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SAS heroes now victims of legal witch hunt – 40 years after serving in Northern Ireland

Johnny Mercer discusses help for veterans on BBC Breakfast

About 10 special forces veterans face investigation and possible trial over the Troubles. Members of the Who Dares Wins unit undertook high-risk undercover missions to fight terrorists in the region. MP Johnny Mercer, who was fired as Veterans Minister after criticising the Government for not protecting soldiers, said: “We are ruining people’s lives.” 
While one SAS veteran of the conflict said: “My colleagues and I risked our lives on a daily basis. Forty-odd years later as a ‘thank you’, the state is hounding us for doing our duty and helping protect the innocent.”

Boris Johnson has often pledged to stop “vexatious” prosecutions of ex-soldiers. But laws safeguarding troops on foreign operations do not cover those on Operation Banner, the deployment in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 2007.

Legislation to address the issue has been delayed and there are claims that the Government fears provoking Republican Sinn Fein.

A senior source said yesterday: “Decisions about charging veterans are being made at the moment. There are a number of cases involving individuals from a number of different units, one of which is the SAS.

“If the Government fails to honour its promise to protect these veterans, you will see a slow trickle of these men going to trial.”

soldiers

MP Johnny Mercer was fired after criticising the Government for not protecting soldiers (Image: Liam McBurney / PA Wire)

Rusty Firmin, who served with the SAS in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s, said: “I know personally some of the SAS and [special forces] lads that are being and have been pursued.

“I don’t know what charges if any they may face but in my opinion there shouldn’t be any at all.My colleagues and I risked our lives on a daily basis in Northern Ireland tracking and fighting terrorists for the state.

“Forty-odd years later as a thank you the same state is hounding us for doing our duty and helping protect the innocent.”

Author Mr Firmin, who helped break a terrorist siege of London’s Iranian Embassy in 1980, added: “Boris Johnson should be brought to task. Why has he said time and time again he would stop the prosecution of veterans? All the PM and Michael Gove are doing is following Tony Blair’s lead in this – the ex-Labour PM who was responsible in the first place for this mess.”

Under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement promoted by Mr Blair, 500 terrorists including IRA men were freed from jail early and 300 suspects were given guarantees they would not face prosecution.

Robin Horsfall

Robin Horsfall served with the SAS during the Troubles (Image: Screen Grab)

Republican paramilitaries including the IRA caused about 60 per cent of the 3,500 deaths in the Troubles; security forces were responsible for around 10 per cent.

Ex-Army officer Mr Mercer said of the spectre of trials: “This situation will only get worse and worse until the Government fulfils its promise to Northern Ireland veterans. We are ruining people’s lives.

“I am seeing veterans every day now. They are being decimated.”

Robin Horsfall, who served with the SAS during the Troubles, has warned any soldier involved in a shooting might be quizzed.

He said previously: “These prosecutions have always been political and were designed to put pressure on the British Government on behalf of Sinn Fein and the IRA.

“Just one guilty verdict will see them turn around and say that every soldier in Northern Ireland committed atrocities.”

Anti-SAS graffiti

Anti-SAS graffiti across a wall on a Belfast hospital in 1972 (Image: Alex Bowie / Getty)

Four soldiers already face trial for shootings in the Troubles, three of them cases from the early 1970s.

In the first legacy trial of veterans, elderly Paras “A” and “C” were cleared this month of murdering Official IRA gunman Joe McCann as he resisted arrest in 1972, after 48-year-old evidence was ruled inadmissible.

McCann, 24, had killed 15 soldiers, the Official IRA said.

The Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland hinted the failure of the case might affect the trials of other veterans. Former Army head, General The Lord Dannatt, who won the Military Cross in Northern Ireland, said: “It is no longer appropriate to try and prosecute anybody over the Troubles as a means of trying to uncover the truth about incidents in the past.” He backs a Statute of Limitations which would block prosecutions over incidents before the 1998 deal.

Lawyers for one soldier due to go on trial, Dennis Hutchings, say veterans are up to 54 times more likely than Republican paramilitaries to face charges.

Mr Hutchings, 80, said: “It is absolutely crazy.” 

Rusty Firmin

Rusty Firmin served with the SAS in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s (Image: NC)

“Special Forces are specifically trained to take out the enemy. They work covertly and put their own lives at serious risk.

“In Northern Ireland they talk about legacy issues. Tony Blair stopped all legacy issues with the Good Friday Agreement – with the exception of service personnel.”

