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Las Vegas massacre probe turns to gunman’s girlfriend in Philippines

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LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – The investigation into the motives of a Las Vegas retiree who killed 58 people in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history turned on Tuesday to the gunman’s girlfriend in the Philippines, where she turned up after the massacre, authorities said.

Stephen Paddock, who killed himself moments before police stormed the hotel suite he had transformed into a sniper’s nest on Sunday night, left no clear clues as to why he staged his attack on an outdoor concert below the high-rise building.

But law enforcement authorities were hoping to obtain some answers from a woman identified as Paddock’s live-in companion, Marilou Danley, who Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said was a “person of interest” in the investigation.

Lombardo, who said on Monday Danley was believed to be in Tokyo, told reporters on Tuesday she had been located in the Philippines and the Federal Bureau of Investigation was in the process of trying to bring her back to the United States.

“We are in conversations with her,” he told an afternoon news briefing. He reiterated police had no other suspects in the shooting itself.

Danley, an Australian citizen reported to have been born in the Philippines, had been sharing Paddock’s condo at a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, about 90 miles (145 km) northeast of Las Vegas, according to police and public records.

Investigators were examining a $100,000 wire transfer Paddock, 64, sent to an account in the Philippines that “appears to have been intended” for Danley, a senior U.S. homeland security official told Reuters on Tuesday.

The official, who has been briefed regularly on the probe but spoke on condition of anonymity, said the working assumption of investigators was that the money was intended as a form of life insurance payment for Danley.

The official said U.S. authorities were eager to question Danley, who described herself on social media websites as a “casino professional,” mother and grandmother, about whether Paddock encouraged her to leave the United States before he went on his rampage.

The official said investigators had also uncovered evidence that Paddock may have rehearsed his plans at other venues before ultimately carrying out his attack on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival from the 32nd floor suite of the Mandalay Bay hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.

ARSENAL RECOVERED

Fresh details about the massacre and the arsenal Paddock amassed emerged on Tuesday.

Police said Paddock strafed the concert crowd with bullets for nine to 11 minutes before taking his own life, and had set up cameras inside and outside his hotel suite so he could see police as they closed in on his location.

A total of 47 firearms were recovered from three locations searched by investigators – Paddock’s hotel suite, his home in Mesquite, and another property associated with him in Reno, Nevada, according to Jill Snyder, special agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

Snyder said 12 of the guns found in the hotel room were fitted with so-called bump-stock devices that allow the guns to be fired virtually as automatic weapons. The devices are legal under U.S. law, even though fully automatic weapons are for the most part banned.

The rifles, shotguns and pistols were purchased in four states – Nevada, Utah, California and Texas – Snyder told reporters at an evening news conference.

A search of Paddock’s car turned up a supply of ammonium nitrate, a fertiliser that can be formed into explosives and was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of a federal office building that killed 168 people, Lombardo said earlier.

Police also confirmed that photos widely published online showing the gunman’s body, his hands in gloves, lying on the floor beside two firearms and spent shell casings, were authentic crime-scene images obtained by media outlets. An internal investigation was under way to determine how they were leaked.

Video footage of the shooting spree on Sunday night caught by those on the ground showed throngs of people screaming in horror, some crouching in the open for cover, hemmed in by fellow concert-goers, and others running for cover as extended bursts of gunfire rained onto the crowd of some 20,000.

Police had put the death toll at 59 earlier on Tuesday, not including the gunman. However, the coroner’s office revised the confirmed tally to 58 dead, plus Paddock, on Tuesday night.

More than 500 people were injured, some trampled in the pandemonium. At least 20 of the survivors admitted to one of several hospitals in the area, University Medical Center, remained in critical condition on Tuesday, doctors said.

The union representing firefighters disclosed that a dozen off-duty firefighters who were attending the music festival were shot while trying to render aid to other spectators, two of them while performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on victims.

“This is a true feat of heroism on their part,” said Ray Rahne of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

WHAT DROVE GUNMAN?

But the central, unanswered question to the bloodshed was what drove the gunman’s actions.

Federal, state and local investigators have found no evidence that Paddock had even incidental contacts with foreign or domestic extremist groups, and reviews of his history showed no underlying pattern of criminal behaviour or hate speech, the homeland security official said.

