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Black gang members shoot and kill woman, child, and local reporter

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Police: ‘Random’ shootings leave woman, child, reporter dead

A man riding in a car with his cousin shot and killed another passenger then returned to the same neighborhood near Orlando hours later and shot four more people, killing a journalist covering the original shooting and a 9-year-old girl, Florida police and witnesses said.

Orange County Sheriff John Mina characterized the shootings Wednesday as random acts of violence. Mina said during a news conference that 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the initial shooting that killed Nathacha Augustin, 38, and that “numerous more charges” would follow.

Spectrum News 13 identified the slain reporter as Dylan Lyons. Photographer Jesse Walden was also wounded. Mina said Walden has been talking to investigators while being treated at a hospital.

The two were in an unmarked news vehicle on Wednesday afternoon covering the first homicide when a man approached and shot them, Mina said. The man then went to a nearby home where he fatally shot T’yonna Major and critically wounded the girl’s mother. Officials have not released the mother’s name.

Mina said Thursday that investigators do not know the motive for any of the shootings. He said Moses is a known gang member but that the shootings didn’t appear to be gang-related. It was not clear if Moses knew that two of the victims were journalists and Mina noted that their vehicle didn’t look like a typical news van or feature the station’s logo.

The sheriff said when deputies arrested Moses they seized a Glock semiautomatic weapon that “was still hot to the touch, meaning it had just been fired, and there were no more rounds.”

Body camera footage released by the sheriff’s office shows Moses apparently resisting arrest. After deputies take him to the ground, Moses repeatedly yells that he can’t breathe and that deputies are killing him, according to the video. Moses complained he was hurt and was taken to a hospital where he attacked medical staff, Mina said. He has since refused to speak with detectives.

The Office of the Public Defender for Orange and Osceola counties, which is representing Moses, declined to comment.

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A man who called 911 after Augustin was shot told investigators that he was driving around smoking cannabis with her when he spotted Moses, his cousin, walking along a road. He said Moses “seemed down” so he offered him a ride, according to an arrest affidavit. Moses climbed into the backseat, behind Augustin, and about 30 seconds later the driver said he “heard a loud bang” and saw blood on Augustin’s face.

He said he stopped and Moses fled. The driver called 911.

He told investigators that Moses and Augustin didn’t know each other and that he didn’t hear the two exchange any words before the shot was fired.

Deputies first went to the Pine Hills area, just northwest of Orlando, at around 11 a.m. Wednesday following the shooting of Augustin. About five hours later, 911 calls began coming in from the same area. Police found the journalists who had been shot being helped by a news crew from another station, WFTV.

“I want to acknowledge the brave WFTV news crew who was there and witnessed the shooting and rendered aid to the victims until our deputies arrived,” Mina said.

Lyons was born and raised in Philadelphia, and graduated from the University of Central Florida, the station said. Before joining Spectrum News, he worked for a station in Gainesville.

“(Lyons) took his job very seriously. He loved his career. He loved what he did,” said Spectrum Sports 360 reporter and friend Josh Miller. “He loved the community, telling the stories of people, reporting on the news, and he was just passionate about what he did.”

Rachel Lyons, the reporter’s older sister, is raising money for his funeral via GoFundMe. She wrote that Lyons would have turned 25 in March. He is also survived by his parents and fiancée.

In a recorded message sent to parents Thursday, Pine Hill Elementary School Principal Latonya Smothers said the 9-year-old T’yonna was a “kind and beautiful young girl with an infectious smile.”

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During Thursday’s news conference, State Attorney Monique H. Worrell said her office had received multiple calls asking why Moses was not in custody from previous offenses.

“This individual’s only adult offense was a possession of marijuana, 4.6 grams of marijuana, that my office did not charge because when you have a quantity that low, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement does not test the substance, and that means the state’s attorneys office cannot prove the case,” she said.

Worrell said she was prohibited by Florida law from discussing any juvenile charges Moses might have faced. Earlier, Mina said Moses had faced at least two gun-related charges as a juvenile, including possession of a firearm by a minor and armed robbery.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said “our hearts go out” to the families of those killed in Wednesday’s shooting

“Too many lives are being ripped apart by gun violence,” she said. “The president continues to call on Congress to act on gun safety, and for state officials to take action at the state level.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t publicly commented on the shooting. Earlier this week, the Republican governor and likely 2024 presidential candidate made stops in three major Democratic metro areas — New York, Philadelphia and Chicago — to extol tough-on-crime laws that he has signed in Florida and to criticize “woke” culture and anti-police sentiment.

In recent months, DeSantis has expressed support for constitutional carry legislation, which would eliminate the requirement for concealed weapons permits in Florida. The phrase “constitutional carry” refers to the view that the right to bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment negates any need for a permit or license to carry a gun in public, either openly or concealed.

Worldwide, 40 journalists were reported killed last year, plus another two this year before Wednesday, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. One of those was in the U.S.

