Streets Re-Opened After California Shooting Leaves Six Dead

Police officers work the scene on the corner of 10th and L street of a shooting that occurred in the early morning hours on April 3, 2022 in Sacramento, California. David Odisho/Getty Images/AFP
Police officers work the scene on the corner of 10th and L street of a shooting that occurred in the early morning hours on April 3, 2022 in Sacramento, California. David Odisho/Getty Images/AFP

 

Police investigating an apparent gun battle in California that left six dead and 12 wounded re-opened the streets on Monday, as the United States grappled again with deadly violence.

No one has been arrested after the worst mass shooting in Sacramento’s history, which appeared to have erupted following a fight in the downtown area as nightclubs were emptying around 2:00 am Sunday.

Sacramento Police said multiple shooters were involved and a stolen handgun had been recovered.

But detectives have given no information as to whether anyone was targeted or if the shooters were firing indiscriminately.

READ ALSO: Father Kills Three Children, Self In US Church Shooting

Video circulating on social media appeared to show some kind of brawl, followed by the sounds of gunfire and people running.

Police Chief Kathy Lester told reporters that officers on patrol nearby had been alerted by the sound of the gunshots, and arrived to find a large crowd and “multiple gunshot victims.”

Video footage of the immediate aftermath showed first responders tending to bloodied victims. The bodies of the dead lay nearby.

Three of those who died were women. All six have now been identified.

“It was just horrific,” said community activist Berry Accius, who arrived minutes after the shooting.

“Just as soon as I walked up you saw a chaotic scene, police all over the place, victims with blood all over their bodies, folks screaming, folks crying, people going, ‘Where is my brother?’ Mothers crying and trying to identify who their child was,” he told local broadcaster KXTV.

The shooting happened in the downtown area, just blocks from the state capitol and close to the venue where the NBA’s Sacramento Kings play.

‘We must act’

The Kings hosted the Golden State Warriors on Sunday evening, holding a moment of silence before the game.

Outspoken Warriors coach Steve Kerr said gun laws had to change if tragedies like this were to be avoided.

“It’s probably the ninth or 10th moment of silence I’ve experienced as coach of the Warriors when we mourn the losses of our people who have died in mass shootings,” he said, according to the Sacramento Bee newspaper.

“At some point, our government has to decide: Are we going to have some commonsense gun laws? It’s not going to solve everything, but it will save lives.”

President Joe Biden on Sunday added his voice to calls for action.

“America once again mourns for another community devastated. We must do more than mourn; we must act,” he said, reiterating his call for Congress to pass legislation to strengthen restrictions on guns.

California Governor Gavin Newsom described gun violence as a “crisis” for the country.

“We cannot continue to let gun violence be the new normal,” he said.

The mass casualty shooting is the latest in the United States, where firearms are involved in approximately 40,000 deaths a year, including suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive website.

Lax gun laws and a constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms have repeatedly stymied attempts to clamp down on the number of weapons in circulation, despite greater controls being favored by the majority of Americans.

Three-quarters of all homicides in the US are committed with guns, and the number of pistols, revolvers and other firearms sold continues to rise.

More than 23 million guns were sold in 2020 — a record — on top of 20 million in 2021, according to data compiled by website Small Arms Analytics.

That number does not include “ghost” guns, which are sold disassembled, lack serial numbers, and are highly prized in criminal circles.

In June 2021, 30 percent of American adults said they owned at least one gun, according to a Pew survey.

 

AFP

Father Kills Three Children, Self In US Church Shooting

A father shot dead three of his own children Monday before turning the gun on himself in a US church, police said.

A fifth person also died in the shooting in Sacramento, California, though it was not clear if that person was related to what police said was a domestic incident.

All three children who died were under the age of 15, Sergeant Rod Grassmann of Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office told reporters.

“At 5:07 this afternoon, we received a call that there was a shooting inside the church,” Grassmann said.

