Tulsa – VIJAY SHAH via STEPHEN SORACE, Associated Press and Fox News
An American woman who shot dead her own son and tried to kill her two daughters claimed that she did it to free them from their abusive father, according to a report published in Fox News today.
Amy Leann Hall, from Tulsa, the capital of Oklahoma state, gunned down her son Kayson Toliver, aged 18. He was hit with a bullet to the head while he was sleeping at his mother’s home early on the morning of Thursday, 1st November, according to police statements. Hall also shot at her daughters in the same fashion, but they survived their injuries, with one managing to escape. Police came to the property thirty-five miles outside Tulsa, and found Toliver deceased. The mother was arrested, and claimed she carried out the shootings to protect her children from their violent father, according to an affidavit issued by the Okmulgee County Sheriff’s Office.
One of the two daughters, aged 16, is still in hospital in a critical condition, Fox News stated. The other daughter, aged 14, managed to escape her mother and hid crying in a bathroom, she later told her mother she was ‘okay’ before somehow managing to get the murder weapon, a pistol, from Hall, the article stated. Hall fled the scene and sped down local roads at 100 mph before police pulled her over, according to FOX 23 Tulsa, a local media outlet. She was arrested on the scene, and police are currently piecing together a motive for the killings.
Police stated that they had received callouts in the past to the family home over ‘domestic incidents’. Hall and the children’s father had separated two years ago and were engaged in a fierce custody battle over the children. She had applied to obtain sole custody of her family, but the father had attempted to overturn that application, stating that Hall was ‘mentally unstable’ and was ‘psychologically abusive’ to her offspring.
The deceased son was remembered as an excellent student and top level American football player for his school team at Beggs High School in Tulsa. “He was a very likeable young man,” head football coach David Tenison told the World. “He had a good heart, good spirit. His smile was infectious. It just infected everyone around him. He made you want to smile.”
Hall is now charged with a single count of first-degree murder, and two counts of shooting with an intention to kill and is currently on bail. She told police that after killing her children, she had intended to take her own life. The case continues.
London – VIJAY SHAH via JON KING and Newham Recorder
The east London borough of Newham had the highest number of homicides in the last year, with thirteen taking place there, more than in any other borough in the city, according to figures seen and reported in local newspaper, the Newham Recorder, it is said.
The borough tops the league for the murder rate according to figures released by the Metropolitan Police, the police force which deals with crime in the Greater London area, which is made up of thirty-two boroughs.
Between the period from April 2017 to March 2018, thirteen killings in the borough were investigated by the police, many involving young people in their teen and twenties. Recent tragedies included that of 18-year-old Sami Sidhom in Chestnut Avenue, Forest Gate, Beniamin Pieknyi, 21, in the Stratford Centre and Promise Nkenda, 17, in Canning Town. Sidhom was stabbed to death by a group of youths while returning from a football match at the new West Ham Stadium in Stratford, north Newham.
Newham’s murder crime rate is triple the rate of neighbouring boroughs, with Redbridge reporting five homicides, Barking and Dagenham reporting four, with Tower Hamlets being the highest at six murders, according to the figures.
On the numbers the Met’s assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt said: “We continue to experience a very busy and challenging time against the backdrop of significant cuts (to police funding).”
“I am very concerned about crime rises, particularly of murder, violent and knife crime.”
Despite a slash in police officer numbers and funding brought about by central government austerity measures, the Met Police has said it is doubling up on tackling knife crime with increased ‘stop-and-searches’ and extra officers on the beat in affected communities.
“There are complex reasons why more young people carry knives. Knife crime cannot be solved only by the police. We need the help of agencies and communities who we know are behind us,” the assistant commissioner said.
The police figures also reported increases in violent crime, robberies, sexual assaults/attacks and burglaries, with 2,082 incidents reported between April 2017-March 2018, according to the Recorder paper.
“Despite the challenges ahead, we continue to focus on bringing offenders to justice, making streets hostile territory for criminals, supporting victims and working with communities,” Hewitt said.
VIJAY SHAH via Ace Worldwide News Group/Dogan News Agency/Hurriyet
As Turkey still reels from several bombings in Istanbul and Ankara and an attempted coup by a faction of the armed forces last Friday, more tragedy struck today as a number of ‘unknown assailants’ opened fire on a group of police officers in the Maçka district of Trabzon province in northern Turkey, which borders the Black Sea. Two officers were reported killed, according to the English-language version of the newspaper Hürriyet, via Ace Worldwide News Group and local news organisation, the Doğan News Agency.
The police officers were conducting road checks when the gunmen opened fire on them from a nearby forest. Two officers were killed on the spot and five other officers and a passing civilian were injured. Extra police and ambulances were drafted in. Locals angered by the atrocity and spurred on by the recent failed coup, took up arms and proceeded to the forest to find the killers. Clashes were reported, however there is no word as to the fate of the gunmen.
