Uvalde report: 376 officers but ‘egregiously poor’ decisions
UVALDE, Texas (AP) — Nearly 400 law enforcement officials rushed to a mass shooting at a Uvalde elementary school, but “egregiously poor decision-making” resulted in more than an hour of chaos before the gunman who took 21 lives was finally confronted and killed, according to a damning investigative report released Sunday.
The nearly 80-page report was the first to criticize both state and federal law enforcement, and not just local authorities in the South Texas town for the bewildering inaction by heavily armed officers as a gunman fired inside two fourth-grade classrooms at Robb Elementary School, killing 19 students and two teachers.
Altogether, the report amounted to the fullest account to date of the one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history. But it did not satisfy all parents and relatives of the victims, some of whom blasted the police as cowards and called for them to resign.
“At Robb Elementary, law enforcement responders failed to adhere to their active shooter training, and they failed to prioritize saving innocent lives over their own safety,” the report said.
The gunman fired approximately 142 rounds inside the building — and it is “almost certain” that at least 100 shots came before any officer entered, according to the report, which laid out in detail numerous failures. Among them:
‘Evil cannot win’: Killed by Russian missile, Liza is buried
VINNYTSIA, Ukraine (AP) — Beautiful and serene in a crown of white flowers, 4-year-old Liza Dmytrieva, who was killed by a Russian missile strike, was buried Sunday in central Ukraine as an Orthodox priest burst into tears and told weeping relatives that “evil cannot win.”
Liza, who had Down syndrome, was en route to see a speech therapist with her mother when Russian missiles struck the city of Vinnytsia on Thursday, far from the front lines. At least 24 people were killed, including Liza and two boys ages 7 and 8, and more than 200 were wounded, including Liza’s mother.
“Look, my flower! Look how many people came to you,” Liza’s grandmother, Larysa Dmytryshyna, said, caressing Liza as she lay in an open coffin with flowers and teddy bears in Vinnytsia’s 18th-century Transfiguration Cathedral.
Liza’s father, Artem Dmytriev, stood silent, tears flowing down his face.
Liza’s mother, 33-year-old Iryna Dmytrieva, remained in an intensive care unit in grave condition. The family didn’t tell her that Liza was being buried Sunday, fearing it could affect her condition.
Ukraine’s Zelenskyy fires top security chief and prosecutor
VINNYTSIA, Ukraine (AP) — As Russian troops pressed their offensive in Ukraine’s east, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fired his state security chief and prosecutor general on Sunday, citing hundreds of criminal proceedings into treason and collaboration by people within their departments and other law enforcement agencies.
“In particular, more than 60 employees of the prosecutor’s office and the SBU (state security service) have remained in the occupied territory and work against our state,” Zelenskyy said.
“Such an array of crimes against the foundations of the state’s national security, and the links recorded between Ukrainian security forces and Russian special services raise very serious questions about their respective leaders,’’ he said in his nightly video address to the nation.
Zelenskyy dismissed Ivan Bakanov, a childhood friend and former business partner whom he had appointed to head the SBU. Bakanov had come under growing criticism over security breaches since the war began; Politico last month cited several unidentified Ukrainian and Western sources saying Zelenskyy was looking to replace him.
He also dismissed Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, and replaced her with her deputy Oleksiy Symonenko. Venediktova has helped lead war crime investigations.
Fires scorch Spain and France, where flames reach the beach
PARIS (AP) — Firefighters battled wildfires raging out of control in Spain and France, including one whose flames reached two popular Atlantic beaches on Sunday, as Europe wilted under an unusually extreme heat wave.
So far, there have been no fire-related deaths in France or Spain, but authorities in Madrid have blamed soaring temperatures for hundreds of deaths. And two huge blazes, which have consumed pine forests for six days in southwestern France, have forced the evacuation of some 16,200 people.
In dramatic images posted online, a wall of black smoke could be seen rolling toward the Atlantic on a stretch of Bordeaux’s coast that is prized by surfers from around the world. Flames raced across trees abutting a broad sandy beach, as planes flew low to suck up water from the ocean. Elsewhere, smoke blanketed the skyline above a mass of singed trees in images shared by French firefighters.
In Spain, firefighters supported by military brigades tried to stamp out over 30 fires consuming forests spread across the country. Spain’s National Defense Department said that “the majority” of its fire-fighting aircraft have been deployed to reach the blazes, many of which are in rugged, hilly terrain that is difficult for ground crews to access.
Fire season has hit parts of Europe earlier than usual this year after a dry, hot spring that the European Union has attributed to climate change. Some countries are also experiencing extended droughts, while many are sweltering in heat waves.
Panel: Hearing to show Trump’s Jan. 6 ‘dereliction of duty’
WASHINGTON (AP) — A House committee’s prime-time hearing Thursday will offer the most compelling evidence yet of then-President Donald Trump’s “dereliction of duty” on the day of the Jan. 6 insurrection, with new witnesses detailing his failure to stem an angry mob storming the Capitol, committee members said Sunday.
