When Albert Wong returned from an Army deployment in Afghanistan in 2013, he knew it had affected him. He had trouble adjusting to regular life, couldn’t sleep at night and was hyper-vigilant about his surroundings.
But when he found a treatment program for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who suffer from post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injuries, he saw it as a way to get help and readjust to civilian life, said Cissy Sherr, who was his legal guardian and raised him for several years as a child. Until he was recently expelled.
On Friday, police said Wong slipped into a going-away party at the program, The Pathway Home, and took three employees hostage. After an hours-long standoff, Wong and the three female workers, one of whom was pregnant, were all found dead.
As a child, Wong had always dreamed of joining the Army, said Sherr, who began caring for him when he was 6 after his father died and his mother developed medical issues.
“He had a lot of role models in the Army,” Sherr said Saturday in an interview with The Associated Press. “He was patriotic and he wanted to do that forever.”
Sherr and her husband raised Wong for several years, enrolled him in Catholic school and signed him up for baseball, basketball and track teams. Together, they traveled to Florida, Hawaii and Boston, where he experienced snow for the first time.
“He was a pretty happy-go-lucky kid,” Sherr said. “He always had a smile on his face.”
When Wong became a teenager and Sherr and her husband worked full-time, they decided to put him in foster care. He stayed with a foster father in San Francisco who had other teenage boys and he attended high school near San Francisco.
An older adopted brother, Tyrone Lampkin, recalled playing hockey and going fishing with Wong when they were kids. They also got into fights. Wong’s outbursts at times forced him to live elsewhere for stints, including the time as a teenager he pushed another brother down the stairs, breaking his leg, Lampkin told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat in a story published Sunday.
Wong served in the Army Reserve from 1998 until 2002, enlisted for active duty in May 2010 and was deployed to Afghanistan in April 2011, according to military records.
He was a decorated soldier and was awarded the Expert Marksmanship Badge. But that also meant Wong was tasked with dangerous assignments, where he saw “really horrible things” that affected his mental well-being, Sherr said. He sometimes called her before he’d go on a mission, when Army officials told the soldiers to call their families.
“I had the impression he was kind of put in harm’s way, knowing that he didn’t have a family,” she said. “He didn’t seem the least bit resentful.”
Sherr said after Wong was honorably discharged from the Army in 2013, he planned to enroll in school and earn a degree in computer programming and business.
“He loved computers and he liked music. He was thoughtful and independent,” Sherr said. “He didn’t have a traditional upbringing but still he became a fine young man.”
Wong, who had a passion for working out at the gym, would often bring his ailing mother her favorite foods and spent a lot of time with her before she died last year, Sherr said.
But post-traumatic stress affected his ability to adjust to everyday life, Sherr said. He had trouble sleeping and was always wary of his surroundings.
“I think he realized that it started to catch up with him,” she said. “A couple of years ago, he told us if a door opens unexpectedly, I ask, ‘What is that?'”
Lampkin said Wong was never the same after getting out of the military, often becoming fixated on petty grievances such as people owing him money or not pulling their weight.
Wong told Sherr he had found a program at the veterans home in Yountville, California, and had met people who helped him enroll in a treatment program. He was also receiving assistance at a veterans hospital in San Francisco, she said.
He told Sherr: “I think I’m going to get a lot of help from this program,” she said, seeing the program as a possible path to recovery with other veterans in a similar position.
Officials have declined to provide additional information about why Wong was thrown out of the group.
But they say the former Army rifleman went to the center about 50 miles (85 kilometers) north of San Francisco Friday morning before exchanging gunfire with police and holding the women hostage in a room inside the center.
Lampkin said Wong confided to another brother that he was angry at the veterans’ program staff after he’d been dismissed from The Pathway Home.
“Albert was a good person, he really was a good person,” said Lampkin, who kept in touch with Wong by phone but hadn’t seen him for years. “I heard he stopped taking his meds and started drinking a lot … He never told me, he never told me.”
The victims were identified as Executive Director Christine Loeber, 48; Clinical Director Jennifer Golick, 42; and Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba, 32, a clinical psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System who was also seven months pregnant.
After the shooting, John Dunbar, the mayor of Yountville and a member of The Pathway Home’s board of directors, said Wong was “one of our heroes who clearly had demons.”
