killer is on the loose in Tampa, Florida, picking out victims seemingly at random on the street, and shaken residents are looking over their shoulders fearing he could be someone they know. Early Tuesday, 60-year-old Ronald Felton became the fourth person to die since October 9 in a string of mysterious attacks near downtown Tampa. All four murders took place within a seven block area, in the city?s working class Seminole Heights neighborhood. All the victims were along on the street at the time, and were shot dead for no apparent reason. None of them were robbed. Felton, an unemployed construction worker, was crossing a street before dawn when someone came up behind him and shot him in the back of the head, police said. His body was found sprawled near the New Seasons Apostolic church, where Fenton often volunteered at a food bank for the down-and-out. As in the previous cases, the killer melted into the night, eluding police despite stepped up patrols. His seeming knowledge of the neighborhood?s ins and out has led to suspicions that he lives there. ?He?s a killer ?a cold-blooded killer ?and he?s playing a chess game, bottom line,? said local resident Raphael Rodriguez, 39. ?I hope the police catch him, but he?s using his brain and he?s got to be from the neighborhood ?look how quickly he?s getting away,? he said. Rodriguez was with his son Antonio, 18, and Antonio?s 17 year-old girlfriend Makayla Meadows on Wednesday night, near the spot where Felton was killed. He said they now take a harder look at people they don?t know, as their community settles into a state of hypervigilance. ?As a parent, as a member of the community I?m concerned,? Rodriguez said. ?We just need names? The first victim in the string of killings was 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell. Two days later, on October 11, Monica Hoffa, 32, was gunned down, and then on October 19, Anthony Naiboa, 20. Antonio Rodriguez said he previously worked with one of the victims, Mitchell, at a Walmart store. ?We really would chill together outside of work,? he recalled. ?That?s why I really don?t like talking about it too much. It gets me in my soft spot. He was a good kid.? Tampa?s police are treating the four killings as related, until they can rule otherwise. Unlike the previous killings, in the case of Felton police have a description of a suspect ?a black male, around six-foot (1.80 meters) tall, dressed all in black and armed with a large pistol ?seen fleeing the scene according to a witness account. Police on Wednesday also released a clip from a surveillance video taken shortly before the latest murder, showing a man in a hooded light colored jacket. After the first murder, surveillance cameras picked up an image of a man with a similar hoodie, a similar gait and walk, flicking a cellphone open and closed in a similar manner. ?We need someone who is thoughtful, cares, and has the heart and the fortitude and bravery to step forward and tell us who this person is and give us the identity,? Tampa police chief Brian Dugan told a press conference. ?We don?t need speculation, we don?t need profiles, we just need names,? he said. Police have upped the reward for information leading to an arrest in the case, from $41,000 to $91,000. ?Someone knows something? Ryan Reynolds, 37, has been sleeping in a park because he?s between jobs. But if he?s worried, he doesn?t admit to it. ?It?s the people who aren?t paying attention that he?s preying on, randomly,? he said. ?He?s got to know the streets and alleys around here. At first I thought it was gang related, but now that it?s more than one (victim), it?s something else. The guy?s got to live in this neighborhood.? Up the street, Ramon Maldonado watched the police patrol the area while on a cigarette break from his job as a sushi chef. ?It?s sad ?I knew Mr. Felton, we would say hi, chit chat, you know,? said Maldonado, 58. ?But this isn?t just up to the police ?we?ve got to come together as a community to help catch this guy. Someone knows something. I can?t walk outside with my family no more.?
