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Gunman kills 10 in racially motivated shooting at Buffalo supermarket

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on

6/6

© Reuters. Police officers secure the scene after a shooting at TOPS supermarket in Buffalo, New York, U.S. May 14, 2022. REUTERS/Jeffrey T. Barnes REFILE – CORRECTING DATE

2/6

By Steve Gorman and Moira Warburton

(Reuters) -An 18-year-old white gunman shot 10 people to death and wounded three others at a grocery store in a Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, before surrendering after what authorities called an act of “racially motivated violent extremism.”

Authorities said the suspect, who was armed with an assault-style rifle and appeared to have acted alone, drove to Buffalo from his home in a New York county “hours away” to launch a Saturday afternoon attack that he broadcast on the internet.

Eleven of the 13 people struck by gunfire were Black, officials said. The two others were white. The racial breakdown of the dead was not made clear.

The suspect, who was not immediately named by police, was heavily armed and dressed in tactical gear, including body armor, police said.

When confronted by officers in a vestibule of the store, the suspect held a gun to his own neck but they talked him into dropping the weapon and surrendering, Buffalo police commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told a news briefing.

Gramaglia said the gunman shot and killed three people in the parking lot of the Tops Friendly Market before exchanging fire with a former police officer working as a security guard for the store, but the suspect was protected by his body armor.

The guard was one of the 10 people shot to death in the incident, the nine others all being customers. Three other employees of the store, part of a regional chain, were wounded but are expected to survive, authorities said.

Shonnell Harris, a manager at Tops, told the Buffalo News she thought she heard as many as 70 gunshots and that she fell several times as she ran through the store to a rear exit.

“He looked like he was in the Army,” she told the newspaper, describing the camouflage-clad assailant.

Retired firefighter Katherine Crofton, who lives nearby, said she witnessed the start of the bloodshed from her porch.

“I saw him shoot this woman,” Crofton told the paper. “She was just going into the store. And then he shot another woman. She was putting groceries into her car. I got down because I did not know if he was going to shoot me.”

Stephen Belongia, the FBI special agent in charge of the bureau’s Buffalo field office, said the attack would be investigated both as a hate crime and as an act of “racially motivated violent extremism” under federal law.

“This person was pure evil,” Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said at a news conference, his voice quaking with emotion. “It was a straight-up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community.”

The suspect was expected to make his first court appearance to face murder charges by day’s end, officials said.

“This is a day of great pain for our community,” Buffalo Mayor Bryon Brown told reporters. “Many of us have been in and out of this supermarket many times. … We cannot let this hateful person divide our community or our country.”

Brown said he had received calls from the White House and New York’s attorney general, Letitia James.

U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the attack appeared to be the work of a violent white supremacist.

“We must pass the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, without delay,” he wrote on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR).

World

California church shooter was motivated by hate, politics

Published

on

4/4

© Reuters. The Geneva Presbyterian Church is seen after a deadly shooting, in Laguna Woods, California, U.S. May 15, 2022. REUTERS/David Swanson

2/4

By Sharon Bernstein and Andrew Hay

(Reuters) -The man who killed a doctor and injured five others at a California Taiwanese church shooting at the weekend was a U.S. citizen born in China who hated Taiwan and drove from Las Vegas armed with guns, chains and numerous Molotov cocktails, authorities said on Monday.

David Chou, 68, chained shut the doors where up to 40 people were attending a luncheon in honor of a former pastor of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said Monday.

Barnes said that Chou’s violent assault at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, a community of mostly elderly residents, was motivated by his hatred of Taiwan and recent tensions between Taiwan and mainland China.

“This is a manifestation of the ugliest part of our humanity that exists in our country today,” Barnes said at a news conference on Monday, also referencing the weekend’s racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.

The FBI said it was opening a hate crime investigation in the case.

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Steelworks defenders appear to signal end of Mariupol siege

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2/2

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A local resident rides a bicycle past a charred armoured vehicle during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the separatist-controlled town of Volnovakha in the Donetsk region, Ukraine March 15, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko/File Photo

2/2

By Natalia Zinets

KYIV/MARIUPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) – The Ukrainian unit holed up beneath the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol said on Monday its garrison was fulfilling orders to save the lives of troops, an apparent sign that the longest and bloodiest battle of the Ukraine war had come to an end.

Reuters saw about a dozen buses apparently carrying Ukrainian fighters leaving the plant on Monday. It was not possible to determine how many people were aboard. Some 600 fighters have been estimated to be inside the vast Soviet-era plant, including dozens of wounded.

“In order to save lives, the entire Mariupol garrison is implementing the approved decision of the Supreme Military Command and hopes for the support of the Ukrainian people,” the Azov Regiment said in a social media post.

It said the defenders of Mariupol, in the southeast, had held out for 82 days, buying time for the rest of Ukraine to battle Russian forces and secure Western arms needed to withstand Russia’s assault.

The steelworks was the last Ukrainian-held bastion in the once prosperous port, now in ruins after months of Russian siege that Ukraine says killed tens of thousands of people.

Since February, Mariupol’s devastation has become a symbol both of Ukraine’s ability to withstand Russia’s invasion, and of Russia’s willingness to destroy Ukrainian cities that hold out.

In a video accompanying the Azov Regiment statement, one of the unit’s senior commanders, Denys Prokopenko, said: “The main thing is to realise all the risks, is there a plan B, are you fully committed to that plan which must allow for fulfilling the assigned tasks and preserve the lives and health of personnel?”

“This is the highest level of overseeing troops. All the more so when your decision is endorsed by the highest military command.”