The shooting has left Sherr with more questions than answers. Chief among them: Why did it happen and could more have been done to help Wong?
“In less than a year — less than half a year — things started to unravel,” she said. “He may have been without any resources to support him.”
Associated Press writer Christopher Weber in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Finding salvation in suffering is a feat few are able to accomplish. Suffering strips you of your ego and leaves you with nothing but either your instinct to survive or a desire to perish. Perishing is final. But surviving is the beginning of a new version of yourself – stronger and more resilient. And with life being full of ups and downs, surely, the only way to navigate and enjoy it is to grow resilient to the downs. To become immune to pain.
David Goggins set out to do just that. Growing up in an abusive household and being one of very few black children attending a predominantly white high school, 20 miles from where the KKK were founded, David Goggins’ came of age as a man completely drained of his self-esteem. He had no goals set out ahead of him because he didn’t believe he could accomplish anything. He was weak. But one day he grew tired of his weakness, and in doing so, resolved to enlist in the US military, where he would put himself through the worst pain he could imagine. Ultimately finding strength. He went on to become the only soldier to complete SEAL training (including two hell weeks), Ranger School (graduating as Enlisted Honor Man) and Air Force Tactical air controller training. In an interview with Tom Bilyeu of Impact Theory (below), David Goggins talks about his journey towards holistic strength and the salvation he found in his suffering.
Many of us look for ways to live a pain free existence, as it is one that makes the most sense to us. However, in doing so, some of us forget the virtues of pain and that it is, in fact, inevitable. The inevitable is immovable but what isn’t is your mind, body and spirit. They’re forever malleable. And like water to a brick wall, your approach to the inevitable is to either be stopped and contained or to build until you overflow.
“Your brain and your body, once connected, can do anything” — David Goggins
NEW YORK ― Police captured a suspect in what they called a “terror-related incident” in the transit system near Times Square during rush hour on Monday morning.
An improvised, low-tech pipe bomb device was affixed to his chest with Velcro and zip ties. The explosion, which occurred around 7:20 a.m. in the subway near Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street, immediately plunged the commuter hub into chaos.
Five people have been treated at two Mount Sinai hospitals for minor injuries related to the incident, the hospital said in a statement to HuffPost. They had all been released by about 5 p.m. local time.
Police identified the suspect as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, who they said is a U.S. resident from the Bangladeshi city of Chittagong. According to investigators, Ullah, who had no criminal record, triggered the bomb intentionally and mentioned the self-described Islamic State after his arrest. He last visited Bangladesh on Sept. 8, authorities said.
Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press the suspect used matches, a lightbulb and a nine-volt battery to ignite a pipe stuffed with explosive material, but the blast wasn’t powerful enough to create harmful shrapnel. The man was injured himself, and had burns on his hands and abdomen, as well as lacerations, authorities said. He was being treated at Bellevue Hospital.
The bomber reportedly told investigators he was inspired by terror attacks on Christmas markets in Europe, and chose the location in Manhattan due to its holiday-themed posters, The New York Times reported. He also said the bombing was in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria and other locations.
Officials were preparing to charge Ullah in federal court in Manhattan, and the incident is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Times reported.
Ullah lived with his father, mother and brother in an area of Brooklyn that has a large Bangladeshi community, his neighbors told the AP.
Alan Butrico, who owns the house next door to Ullah and a locksmith business two doors down, said: “It’s very weird … You never know who your neighbors are.”
The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission said Ullah had a black cab/limousine driver’s license from 2012 to 2015, after which it expired.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill called the explosion a “terror-related incident” during a mid-morning news conference. He declined to elaborate on Ullah’s statement, but called on citizens to come forward with information about the event and other concerning behavior.
“We are New Yorkers. We don’t live in fear,” O’Neill said at a briefing. “If you see something doesn’t look right, you have an obligation to come forward, call 911, flag down a cop, and give us a chance to investigate it.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) described the explosive as a “low-tech device” and said the plot was isolated to one individual.
