Suspected shooter and three women dead after standoff at veterans home

The community in Yountville, California are remembering the victims of the standoff: three staff members at the nation’s largest veterans home, one of whom was seven months pregnant.

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Officer killed in California after pursuit and standoff

A reckless driving suspect barricaded himself inside an apartment complex and shot at two officers through the door, leaving one dead. The suspect is now custody.

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4 Dead As Hostage Standoff Ends At California Veterans Home

A standoff at a veterans home in Yountville, California, ended Friday night with the deaths of three female employees and the gunman who took them hostage, the California Highway Patrol said.

Police identified the shooter as Albert Wong, a military veteran they said was armed with a high-powered rifle. The gunman stormed the Veterans Home of California-Yountville in Napa County midmorning Friday during a farewell party for an employee. He exchanged gunfire with a Napa County sheriff’s deputy, then took three hostages into a room, where he stayed throughout the day. The others in the building fled.

The victims have been identified as Jennifer Golick, 42; Jennifer Gonzalez, 29, and Christine Loeber, 48.

Hostage negotiators were never able to contact Wong, 36, as law enforcement officers and a SWAT team circled the veterans home. Officers finally entered the building about 6 p.m. local time and found the four bodies, Chris Childs, assistant captain of the California Highway Patrol, said at a news conference late Friday.

“This is a tragic piece of news, one that we were really hoping we wouldn’t have to come before the public to give,” Childs said.

Childs thanked the deputy who confronted the gunman and prevented him from “going out and finding other victims.” The deputy was not injured.

Officers found the gunman’s rental car nearby, and a police dog indicated there may have been an explosive inside. “We found a cellphone, not a bomb,” Childs said. 

He did not say what kind of gun the shooter used or give a time of death for the gunman and the hostages. Authorities were reaching out to family members of the victims late Friday.

California state Sen. Bill Dodd (D) told reporters that the gunman was a participant in The Pathway Home, an independently run program on Veterans Home grounds that works with veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder. The gunman was apparently “a veteran who served in the Middle East and has PTSD,” Dodd told ABC News. The man had been in the program since last year but had been asked to leave earlier this week, Dodd said. All of the victims had reportedly worked with the shooter in the Pathway program.

The standoff began after the county sheriff’s office responded to a call about 10:30 a.m. when a gunman walked into a party hosted by The Pathway Home.

Larry Kamer said his wife, Devereaux Smith, was one of about 10 to 15 people at the party when the gunman came in, according to The Associated Press. The gunman reportedly allowed everyone, including Smith, to leave except for the three people he took as hostages.

“Potentially” 30 shots were heard being fired, Veterans Home spokesman Joshua Kisser told HuffPost.

The Veterans Home is built on roughly 600 acres, making it the largest veterans home in the U.S., Kisser said. The facility, about an hour north of San Francisco, is home to about 1,000 retired service members. 

Jan Thornton, 51, said her father is a World War II veteran who lives in the skilled nursing section of the facility. She said staff immediately locked down the buildings, along with individual rooms, upon reports of an active shooter Friday morning. 

“I called my dad’s friend [who lives there] right away, because my dad has dementia and I didn’t want to panic him,” Thornton said, adding that her father was safe.

Brian Goder, a 59-year-old Air Force veteran who has lived at the Veterans’ Home for a little over two years, said he was walking to the dining hall when he was put on lockdown.

“As I was walking, people kept yelling ‘Sir! Sir!’ to me,” Goder told HuffPost. “I turned around and there were probably about a dozen police officers with ARs running past me.”

Ground and air ambulances were initially staged near the Veterans Home, police said. Police also cleared out the nearby Vintners Golf Club, which is open to the public.

“My poor dad,” Thornton said. “He saw enough of this at war. He doesn’t need to see this at home.”

Sarah Ruiz-Grossman contributed reporting. 

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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Illinois Sheriff’s Deputy Killed Himself During Standoff With Police

FAIRFIELD, Ill. — A former Wayne County, Illinois sheriff’s deputy killed himself during a standoff with police Thursday night.

Police were called to Lee Rankin’s home north of Fairfield on Thursday night to investigate a domestic disturbance. Rankin’s wife and children were able to flee the home as the situation escalated.

Court records show Rankin’s wife filed for divorce on Sept. 29 and he had only recently been served with court papers.

At some point during the standoff, police said they heard a gunshot from inside the home. A SWAT team robot was deployed which sent back video confirming Rankin was dead.

The events leading up to Rankin’s death go back more than a year. On May 30, 2016, Rankin was arrested on a charge of domestic battery for allegedly beating his wife. Because of the charge, Rankin was suspended by Wayne County Sheriff Mike Everett.

Out of the domestic violence charge, a new felony charge – criminal damage to state supported property — was filed.

Rankin was accused of breaking a conference room table at the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department.

In June of this year, Rankin appeared in Wayne County Circuit Court and entered a negotiated guilty plea. In return, the state reduced the charge of criminal damage to state supported property from a felony to a misdemeanor. The state dropped the domestic battery charge.

By reducing the criminal damage charge to a misdemeanor, Rankin was able to legally keep his guns.

Wayne County Coroner Jimmy Taylor said Rankin died from a single gunshot wound to the head from a shotgun.

Rankin had been a member of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department since 2003 and had also been a member of the same SWAT team that responded to the standoff Thursday night.

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Is Washington looking for an escalation in diplomatic standoff with Russia?


Sometimes you just have to laugh. Because when it comes to Western media coverage of Russian-American tussles, clearly what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander. So, let’s put the shoe on the other foot, for a moment.

