Sunday, July 5, 2015
By Joe BrownLast Saturday, Sharon Darns Watkins became Tampa’s 21st homicide victim of the year. Her crime: being inside her home, in her bedroom, when bullets pierced a window and tore through her body. Police don’t believe she was the intended target, which shows the shooter’s marksmanship is as poor as his character.
No one can say Watkins was in the wrong place at the wrong time. If she was, then the street she lived on — North Delaware Avenue — truly is a war zone.
Ironically, while Watkins was being murdered, the Tampa Police Department was conducting a gun buyback 6 miles away at River Tower Park in Sulphur Springs. A total of 521 guns were purchased, but apparently some folks in the community didn’t get the news. Either that, or it reinforces my belief that street criminals just laugh at these laudable efforts, which really don’t “get guns off the street.”
At a news conference Tuesday at TPD headquarters, Watkins’ daughter tearfully pleaded for the community to help find her mother’s killer. Afterward, Capt. Ronald McMullen asked a simple question: “Do you care yet?” He then told all who would listen, “When you care enough, give us a call.”
McMullen also announced plans for the TPD to use federal grant money to increase police presence in West Tampa and East Tampa, where an increasing number of homicides have taken place this year. This is good news, but I fear some community activists will be of two minds about it. On one hand, they want the police to do something about these senseless killings. On the other hand, when officers get too aggressive, complaints about a police state increase. A good example is New York City, where the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” tactics brought lawsuits.
But any shortcomings by law enforcement are nothing compared with neighborhood residents who offer limited help in catching criminals. Unfair as it might sound, they are the key. Yes, it’s the job of the police to locate and arrest suspects, but cops generally know less about the chronic troublemakers than the people these criminals terrorize. When so many people are dying, they don’t deserve to get such a free pass to spread fear into a community.
Maybe a more effective means of connecting fearful witnesses with detectives is the answer. Perhaps community leaders can help bridge the fear and distrust that keeps some law-abiding citizens from coming forth. Whatever the solution, something must be done now, and a plan of action has to be developed.
I’ve heard from many who say the answer is more jobs, and that if these young men were employed, they wouldn’t be out creating murder and mayhem in their communities. That’s dubious, to say the least. But what if those jobs never come?
The same goes for tougher gun laws, drug rehabilitation, job training and other proposed societal solutions I’ve heard through the years. Waiting for these factors to fully right themselves amounts to waiting for Godot. The murder victims to come can’t wait for any of that.
In the meantime, something is terribly wrong when someone can’t be in their bedroom, as private a place as there is, without being in danger. That her daughter has to tearfully, publicly plead for witnesses to come forward is just as appalling, especially when it happened in broad daylight on a Saturday afternoon.
Capt. McMullen told those who were listening to give the police a call “when you care enough.” I’ve been wondering for years when that will be.
Saturday, July 4, 2015
The Kurds deserve their own nation. While the US is always asking Israel to give up territory, they never ask Turkey, Syria or Iraq to allow the Kurds independence. Obama bends to Islamist Erdogan's wishes.
U.S. immigration officials said Friday that the San Francisco Police Department did not honor a request they made in March to hold onto a Mexican citizen now charged in the random shooting of a tourist on the San Francisco pier.
Francisco Sanchez, 45, has been charged with killing a 31-year-old woman who was strolling with her family along the scenic Embarcadero waterfront on Wednesday evening, police said.
The victim, identified as Kathryn Steinle of Pleasanton, Calif., was struck in the chest after posing for photos at Pier 14 with her father, who had his arm around her, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
"There was a pop, and Kate went down," 68-year-old Jim Steinle told the newspaper. She died later at
San Francisco General Hospital.
Police say the suspect never exchanged words with Steinle before he opened fire, KGO-TV reports.
"There does not appear to be any connection between the victim and the suspect," said Sgt. Michael Andraychak, according to KGO. "At this point, it appears to be a random shooting incident."
Police quickly flooded the area with officers, who were helped in their search by photos of the suspect taken by bystanders. Within an hour, police arrested Sanchez on a nearby street corner.
A gun believed to have been used in the shooting was recovered in the water next to the pier on Thursday by police dive teams using sonar equipment, KGO reports.
Gillian Christensen, spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said the suspect in the case — without referring to him by name — had been previously deported five times, most recently in 2009, and had a criminal history that included seven prior felony convictions, including four narcotics charges.
Christensen said that according to databases of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE turned him over to the San Francisco Police Department in March "on an outstanding drug warrant." ICE officials requested that they be informed whenever the suspect was set to be released, but "the detainer was not honored."
"ICE places detainers on aliens arrested on criminal charges to ensure dangerous criminals are not released from prisons or jails into our communities," she said. "The agency remains committed to working collaboratively with its law enforcement partners to ensure the public's safety."
The question of immigration "detainers," or "holds," have become controversial in recent years as local law enforcement agencies have fought back against the federal government's requests to hold suspects based on their immigration status.
Through a federal program called Secure Communities, ICE agents request local agencies to hold people who are no longer facing local charges. That includes people who have completed their jail time, are no longer suspects in crimes or have posted bond as they await trial.