“This is one of my nightmares: a terror attack in the subway system. Luckily, the damage was minimal, but this was one in a growing pattern that we’re seeing develop,” Cuomo said on Spectrum News NY1 later Monday afternoon. “The good news is that we were on top of it. We have the greatest law enforcement force on the planet, in my opinion, and the reality was not as bad as the fear.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking at an earlier press conference alongside Cuomo, stressed that terrorists “yearn to attack New York City.”
“All we know of is one individual who, thank God, was unsuccessful in his aims,” he said.
President Donald Trump said in a statement that the attempted attack proved the relevance of his executive order restricting the entry of travelers from eight countries into the United States. He also said the attempt showed the need for restrictions to so-called chain migration, which allows people to sponsor visas of family members besides spouses and unmarried minor children.
“First and foremost, as I have been saying since I first announced my candidacy for President, America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows for too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country,” the president said.
The area where the explosion occurred is one of New York City’s busiest tourist and commuter zones. The Times Square-42nd Street/Port Authority station serves a dozen subway lines and a variety of local and regional bus lines.
The blast immediately sent the key transit hub into chaos. The A, C and E subway lines were evacuated, Sgt. Brendan Ryan told HuffPost, and the busy Port Authority bus terminal was cleared and temporarily shut down. Other trains bypassed Times Square and Port Authority stations.
Rosemary Usoh, 40, told HuffPost she was on the third floor of the bus terminal around 7:15 a.m. when at least a dozen police officers with automatic weapons shouted for people to evacuate the building immediately.
“They yelled at us to get out, that there was an explosion,” Usoh said. “I was nervous. There were a lot of people running.”
Alicja Wlodkowski, 51, told The New York Times that she was in a restaurant inside the bus terminal building when the explosion occurred.
“A woman fell, and nobody even stopped to help her because it was so crazy,” Wlodkowski said. “Then it all slowed down. I was standing and watching and scared.”
Video shows emergency crews responding to the Port Authority bus terminal on 42nd Street.
The Port Authority said the subway entrance outside the building on Eighth Avenue was closed “due to police activity.” The bus terminal building was evacuated and shut down for several hours. It reopened later in the morning, but the Port Authority warned bus commuters to “contact their carrier for the most current information.”
Police closed surrounding streets.
This story has been updated with new details on the suspect and comments from Cuomo and Trump.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
Source Article from https://www.yahoo.com/news/explosion-reported-near-times-square-124834265.html
By Gina Cherelus
(Reuters) – A suicide note released on Friday showed the former U.S. Marine who killed three police officers and wounded three others in Baton Rouge, Louisiana last July went to the city to kill police, a prosecutor said.
The note’s contents were among new information offered by local District Attorney Hillar Moore III that provided the most extensive details to date of the shooting rampage. It was the second racially-charged incident in July 2016 in the city, where angry protesters decried the police shooting of a black man outside a convenience store.
Citing computer records, Moore said gunman Gavin Long had searched for the addresses of the two Baton Rouge police officers involved in the July 5, 2016, death of Alton Sterling, 37, outside the Baton Rouge store.
But investigators found no evidence that Long, 29, who was black, did anything else to pursue those officers, the prosecutor said.
“We don’t have a clear answer as to why, exactly, he came” to Baton Rouge versus targeting another city, Moore told reporters.
Long, who was angered by the deaths of black men in police shootings, wrote in the suicide note that his actions were “a necessary evil” that needed to happen “in order to create substantial change within America’s police force and judicial system.”
During the incident, witnesses alerted Baton Rouge police officer Matthew Gerald and East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Garafola to a man circling behind a shop with an assault rifle.
Baton Rouge officer Montrell Jackson, who was at a nearby car wash, joined the lawmen to search for the suspect. In a surprise ambush, Long fired multiple rounds toward the three officers, killing them.
He injured three more Baton Rouge police officers before he was killed in a gunfight.
“There was no doubt” the officers’ decision to kill Long was necessary, Moore said.
“These courageous officers who responded to this tragedy were completely justified in dispensing of their duties and certainly saved more lives than what was taken,” Moore said.
Long’s ambush followed an attack on police in Dallas that left five officers dead and unrest over the police killing of Philando Castile, 32, near St. Paul, Minnesota, on July 6.
Federal prosecutors declined to charge the officers involved in Sterling’s death, and the officer who killed Castile during a traffic stop was acquitted in that case this month.
(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Andrew Hay)