“This is going to open people’s eyes in a big way,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a member of the House committee investigating the riot who will help lead Thursday’s session with Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va. ”The president didn’t do anything.”
After a year-long investigation, the House Jan. 6 panel is seeking to wrap up what may be its last hearing, even as its probe continues to heat up.
The committee says it continues to receive fresh evidence each day and isn’t ruling out additional hearings or interviews with a bevy of additional people close to the president. One such figure is Steve Bannon, whose trial begins this week on criminal contempt of Congress charges for refusing to comply with the House committee’s subpoena.
The committee also issued an extraordinary subpoena last week to the Secret Service to produce texts by Tuesday from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, following conflicting reports about whether they were deleted.
No major problems with ballot drop boxes in 2020, AP finds
ATLANTA (AP) — The expanded use of drop boxes for mailed ballots during the 2020 election did not lead to any widespread problems, according to an Associated Press survey of state election officials across the U.S. that revealed no cases of fraud, vandalism or theft that could have affected the results.
The findings from both Republican- and Democratic-controlled states run contrary to claims made by former President Donald Trump and his allies who have intensely criticized their use and falsely claimed they were a target for fraud.
Drop boxes are considered by many election officials to be safe and secure, and have been used to varying degrees by states across the political spectrum. Yet conspiracy theories and efforts by Republicans to eliminate or restrict them since the 2020 election persist. This month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled that drop boxes are not allowed under state law and can no longer be widely used.
Drop boxes also are a focal point of the film “2,000 Mules,” which used a flawed analysis of cellphone location data and ballot drop box surveillance footage to cast doubt on the results of the 2020 presidential election.
In response to the legislation and conspiracy theories surrounding drop boxes, the AP sent a survey in May to the top elections office in each state seeking information about whether the boxes were tied to fraudulent votes or stolen ballots, or whether the boxes and the ballots they contained were damaged.
Biden’s realism approach runs head-on into liberal pressure
WASHINGTON (AP) — On restoring access to abortion, President Joe Biden says his hands are tied without more Democratic senators. Declaring a public health emergency on the matter has downsides, his aides say. And as for gun violence, Biden has been clear about the limits of what he can do on his own.
“There’s a Constitution,” Biden said from the South Lawn in late May. “I can’t dictate this stuff.”
Throughout this century, presidents have often pushed aggressively to extend the boundaries of executive power. Biden talks more about its limits.
When it comes to the thorniest issues confronting his administration, the instinct from Biden and his White House is often to speak about what he cannot do, citing constraints imposed by the courts or insufficient support in a Congress controlled by his own party — though barely.
He injects a heavy dose of reality in speaking to an increasingly restive Democratic base, which has demanded action on issues such as abortion and voting rights before the November elections.
Chief: 3 dead in Indiana mall shooting; witness kills gunman
GREENWOOD, Ind. (AP) — Three people were fatally shot and two were injured Sunday evening at an Indiana mall after a man with a rifle opened fire in a food court and an armed civilian shot and killed him, police said.
The man entered the Greenwood Park Mall with a rifle and several magazines of ammunition and began firing in the food court, Greenwood Police Department Chief Jim Ison said.
An armed civilian killed the man, Ison said at a news conference. In total, four people were killed and two were injured, he said.
Officers went to the mall at about 6 p.m. for reports of the shooting. Authorities are searching the mall for any other victims, but they believes the shooting was contained to the food court.
Police have confiscated a suspicious backpack that was in a bathroom near the food court, Ison said.
4 dead after small planes collide at North Las Vegas Airport
NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) — Four people died Sunday after two small planes collided at North Las Vegas Airport, authorities said.
The Federal Aviation Administration said a single-engine Piper PA-46 and a single-engine Cessna 172 collided around noon Sunday.
“Preliminary information indicates that the Piper PA-46 was preparing to land when it collided with the Cessna 172,” the FAA said in a statement. “The Piper crashed into … a field east of Runway 30-Right and the Cessna fell into a water retention pond.”
Two people were in each plane and all four died, according to city fire department officials.
The names, ages and hometowns of the victims weren’t immediately released.
Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck wed in Las Vegas drive-through
NEW YORK (AP) — Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were wed Saturday in a late-night Las Vegas drive-through chapel, culminating a relationship that stretched over two decades in two separate romances and headlined countless tabloid covers.
Lopez announced their marriage Sunday in her newsletter for fans with the heading “We did it.” Lopez initially made their engagement public in April on the same newsletter, “On the J Lo.”
“Love is beautiful. Love is kind. And it turns out love is patient. Twenty years patient,” wrote Lopez in a message signed Jennifer Lynn Affleck.
Lopez wrote that the couple flew to Las Vegas on Saturday, stood in line for their license with four other couples and were wed just after midnight at A Little White Wedding Chapel, a chapel boasting a drive-through “tunnel of love.” Lopez said a Bluetooth speaker played their brief march down the aisle. She called it the best night of their lives.
“Stick around long enough and maybe you’ll find the best moment of your life in a drive through in Las Vegas at 12:30 in the morning in the tunnel of love drive through with your kids and the one you’ll spend forever with,” said Lopez.