While investigators had not ruled out the possibility of mental illness or some form of brain injury, “there’s no evidence of that, either,” the official said.

Paddock’s brother, Eric, has said he was mystified by the attack.

“It just makes less sense the more we use any kind of reason to figure it out,” Eric Paddock said in a text message on Tuesday. “I will bet any amount of money that they will not find any link to anything … he did this completely by himself.”

He said the family did not plan to hold a funeral for his brother, who was not religious, saying it could attract unwanted attention. He described his brother as a financially well-off enthusiast of video poker and cruises, with no history of mental health issues.

President Donald Trump told reporters on Tuesday that Paddock had been “a sick man, a demented man.”

GUN DEBATE STIRRED

The attack stirred the fractious debate about gun ownership in the United States, which is protected by the Second Amendment of the Constitution, and about how much that right should be subject to controls.

Sunday’s shooting followed the massacre of 26 young children and educators in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, and the slaying of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando last year.

The latter attack was previously the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Democrats reiterated what is generally the party’s stance, that legislative action is needed to reduce mass shootings. Republicans, who control the White House and both chambers of Congress, argue restrictions on lawful gun ownership cannot deter criminal behaviour.

“We’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by,” said Trump, who strongly supported gun rights during his presidential campaign.

Paddock seemed unlike the troubled, angry young men who experts said have come to embody the mass-shooter profile in the United States.

Public records on Paddock point to an itinerant existence across the U.S. West and Southeast, including stints as an apartment manager and aerospace industry worker. He appeared to be settling in to a quiet life when he bought a home in a Nevada retirement community a few years ago.

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UK

London stabbing murders: 18-year-old arrested on suspicion of killing two young men on same night in Camden

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THE INDEPENDENT — An 18-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of murdering two young men who were stabbed to death within two hours of each other in north London.

Police confirmed the deaths of Abdikarim Hassan, 17, and Sadiq Aadam, 20, in Camden on Tuesday evening.

The suspect was also arrested on one count of grievous bodily harm after a 16-year-old boy was stabbed outside a block of flats. He remains in hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Mr Hassan died in front of his mother after being stabbed in the chest at around 8.30pm. Mr Aadam died a short time later, with witnesses saying he had been slashed with a samurai sword.

Despite being given first aid by police, both men died at the scene of the stabbings.

Police say Mr Aadam and a friend were chased by a group of four men along an alleyway before the attack. The friend was unharmed.

Paul Considine, the detective chief inspector leading the investigation, said: “What is clear is that there were three violent attacks, by a group of men armed with knives, within about two hours of each other and within about a mile of each other.

“I need the public’s help to establish the exact circumstances in which two young men were murdered and another seriously injured, and to identify the people responsible.

“Today, I am asking local residents or those people who were out in the area that night to think back – and if they saw something that may help us, please get in contact. I can understand why some people may be reluctant or nervous about coming forward but we need your help. We will treat your information in the strictest of confidence.”

Mr Aadam is reportedly the third member of his family to die in a knife attack in five years. Mohamed Aadam, his brother, was murdered in the middle of the day in Camden Town in September, weeks before his 21st birthday, The Camden New Journal reported.

Their cousin, Mohamed Abdullahi, also known as “Lefty”, was murdered in June 2013 aged 20.

Mr Abdullahi’s father and the Aadam brothers’ uncle, Aydarus Ahmed, has campaigned to end knife violence since his son’s death.

“The frequency with which young men are prepared to take each others’ lives is shocking,” Mr Considine said. “We all have a part to play in preventing this. If you know something about these murders then please do your part in helping us with this investigation.

“One line of enquiry that we are urgently pursuing is that a blue van was seen in the area of the two murders. If you saw a vehicle that caused you concern due to how it was being driven or the people inside it then please get in touch with us.”

London has seen large rises in knife crime since then. Recorded incidents rose by 23 per cent in the capital during the 12-month period to the end of September last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

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Crime

Two Somali men stabbed to death in north London as 2018 toll reaches 15

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Two men have been stabbed to death within two hours of each other in the same London borough, bringing the number of people fatally wounded with knives in the capital in 2018 to at least 15.