Jeff German, who covered politics and corruption for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, was found dead outside his home in September after being stabbed multiple times. Former Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, who had been a frequent subject of German’s reporting, has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge.

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In 2015, Virginia reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed during their live TV broadcast for CBS affiliate WDBJ7. The gunman, a former reporter for the TV station, killed himself hours later.

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Frisaro reported from Fort Lauderdale, Fischer reported from Miami; Associated Press writer Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles and Curt Anderson in Miami contributed to this report.

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Israel hails ‘success’ after blocking unprecedented attack from Iran

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Israel hails ‘success’ after blocking unprecedented attack from Iran

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli leaders on Sunday credited an international military coalition with helping thwart a direct Iranian attack involving hundreds of drones and missiles, calling the coordinated response a starting point for a “strategic alliance” of regional opposition to Tehran.

But Israel’s War Cabinet met without making a decision on next steps, an official said, as a nervous world waited for any sign of further escalation of the former shadow war.

The military coalition, led by the United States, Britain and France and appearing to include a number of Middle Eastern countries, gave Israel support at a time when it finds itself isolated over its war against Hamas in Gaza. The coalition also could serve as a model for regional relations when that war ends.

“This was the first time that such a coalition worked together against the threat of Iran and its proxies in the Middle East,” said the Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

One unknown is which of Israel’s neighbors participated in the shooting down of the vast majority of about 350 drones and missiles Iran launched. Israeli military officials and a key War Cabinet member noted additional “partners” without naming them. When pressed, White House national security spokesman John Kirby would not name them either.

But one appeared to be Jordan, which described its action as self-defense.

“There was an assessment that there was a real danger of Iranian marches and missiles falling on Jordan, and the armed forces dealt with this danger. And if this danger came from Israel, Jordan would take the same action,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said in an interview on Al-Mamlaka state television. U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Sunday.

The U.S. has long tried to forge a regionwide alliance against Iran as a way of integrating Israel and boosting ties with the Arab world. The effort has included the 2020 Abraham Accords, which established diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab countries, and having Israel in the U.S. military’s Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East and works closely with the armies of moderate Arab states.

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The U.S. had been working to establish full relations between Israel and regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia before the Oct. 7 Hamas attack sparked Israel’s war in Gaza. The war, which has claimed over 33,700 Palestinian lives, has frozen those efforts due to widespread outrage across the Arab world. But it appears that some behind-the-scenes cooperation has continued, and the White House has held out hopes of forging Israel-Saudi ties as part of a postwar plan.

Just ahead of Iran’s attack, the commander of CENTCOM, Gen. Erik Kurilla, visited Israel to map out a strategy.

Israel’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, on Sunday thanked CENTCOM for the joint defensive effort. Both Jordan and Saudi Arabia are under the CENTCOM umbrella. While neither acknowledged involvement in intercepting Iran’s launches, the Israeli military released a map showing missiles traveling through the airspace of both nations.

“Arab countries came to the aid of Israel in stopping the attack because they understand that regional organizing is required against Iran, otherwise they will be next in line,” Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israel’s military intelligence, wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said he had spoken with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and that the cooperation “highlighted the opportunity to establish an international coalition and strategic alliance to counter the threat posed by Iran.”

The White House signaled that it hopes to build on the partnerships and urged Israel to think twice before striking Iran. U.S. officials said Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington would not participate in any offensive action against Iran.

Israel’s War Cabinet met late Sunday to discuss a possible response, but an Israeli official familiar with the talks said no decisions had been made. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing confidential deliberations.

Asked about plans for retaliation, Hagari declined to comment directly. “We are at high readiness in all fronts,” he said.

“We will build a regional coalition and collect the price from Iran, in the way and at the time that suits us,” said a key War Cabinet member, Benny Gantz.

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Iran launched the attack in response to a strike widely blamed on Israel that hit an Iranian consular building in Syria this month and killed two Iranian generals.

By Sunday morning, Iran said the attack was over, and Israel reopened its airspace. Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, claimed Iran had taught Israel a lesson and warned that “any new adventures against the interests of the Iranian nation would be met with a heavier and regretful response from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The foes have been engaged in a shadow war for years, but Sunday’s assault was the first time Iran launched a direct military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran said it targeted Israeli facilities involved in the Damascus strike, and that it told the White House early Sunday that the operation would be “minimalistic.”

But U.S. officials said Iran’s intent was to “destroy and cause casualties” and that if successful, the strikes would have caused an “uncontrollable” escalation. At one point, at least 100 ballistic missiles were in the air with just minutes of flight time to Israel, the officials said.

Israel said more than 99% of what Iran fired was intercepted, with just a few missiles getting through. An Israeli airbase sustained minor damage.

Israel has over the years established — often with the help of the U.S. — a multilayered air-defense network that includes systems capable of intercepting a variety of threats, including long-range missiles, cruise missiles, drones and short-range rockets.

That system, along with collaboration with the U.S. and others, helped thwart what could have been a far more devastating assault at a time when Israel is already deeply engaged in Gaza as well as low-level fighting on its northern border with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia. Both Hamas and Hezbollah are backed by Iran.

