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Jun 082013

Hemera/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) — A 4-year-old boy who accidentally shot and killed his father still doesn’t understand what happened to his dad and is looking for his friend and playmate, the man’s mother said.

The accident occurred Friday when Justin Stanfield Thomas, 35, of Phoenix was visiting his former roommate in Prescott Valley, Ariz., with his son, his family said.

Thomas’ 4-year-old son, who is currently at home with his mother in Phoenix, still does not understand what happened to his father.

“He doesn’t know that his father is gone,” the boy’s grandmother, Marilyn Andreatta, told ABC News. “He’s still waiting to play with him some more.”

Thomas took his son with him Friday when he drove from his Phoenix home to pick up his bed from his former roommate in Prescott Valley, his mother.

When they arrived, Thomas’ son reportedly found a gun in the home, ABC Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV reported. The boy accidentally pulled the trigger and shot his father.

Thomas was in critical condition when he was taken to the hospital, where he later died, KNXV-TV reported.

Andreatta, who lives in Tampa, Fla., said her eldest son was a former Green Beret who was stationed in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

But before he served in the military full time, Thomas did stand-up comedy, Andreatta said.

“He was very gregarious, very outgoing. He had a marvelous sense of humor,” she said. “We had a very special relationship. He was my best friend.”

Thomas was a father of two. In addition to a 4-year-old boy, he and his girlfriend had a two-month old baby, Andreatta said.

ABC News’ calls to the Prescott Valley Police Department were not immediately returned.

May 272013

Courtesy the Family(CHICAGO) — Police are questioning a person of interest in the fatal drive-by shooting of a 6-month-old Chicago baby, reported ABC’s Chicago station WLS-TV.

Jonylah Watkins was shot five times, along with her father, Jonathan Watkins, 29, in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood on March 11. Watkins was changing his daughter’s diaper in a car when police said someone fired on the pair.

Jonylah’s parents held hands at a news conference Sunday as their pastor, Corey Brooks, said they hoped that whoever killed their baby would be brought to justice.

“We think that every day it is going to happen. Every single day we are hopeful and thankful, you know, that it is going to happen,” Brooks said, as reported by WLS. “We are hoping that it will be in the next 24 hours.”

A Chicago police spokesman declined to comment to, citing the ongoing investigation.

Baby Jonylah became the face of Chicago’s gun violence epidemic when she was sprayed with bullets almost three months ago by an assailant who police said they believe was targeting her father.

The 6-month-old was treated at Comer Children’s Hospital, where she died of her injuries the next day.

“This is another tragedy, because no child, certainly not an infant, should be a victim of gang violence,” Garry McCarthy, Chicago’s police chief, said after the shooting. “Although there are a lot of angles that we’re pursuing, there are very strong gang overtones to this particular event.”

Police said Jonathan Watkins had known gang affiliations, but Brooks, his pastor, said that Watkins was not affiliated with any of Chicago’s four major street gangs, and had not been in trouble with the law since 2007.

As Watkins stood behind Brooks on Sunday, the pastor said the 29-year-old had been inspired to better his life after the fatal shooting of his daughter.

“Jonathan has been very cooperative. He has worked with the police diligently, and he wants the person to be caught,” Brooks said.

“He’s working now. The fact that he’s getting a GED, all of that stuff, was not happening before,” he said. “Even though this was a horrific thing that happened, we are going to try to do our very best to make their life a better life.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Apr 132013

Hemera/Thinkstock(CHRISTIANSBURG, Va.) — An 18-year-old college student may have posted messages online that detailed the weapons and ammunition he planned to use before allegedly shooting two women at a Virginia community college on Friday.

“I’m nervous because I’ve never really handled a shotgun but a few times with the Christiansburg police,” Neil MacInnis, of Christiansburg, Va., reportedly posted just minutes before he opened fire at the satellite campus of New River Community College at New River Valley Mall, police said.

“Stevens 320 shotgun. Buck shots and slugs,” MacInnis reportedly posted before the attack.

Investigators could not confirm if the information in the post matched the details of Friday’s attack.

Christiansburg Police Chief Mark Sisson said MacInnis had participated in the town’s Police Department Citizens Academy program in 2012.

The 12-week course allowed participants to ride along with police officers, tour the officers’ training facility, as well as practice with firearms at the firing range, the Associated Press reported.