The Ministry of Defence said: “Legal and welfare support is provided for all those involved in this process. We do not comment on past or present activities of the Special Forces.”

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis hopes to bring in laws on legacy issues shortly. The Government has hinted it is considering a South Africa-style truth and reconciliation process.

Relatives of people killed would learn what had happened without those involved incriminating themselves.

A Whitehall source said: “We are looking for a decisive move away from prosecutions to information recovery for truth and reconciliation for victims.”

The witch hunt has extended to other conflicts: troops who served in Iraq faced more than 3,300 allegations – most levelled by now-disgraced solicitor Phil Shiner’s Public Interest Lawyers. Investigations which cost the taxpayer £57million ended without a single prosecution but were said to have ruined the of lives of innocent soldiers.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Memorial services honoring Austin shooting victims begin Sunday

Author: Jala Washington
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Memorial services honoring Austin shooting victims begin Sunday

WACO, Texas (KXAN) — It’s been one week since the heart-shattering triple homicide at the Arboretum in Northwest Austin.

Memorial services for 35-year-old Amanda Broderick, and her 18-year-old daughter Alyssa Broderick began on Sunday, April 25.

Friends and family had the opportunity from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Oakcrest Funeral Home in Waco to view Amanda and Alyssa one last time.

On Monday, April 26, funeral services will be held for the mother and daughter at Oakcrest at noon.

A viewing for Alyssa’s boyfriend, Willie Moses Simmons III will be on Monday as well, at the Elgin Funeral Home. The family will accept visitors from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Simmons’ funeral services will be at 11am on Tuesday at Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church of Austin.

Police arrested Amanda’s ex-husband and a former Travis County Sheriff’s Office Detective, Stephen Broderick on Monday morning.

He’s accused of intentionally crashing into her car before shooting and killing the three.

This story will be updated after KXAN News at 9 and 10 by Reporter Jala Washington.

Indianapolis shooting: FBI says it interviewed FedEx mass shooter last year; 4 Sikhs among victims

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis’ tight knit Sikh community mourned Saturday as members learned that four Sikhs were among the eight people killed in the mass shooting at a FedEx warehouse.The Marion County Coroner’s office identified the dead late Friday as Matthew R. Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jaswinder Kaur, 64; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Karli Smith, 19; and John Weisert, 74.

Deputy Police Chief Craig McCartt, said Hole apparently began firing randomly at people in the parking lot of the FedEx facility, killing four, before entering the building, fatally shooting four more people and then turning the gun on himself.It was not clear if Sikhs were targeted.

Police Chief Randal Taylor noted that a “significant” number of employees at the FedEx facility are members of the Sikh community. Some members gathered at a local hotel Friday looking for information on family and friends.

“I have several family members who work at the particular facility and are traumatized,” Komal Chohan, who said Amarjeet Johal was her grandmother, said in a statement issued by the Sikh Coalition. “My nani, my family, and our families should not feel unsafe at work, at their place of worship, or anywhere. Enough is enough–our community has been through enough trauma.”

There are between 8,000 and 10,000 Sikh Americans in Indiana, according to the coalition. Members of the religion, which began in India in the 15th century, began settling in Indiana more than 50 years ago and opened it first house of worship, known as a gurdwara, in 1999.

The attack was another blow to the Asian American community a month after six people of Asian descent were killed in a mass shooting in the Atlanta area and amid ongoing attacks against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hole’s motives remained unclear Saturday.”While we don’t yet know the motive of the shooter, he targeted a facility known to be heavily populated by Sikh employees, and the attack is traumatic for our community as we continue to face senseless violence, said Satjeet Kaur, Sikh Coalition Executive Director. “Further traumatizing is the reality that many of these community members, like Sikhs we have worked with in the past, will eventually have to return to the place where their lives were almost taken from them.”

The coalition says about 500,00 Sikhs live in the U.S. Many practicing Sikhs are visually distinguishable by their articles of faith, which include the unshorn hair and turban.

Paul Keenan, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis field office, said Friday that agents questioned Hole last year after his mother called police to say that her son might commit “suicide by cop.” He said the FBI was called after items were found in Hole’s bedroom but he did not elaborate on what they were. He said agents found no evidence of a crime and that they did not identify Hole as espousing a racially motivated ideology.

A police report obtained by The Associated Press shows that officers seized a pump-action shotgun from Hole’s home after responding to the mother’s call. Keenan said the gun was never returned. Indianapolis police said Friday that Hole opened fire with a rifle.