  20. Golfer Tiger Woods leaves Palm Beach County court after he pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless driving in connection with his May arrest for driving under the influence, Palm Beach, Florida, US, October 27, 2017. REUTERS/Lannis Waters/Pool PALM BEACH GARDENS: Tiger Woods on Friday pleaded guilty in a Florida court to reckless driving and entered a program for first-time offenders, avoiding a conviction on the charge of driving under the influence (DUI) last spring. The 41-year-old professional golfer was found asleep in May behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz, which was parked alongside a road not far from his home on Jupiter Island. Woods entered his plea and accepted the conditions, including 12 months of probation, by responding to questions from Florida Circuit Judge Sandra Bosso-Pardo. He will now enter a diversion program offered in Palm Beach County for first-time DUI offenders. Woods is eligible for the program since he had no prior criminal record, cooperated with police and was not involved in a crash, said Dave Aronberg, state attorney for the 15th Judicial Circuit of Florida. Woods has already completed 50 hours of community service as part of the program, said Aronberg. ?This particular plea agreement has no jail time,? Bosso-Pardo told Woods during the hearing. ?However, if you violate your probation in any significant way, I could revoke your probation and sentence you to jail for 90 days. Is that understood?? Woods replied: ?Yes.? The hearing lasted only a few minutes. Woods, dressed in a charcoal grey suit and a grey T-shirt, did not answer questions shouted by reporters as he left the courthouse in Palm Beach Gardens and was driven away in a black SUV. Woods told police officers at the time of his arrest that he was returning from Los Angeles, but could not remember where he was going, even though his car was headed away from his home, the arrest report showed. Woods had five drugs in his system when he was arrested, but no alcohol, according to a toxicology report. Those drugs included generic forms of the painkillers Vicodin and Dilaudid; the mood drug Xanax; the sleeping pill Ambien, and a drug that contained THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. If Woods completes the program, the reckless driving charge will be expunged from his record. But if he is arrested again for DUI, he will be treated as a second-time offender, Aronberg said. In a statement after his arrest, Woods apologized to fans and blamed the incident on prescription medication he was taking to manage pain from a recent back surgery. Woods, who is second on the all-time list with 14 major men?s golf titles, has not won a major championship since 2008. In 2009, he was involved in a bizarre early-morning car crash outside his home near Orlando. The incident ballooned into a *** scandal involving allegations of extramarital affairs and ended both his marriage and some lucrative endorsement deals.
  21. White nationalist Richard Spencer ? who popularized the term "alt-right" ? speaks at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Gainesville, Florida, October 19, 2017. AFP/Joe Raedle/Getty Images GAINESVILLE: Protesters shouted ?Go home Nazis? at a white nationalist at the University of Florida on Thursday, disrupting his speech at the campus that erected barricades and deployed hundreds of police officers to guard against violence. Richard Spencer?s event at the university in Gainesville ? which prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency to prepare for possible conflict ? comes about two months after rallies by neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, led to a deadly clash with counter-protesters. The violence on August 12 added fuel to a national debate on race, and Republican President Donald Trump came under fire for blaming both sides for the melee. White supremacists have been working to bring Spencer to various public universities, saying he has a constitutional right to free speech. The effort has forced college leaders to allow what they see as hate speech on campus and provide security to prevent violent clashes. On Thursday, several hundred protesters ? shouting ?We don?t want your Nazi hate? ? marched outside a campus performing arts centre where Spencer spoke. A man hired as security for media was arrested for illegally carrying a firearm on campus, the Alachua County Sheriff?s Office said. Another man wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with swastikas emerged from a crowd of protesters with a bloody lip. ?There were a few scuffles, but for the most part it was an extremely peaceful event,? Chris Sims ? a spokesman for the sheriff?s office ? said. geo_embedgallery Inside the venue, Spencer and protesters yelled at one another, and he criticized them for trying to suppress his speech. ?I?m not going home,? said Spencer, who heads the National Policy Institute ? a nationalist think tank ? and promoted the Charlottesville rally. ?We are stronger than you and you all know it!? He appeared to have few supporters in the crowd. About 15 white men, all dressed in white shirts and khaki pants, raised their hands when Spencer asked who identified with the alt-right, a loose grouping characterized by a rejection of mainstream politics that includes neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and anti-Semites. Spencer left the campus soon after the event ended, university public safety officials said on Twitter. Police worked to separate those who attended the event as they left the venue from protesters gathered nearby. Anais Edwards, 26, who works in software compliance, was inside the venue and supported those trying to disrupt Spencer. ?I?m really proud of how our community came together. Many of them were willing to stand up and not let him speak,? Edwards said. The university said it did not invite Spencer to speak, but was obligated by law to allow the event. The school said it will spend more than $500,000 on security, and the National Policy Institute is paying more than $10,000 to rent the facility and for security within the venue. The Southern Poverty Law Center ? which monitors US hate groups ? said Spencer is ?a radical white separatist whose goal is the establishment of a white ethno-state in North America?. An outspoken supporter of Trump during the 2016 campaign, Spencer rose from relative obscurity after widely-circulated videos showed some Trump supporters giving Nazi-style salutes to Spencer during a gathering in Washington to celebrate the Republican candidate?s win. Trump condemned the meeting. University President Kent Fuchs urged students not to attend the event and denounced Spencer?s white nationalism. ?I stand with those who reject and condemn Spencer?s vile and despicable message,? Fuchs said on Twitter on Thursday. The death in Charlottesville ? home to the flagship campus of the University of Virginia ? occurred as counter-protesters were dispersing. A 20-year-old man who is said by law enforcement to have harboured Nazi sympathies smashed his car into the crowd, killing a 32-year-old woman.
