Posts by Jason Sickles, Yahoo

  • Oregon community college gunman sympathized with Virginia TV shooter, shared Newtown school shooting documentary

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 7 days ago

    On the same website, Chris Harper-Mercer, using the handle “Lithium_Love,” also expressed sympathy for Vester Flanagan, the disgruntled former television reporter who shot and killed two Virginia journalists on live TV in August.

    “People like him have nothing left to live for, and the only thing left to do is lash out at a society that has abandoned them,” Harper-Mercer wrote in a blog post on Aug. 31. “His family described him as alone, no partner/lover.

    “On an interesting note, I have noted that so many people like him are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are. A man who was known by no one is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”

    An agitated Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin offered little detail about the gunman at a news conference Thursday evening.

    Public records show that the gunman lived with his mother, a licensed nurse, two miles from the college.


  • Delta State professor Shannon Lamb’s killing spree puzzles family, friends

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 23 days ago

    Everything about the doting Mississippi father of two seems to contradict someone capable of a killing spree.

    Police on Tuesday admitted that they don’t know why Lamb killed live-in girlfriend Amy Prentiss with a single gunshot to the head sometime late Sunday, then drove five hours to Cleveland, Miss., where he fatally shot a colleague, Delta State assistant professor Ethan Schmidt, on Monday.

    “It’s still a pretty fluid case right now,” said Gautier, Miss., police officer Matt Hoggatt. “At this time, Gautier police have no indication of any relationship between the victim at Delta State and the victim in Gautier.”

    “We are all in shock and at a loss to explain his behavior,” Mark Bonta, Lamb’s longtime friend, told Yahoo News in an email. “As his Facebook page shows, he was a very popular guy; why he did what he did remains a great mystery to my family and to many friends and colleagues.”

    Bonta, now a professor of earth science at Penn State Altoona, first had Lamb as a student at Delta State, a public university of 4,000 students about two hours northwest of Jackson, Miss.

    Christie, the wife of Lamb’s brother Stanley, was the only family member contacted to reply to Yahoo News.

  • Harrowing evidence photos of James Holmes’ apartment offer new glimpse into Colorado theater shooting case

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 27 days ago

    Crime scene images from one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history are providing a disturbing glimpse into Colorado theater shooter James Holmes’ frightening behavior leading up the July 2012 massacre.

    The photos were made public by the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s office in response to open-records requests. With the trial concluding last month, Colorado law allows the public to seek access to criminal justice records in the possession of a criminal justice agency.

    “This entire case is something that people can learn from,” said Karen Steinhauser, a Denver lawyer and former prosecutor. “I believe that police officers dealing with a mass shooting investigation or any type of investigation can learn from the investigation that was done, how the crime scene was investigated and documented, photographed, videoed, etc. ”

  • Charleston church shooting survivor describes the moment suspected gunman Dylann Roof began firing

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 29 days ago

    The gunman who killed nine Charleston, S.C., churchgoers in June waited for a Bible study group to begin praying before pulling his pistol and unleashing a torrent of bullets.

    “He caught us with our eyes closed,” Felicia Sanders, one of three people who survived the massacre, told NBC News on Wednesday. “I never told nobody this.”

    Police say Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old avowed white supremacist, was bent on murdering black people when he went to the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston the evening of June 17. Autopsies on the victims revealed that each one was shot several times.

    “I would like to ask him why. I really want to ask him why he did it,” Sanders said during the tearful interview with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt. “If we were so nice to you, why did you do it?”

    “I remember my son saying, ‘Mama, he shot me in the head,’” Sanders said Wednesday.

  • Katrina anniversary brings tears, gratitude to tiny Mississippi town

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    That feeling of being snubbed only got worse when Hurricane Katrina hit 10 years ago Saturday.

    “Every time you seen it on the news, it was ‘New Orleans, New Orleans, New Orleans,” said O.J. Mitchell, a Pearlington native. “They never mention the gulf shore.”

    While the narrative for New Orleans after a decade has become one of rebirth and renewal, the same cannot be said for this small border town that saw just as much devastation. Many here acknowledge that Pearlington may physically never be the same, but townspeople say one unexpected positive note is that the unity required for the recovery also broke a longstanding racial divide.

    The Gulf Coast hamlet 40 miles east of New Orleans was Katrina’s ground zero. The eye of the storm pushed a 30-foot-wall of water up the Pearl River, nearly wiping out the town, which pre-Katrina had a population of about 1,700 . Almost every home was reduced to rubble or deluged by water and mud.

    With attention and resources going to more densely populated areas, it took search-and-rescue teams and relief organizations several days to reach Pearlington. Some residents slept in tents for six months before being issued FEMA trailers.