While thwarting the Iranian onslaught could help restore Israel’s image after the Hamas attack in October, what the Middle East’s best-equipped army does next will be closely watched in the region and in Western capitals — especially as Israel seeks to develop the coalition it praised Sunday.

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In Washington, Biden pledged to convene allies to develop a unified response. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. would hold talks with allies. After an urgent meeting, the Group of Seven countries unanimously condemned Iran’s attack and said they stood ready to take “further measures.”

Israel and Iran have been on a collision course throughout Israel’s war in Gaza. In the Oct. 7 attack, militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, also backed by Iran, killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped 250 others. Israel’s offensive in Gaza has killed over 33,000 people, according to local health officials.

Hamas welcomed Iran’s attack, saying it was “a natural right and a deserved response” to the strike in Syria. It urged the Iran-backed groups in the region to continue to support Hamas in the war.

Hezbollah also welcomed the attack. Almost immediately after the war in Gaza erupted, Hezbollah began attacking Israel’s northern border. The two sides have been involved in daily exchanges of fire, while Iranian-backed groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen have launched rockets and missiles toward Israel.

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Federman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Michelle L. Price in Washington; Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran; Samy Magdy in Cairo; Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan; and Giada Zampano in Rome contributed to this report.

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How to get rid of NYC rats without brutality? Birth control is one idea

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How to get rid of NYC rats without brutality? Birth control is one idea

New York lawmakers are proposing rules to humanely drive down the population of rats and other rodents, eyeing contraception and a ban on glue traps as alternatives to poison or a slow, brutal death.

Politicians have long come up with creative ways to battle the rodents, but some lawmakers are now proposing city and statewide measures to do more.

In New York City, the idea to distribute rat contraceptives got fresh attention in city government Thursday following the death of an escaped zoo owl, known as Flaco, who was found dead with rat poison in his system.

City Council Member Shaun Abreu proposed a city ordinance Thursday that would establish a pilot program for controlling the millions of rats lurking in subway stations and empty lots by using birth control instead of lethal chemicals. Abreu, chair of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, said the contraceptives also are more ethical and humane than other methods.

The contraceptive, called ContraPest, is contained in salty, fatty pellets that are scattered in rat-infested areas as bait. It works by targeting ovarian function in female rats and disrupting sperm cell production in males, The New York Times reported.

New York exterminators currently kill rats using snap and glue traps, poisons that make them bleed internally, and carbon monoxide gas that can suffocate them in burrows. Some hobbyists have even trained their dogs to hunt them.

Rashad Edwards, a film and television actor who runs pest management company Scurry Inc. in New York City with his wife, said the best method he has found when dealing with rodents is carbon monoxide.

He tries to use the most humane method possible, and carbon monoxide euthanizes the rats slowly, putting them to sleep and killing them. Edwards avoids using rat poison whenever possible because it is dangerous and torturous to the rodents, he said.

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Some lawmakers in Albany are considering a statewide ban on glue boards under a bill moving through the Legislature. The traps, usually made from a slab of cardboard or plastic coated in a sticky material, can also ensnare small animals that land on its surface.

Edwards opposes a ban on sticky traps, because he uses them on other pests, such as ants, to reduce overall pesticide use. When ants get into a house, he uses sticky traps to figure out where they’re most often passing by. It helps him narrow zones of pesticide use “so that you don’t go spray the entire place.”

“This is not a problem we can kill our way out of,” said Jakob Shaw, a special project manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “It’s time to embrace these more common sense and humane methods.”

Two cities in California have passed bans on glue traps in recent years. On the federal level, a bill currently in committee would ban the traps nationwide.

“It ends a really inhumane practice of managing rat populations,” said Jabari Brisport, the New York state senator who represents part of Brooklyn and sponsored the bill proposing the new guidelines. “There are more effective and more humane ways to deal with rats.”

Every generation of New Yorkers has struggled to control rat populations. Mayor Eric Adams hired a “rat czar” last year tasked with battling the detested rodents. Last month, New York City reduced the amount of food served up to rats by mandating all businesses to put trash out in boxes.

While the war on rats has no end in sight, the exterminator Edwards said we can learn a lot from their resilience. The rodents, he said, can never be eradicated, only managed.

“They’re very smart, and they’re very wise,” he said. “It’s very inspiring but just — not in my house.”

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Coachella: Earthquake shakes SoCal desert during music fest

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Coachella: Earthquake shakes SoCal desert during music fest

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A small earthquake shook the Southern California desert Saturday near Coachella, where the famous music festival is being held this weekend. No damage or injuries were reported.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 3.8, hit at 9:08 a.m. about 8 miles (13 kilometers) northeast of Borrego Springs in Riverside County, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The epicenter was about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Coachella. It struck at a depth of about 7 miles (11 kilometers), the USGS said.

A dispatcher with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said there were no calls reporting any problems from the quake.

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