  22. Spencer, a leader of the so-called ?alt-right? movement, is due to give a speech on Thursday at the University of Florida in Gainesville Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Monday in northern Florida ahead of a speech by white supremacist leader Richard Spencer, who was involved in a march in August that ended in violent clashes. Spencer, a leader of the so-called ?alt-right? movement, is due to give a speech on Thursday at the University of Florida in Gainesville, a town of some 130,000. Saying there was an ?imminent? threat of a potential emergency as a result, Scott explained that the emergency declaration will ensure that security forces have all the necessary resources at their disposition. ?We live in a country where everyone has the right to voice their opinion, however, we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one priority,? Scott said, adding that local authorities had requested the extra help. ?This executive order is an additional step to ensure that the University of Florida and the entire community is prepared so everyone can stay safe.? Spencer was involved in and spoke at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August that triggered a weekend of clashes. A 32-year-old woman was killed when a car plowed into counter-protesters, and two police officers died in a helicopter crash as they were responding to the violence. The University of Florida agreed to host Spencer in the name of free speech, but indicated he was not invited to give the talk. The 39-year-old white supremacist's group paid $10,564 to rent the space, which will go toward some $500,000 the school is expected to pay to boost campus security. A group of students early Monday protested Spencer's planned appearance, asking the school to scrap his talk. ?We encourage you to speak up with your voices in support of our proudly diverse community and the values of this institution,? said Chief Linda Stump-Kurnick, assistant vice president of public and environmental safety at the school. ?We also encourage you to avoid the event. Don't let the University of Florida be defined by Richard Spencer.? According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors US hate groups, Spencer ?advocates for an Aryan homeland for the supposedly dispossessed white race and calls for 'peaceful ethnic cleansing' to halt the 'deconstruction' of European culture. ?
  23. The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills is pictured in Hollywood, Florida, US, September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri HOLLYWOOD: Eight elderly patients died Wednesday after being left inside a stifling South Florida nursing home that lost power during Hurricane Irma, prompting a criminal investigation and adding a tragic new dimension to mounting loss of life from the storm. The overall death toll from Irma climbed to 81 on Wednesday, with several hard-hit Caribbean islands accounting for more than half the fatalities, and officials continued to assess the damage inflicted by the second major hurricane to strike the US mainland this year. Irma killed at least 29 people in Florida, plus seven more in Georgia and South Carolina combined, authorities said. One of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record, Irma bore down on the Caribbean with devastating force as it raked the northern shore of Cuba last week before barreling into the Florida Keys island chain on Sunday, packing sustained winds of up to 215 kilometres per hour (130 miles per hour). It then ploughed north up the Gulf Coast of the state before dissipating. In addition to severe flooding in areas across Florida and extensive property damage in the Keys, one of the chief hardships facing Floridians has been widespread power outages that initially left more than half of the state without electricity. Some 4.2 million homes and businesses were still without power on Wednesday in Florida and neighbouring states, down from a peak outage tally of 7.4 million customers on Monday. The power losses had fatal consequences at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hill ? a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida, north of Miami. Three elderly residents were found dead on Wednesday inside the sweltering facility, which had been left without air conditioning, officials said. Five more patients from the nursing home later died at a nearby hospital, they said. Police said they have opened a probe into possible criminal negligence. ?The building has been sealed off and we are conducting a criminal investigation inside,? Hollywood Police Chief Tomas Sanchez told reporters on Wednesday. ?It was very hot on the second floor.? More than 100 residents at the nursing home were transferred to neighbouring branches of Memorial Regional Hospital, along with patients from a nearby facility that also was evacuated due to the police investigation, Hollywood city officials said. The eight who died ranged in age from 71 to 99, according to the Broward County Medical Examiner?s office. The cause of their deaths has yet to be determined. But most of the surviving patients ?have been treated for respiratory distress, dehydration, and heat-related issues?, Regional Memorial Hospital spokesman Randy Katz told reporters. Police were first called to the facility at about 4:30 AM but authorities did not arrive until after 6 AM, officials said. Florida Power & Light said it had provided electricity to some parts of the Hollywood nursing home but that the facility was not on a county top-tier list for emergency power restoration. ?I am going to work to aggressively demand answers on how this tragic event took place,? Governor Rick Scott said in a statement. ?This situation is unfathomable. Every facility that is charged with caring for patients must take every action and precaution to keep their patients safe.? New damage estimates Irma caused about $25 billion in insured losses, including $18 billion in the United States and $7 billion in the Caribbean, Karen Clark & Co ? a catastrophe modeller ? estimated on Wednesday. The Florida Keys were particularly hard-hit, with federal officials saying that 25 percent of homes were destroyed and 65 percent suffered major damage. Most residents had left by then and police have barred re-entry to most of the Keys to allow more time to restore electricity and medical service and bring water, food and fuel. President Donald Trump is due to visit the region on Thursday. Irma wreaked total devastation in parts of the Caribbean, where at least 43 people have died. People who fled their homes in hard-hit islands including St. Martin and the US Virgin Islands that were all but cut off from the world for days arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, late Tuesday. Michael Benson, 65, of St. John in the US Virgin Islands, said he lost everything. ?My house, my business, both my vehicles, everything is gone,? said Benson, who was stopping in San Juan before continuing to Boston to seek refuge with his wife?s brother. ?But we have life. We rode out that horrible storm in a shower that I had reinforced after Hurricane Marilyn,? Benson added. Irma hit the United States about two weeks after Hurricane Harvey ploughed into Houston, killing about 60 and causing some $180 billion in damage, mostly from flooding.