Smith, the youngest of the victims, was last in contact with her family shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday, family members said in social media posts late Friday. Dominique Troutman, Smith’s sister, waited hours at the Holiday Inn for an update on her sister. “Words can’t even explain how I feel. … I’m so hurt,” Troutman said in a Facebook post Friday night.Weisert had been working as a bag handler at FedEx for four years, his wife, Carol, told WISH-TV. The couple was married nearly 50 years.

McCartt said Hole was a former employee of FedEx and last worked for the company in 2020. The deputy police chief said he did not know why Hole left the job or if he had ties to the workers in the facility. He said police have not yet uncovered a motive for the shooting.

The killings marked the latest in a string of recent mass shootings across the country and the third mass shooting this year in Indianapolis. Five people, including a pregnant woman, were shot and killed in the city in January, and a man was accused of killing three adults and a child before abducting his daughter during at argument at a home in March. In other states last month, eight people were fatally shot at massage businesses in the Atlanta area, and 10 died in gunfire at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado.

The family of Brandon Scott Hole released a statement to the local station WRTV Saturday:
“We are devastated at the loss of life caused as a result of Brandon’s actions; through the love of his family, we tried to get him the help he needed. Our sincerest and most heartfelt apologies go out to the victims of this senseless tragedy. We are so sorry for the pain and hurt being felt by their families and the entire Indianapolis community.”

“The Hole family and its representatives decline all interview requests at this time.”

___

Associated Press reporters Michael Balsamo and Eric Tucker in Washington and Pat Eaton-Robb in Connecticut contributed to this report. Casey Smith is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

AP

This article originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Coast Guard: 2 more capsize victims recovered off Louisiana

PORT FOURCHON, Louisiana — Divers searching the site of a capsized lift boat off Louisiana recovered two more unresponsive crewmembers late Friday, the Coast Guard said after another day of frantic waiting by family members worried for the fate of those who went missing earlier this week.Petty Officer Jonathan Lally, a Coast Guard spokesman, declined to elaborate on the latest two found and referred questions from The Associated Press to a local coroner.

A Coast Guard statement said commercial divers on the capsized Seacor Power lift boat found the crewmembers. But the Coast Guard said it was not releasing the names of any of those rescued, recovered or still missing out of respect for the privacy of their families.”Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family, friends and loved ones of everyone involved in this tragic incident,” said Capt. Will Watson, commander of Coast Guard Sector New Orleans. “We are using every asset available to us to continue our search efforts.”

Rescuers in the air and the sea have been searching for the 19 workers who were aboard the vessel, which is designed to support offshore oil rigs, when it overturned Tuesday in rough weather about 8 miles (13 kilometers) south of the Louisiana coast. Nine remain missing.

“Right now, we’re hoping for a miracle,” said Steven Walcott, brother of missing worker Gregory Walcott.

Six people were rescued Tuesday shortly after the vessel capsized, and one body was recovered from the water Wednesday. A second body was found Thursday night, according to a Coast Guard news release.

The boat has three legs designed to extend to the sea floor and raise the ship so it can serve as a platform for nearby rigs.

The hope of loved ones is that those still missing have found air pockets to survive inside the ship. But authorities haven’t reported any contact with anyone inside the ship since Tuesday. On Thursday, searchers knocked on the ship’s hull without response.

Meanwhile, feelings of shock and worry were turning to frustration and anger for families of the missing.”It just keeps going on and on,” said Frank Boeckl, whose nephew, Larry Warren, was among the missing workers. “They need more divers in that water, and every family feels this way. It’s not just me.”

Time is of the essence because any air pockets will eventually become depleted of oxygen, said Mauritius Bell, diving safety officer at the California Academy of Sciences: “At some point, it’s not survivable.”

Divers had gone into the water Friday but came back up at mid-morning as the weather became too dangerous to continue, the Coast Guard said in a news release. They then resumed diving Friday afternoon, and the Coast Guard said they would continue the searching through the evening, weather permitting.

Steven Walcott said the dive teams should have been working around the clock from the start. “It was more complicated than it should have been,” said Walcott, who like his brother has worked on lift boats for more than 20 years.

But he said he was trying to remain optimistic, knowing his brother would do what he needed to survive, but it was getting harder with each passing day. “We’re just keeping hope,” he said.

Two of the missing workers had been communicating with rescuers by two-way radio Tuesday after the ungainly platform ship flipped over in hurricane-force winds that day. They were spotted clinging to the overturned hull but returned to seek shelter inside after a third man fell into the water and was lost.

Lafourche Parish Coroner John King identified the second lift boat worker found dead as 69-year-old Ernest Williams of Arnaudville, according to The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate. The other person found dead was David Ledet, a 63-year-old captain from Thibodaux.Relatives of the missing have gathered at Port Fourchon, a sprawling base for much of the offshore oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico. The port, busy with cranes, cargo and heavy equipment, is where workers from across Louisiana and beyond load up on a fleet of helicopters and ships that take them to the rigs for long stretches of work.

“It’s nerve-wracking” for relatives waiting for news, said Chett Chiasson, executive director of the Lafourche Parish port, where families of the workers gathered Friday for a briefing on rescue efforts.

“Obviously there’s some frustration there, not knowing about their loved one and not hearing from their loved one,” he said. At the same time, he said: “There’s still some hope there.”

Martin contributed from Woodstock, Georgia. Associated Press reporters Janet McConnaughey and Rebecca Santana contributed to this report.

This story has been corrected to show that the second body was found on Thursday night, not Friday. It also has been corrected to show the Coast Guard said divers would continue searching through Friday evening, weather permitting, not through the night.

The video above is from a previous story.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

AP

This article originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Elliott pays tribute to Hillsborough victims during Blackburn goal celebration

Liverpool loanee Harvey Elliott paid tribute to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster after scoring in Blackburn Rovers’ 2-1 win over Derby County on Friday.

The 32nd anniversary of the disaster was marked on Thursday, with Liverpool paying tribute by laying wreaths at the Anfield memorial and observing a minute’s silence.

Elliot, who has spent the season on loan at Ewood Park from Liverpool, removed his shirt after scoring Blackburn’s second goal to reveal the message “96 YNWA” written on his undershirt.

The goal proved to be the winner and Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray said after the game: “You have to say that the result is important.

Harvey Elliott celebrates scoring for Blackburn with a tribute to the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster

“I don’t want to be hypocritical and say that it’s all about the result when I sat here after Bournemouth and said that the performance was good yet we got beat 2-0.

“If anything I was a bit disappointed with the performance level of the team, particularly first half. Second half we upped it and could have scored a few more goals.

“I can’t remember playing without the control we normally have for a long time yet we won the game. We could have scored more, Adam [Armstrong] could have had a hat-trick, yet I thought they were a pretty decent team, a good structure to their play, but we take the points and move in the final four.”

Elliott’s goal proved to be the winner for Blackburn

He added: “I think after we scored it gave the team a bit of confidence, because they came with a game-plan, they didn’t play with their big centre forward and played a transition game, a front four that looked like they could all break away.

“I’m happy to take the points, move on. They’re a good side, they have to win a game or two themselves before the end of the season but there’s good signs.

“For us, it was important to get to 50 points, four games left, and let’s see how many we can get to.”

[email protected] (Matthew Cooper)

This article originally appeared on Mirror – Football

Boulder Shooting: What We Know About the Victims

Ten people were killed on Monday when a gunman opened fire at a grocery store in Boulder[1], Colo., the authorities said. They included a Boulder police officer, a young grocery store worker and a retiree filling orders for Instacart.

Among the victims was Officer Eric Talley, 51, with the Boulder Police Department, who had responded to a “barrage” of 911 calls about the shooting. Authorities identified the nine other people who were killed as Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.

Here is what we know so far about their lives.

Credit…Boulder Police Department

An 11-year veteran of the Boulder Police Department, Eric Talley was described as “heroic” by Chief Maris Herold at the scene of the shooting on Monday night.

“He was the first on the scene, and he was fatally shot,” Chief Herold said in a news conference.

“The world lost a great soul,” said Officer Talley’s father, Homer Talley. “He was a devoted father — seven kids. The youngest was 7 and the oldest was 20, and his family was the joy of his life.”

Officer Talley joined the police force as a second career when he was 40, quitting a job in cloud communications.

“He wanted to serve people, Mr. Talley said. “All kids want to be a policeman, and in many ways, he was a big kid.”

On Twitter[2], a woman who described herself as the officer’s sister, Kirstin, said she was heartbroken. “I cannot explain how beautiful he was and what a devastating loss this is to so many. Fly high my sweet brother. You always wanted to be a pilot (damn color blindness). Soar.”

In 2013, the local newspaper, The Boulder Daily Camera, featured Officer Talley[3] and two other members of the force who had waded into a local drainage ditch to rescue a trapped mother duck and 11 ducklings. “He was drenched after this,” Sgt. Jack Walker told the paper. “They would go into these little pipes and he would have to try and fish them out.”

Talley is the sixth on-duty death in the department’s history and the first officer killed in the line of duty since 1994, the paper reported.

Rikki Olds, a 25-year-old who loved the outdoors, was a front-end manager at King Soopers, where she had worked for about seven or eight years, her uncle, Robert Olds, said.

She was an energetic, bubbly and “happy-go-lucky” young woman who “brought life to the family,” her uncle said. And she had persevered, despite hardship. She was the oldest of three siblings, and was raised by her grandparents in Lafayette, Colo., he said.

Mr. Olds described his niece as a strong and independent woman who enjoyed hiking and camping. She liked spending time with friends and family and often accompanied him and her cousins to their baseball games.

The whole family is in shock, particularly Ms. Olds’s grandmother, Mr. Olds said. “My mom was her mom,” he said. “My mom raised her.”

Lynn Murray, 62, a former photo director and mother of two, was at the grocery store on Monday filling an Instacart order, which she had enjoyed doing to help people since her retirement.

“She was an amazing woman, probably the kindest person I’ve ever known,” her husband, John Mackenzie, said.

Ms. Murray was a former photo director for several magazines in New York, her husband said. The couple moved from New York in 2002, first to Stuart, Fla., then to Colorado, to raise their children.

“I just want her to be remembered as just as this amazing, amazing comet spending 62 years flying across the sky,” Mr. Mackenzie said. She is also survived by two children: Olivia, 24, and Pierce, 22.

Ms. Murray was artistic, always drawing, doodling and painting, and designed Halloween costumes for her children, Olivia Mackenzie said.

“The most undeserving person to have to be shot down I can think of has to be my mother,” she said, “and I just wish it could have been me.”

Credit…Michael Bartkowiak

Tralona Lynn “Lonna” Bartkowiak, 49, managed a shop in Boulder that sold yoga and festival clothing, said her brother, Michael Bartkowiak of Roseburg, Ore.

He described his older sister, the eldest of four close-knit, California-born siblings, as “an amazing person, just a beam of light.” She had moved to Boulder to run the store, Umba[4], which had been launched by their sister.

“She rented a house outside Boulder,” he said, “and lived there with her little Chihuahua, Opal. She had just gotten engaged. She was, you know, organic — stir fries, salads — she was always trying to be healthier.”

Mr. Bartkowiak had last seen his sister about a month ago, he said, when the family gathered in southern Oregon. “We just hung out and talked and chilled. That was the last time I saw her.”

His voice caught. “She was just great,” he said. “No, she is great. Still is.”

Credit…Sebastian Harvey

Teri Leiker, 51, had worked for about 30 years at King Soopers, according to her friend, Alexis Knutson, 22.

Ms. Knutson met Ms. Leiker through a program called Best Buddies that connects students at University of Colorado Boulder and members of the community with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She remembered attending university sporting events together, and how Ms. Leiker loved to cheer on the teams.

Despite their age difference, Ms. Knutson said, they bonded. “I always had a rule she couldn’t call before 9 a.m. because I like my sleep,” she said. “She would always call me at 6 a.m.”

Ms. Knutson struggled to comprehend what had happened.

“The fact that this happened is just devastating, especially somewhere where she goes to work every day,” she said.

Eve Rose, 55, has shopped at King Soopers for years and said Ms. Leiker, a grocery bagger, was a warm and familiar presence.

“As soon as I saw her I would stop being irritable and impatient,” Ms. Rose said, trying to hold back tears. “Something about her air, her smile, just soothed me.”

Shoppers recalled Ms. Leiker’s routine: If a customer tried to help her bag, she was known to cheerfully swat away their hand and say, “I’ve got this.”

Kevin Mahoney, 61, was formerly the chief operating officer for Stonebridge Companies, a hotel development and hospitality management company, before he left in 2014, according to Andy Boian, a spokesman for the group.

He was also about to become a grandfather, according to his daughter, Erika Mahoney, the news director for KAZU Public Radio in the Monterey, Calif., area.

“I am heartbroken to announce that my Dad, my hero, Kevin Mahoney, was killed in the King Soopers shooting,” she said on Twitter. “My dad represents all things Love. I’m so thankful he could walk me down the aisle last summer.”

“I am now pregnant. I know he wants me to be strong for his granddaughter,” she said. “I love you forever Dad. You are always with me.”