Last Friday, a coup was instigated by members of the Turkish army opposed to the government of president Tayyip Recep Erdogan. While the president was on holiday in the Mediterranean port of Marmaris, soldiers and army officers were seen driving tanks down main streets in Ankara, the country’s capital, and road blocks were set up in Istanbul. An F-16 bomber plane even aimed gunfire at the Turkish parliament. The rebellion was quickly put down, with around 200 people killed and more than a 1,000 injured. Since then, Erdogan has vowed to flush the ‘virus’ of rebellion out of the armed forces and police. Thousands have been arrested or dismissed from their posts, with some senior army officers fleeing to nearby Greece.
It is not known if the Maçka attackers were connected to the coup, or to Kurdish rebels or Daesh, both of whom have a history of launching fatal attacks on Turkish soil. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) usually launch attacks on army or police attachments and patrols, but their attacks are largely confined to the Turkish part of Kurdistan.
The state’s governor, Jerry Brown, threw out the parole application for the follower more than forty-six years after Manson and his cult wrecked havoc in southern California, bringing terror to its well-heeled neighbourhoods, a crime spree that still is recounted today.
The bid applicant, a Bruce Davis, was originally jailed for the murders of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea, which occurred in 1969. Manson’s cultists were most notorious for the bloody murder of actress Sharon Tate and six others, before they were apprehended and jailed by local police.
The governor ruled that Davis, now aged 73, still poses a threat to society and a danger to public safety and will remain behind bars. Gov. Brown has already blocked two previous parole applications by Davis, and an earlier bid for jail release was annulled by previous state governor and former film star Arnold Schwarzenegger. The killer is currently detained at California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo, in California’s south, where he is serving a life sentence for the slayings of Hinman and Shea. In addition to the murders, he was also sentenced for ‘conspiracy to commit murder and robbery’, according to Fox.
Since he was put behind bars, Davis has become a devout Christian and studied at the jail’s school, earning himself a doctorate in religious philosophy and is now a prison minister carrying out devotional service to his fellow inmates at the Colony.
His attorney, Michael Beckman, said that California’s Board of Parole Hearings has fulfilled all legal processes in recommending that his client be made eligible for parole. However, Los Angeles County prosecutors opposed the parole bid on the grounds of the sadistic nature of the murders of the two entertainers, alongside the intention of Charles Manson, Davis’ one time leader, to spark a race war between white and black Americans which would benefit his cult.
Bruce Davis was born in Monroe, Louisiana state in October 1942, the youngest of two children. He was a school dropout who moved west to California after becoming interested in the new hippy subculture that was taking shape in the 1960s. He met Charles Manson and his band of followers in 1967, where he made a niche for himself handling stolen credit cards and churning out fake identification for the Manson ‘family’. In 1970, after the murders of Hinman and Shea, Davis was ordered by Manson to turn himself in and was then duly sentenced for the two murders and as a criminal accessory.
According to the report, received via the international news agency Agence France Presse (AFP), the soldier has now been charged with murder after shooting two other soldiers at an army barracks in the south of Thailand, home to a Malay minority and a religiously and ethnically inspired insurgency that has claimed 6,300 lives over the past decade. The majority of the victims have been civilians. Hundreds of Thai troops have been stationed in the southern areas which have seen the army and police battle against an agitation by rebels in the Muslim-majority southern provinces bordering Malaysia. The rebels are demanding greater self-government for the Muslim areas in the south. The vast majority of Thais follow Buddhism.
The unnamed soldier, believed to be 57 years old and hailing from the southern province of Phatthalung, opened fire late on Friday at a barracks in the Yaring district of Pattani province, killing two other soldiers, local police chief Montri Kongwatmai told AFP.
“The soldier killed two other soldiers and then surrendered himself,” he said. “Our investigation shows he had a personal conflict with them.” The soldier has been charged with murder and will face trial in a military court, Kongwatmai added. There is no implication of any political or insurgency-linked motive for the killings.
There are estimated to be 60,000 troops and police in the region attempting to secure the area and protect locals. They are regularly the target of roadside bombs and gun attacks by rebels, and the pressure of working in such an environment has caused numerous episodes of soldier-on-soldier violence. Last November, an army conscript went on the rampage, killing four officers and then committing suicide. The Thai armed forces chief has said that more needs to be done to offer support and counselling to troops battling rebels in the south. The south was originally part of what is now Malaysia, but was annexed by Thailand over a century ago.
While Thai security forces are often the subject of attacks by rebels, they have also been accused of human rights violations that have been described as widespread. Recently they have been condemned for killing civilians in raids on suspected rebel hideouts.
The insurgency has intensified since 2001, as various Thai elected and military governments have either fought an all-out war with the Malay insurgents or attempted to win over their hearts and minds. There are numerous insurgent groups fighting for greater autonomy in Thailand’s four southernmost provinces. They include the National Revolution Front, Runda Kumpulan Kecil, the Pattani Islamic Mujahideen Movement and the United Mujahideen Front of Pattani.