  24. "Some of the initial estimates are ? and this is why we asked people to evacuate, largely from storm surge ? 25 percent of the houses in the Keys initially have been destroyed and 60 percent have been damaged," FEMA Director Brock Long said. MIAMI: Irma destroyed a quarter of the houses in the Florida Keys, where it first made landfall in the United States as a Category Four hurricane, the US emergency response chief said Tuesday. "Some of the initial estimates are ? and this is why we asked people to evacuate, largely from storm surge ? 25 percent of the houses in the Keys initially have been destroyed and 60 percent have been damaged," FEMA Director Brock Long said. "Basically every house in the Keys has been impacted some way or another," Long told a news conference. Keys residents were just beginning to return but most of the low-lying archipelago south of Miami remains closed to traffic as authorities assessed conditions. Aerial views and television images show extensive damage awaits them in what in normal times is a palmy haven for tourists, boaters and scuba divers. Irma made landfall Sunday on Cudjoe Key in the lower part of the Keys with winds of 130 miles (209 kilometres) per hour.
  25. Hurricane Irma has wreaked havoc in and around Florida. Miami is flooded and many islands including Richard Branson's Necker Island, have been completely destroyed by the hurricane. People are sad, angry and pissed. But some of them are so pissed that they have decided to shoot at the hurricane to make it go away. Like fire real bullets at the hurricane. © Reuters There's a Facebook event called ‘Shoot at Hurricane Irma' and over 26,000 people are already ‘going' and 53,000 have shown interest. The event was started by two guys Ryon Edwards and Zeke Murphy who say it was conceived as a product of ‘stress and boredom'. The threat became so real that Florida police decided to issue a warning to people telling them not to shoot at the hurricane. Of course, the bullets will come back to bite you in the ass. It's a hurricane, it's made up of wind, water and other gases moving at high speeds. To clarify, DO NOT shoot weapons @ #Irma. You won't make it turn around & it will have very dangerous side effectshttps://t.co/CV4Y9OJknv — Pasco Sheriff (@PascoSheriff) September 10, 2017 The event was meant as a joke and thank god so. But we wouldn't be surprised if there are a few out there who believe shooting at the storm will actually make it turn, considering over 26,000 people joined the event. Twitter was having some fun of its own: Judging from the graphic, a 30ft wall would prevent Irma from reaching land. ð — Damian (@CockneyActivist) September 10, 2017 Actually barriers do help. Mountains would be preferable though. That's how Mexico survived the cat 5 hurricane in the pacific 2 years ago — Izzy and friends (@VALENTINADARE13) September 10, 2017 They predicted Trump, now this.. hehehehe,,,,, pic.twitter.com/rGzFiS2OzS — Ian Ludwick (@ian_ludwick) September 10, 2017 Sorry mate...prefer fighting Hurricanes with my bare hands... — Roy Ward (@rpjward) September 10, 2017 So many FB groups dedicated to bring awareness to rest of the nation how crazy Floridians are — Kenny Jackson (@DonotfeedDGK) September 10, 2017 Turns out shooting at the hurricane is not the only solution, there have been many more events on Facebook suggesting how to make the hurricane go away. Like really really fast Well played, people, but now stay safe and stay indoors! Also, don't shoot.