“We have found now there’s an adult male, a father who has shot and killed his three children under the age of 15,” he added.

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“And my understanding is that there is a fifth person that is also deceased. I don’t know if they are related.”

Police said they were not looking for anyone else involved in the shooting at The Church of Sacramento in the Arden Arcade area of the city.

“This is as far as I can see, at this point, a domestic violence-related sort of incident,” Grassmann said.

California Governor Gavin Newsom called the murders “senseless” in a Twitter posting.

“Another senseless act of gun violence in America –- this time in our backyard. In a church with kids inside,” he said.

“Absolutely devastating. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and their communities.”

Mass killings involving firearms are a distressingly common occurrence in the United States.

Lax gun laws and an insistence on the right to bear arms have repeatedly stymied attempts to clamp down on the number of weapons in circulation, despite greater controls being favored by the majority of Americans.

AFP

California City Votes To Become First In US To Mandate Gun Insurance

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 25, 2020 A customer handles an AR-15 at Jimmy’s Sport Shop in Mineola, New York.  (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)

 

The city of San Jose voted Tuesday to pass a law that will compel gun owners to take out insurance to cover any damage caused by their weapon, a move its mayor said was the first of its kind in the United States.

The plan, voted on by the city council, will also require weapons owners in the Californian city to pay an annual fee that will fund a non-profit group to help victims of gun violence.

“Tonight San Jose became the first city in the United States to enact an ordinance to require gun owners to purchase liability insurance, and to invest funds generated from fees paid by gun owners into evidence-based initiative to reduce gun violence and gun harm,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement on Twitter.

The proposed ordinance, which must pass a second reading on February 8 before it becomes law in August, is also intended to cut down the costs to taxpayers.

READ ALSO: Denmark Plans To Lift COVID-19 Restrictions On February 1

“We have seen how insurance has reduced auto fatalities over several decades, for example, by incentivizing safer driving and the purchase of cars equipped with airbags and antilock brakes,” Liccardo said ahead of the vote.

“Similarly, gun liability insurance available today on the market can adjust premiums to encourage gun owners to use gun safes, install trigger-locks, and take gun safety classes.”

Firearms are prevalent in the United States, where around 40 percent of adults live in a gun-owning household, according to the Pew Research Center.

Almost 23 million firearms were sold across the country in 2020 and 40,000 people die from gunshots annually.

Despite the horrific toll and the fact that a majority of Americans favor the tightening of gun control rules, repeated attempts to limit gun ownership have failed, with opponents arguing controls are an infringement of individual liberties.

A press release from San Jose city council said gun violence costs the city nearly $40 million a year, including for emergency police and medical response, health care, and investigations.

“While the Second Amendment protects every citizen’s right to own a gun, it does not require taxpayers to subsidize that right,” said Liccardo.

The $25 annual fee will help to fund programs aimed at reducing gun violence, as well as mental health counseling and addiction treatment.

Ahead of the vote, the National Foundation for Gun Rights, an advocacy group, described the proposed law as “a blatantly unconstitutional scheme.”

“This is just as unthinkable as imposing a ‘free speech tax’ or a ‘church attendance tax.’

“The National Foundation for Gun Rights is preparing a lawsuit to challenge this gun ownership tax in federal district court.”

California Twins Born In Different Years

Greenfield twins Aylin and Alfredo Trujillo were born just 15 minutes apart. Source: Natividad Medical Centre
Greenfield twins Aylin and Alfredo Trujillo were born just 15 minutes apart. Source: Natividad Medical Centre

 

A set of twins born 15 minutes apart in California have very different birthdays — one in 2021 and the other in 2022.

Alfredo Antonio Trujillo came into the world at 11:45 pm on New Year’s Eve in the city of Salinas.

A quarter of an hour later, on New Year’s Day, his sister Aylin Yolanda Trujillo was born.