Prokopenko did not spell out what action the defenders were taking. The video was released hours after Russia said it had agreed to evacuate wounded Ukrainian soldiers to a medical facility in the Russian-controlled town of Novoazovsk.

Apart from the steelworks, Mariupol is entirely in Russian hands after a siege which left residents huddled in basements with no food and water and streets littered with dead bodies.

Moscow denies having targeted civilians. The United Nations and Red Cross both estimate thousands of civilians died, with the true toll still uncounted.

The last defenders, including many who were wounded, had been holding out for weeks in bunkers and tunnels built to withstand nuclear war, deep beneath Azovstal, one of the largest metallurgical plants in Europe. Civilians were evacuated from inside the plant earlier this month.

“An agreement has been reached on the removal of the wounded,” Russia’s defence ministry said. “A humanitarian corridor has been opened through which wounded Ukrainian servicemen are being taken to a medical facility in Novoazovsk.”

Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar told Ukrainian television: “Any information can harm the processes that are taking place … Inasmuch as the process is under way, we can’t say what’s happening right now.”

Earlier, the wife of an Azov Battalion member had described conditions at the plant: “They are in hell. They receive new wounds every day. They are without legs or arms, exhausted, without medicines,” Natalia Zaritskaya said.

PUTIN CLIMBDOWN OVER NATO

Earlier on Monday, Vladimir Putin appeared to climb down from Russian threats to retaliate against Sweden and Finland for announcing plans to join NATO.

“As far as expansion goes, including new members Finland and Sweden, Russia has no problems with these states – none. And so in this sense there is no immediate threat to Russia from an expansion to include these countries,” Putin said.

The comments appeared to mark a major shift in rhetoric, after years of casting NATO enlargement as a direct threat to Russia’s security, including citing it as a justification for the invasion of Ukraine itself.

Just hours before Putin spoke, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said Finland and Sweden were making a mistake that would have far-reaching consequences: “They should have no illusions that we will simply put up with it.”

Putin said NATO enlargement was being used by the United States in an “aggressive” way to aggravate an already difficult global security situation, and that Russia would respond if the alliance moves weapons or troops forward.

“The expansion of military infrastructure into this territory would certainly provoke our response. What that (response) will be – we will see what threats are created for us,” Putin said.

Finland and Sweden, both non-aligned throughout the Cold War, say they now want the protection offered by NATO’s treaty, under which an attack on any member is an attack on all.

“We are leaving one era behind us and entering a new one,” Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said, announcing plans to formally abandon militarily non-aligned status – a cornerstone of national identity for more than 200 years.

Kjell Engelbrekt, professor of political science at the Swedish Defence University, said Moscow now had few military options left to follow through on its previous “very assertive” rhetoric demanding the Nordics never join NATO.

A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington had seen no indications Russia was moving troops or equipment closer to the border with Finland.

UKRAINE TROOPS REACH BORDER

Moscow calls its invasion a “special military operation” to rid Ukraine of fascists, an assertion Kyiv and its Western allies say is a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war.

Now nearly three months old, it has so far been a military disaster for Moscow, with its troops forced out of the north and the environs of Kyiv in late March. A Ukrainian counterattack in recent days has driven Russian forces out of the area near Kharkiv, the biggest city in the east.

Ukraine’s defence ministry said on Monday troops had advanced all the way to the Russian border, about 40 km north of Kharkiv.

The successes near Kharkiv could let Ukraine attack supply lines for Russia’s own main offensive, grinding on further south in the Donbas region, where Moscow has been launching mass assaults for a month achieving only small gains.

In a video message, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy hailed the achievement and thanked the troops: “I am very grateful to you from all Ukrainians, from everyone, from myself, from my family, my gratitude is unlimited.”

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New York congressional map deals blow to Democrats’ midterm hopes

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A “Vote” sign is pictured on election day in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 2, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

By Joseph Ax

(Reuters) – A court-appointed expert released a draft New York congressional district map on Monday that is far less favorable to Democrats than the original plan adopted by lawmakers, likely dealing a blow to the party’s prospects in November elections.

Democratic majorities in the state legislature in February passed a map that would likely have won the party 22 of the state’s 26 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. This would have partially countered new maps that favored Republicans in states such as Texas, Georgia and Florida as Democrats hope to maintain control of Congress in the elections.

But the state’s top court recently ruled that the New York plan violated an amendment to the state constitution, approved by voters in 2014, that banned manipulating district lines based on partisan considerations, a process known as gerrymandering.

As a result, the redistricting process landed in the hands of Jonathan Cervas, a court-appointed special master and a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, who released his draft on Monday. A state court is expected to finalize it on Friday after allowing interested parties to submit comments.

The new map could make it difficult for Democrats to keep the 19 seats they currently control, according to political analysts, particularly given that the national political climate favors Republicans.

The plan could also create some awkward Democratic matchups. Longtime Democratic Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney saw their districts combined into a single seat in Manhattan, potentially forcing them into a primary battle.

Sean Patrick Maloney, who chairs the Democratic Party’s congressional campaign arm, said on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) he would run in a newly configured district currently held by Democratic Representative Mondaire Jones.

Michael Li, a redistricting expert at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, estimated that Democrats would likely win as few as 16 or 17 seats in a Republican-leaning cycle but could capture 21 or perhaps even 22 seats in a Democratic wave.

Republicans only need to flip five seats nationally in November to claim a majority in the House, which would enable them to block much of President Joe Biden’s agenda for the remaining two years of his first term.

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