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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Video released early Monday by New Orleans police shows a possible suspect in the Mother's Day gunfire that wounded 19 people during a neighborhood parade.

The grainy surveillance video shows a crowd suddenly scattering in all directions, with some falling to the ground. They appear to be running from a man who turns and runs out of the picture. The person is wearing a white T-shirt and dark pants. The image isn't clear, but police say they hope someone will recognize him and notify investigators.

Police posted a series of still images from the video on YouTube.

Police believe more than one gun was fired in the burst of Sunday afternoon violence — the latest to flare up around a celebration this year — and they have vowed to swiftly track down those responsible. Detectives were conducting interviews, collecting any surveillance video they could find and gathering evidence from the scene. Cellphone video taken in the aftermath of the shooting shows victims lying on the ground, blood on the pavement and others bending over to comfort them.

Police also say the reward for information leading to arrests and indictments in the case is $10,000.

At least three of the victims were seriously wounded. Of the rest, many were grazed and authorities said that, overall, most wounds were not life threatening. No deaths were reported.

The victims included 10 men, seven women, a boy and a girl. The children, both 10 years old, were grazed and in good condition.

It's not the first time gunfire has shattered a festive mood in the city this year. Five people were wounded in January after a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, and four were wounded in a shooting in the French Quarter in the days leading up to Mardi Gras. Two teens were arrested in connection with the MLK shootings; three men were arrested and charged in the Mardi Gras shootings.

"The specialness of the day doesn't appear to interrupt the relentless drumbeat of violence," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at a news conference outside a hospital where victims were being treated Sunday night.

Mary Beth Romig, a spokeswoman for the FBI in New Orleans, characterized the shooting as street violence.

As many as 400 people came out for the second-line procession — a boisterous New Orleans tradition — though only half that many were in the immediate vicinity of the shooting, Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said. Officers were interspersed with the marchers, which is routine for such events.

Second-line parades are loose processions in which people dance down the street, often following behind a brass band. They can be planned events or impromptu offshoots of other celebrations. They trace their origins to the city's famous jazz funerals.

Police saw three suspects running from the scene. No arrests had been made as of late Sunday.

Outside the hospital Sunday night, Leonard Temple became teary as he talked about a friend who was in surgery after being shot three times during the parade. Temple was told the man was hit while trying to push his own daughter out of the way.

"People were just hanging out. We were just chilling. And this happened. Bad things always happen to good people," said Temple, who was at the parade but didn't see the shootings.

A social club called The Original Big 7 organized Sunday's event. The group was founded in 1996 at the Saint Bernard housing projects, according to its MySpace page.

The neighborhood where the shooting happened is a mix of low-income and middle-class row houses, some boarded up. As of last year, the 7th Ward's population was about 60 percent of its pre-Hurricane Katrina level.

The crime scene was about 1.5 miles from the heart of the French Quarter and near the Treme neighborhood, which has been the centerpiece for the HBO TV series "Treme."

Sunday's violence comes at a time when the city is struggling to pay for tens of millions of dollars required under federal consent decrees to reform the police department and the city jail. The mayor initially backed the police reform agreement and had sought a comprehensive civil rights investigation of the department when he took office in 2010. However, he is trying to put the brakes on the reform plans. In January, he said the city can't afford to spend millions required under the police reform agreement and the jail agreement reached separately between the Justice Department and Sheriff Marlin Gusman, who runs the city-funded jail.

The agreement to reform the police department came after a scathing Justice Department report in 2011 said the city's officers have often used deadly force without justification, made unconstitutional arrests and engaged in racial profiling. A series of criminal investigations focused on a string of police shootings in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Shootings at parades and neighborhood celebrations have become more common in recent years as the city has struggled with street crime, sometimes gang-related.

But police vowed to solve Sunday's shooting. Serpas said it wasn't clear if particular people in the second line were targeted, or if the shots were fired at random.

"We'll get them. We have good resources in this neighborhood," Serpas said.

___ Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Michael Kunzelman and Kevin McGill in New Orleans and AP Radio reporter Jackie Quinn in Washington.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The top Democrat on the House Oversight panel said Monday that the authors of an independent investigation into the deadly assault in Benghazi, Libya, should answer questions about their work at a congressional hearing, not in a private deposition that the Republicans want.

"If our committee is truly interested in improving the security of American diplomatic personnel overseas, members of our committee and the American public should hear first-hand from the individuals who have done the most exhaustive review of these attacks," Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland wrote in a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the panel's chairman.

In a Sunday talk show appearance, Issa said he would seek sworn testimony from veteran diplomat Thomas Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The two conducted an independent investigation of the Sept. 11 attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Their report was highly critical of the State Department's handling of at the U.S. outpost. Pickering, who also appeared on the Sunday shows, defended his scathing assessment but absolved former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"We knew where the responsibility rested," said Pickering, whose career working for Republican and Democratic administrations, spans four decades.

Issa said he wants to know with whom the pair spoke to reach their conclusions about Clinton. Cummings suggested that they testify in public before the committee on May 22.

"This is a failure, it needs to be investigated. Our committee can investigate. Now, Ambassador Pickering, his people and he refused to come before our committee," Issa said Sunday.

Pickering, sitting next to Issa during an appearance on one Sunday show, disputed the chairman's account and said that he was willing to testify before the committee.

"That is not true," said the former top diplomat, referring to Issa's claim that he refused to appear before the committee.

In a separate interview, Pickering said he asked, via the White House, to appear at last Wednesday's hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in which three State Department officials testified. He said he could have answered many of the questions lawmakers raised, such as whether U.S. military forces could have saved Americans had they dispatched F-16 jet fighters to the consulate, some 1,600 miles away from the nearest likely launching point.

"Mike Mullen, who was part of this report and indeed worked very closely with all of us and shared many of the responsibilities directly with me, made it very clear that his view as a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that there were nothing within range that could have made a difference," Pickering said.

Republicans and Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya, have questioned why the military couldn't move faster to stop the two nighttime attacks over several hours. Hicks, who testified before the House Oversight panel, said a show of U.S. military force might have prevented the second attack on the CIA annex that killed security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

Robert Gates, a former Defense secretary, defended the decisions made at the time, saying: "I think my decisions would have been just as theirs were," adding "getting somebody there in a timely way — would have been very difficult, if not impossible."

The Accountability Review Board, which Pickering headed with Mullen, did not question Clinton at length about the attacks but concluded last December that the decisions about the consulate were made well below the secretary's level.

In her last formal testimony as secretary of State, Clinton appeared before two congressional committees investigating the Benghazi attacks. She took responsibility for the department's missteps and failures leading up to the assault, but said that requests for more security at the diplomatic mission in Benghazi didn't reach her desk.

Pickering and Mullen's blistering report found that "systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels" of the State Department meant that security was "inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place."

Issa spoke on NBC's "Meet the Press." Pickering spoke on CNN's "State of the Union," CBS' "Face the Nation" and NBC. Gates appeared on CBS.
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 The man accused of setting the Randolph County house fire that killed four children has pleaded not guilty.

33-year-old Derrick Twardoski is facing murder charges after allegedly setting the fire that killed 12-year-old Ethan Owen, 9-year-old Kailey Owen, and five-year-old twins Brandon and Landon Owen in Percy, a village 60 miles southeast of St. Louis. A judge ordered him jailed without bond and assigned him to be represented by a public defender.   State's Attorney Jeremy Walker says he doesn't consider the fire random, though he's declined to detail what led investigators to Twardoski or any relationship he may have had with the victims.

Randolph County Coroner Randy Dudenbostel has confirmed that all four died of smoke inhalation.  

Funeral services for the children will be Tuesday at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Steelville, Illinois.  

Donation are being accepted at the church to help the family with their expenses.  

The funeral service for the Owen children has been planned. It will be held Tuesday, May 14, at 2:00pm at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Steeleville, IL, with visitation Monday evening from 4:00pm until 8:00pm and again Tuesday from 7:30am until 1:45pm also at the church.

 
Monday, 13 May 2013 11:08
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   ST. LOUIS (AP) - Exactly how much the soggy spring has slowed farmers' efforts to plant their corn will become a bit clearer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday was to issue its latest update on spring plantings.

A week ago, the USDA reported that just 12 percent of the nation's cornfields have been planted. That's about a quarter of what was planted by this date over the previous five years, and it marks the slowest start in decades in some states.

In Illinois, only 7 percent of the Illinois corn crop was sown.

Yet USDA estimates that while the wet start is expected to reduce the amount each acre produces this year, farmers are planting so much corn that they're still likely to bring in a record amount.

   

Monday, 13 May 2013 08:33
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