  • Reporting Hurricane Katrina: How covering the story swept journalists into the drama

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    NEW ORLEANS — Journalists are observers. We are trained to help others by reporting stories, not by becoming part of them. Hurricane Katrina, however, tested those boundaries for many of us.

    A decade ago, I was a producer for the CBS Evening News when the worst natural disaster in modern U.S. history changed New Orleans forever.

    [PHOTOS: Reporter’s personal images from covering Hurricane Katrina]

    I rode out the Monday, Aug. 29, 2005, storm downtown in the Superdome — the city's “shelter of last resort" — with some 10,000 New Orleanians and 500 national guardsmen. A day later, we witnessed widespread looting as floodwaters rose. By Wednesday, I was navigating a maze of suffering souls marooned on a bridge near the Superdome.

    It was more than I could bear.

    “Sorry to bother,” said Kim, then 52. “May I use your phone?”

    Smith was on the street outside the Kims’ hotel by the time I arrived.



  • Hurricane Katrina forced their church from New Orleans, but a congregation’s remarkable journey kept them together in Texas

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    In the wee hours of Aug. 28, 2005, New Orleans native June Lemon grabbed her church phone directory and hastily dialed more than 50 households with an urgent message.

    “Pack your clothes for three days, not more than three days, one bag per person,” Lemon said, then told them to be at the church no later than 8 a.m.

    A Category 5 tropical cyclone was set to hit New Orleans in less than 24 hours. Anxiety spread. Would Hurricane Katrina be the “big one” that flood-prone New Orleans had forever dreaded?

    “People were panicking,” says Willie Monnet, Lemon’s longtime pastor.

    Monnet, 63, started the non-denominational Smoking for Jesus Ministry (the unique name is intended to show that the group is “red hot for the Lord”) in 1996 on the city’s rough-and-tumble east side.

    Many families in his congregation of more than 200 didn’t own cars or have money to evacuate, so the church pooled resources and fled New Orleans — together. “Because we were a family,” Monnet says.

    The eleventh-hour decision saved lives and changed the entire congregation’s course in ways that, even 10 years later, still seem beyond belief for many in the community.


  • State of emergency issued following Ferguson anniversary violence

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    ST. LOUIS — A day of remembrance for Michael Brown quickly turned violent late Sunday when police shot a man they said had opened fire on them in Ferguson, Mo., close to where demonstrators gathered.

    The shooter, identified as 18-year-old Tyrone Harris Jr. of St. Louis, remains in critical condition, according to St. Louis County police. On Monday afternoon, prosecutors issued 10 charges against Harris — including four counts of first-degree assault on a police officer.

    Tyrone Harris Sr., the alleged shooter’s father, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that his son and Brown, who was fatally shot by former Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson, “were real close.”

    Three hours after the police-involved shooting, two more teens were wounded in an apparent drive-by shooting as they walked near a memorial honoring Brown.

     “Chief Belmar shall exercise all powers and duties necessary to preserve order, prevent crimes, and protect the life and property of our citizens,” County Executive Steve Stenger wrote.


  • What it’s like to be a black cop in Ferguson

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 2 mths ago

    “He was really overqualified for the job,” recalls Ferguson police Sgt. Harry Dilworth, a member of the hiring committee. But Dilworth, Ferguson’s most senior African-American officer, knew minority candidates for the department were rare, especially those with Kirkwood’s credentials.

    “It was a no-brainer,” Dilworth says. “He got the job.”

    It’s been one year since this once-obscure St. Louis suburb became a flash point in the national debate about police tactics against African-Americans following the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer. The controversial killing prompted a wave of national soul-searching and activism that is still going on today. And it’s been no less transformational for the black members of Ferguson’s embattled police department.

    Kirkwood — the last African-American patrolman hired by Ferguson, and one of just four black officers on the 55-member force a year ago — is now gone. He recently resigned, just shy of his third anniversary, a casualty of the city’s new fame as a national symbol of racial strife.

  • Theater shooting verdict: James Holmes sentenced to life in prison

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 2 mths ago

    Three years and 19 days after a heavily armed gunman terrorized a packed Denver-area movie theater, a Colorado jury has reached a decision on the shooter’s fate. James Holmes, who was found guilty last month of killing 12 moviegoers and injuring 70 others, received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The case experienced numerous delays, largely due to legal battles surrounding the gunman’s mental illness.

    Arapahoe County Judge Carlos Samour read the verdict shortly after 5 p.m. MT / 7 p.m. ET. Below is analysis from Yahoo News national reporter Jason Sickles, who has covered the tragedy since July 2012.