Imagine an alternative universe where US officials reacted with outrage on Saturday after the Russian Foreign Ministry announced it was closing the US Consulate in Vladivostok and giving staff only 48 hours’ notice to evacuate.

To compound matters, on Monday, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) indicated its intention to carry out searches at the building on Tuesday afternoon. The raids would extend to trade missions in the capital, Moscow.

In Vladivostok, the operations won’t be restricted to US consular offices in the Far Eastern city, but will also take place at the apartments of staff who live in the building and who have diplomatic immunity. To perform those searches, Russian authorities have ordered those staff members and their families, including children and babies, to leave their homes for up to 12 hours.

“We are talking about an invasion in the consulate office and homes of diplomatic staff, who themselves are being ousted not to disturb FSB agents,” US State Department spokesperson Heather Ann Nauert complained. She pointed out that Washington was given just two days to close a consulate which serves the needs of “an area bigger than all of Europe.”

The Kremlin’s actions seriously violate international norms, including Moscow’s obligations in the Vienna declarations on diplomatic and consulate relations, Nauert said. These are “unprecedented measures on restricting the work” of the US diplomatic mission in Russia, she contested, “It is obvious that Russia is not interested in the development of relations between people.”

To make matters worse, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman confirmed his boss had personally ordered the measure. “This was a decision made by the president himself,” press secretary Dmitry Peskov told supporters. The US media was especially angered by Putin’s involvement, after he spent the past year promising to repair relations with Washington, repeatedly saying how “it’d be great to get along with America” and “we are going to have excellent relations.”

Mikhail Belov, a US expert, who has never been to America and can’t speak English, on news channel Rossiya 24 said: “We were all worried that Putin was going soft on the Americans when he started talking about making friends with them. The military industry will be relieved now he’s changing tack,” he said.

Real world woes

Obviously, the above is a joke. But the fact the US gave Russia two days last weekend to shut its San Francisco Consulate is no laughing matter. Nor were Saturday’s FBI raids on the building or the virtual mainstream media blackout of any dissenting views on the move. This would stand in stark contrast to the predictable reaction if Russia had even considered pulling a similar stunt.

Right now, the only conclusion to be drawn from Donald Trump’s choice is that Washington is actively looking for an escalation in its standoff with Moscow. Hoping Putin will take the bait and raise the stakes even further. Because how else can you interpret a move which would surely be hyped as an “act of war” if carried out by the Russian side?

For her part, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova insists America is seriously violating international regulations. She also says the latest US decision “even exceeds” Barack Obama’s move to expel Russian envoys and confiscate Russian consular property in the dying days of his presidency.

Zakharova may well be correct, because the searches of two compounds in Washington on Saturday certainly seemed like an illegal takeover, particularly in light of how the US authorities lifted diplomatic immunity from the trade mission compound at short notice – something considered extremely abnormal in diplomatic circles, especially between major powers.

What’s next?

The main questions now are how will Moscow respond, and what do the US authorities hope to gain from their actions? Firstly, the Kremlin might not want to descend to the same level as their adversaries and may try to retake the moral high ground, as Putin did in response to Obama’s December orders. On the other hand, the Russians may feel enough is enough and prepare a similar clampdown on the Americans, perhaps by removing leisure facilities or conducting raids. Some well-placed sources have suggested a nuclear option where Moscow reduces its embassy personnel in the US to the bare minimum and forces their counterparts to do the same in Russia. A state-of-affairs which would see both sides restricted to their capital city properties only.

When it comes to working out what the Americans are really up to, the answer seems clear now. The White House wants to antagonize the Kremlin to such an extent that something like the extreme notion of a large-scale shutdown of bilateral interaction is implemented. In this event, the State Department may feel it gains by making Russia look like the petulant partner. The problem with this plan lies in how uncharacteristic it would be for Putin, and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, to take the bait.

The other confusing issue is Donald Trump’s behavior. He came to office promising a vast improvement in US-Russian relations. Thus, either he’s changed his mind, or he’s lost control of his own apparatchiks, and has been forced to surrender to their demands. Either way, America is now a dangerous rival, because there seems to be no longer any consistency in its conduct. And, barring impeachment or resignation, there’s still almost three and a half years of the Trump Presidency ahead. So, brace yourself, because things could get a lot worse.

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Jury refuses to convict in Bundy ranch standoff

[8/23/17]  A federal jury in Las Vegas refused Tuesday to convict four defendants who were retried on accusations that they threatened and assaulted federal agents by wielding assault weapons in a 2014 confrontation to stop a cattle roundup near the Nevada ranch of states’ rights figure Cliven Bundy.

In a stunning setback to federal prosecutors planning to try the Bundy family patriarch and two adult sons later this year, the jury acquitted Ricky Lovelien and Steven Stewart of all 10 charges, and delivered not-guilty findings on most charges against Scott Drexler and Eric Parker.

More than 30 defendants’ supporters in the courtroom broke into applause after Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro ordered Lovelien and Stewart freed immediately and set Wednesday morning hearings to decide if Parker and Drexler should remain jailed pending a government decision whether to seek a third trial.

“Random people off the streets, these jurors, they told the government again that we’re not going to put up with tyranny,” said a John Lamb, a Montana resident who attended almost all the five weeks of trial, which began with jury selection July 10.

“They’ve been tried twice and found not guilty,” Bundy family matriarch Carol Bundy said outside court. “We the people are not guilty.”

A first trial earlier this year lasted two months and ended in April with a different jury finding two defendants — Gregory Burleson of Phoenix and Todd Engel of Idaho — guilty of some charges but failing to reach verdicts against Drexler, Parker, Lovelien and Stewart.

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