If ICE agents determine those people have problems with their immigration status, they would request that the local agency "hold" the person so an ICE agent could pick them up. But local law enforcement agencies have fought back, arguing that holding so many suspects costs them money and damages their credibility with the communities they serve.
Further, federal courts have struck down cases involving "holds," stating that these detentions are not voluntary and violate the Fourth Amendment, according to civil rights organizations.
San Francisco became a so-called sanctuary city in 1989. An ordinance prohibits city employees from helping ICE with immigration investigations or arrests "unless such help is required by federal or state law or a warrant." The move was intended to "(stand) firmly against repressive immigration proposals in Congress and immigration raids that separate families."
In 2013, the California State Assembly passed the Trust Act, which allows local agencies to treat ICE detainer requests as voluntary. Only people facing serious felonies must be held for ICE agents.
After the law went into effect in 2014, California Attorney General Kamala Harris explained the state's problems with ICE holds.
"When local law enforcement officials are seen as de facto immigration enforcers, it erodes the trust between our peace officers and the communities they serve," she wrote in a bulletin to state law enforcement agencies.
Friday evening, the slaying attracted the attention of real estate mogul and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is facing widespread recriminations for portraying most Mexican immigrants as criminals or not the "best."
"Where are the other candidates now that this tragic murder has taken place b/c of our unsafe border," he tweeted. "We need a wall!"
He offered "heartfelt condolences" to Steinle's family, adding, "Very, very sad."
"Our Southern border is unsecure. I am the only one that can fix it, nobody else has the guts to even talk about it," Trump declared.
- Tomorio Walton was fatally wounded during a shootout in a motel room
- Police said the 27-year-old was parole violator from Memphis, TN
- Walton had long rap sheet and most recent arrest was last Christmas Eve
- Chuck de Caro underwent surgery after suffering three gunshot wounds
PUBLISHED: 04:23 EST, 3 July 2015 | UPDATED: 12:41 EST, 3 July 2015
Killed: Tomorio Walton, 27, was a parole violator from Tennessee, police said
A gunman shot dead by former CNN reporter Chuck de Caro has been identified as a parole violator from Tennessee.
Tomorio Walton, 27, was fatally wounded by de Caro during a shootout in a motel room in Albuquerque on Tuesday.
De Caro and his wife - former Headline News anchor and CNN correspondent Lynne Russell -were on a road trip and spending the night when killed the man during what Russell an attempted robbery.
Police said an assailant accosted Ms Russell in the parking lot of the motel at about 11.35 pm and then pushed her into her hotel room as de Caro was getting out of the shower.
Walton then started shooting at de Caro, and de Caro returned fire and killed him with a legally owned hand gun, Russell said.
'Chuck fired back, and it was a shootout,' she said. 'He saved my life.'
De Caro needed surgery for his wounds following the altercation.
Officer Tanner Tixier said Walton was a parole violator from Memphis, and it is unknown how long he has been in the Albuquerque area,NBC News reports.
Many faces: Tomorio Walton's last recorded arrest was on Christmas Eve 2014, when he was picked up for criminal damage in the form of vandalism worth less than $500. He had three felony convictions: one for theft, for which he was sentenced on 22 January 2008, and two for burglary – one burglary from a car, the other burglary from a place other than a home
Serious rap sheet: Walton was sentenced on 26 August 2010 for the two burglaries. The sentence is not recorded. Walton's other arrests include being picked up for burglary from a motor vehicle in November 2011; aggravated criminal trespass in March 2012; criminal trespass, evading arrest, patronizing prostitution and possession of drug paraphernalia later that same month; failing to appear at a booking in April 2012; theft of property worth $500 or less in May 2012; an unspecified crime in June 2012; another unspecified crime in July 2012; and a probation violation in August 2012
Stuck to Tennessee: Walton was arrested in April 2013 and held on $100 bond for theft of property worth less than $500. He was arrested on the same charge in May 2013, and in September 2013 held over aggravated criminal trespass. All his criminal history appeared to have taken place in Shelby County, which includes Memphis
No charges are expected to be filed against de Caro.
'I am really proud of him,' Ms Russell said. 'I thank him over and over for saving my life. He really is my hero.'
De Caro, who worked at CNN in the mid-1980s as special assignments correspondent, was coming out of the bathroom after taking a shower and saw Ms Russell being held at gunpoint.
She said she put one of the two handguns the couple had in a side table into the purse and gave the handbag to her husband.
A gunfight broke out in the room and De Caro was shot once in the leg and twice in the abdomen.
He fired all the rounds in the first handgun then picked up the other and shot Walton.
Western gunfight: Longtime Headline News anchor Lynne Russel called de Caro her hero after he shot dead a gunman who entered their Albuquerque motel room hoping to rob them
'I am really proud of him,' Ms Russell said of her husband and former colleague. 'I thank him over and over for saving my life. He really is my hero.' Here, a mobile crime lab sits outside the Albuquerque Motel 6
An Albuquerque Police Department officer collects evidence Wednesday after a man was killed and another injured during the altercation
He was found in the parking lot but died in hospital.
Walton's rap sheet appears to have been a lengthy one.
His last recorded arrest was on Christmas Eve 2014, when he was picked up for criminal damage in the form of vandalism worth less than $500.