The type of weapon, how it was obtained and how many shots were fired during the incident were not being released due to the ongoing investigation, Sisson said at a news briefing on Friday night.

MacInnis was charged with two counts each of malicious wounding and using a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is being held without bail in Montgomery County Jail.

MacInnis, who is a student at the community college, wounded one student and one school employee in the attack. One of the victims was airlifted to the hospital for medical attention, while the other was taken by ambulance, Sisson said at the news briefing.

MacInnis was subdued by an off-duty security guard less than 10 minutes after the shooting began on Friday.

Authorities have not yet established the shooter’s motive.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Mar 222013

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BRUNSWICK, Ga.) — Two teenage suspects, one as young as 14, have been arrested in the shooting death of a 1-year-old Georgia boy, who was killed as his mother pushed him in a stroller, police announced Friday.

Chief Tobe Green of the Brunswick Police Department said that Demarquis Elkins, 17, and a 14-year-old unidentified suspect whose name has been withheld because of his age, were arrested early this morning in connection with the baby’s death, and both have been charged with first-degree murder.

“We are still investigating the motive, but we are trying to turn every stone to make sure we get a motive,” Green said.

Green declined to provide further details, other than to say it continued to be an open investigation, and that no weapon had yet been recovered.

Under Georgia law, Elkins is considered an adult, Green said, but the younger suspect is considered a minor.

“We are still following up on leads from our witnesses and are still involved in collecting evidence,” Green said. Search warrants had been issued at three locations near Brunswick, which has a population of about 15,500 people.

Brunswick police, along with a SWAT team and various agencies, had launched a vast manhunt across the Glynn County area in search of the two teenage suspects after the shooting on Thursday morning.

Sherry West, the 41-year-old mother of the child, told police she’d been walking her 13-month-old son, Antonio, in a stroller Thursday morning through their Brunswick, Ga., neighborhood when two African-American boys approached her and demanded money. When she told them she didn’t have any money, West said one of the boys pulled out a handgun.

“He said, ‘I’m going to kill you if you don’t give me money,’ and I said, ‘I swear I don’t have any,”‘ West told WAWS-TV in Jacksonville, Fla.

West said she tried to shield her child with her arms, but the gunman shoved her and shot the baby in the head. West was shot in the leg.

Going on West’s description, police said they began looking for two African-American boys between the ages of 10 and 15 years old since Thursday. No details about how the suspects were arrested were given.

Officer Todd Rhodes, a spokesman for the Brunswick Police Department, confirmed that the weapon used in the shooting was a handgun but declined to describe it further.

Since the shooting, police said 30 different leads had been called into the Brunswick Police Department and the Glynn County Police Department, or were submitted through email. Police said the Glynn County School Board Campus Police had been assisting law enforcement in combing school attendance records for leads.


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Mar 092013

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) — Seattle police are working to determine the motive of a woman suspected of critically wounding a 65-year-old man inside a city parks building on Friday.

After a three hour-long manhunt for the suspect, police arrested Carolyn Piksa, a Seattle Parks employee, at her home in Burien, Wash., at 4:49 p.m. Friday.

Authorities are working to determine the relationship between Piksa and the 65-year-old victim, Bill Keller, as well as the motive for the shooting, Seattle Deputy Chief Nick Metz said.

The shooting unfolded just before 2 p.m. Friday and prompted the city to shut down all community centers and put area schools on high alert.

“We looked at this incident as a citywide emergency, because we knew that this suspect was likely to have access to a variety of parks department facilities, including some of the community centers,” Metz said.

Authorities responded to a Seattle Parks maintenance building after receiving a call from a man believed to be the victim, Keller, who said he had been shot. None of the other employees in the building had been targeted, Metz said.

Keller, the executive director of the Associated Recreation Council, was rushed to Harborview Medical Center, in critical but stable condition. He was last listed in stable but serious condition, according to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.

Investigators used cell phone signals to track Piksa to her house. A SWAT team surrounded her residence and ordered her through their bullhorn to come out of the house.

Piksa immediately surrendered unarmed and was taken to the Seattle Police Department’s homicide unit.

A weapon has not been recovered, but Metz said authorities planned to search Piksa’s home.

All park facilities and events will run on a normal schedule over the weekend, according to the Seattle Mayor’s Office.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio