Posts by Jason Sickles, Yahoo
- Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News10 days ago
The celebrating began before the coroner could collect the bodies of Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo, the Las Vegas patrol officers ambushed and executed while eating at a pizzeria last month.
“The good news is, there are two less police in the world,” read an entry on the Facebook page for CopBlock.org.
The post was visible for less than a day, but it attracted at least 6,300 likes and comments by the time the page’s administrators removed it.
Jerad Miller — who along with his wife, Amanda, gunned down the Vegas police officers before dying during a shootout with police — was one of Cop Block’s 780,000-plus Facebook fans.
The decentralized advocacy group says it disavows violence while spreading a belief that “badges don’t grant extra rights.”
But the Millers, described by investigators as anti-government extremists, had a deadly animosity for authority.
KILLEEN, Texas — There are days when George and Linda Methvin still tiptoe around their home in nearby Belton like it’s an emotional minefield.
Eleven years ago next month Army officers came to the two-story redbrick with word that their 22-year-old son, Sgt. Daniel Methvin, had been killed by an insurgent’s grenade in Iraq.
The Methvins have learned to cope with the loss, but as George says, “Don’t let the facade fool you. It’s always there.”
That’s why a wooden box beside their bed is latched and coated in dust. The letters inside, sent from Daniel in Iraq, haven’t been read since his death.
“It’s just too tender, too bittersweet,” Linda, 61, told Yahoo News.
A burial flag the Army gave them sits in the garage. They dodge TV news, especially war stories, when possible.
“My stomach and chest tighten up,” said George, 62.
But living in a military community makes it hard to escape everything. Fort Hood, which covers 340 square miles of Central Texas, is home to 40,000 Army soldiers.
The Texas Republican Party's annual convention ended a week ago, but it’s still managing to make headlines.
The GOP gathering first attracted national attention by fast-tracking a new platform that includes endorsing “reparative therapy” for gays. Some of the more moderate Republicans in attendance had hoped to address the matter, but the anti-gay topic was never allowed to come up for debate.
Now, a reporter who was covering the convention says she was targeted and taunted because of her Muslim headdress.
Heba Said, a senior at the University of Texas at Arlington, is the opinion editor of the school paper, The Shorthorn. The 22-year-old said she applied for media credentials and attended the convention hoping to share with her readers what it was like to sit in on panel discussions with delegates.
Instead, Said writes, “I discovered a cult-like hatred that is simply disgusting.” From her report:
A day before going on a shooting rampage that left two Las Vegas police officers and a bystander dead, Jerad Miller, one of the gunmen, posted this on Facebook:
“The dawn of a new day. May all of our coming sacrifices be worth it.”
Witnesses reportedly said Miller, 31, and his wife, Amanda, shouted, “This is a revolution” and “We're freedom fighters” when they ambushed the officers who were on their lunch break at a pizza restaurant.
If their social media accounts are any indication, rants about attacks and disgust with authority were a common thread in their lives.
“To the people in the world...your lucky i can't kill you now but remember one day one day i will get you because one day all hell will break lose and i'll be standing in the middle of it with a shot gun in one hand and a pistol in the other,” Amanda Miller posted on Facebook on May 23, 2011.
After killing Police Officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, and taking their weapons, police said, the Millers fled across the street to a Walmart store, where they shot and killed customer Joseph Wilcox, 31, before apparently taking their own lives in a suicide pact.
In a Miami auditorium less than three miles from where slain teen Trayvon Martin is buried, his friend Rachel Jeantel on Friday was presented her high school diploma, fulfilling the promise she said she made him.
The moment was even more poignant with Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, looking on.
“Her coming is like having Trayvon there saying, ‘You did it. You proved people wrong,’” Jeantel told Yahoo News.
Jeantel was talking on the phone with Martin, 17, in the last moments of his life on Feb. 26, 2012. The unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, then 28, as the two fought on a dark neighborhood sidewalk in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. The case roused a national conversation about racial profiling, self-defense, gun control, vigilantism, civil rights and more.
Zimmerman, the community’s volunteer crime watchman, maintained he shot in self-defense and was found not guilty during a nationally televised trial last July.
“Execute Condition Gray!” blared over the intercom at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., in the late afternoon three years ago on Thursday.
Panic in the hospital operator’s voice told emergency room nurse Tracy Hernandez that this tornado warning was different.
“We had heard sirens and stuff before, but we had never had a threatening storm like this while I was on duty,” said Hernandez, who had worked there five years.
Within minutes one of the worst twisters in U.S. history was wrecking the nine-story building. Nearly every window shattered, doors were blown off, the roof caved and interior walls collapsed. The hospital lost all power, even the emergency generators.
“The tornado gathered up everything in its path and threw it straight at us,” Hernandez said. “The building couldn’t match what Mother Nature had thrown at it.”
With any luck, Joplin will never have another tragedy like the mile-wide, 200-mph twister that killed 158 people, including six at the battered hospital.
But with southwest Missouri often in the crosshairs during storm season, the team building the new hospital isn’t taking chances.
DALLAS — A dozen pieces of cardboard are sprawled on an art gallery floor in a hopscotch pattern.
It looks like child’s play, but the situated squares also bear prominent passages penned by homeless people looking for assistance.
“Anything Will Help”
“Out Of Work”
“Stranded & Hungry”
Artist Willie Baronet watches as the attendees skip across his exhibit in their sock feet.
“There is a moment when they realize they’re stepping on a homeless sign, and they have this visceral reaction,” Baronet, 54, said. “The symbolism of that to me is profound. I believe we all sometimes step on the homeless metaphorically without meaning to.
“I find it odd that somebody would think that stepping on a piece of cardboard on a gallery floor is a big deal when they might be willing to ignore a person day after day.”
There was a time when Baronet avoided homeless people or concocted stories in his head as to why they were begging — anything to justify his own discomfort.
But his mindset started shifting in 1993 when, on a whim, he began buying and collecting signs from homeless people on street corners. Two decades later, Baronet has amassed hundreds of the signs.
The focus of Jessica Sowards' portraits are usually warm fuzzies — baby bumps, birthdays and other family milestones.
So it was with great irony and pain this week that the Arkansas photographer snapped the saddest image her lens has ever captured.
The photo is of her close friend April Smith lying in a hospital bed. Smith’s face is swollen and battered. Two broken legs and a fractured pelvis will keep her from walking for months.
But even worse, the tornado also claimed the lives of her two children, 9-year-old Cameron and 7-year-old Tyler.
The whole family, along with husband and dad Daniel Smith, were beneath a mattress in a bathtub last Sunday evening when the violent twister obliterated their Vilonia, Ark., home. Daniel suffered head trauma and is recovering at a separate Little Rock hospital from his wife.
Cameron and Tyler were among eight Vilonia residents who died on Sunday. The Arkansas tornado, which packed wind speeds of up to 200 mph, killed 15 people in all. The Smiths' home was wiped from its foundation. Their church has set up a fund for the family.
VILONIA, Ark. — Jerri Weaver’s house is certainly unconventional. Some might even call it kooky. But come crunch time — when Mother Nature’s fury is at her doorstep as it was Sunday night — the native Arkansan has peace of mind in her bunkerlike abode.
“I have no fear,” Weaver said. “I know that we’re going to be OK.”
That’s because the 1,600-square-foot home was built into a hillside. While some people here in tornado-prone Central Arkansas have storm shelters, Weaver and her family have essentially lived in one for 30 years.
The initial design and purpose of the home was for energy savings (the earthen insulation requires less heating and cooling), but the Weavers have come to value the home’s near tornado-proofing.
“At first people think it’s weird, but you start talking to them and they realize it’s pretty cool,” said Liz Weaver, Jerri’s daughter. “We built Hobbit-holes before they were cool.”
Voyne Weaver, Jerri’s father-in-law and a former concrete dealer, has built four of the underground houses along Vilanco Lane. Each is constructed with 10-inch thick concrete walls and another 14 inches of concrete in the ceiling. The top of the home is buried in two feet of dirt.
VILONIA, Ark. — Doctors and nurses are fussing over James Purvis, trying to stitch up gashes to his arm and above his left eye. The 84-year-old suffered the wounds a few hours earlier when a massive tornado ravaged his home.
Purvis knows he’s fortunate to be alive, and was antsy when his son, who had ridden out the storm with him, arrived at the hospital.
“He immediately wanted me to find his rosary,” said Jim Purvis, 55.
Jim tracked down his dad’s bloodstained pants and pulled a pouch from a front pocket. Inside the pouch were prayer beads and a crucifix Purvis has carried since he fought in the Korean War.
“It gives you something to lean on,” said the elder Purvis, who was still in hospital scrubs Monday afternoon. “We lost everything. The thing came through the center of the house.”
The father and son were watching television shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday when weather conditions began to worsen. After the TV signal went out, the men began watching the skies as they had done so many times before here in tornado-prone central Arkansas.
Outside of their three-bedroom, two-bath brick house, nightfall was setting in. But looking southwest, they could see dark clouds swirling angrily.