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The Natividad Medical Center, where the babies were delivered, said in a statement last week that some estimates suggest there is a one-in-two-million chance of twins being born in different years.

“It’s crazy to me that they are twins and have different birthdays,” the babies’ mother, Fatima Madrigal, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Dr. Ana Abril Arias described the births as “one of the most memorable deliveries of my career.”

“It was an absolute pleasure to help these little ones arrive here safely in 2021 and 2022.”

Big brother Alfredo tipped the scales at six pounds and one ounce (2.75 kilograms) while the baby of the family, Aylin, was a healthy five pounds and 14 ounces.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says around 120,000 twins are born every year in the United States, representing roughly three percent of births.

 

AFP

California Reintroduces Mask Mandate For Indoor Public Spaces

In this photo taken on December 2, 2020 a face mask hangs with a table tennis bat cover at a park in Beijing. GREG BAKER / AFP
In this photo taken on December 2, 2020 a face mask hangs with a table tennis bat cover at a park in Beijing. GREG BAKER / AFP

 

Authorities in California said Monday they were reinstating mask mandates in all indoor public spaces to try to curb the resurgence of Covid-19 in recent weeks. 

The mask mandate, which will come into force Wednesday, applies to all individuals, whether vaccinated or not.

Los Angeles, San Francisco and other counties in California reintroduced the mask-wearing rule locally several months ago.

But other counties, such as Orange and San Diego, which are very heavily populated, had stuck with state-wide rules that masks only needed to be worn in certain public spaces such as airports, hospitals or schools but not in shops, restaurants or cinemas.

California’s Health Secretary Mark Ghaly said the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases had prompted the new rule. There has been a 47 percent increase in cases since the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of November.

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The number of new daily cases of coronavirus in California has risen from 9.6 per 100,000 to 14 per 100,000 during that time. Ghaly said that wearing a mask could help prevent a repeat of last winter’s high rates of infection and death.

“This is a critical time where we have a tool that we know has worked and can work,” Ghaly said. “As we look at the evidence that masks do make a difference, even a 10 percent increase in indoor masking can reduce case transmission significantly.”

The mask mandate will remain in place until January 15.

California has also clamped down on unvaccinated people wishing to attend gatherings of more than 1,000 people in an enclosed space. Unvaccinated attendees will have to provide a negative Covid-19 test taken less than 24 or 48 hours (depending on the type of test) earlier, as opposed to 72 hours previously.

California’s announcement came the same day that similar restrictions were imposed in New York City.

Five Missing As US Navy Helicopter Crashes Off California Coast

File: (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP)

 

Search and rescue operations were underway for five crew members missing after a US Navy helicopter crashed into the sea off the coast of California, the US Pacific Fleet said on Tuesday.

One crew member had been rescued but five were missing, the navy fleet said in a statement.

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The MH-60S helicopter took off from the USS Abraham Lincoln during “routine flight operations” about 60 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego at 4:30 pm (2330 GMT), the fleet said.

“Search and rescue operations are ongoing with multiple Coast Guard and Navy air and surface assets,” it added.

AFP

Eight Killed By Employee In California Rail Yard Mass Shooting

Emergency responders. gather at the scene of a shooting where nine people were reported dead including the shooter on May 26, 2021 at the San Jose Railyard in San Jose, California.
Emergency responders gather at the scene of a shooting where nine people were reported dead including the shooter on May 26, 2021 at the San Jose Railyard in San Jose, California. AMY OSBORNE / AFP

 

An employee shot dead at least eight people at a rail yard in California on Wednesday, police said, in the latest mass shooting to hit the United States.

The male suspect also died and several others suffered major injuries in the incident at the public transit maintenance yard in San Jose, just south of San Francisco.

Bomb squads were deployed after reports of explosive devices within the compound, and were trying to “clear out every room and every crevice” of the building, Russell Davis, a Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputy, told journalists.