The Metropolitan police launched two separate murder investigations into the killings on Tuesday night but said they had not ruled out the possibility of a link between them.

The first victim was found with stab wounds in Bartholomew Road, Camden, at about 8.30pm. He was pronounced dead at the scene. He was named by family members as 17-year-old Abdikarim Hassan.

Officers were later called to reports of a disturbance in Malden Road, Camden, at about 10.15pm, and found 20-year-old Sadiq Adan Mohamed with serious stab wounds. He was also pronounced dead at the scene.

No arrests have been made.

Hassan came to the UK from Somalia when he was two years old and was the eldest of six children, his uncle Yusuf Ahmed said.

He was a student at Westminster college and was a “good guy” who was “always smiling” and liked playing football, he said.

Elsewhere in London, a 24-year-old man who was shot in the head in Westminster on Tuesday night remains in a critical condition in hospital. Two people were arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder.

Reacting to the most recent stabbings, Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “London must come together to make it clear that this cannot continue. We will not police our way out of this problem. There is a role for all of us – London’s public, our partners and the police.

“There will be young people out today who are carrying knives. Stop and think: do you really want your life to end?”

Police deployed extra patrols across Camden overnight, while a section 60 order – which gives police the right to search people in locations where they believe serious violence will take place – was in force until 7am on Wednesday.

Official figures show 2017 was among young people since at least 2002. Forty-six people aged 25 or under were stabbed to death in London, 21 more than the previous year, according to police figures.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who has faced criticism for his handling of knife crime, said: “This morning I am asking the prime minister and the home secretary to urgently meet with me, my deputy mayor for policing and the commissioner of the Metropolitan police service to discuss what more can be done across government – including policing, youth services, sentencing, health services, probation and prisons – to tackle the evil of knife attacks on Britain’s streets.”

The latest phase of a Met police operation to fight knife crime resulted in nearly 300 arrests and the seizure of more than 250 weapons. Throughout the week-long operation officers recovered 265 knives, six firearms, and 45 other offensive weapons.

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Columbus, Ohio

Ismail Mohamed Wants To Be Ohio’s First Somali-American Legislator

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Ismail Mohamed, a candidate for Ohio's 25th House District, would be the state's first Somali-American legislator. CLARE ROTH / WOSU

Home means a few different things for Ismail Mohamed.

Right now, Mohamed works in Cincinnati as a staff lawyer at Baker Hostetler. He was born in Somalia, a country his family was forced to flee in the early 2000s as the civil war unfolded. But he feels his deepest connection is to the Columbus neighborhood where he was raised.

Mohamed graduated from Northland High School about a decade ago, earned a Bachelor’s and a law degree from The Ohio State University, and returned to the Northland last spring. Now, he’s running to represent the 25th District in the Ohio House.

“I reached out to a lot of different politicians to kind of get answers on some of the concerns that are going on, and I was not getting the answers that I thought were really addressing the issues. So that’s what prompted me to run,” Mohamed said.

Mohamed will challenge Democratic incumbent Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent in the May primary. If he wins that election, and the subsequent general in November, he’d be the first Somali-American state legislator in Ohio and the second in the country.

Mohamed says his district includes a lot of New American communities, including from Somalia, Nepal and other foreign countries.

“It’s critical we’re promoting such communities to really advance our goals and our policies in the future,” he says. “I’m so honored to be that poster-child and push that forward.”

But Mohamed says those groups are part of the larger fabric of the 25th District, and the issues they face are largely the same.

“The biggest issue in our community, I would say, is lack of economic development. The 25th [House District] has the lowest income rate — I think median income is $31,000,” he says. “A little more than half have high school diplomas. So there’s lack of educational attainment as well, which is driving the poverty issue.”

Mohamed is only 25 years old, far younger than the average age of Ohio lawmakers. But he said he doesn’t believe his lack of political experience will get in his way.

“Someone who doesn’t have a lot of ties to a political party, doesn’t have ties to the political machine, and is able to directly touch our constituents — I think that puts me in a better position,” he says.

And as tensions over immigration rise all over the country, Mohamed says local politics are more important than ever.

“It’s not just a national arena that’s defining us,” he says. “It’s more us defining what’s going in the national arena.”

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