In the second day of violence in the French-speaking West African nation, five people were killed yesterday as Niger was gripped by religious violence stirred up by the publication of the cartoons in France, which have seen widespread condemnation by Muslim communities across the globe. Charlie Hebdo,a well-known satirical publication that frequently mocks politicians and religions, was the victim of an atrocity last week in which seventeen people, including the editor, Stephane Charbonnier alias Charb, several members of his cartoonists team and three police officers were gunned down by two brothers, the Kouachis, said to have links to Islamic State in Syria. Four shoppers were also taken hostage by another militant at a kosher supermarket, also in Paris, and were killed along with the militant, identified as Amedy Coulibaly, when police raided the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Vincennes on the 9th of January.
The magazine defied the militants by publishing a ‘survivors’ edition’ featuring a cartoon depiction of the founder of Islam crying under the words “Tout est pardonné” (“All is forgiven“). This edition led to numerous protests across the world by Muslims offended by the depiction of their prophet. Islam forbids the depiction of living things, especially Muhammad, as it can be seen as encouraging the unpardonable sin of idolatry. The Charlie Hebdo killings were roundly condemned by leaders of France’s 5 million-strong Muslim minority, many who have become the victims of Islamophobic revenge attacks in the wake of the militant attack last week.
Reporting from the Niger capital Niamey, Reuters journalists say the country has been rocked by two days of violence, and that the death toll has already reached ten. Gangs of youths were reported to have set fire to shops, businesses and places of worship belonging to Niger’s Christian community after a meeting of local Muslim community leaders was allegedly banned by the authorities. Police attempted to battle the rampage and contain the youths by using tear gas. The youths retaliated by throwing stones, before attacking a police station and torching two squad cars in the vicinity.
One of the protesters, named by Reuters as Amadou Abdoul Ouahab, was quoted as saying “They offended our Prophet Mohammad, that’s what we didn’t like,”
Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou announced that the five killed on Saturday (17 January 2014) were all civilians. Four were burned to death inside blazing churches and bars selling alcoholic drinks. The Niger president said that an inquiry into the killings would take place and organisers of the riots would be apprehended and punished. “Those who pillage religious sites and profane them, those who persecute and kill their Christian compatriots or foreigners who live on our soil, have understood nothing of Islam,” he said in a televised address.
President Issoufou, himself a Muslim, however disagreed with the publication of the Charlie Hebdo survivors’ issue saying that he shared the disgust and outrage of Muslims at the caricatures of their beloved prophet and that freedom of expression should be accountable of the need to respect religious beliefs. Charlie Hebdo has long attracted flak for lampooning Jews, Catholics and Muslims, but since the killings of its staff last week, the small Paris-based magazine has become a popular bastion of journalistic freedom of expression, including the controversial right to offend. Hundreds of thousands have identified themselves with the trending slogan “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie“) in solidarity with the slain journalists and protecting freedom of speech.
Issoufou was one of the participants last week of a march held in Paris against the atrocity, alongside many world politicians from opposing sides. Yesterday though, he said his participation in that march was to demonstrate his opposition to terrorism and not in support of the magazine itself.
After the riots, calm returned to the streets of Niamey by yesterday afternoon, but another planned march by the city’s Muslim community is feared to possibly re-ignite tensions. The civic authorities put a block on the march going ahead, but organisers have said they will defy the ruling and proceed anyway, possibly risking confrontation with local police and members of the Christian community.
Demonstrations were also reported in regional towns across Niger, including Maradi, 600 km (375 miles) east of Niamey, where two churches were burned. Another church and a residence of the foreign minister were burned in the eastern town of Goure.
The foreign minister of France, which once ruled Niger as an overseas colony, Laurent Fabius, roundly condemned the weekend violence in the country, stating “France expresses its solidarity with the authorities in Niger,” France currently maintains a battery of troops and defences in co-operation with Niger to battle against Islamist insurgencies in the neighbouring state of Mali as part of a regional counter-terrorism operation.
Four preachers of Islam who organised the meeting were arrested on Saturday as tensions began to flare, according to local police. The French government has warned its citizens living as expatriates in Niamey to exercise caution and avoid unnecessary travel.
Residents in Niger’s second largest city of Zinder said that a burned corpse was discovered in the remains of a Catholic church torched by rioters there, bringing the death toll to five from Friday’s clashes. Locals also claimed that wholesale attacks against Zinder’s Christians were instigated, with religious books, churches and minority-owned shops ransacked and set on fire. A French cultural centre was also set alight, and a police officer is among the dead, the rest are civilians, according to sources from the police.
In contrast with Niger, demonstrators in other Francophone west African nations, including Mali, Senegal and Mauritania, and in Algeria in North Africa, made peaceful protests against the Charlie Hebdo controversy after leaving their mosques after they finished Juma’a (Friday) prayers, Reuters reports.
Niger’s 17 million people are almost all Muslims, though its government remains secular. About 94% profess Islam, mostly of the Sunni branch. There are also communities professing Nigerien animism and Christianity.