“There are eight victims that are pronounced deceased at this point and there is one suspect that’s pronounced deceased,” said Davis, adding those numbers could rise.

“The suspect is a VTA employee,” he added, referring to the local Valley Transportation Authority.

Police had rushed to investigate multiple early morning 911 calls reporting gunshots. No immediate details were provided on whether the shooter was killed by police or took his own life, or about the type of weapon he used.

“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

“What’s clear, as the president has said, is that we are suffering from an epidemic of gun violence in this country,” she added, renewing calls for Congress to pass long-awaited gun control reforms.

‘Horrific’

Dozens of patrol cars and fire engines as well as FBI officials lined the streets near the rail yard in San Jose, a Silicon Valley tech hub of almost a million people.

Local officials said the shooting — which was initially reported before 7:00 am local time (1400 GMT) — had taken place at a union meeting, with at least 80 staff on site at the time.

Several people were receiving medical treatment, said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

“Our hearts are pained for the families of those we have lost in this horrific shooting,” he tweeted.

The incident took place in a VTA yard that is used to store and maintain trains.

“Our thoughts and love go out to the VTA family, the organization and what they have had to go through,” VTA board of directors chairman Glenn Hendricks told reporters.

“I could not be more proud of the VTA organization. This is a horrible tragedy that occurred.”

The VTA tweeted that its employees had been evacuated.

US ‘epidemic’ of gun violence

The United States has a long and painful history of deadly gun violence, in the form of a steady daily toll of shootings as well as high-profile mass killings that have targeted schools, work places and shopping centers.

Homicides, mostly gun-driven, have surged in the US over the past year.

Mass shootings have occurred in recent months at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, an office building in California, a grocery store in Colorado and at several spas in Atlanta.

In August 2019, another mass shooting in the Bay Area left two children and a 25-year-old man dead at a garlic festival in Gilroy, around 30 miles (almost 50 kilometers) south of San Jose.

President Joe Biden last month branded US gun violence an “epidemic” and an “international embarrassment.”

There were more than 43,000 gun-related deaths in the United States last year, including suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

AFP

California Governor To Face Recall Election As Petition Hits Goal

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 09, 2021 California Governor Gavin Newsom delivers the State of the State address at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. 
Patrick T. FALLON / AFP

 

A Republican-backed petition to recall California’s governor has achieved its goal of forcing a special election, which is set to be held later this year, officials said Monday.

The vote on Democratic governor Gavin Newsom’s tenure will be only the second-ever held in California, after the 2003 election that brought Arnold Schwarzenegger to power — and the fourth in the nation’s history.

As of Monday, “the requisite number of valid signatures has been reported to our office to initiate the recall of Governor Gavin Newsom,” said California’s Secretary of State Shirley Weber.

California, the most populous and wealthiest US state, allows voters to hold a referendum on replacing its governor if they can gather the signatures of 12 percent of previous voters.

The campaign to remove Newsom, fueled by his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, has gained more than 1.6 million verified signatures.

Unless significant numbers of those people rescind their signatures in the next 30 days, a vote will take place, likely by November.

Voters would be asked if Newsom should go, and who they want to replace him if he does.

Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete and Kardashian clan member Caitlyn Jenner is among those who have already thrown their hats into the ring.

In 2003, the election drew global attention as an eccentric field of 135 candidates ran including Schwarzenegger, a porn actress, and late Hustler publisher Larry Flynt.

But Newsom is considered unlikely to lose the recall vote, in a state that has swung even more heavily Democrat in the past two decades.

-AFP

California Ends Wide Lockdown As COVID-19 Hospital Strain Eases

File: (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

 

California lifted blanket “stay-at-home” orders across the US state Monday, paving the way for activities including outdoor dining to return even in worst-hit regions as the pandemic’s strain on hospitals begins to ease.

The western state has suffered one of the nation’s worst winter Covid spikes, with hospital intensive care units overwhelmed, ambulances backed up for hours at a time, and cases more than doubling since December to over three million.

The “stay-at-home” measures were ordered for some 20 million people in southern and central California since December 3, but public health director Tomas Aragon said the state was now “turning a critical corner.”

“California is slowly starting to emerge from the most dangerous surge of this pandemic yet, which is the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been hoping for,” the state’s health secretary Mark Ghaly wrote in a statement.

“Seven weeks ago, our hospitals and front-line medical workers were stretched to their limits, but Californians heard the urgent message to stay home when possible and our surge after the December holidays did not overwhelm the health care system to the degree we had feared.”

The decision to end the sweeping regional measures — which included blanket bans on gatherings and “non-essential” activities, and closed outdoor dining and personal care businesses such as hair salons — is based on forecasts for intensive care unit capacities improving across all California regions.

Latest ICU capacity in southern California is currently at zero percent, but with daily new cases falling sharply, projections show more than 15 percent will be available within four weeks.

But previous restrictions based on individual county conditions will return, meaning bans will remain on dozens of activities including bars, indoor dining and live sport crowds in most counties.

Individual counties can choose to impose stricter rules than the state requires, meaning severely affected regions including Los Angeles may even opt to retain current restrictions.

Los Angeles officials did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.

California has recorded more than 3.06 million Covid-19 cases, including almost 36,000 deaths.

The state has delivered just under 1.8 million vaccine doses so far, having converted sites including Disneyland and the Dodger baseball stadium in Los Angeles into mass inoculation centers.

Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch Sold To US Billionaire For Over $22 million

This file photo shows an aerial view of singer Michael Jackson’s Neverland Valley Ranch on June 25, 2001, in Santa Ynez, CA. Michael Jackson’s former Neverland Ranch in California has sold to US billionaire Ron Burkle, his spokesman said December 24, reportedly at a steeply discounted price of around $22 million. PHOTO: JASON KIRK / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Michael Jackson’s former Neverland Ranch in California has sold to US billionaire Ron Burkle, his spokesman said on Thursday, reportedly at a steeply discounted price of around $22 million.

The late “King of Pop” famously converted his sprawling, gated home into a fairytale-themed retreat — complete with toy railroad, Ferris wheel, and orangutans — and penned some of his top hits on the ranch.

But Neverland was also the infamous location where Jackson invited children to visit and sleepover, and where he was accused of molesting young boys. It was rebranded after Jackson’s 2009 death as Sycamore Valley Ranch.

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Burkle, a Montana-based businessman with investments ranging from supermarkets to the entertainment industry, purchased the ranch “as a land banking opportunity,” his spokesman told AFP.

The $22 million price tag reported by the Wall Street Journal — and confirmed to AFP as roughly accurate, by a source familiar with the deal — would mark a dramatic decline from the ranch’s $100 million asking price in 2015.

That lofty fee, dubbed “optimistic” by realtors even at the time, was slashed to $31 million last year, but the ranch still did not sell and was taken off the market.

Burkle was flying in the region recently to scout a neighboring property as a possible new branch of his Soho House private club network when he spotted the ranch and called its owner, according to the spokesman.

Jackson reportedly paid $19.5 million for the property in the 1980s.

Thomas Barrack Jr.’s Colony Capital investment firm purchased the ranch from the heavily indebted singer for $22.5 million the year before his death.

Burkle previously worked as an adviser for the singer on business matters, including resolving debts incurred by his lavish lifestyle in the years before his death.

The 2,700-acre (1,100-hectare) estate located 40 miles (65 kilometers) from Santa Barbara features a main house with six bedrooms along with three guest houses, a four-acre lake with a waterfall, tennis courts, several barns and animal shelter facilities.

Jackson’s ranch was raided in 2003 as part of a child molestation case against him and police at the time seized a large collection of pornography and images of nude children.

Jackson was acquitted in the case in 2005.

Last year, HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland” aired testimonies of two men who claim Jackson sexually abused them as children all over the ranch, including the attic, the master bedroom and the pool.

The Jackson estate — which is suing HBO for $100 million over a “posthumous character assassination” — denies all the allegations, as Jackson did in his lifetime.

AFP

California Seeks To Join Justice Department Antitrust Case Against Google

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

California will join the US government and 11 other states in bringing lawsuits against Google for abusing its market dominance, the state’s top prosecutor said Friday. 

“Google’s market dominance leaves consumers and small businesses with little choice when it comes to internet search engines,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

“By using exclusionary agreements to dominate the market, Google has stifled competition and rigged the advertising market.”

The US Justice Department and 11 states in October brought a civil case against Google for pursuing an illegal monopoly in its search functions and in its advertising research services.

Google, founded in 1998 and headquartered in California, has often been accused of abusing its power to exclude competitors.

It is the default search engine on many devices, and its Chrome web browser and mobile operating system Android dominate the market.

The US Justice Department also accuses it of forcing consumers and advertisers to use its services on Android devices on apps that cannot be deleted, such as Google Maps.

On Wednesday the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and prosecutors representing 48 states and territories also announced they had filed a complaint against Facebook for abusing its market dominance.

-AFP

California Fires Burn Record 2 Million Acres

In this photo released by the California National Guard on September 6, 2020, evacuess sit in a Chinook helicopter after being rescued from the Creek fire by the National Guard at the Sierra National Forest, about 45 miles (70 kilometers) northeast of Fresno, California. – Dozens of people were airlifted to safety on September 5, 2020 night after being trapped by a wildfire near a popular reservoir in northern California, officials said.Military helicopters have so far rescued 63 people from the Mammoth Pool Reservoir in the Sierra National Forest, about 45 miles (70 kilometers) northeast of Fresno, the Fresno Fire Department said on Twitter. (Photo by Handout / California National Guard / AFP) 

 

Wildfires in California have torched a record more than two million acres, the state fire department said Monday, as an uncontrolled blaze forced many residents to flee their homes.

The record was hit as the wildfire season still has roughly two months to go in the most populous US state and thousands of firefighters were battling flames during a scorching heatwave.

“In the past 33 years we have not seen a single year go over two million acres until this year,” said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff.

“This is definitely record-breaking and we have not even come close to the end of fire season yet.”

At least seven people have died as a result of this year’s fires and some 3,800 structures have been damaged or destroyed, according to Cal Fire figures.

The last time the number of acres burned got close to two million was in 2018, the same year as the devastating Camp Fire, when a little more than 1.9 million acres (769,000 hectares) went up in flames.

More than 14,100 firefighters were battling 24 different wildfires as of Monday afternoon, the fire department said in a tweet.

Among those blazes was the Creek Fire, which started on Friday in steep and rugged terrain, has so far spread to 78,790 acres and is zero percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

– Record-breaking heat –
The department said on Twitter that 976 personnel were battling the fire, which had continued to grow “under extreme conditions.”

Another rapidly growing fire, the Oak Fire, began Sunday in Mendocino county and has already grown to 1,000 acres.

Cal Fire said that 83 personnel were on hand to battle the blaze, which was zero percent contained.

Evacuation orders were in effect throughout southern California on Monday afternoon.

In northern California, more than 200 people were airlifted to safety over the weekend after a fast-moving wildfire trapped them near the Mammoth Pool Reservoir northeast of Fresno.

They were rescued by military helicopters, with dozens packed into a Chinook, video shared by the California National Guard showed.

Record temperatures over the three-day Labor Day weekend have aggravated already dangerous fire conditions and further stressed exhausted California firefighters.

California has been baking under scorching conditions with temperatures reaching a record 121 degrees Fahrenheit (49 Celsius) on Sunday in Woodland Hills, an all-time high for Los Angeles county, the National Weather Service said.

 

-AFP