Credit…via Facebook

Denny Stong, 20, had worked at King Soopers for several years. A high school friend described him as one of the kindest people she had ever met.

He was an avid dirt biker and dreamed of becoming a pilot, according to those who knew him. He worked extra shifts at King Soopers to save money for plane fuel while he worked to get his pilot’s license, said Laura Spicer, whose son was Mr. Stong’s best friend.

“Denny was a confident and really generous person who always met you with a smile and had really high aspirations for his life,” Ms. Spicer, 55, said.

Molly Proch, a friend from Fairview High School in Boulder, said Mr. Stong enjoyed hunting and was a strong supporter of the Second Amendment but also supported strengthening certain gun regulations. “He was so passionate about expressing how he thought the government should handle weapons,” to avoid mass shootings, she said. “And then this is how he’s not here anymore.”

Mr. Stong had recently posted on his Facebook page[5], encouraging friends to donate to the National Foundation for Gun Rights Inc. for his birthday.

Credit…DCPA Theatre Company

Neighbors knew Suzanne L. Fountain, 59, as a prolific gardener who passed a steady stream of tomatoes, lettuce and basil over the tall wooden fence surrounding her yard. “She would always share her abundance with us.” said Laura Rose Boyle Gaydos, who until recently had lived next door for more than two years.

She was particularly fond of peach tree that she had planted, and could often be found sitting outside in the early evening, watching the sunset over the mountains. Those who knew her described her as joyous, fun, bright and warm.

Ms. Fountain had lived in her house for more than 20 years, raising her son Nathaniel there.

She was an actress in the early 1990s. More recently, she found a creative outlet in eTown, a nationally syndicated public radio show produced in Boulder that combines music and conversation.

She had worked as financial adviser at a Boulder health center, and then in 2018 embarked on a new career, starting a business to advise people newly turned 65 about how to apply for Medicare.

Neven Stanisic, 23, had been fixing coffee machines at the Starbucks inside the supermarket, and was in the parking lot, just leaving, when he was gunned down, said the family’s priest, the Rev. Radovan Petrovic.

The son of Serbian refugees who had fled Central Bosnia during the violence of the 1990s, Mr. Stanisic was born in the United States. His Facebook page is filled with anime drawings, and his profile picture shows him in a blue cap and gown, posing with friends from his Lakewood, Co., high school.

He was the shining hope, Father Petrovic said, “of a family who, like many refugees, had come with basically nothing but their lives, to start a new life here.”

After high school, Mr. Stanisic had gone straight to work repairing coffee machines throughout the Denver area with his father, said Father Petrovic.

“And now, the biggest question for the family, besides all the sorrow they are enduring, is how this could have happened here,” he said. “They fled war to save their lives, and to be struck by such a terrible tragedy — the loss is beyond comprehension.”

Jack Begg, Kitty Bennett and Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

References

  1. ^ Boulder (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ On Twitter (twitter.com)
  3. ^ featured Officer Talley (www.dailycamera.com)
  4. ^ Umba (umbalove.com)
  5. ^ had recently posted on his Facebook page (www.facebook.com)

Shawn Hubler, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Marie Fazio, Elizabeth Dias and Neil MacFarquhar

After Spa Attacks, Officers Handcuffed Victim’s Anguished Husband for Four Hours

ACWORTH, Ga. — Mario González heard the gunfire from inside Young’s Asian Massage and immediately worried about his wife, who was in another room. But before he could check on her, he said, law enforcement officials handcuffed and detained him for about four hours while they worked to determine the identity of the gunman.

During that time, officers told him: His wife, Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, had been killed.

Mr. González described the March 16 shooting and the confused hours that followed in a video interview and news story published by the Spanish-language news site Mundo Hispánico[1]. He expressed his frustration with law enforcement officials for detaining him, suggesting that he might have been treated poorly because he is Latino, and shared his anguish over the loss of his wife.

“They took away the most precious thing that I have in my life,” Mr. González said of the gunman, before stopping himself and correcting tenses. “That I had.”

The attack at Young’s Asian Massage was part of a shooting spree at three spas in and around Atlanta. Ms. Yaun was among eight people killed by a gunman who intentionally targeted employees at those businesses, law enforcement officials said.

Representatives for the Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Sunday, but the accusations leveled by Mr. González come after the agency had already faced scrutiny after a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office described the gunman as having “a really bad day.”

The spokesman, Capt. Jay Baker, was no longer the office’s public representative on the case, and the sheriff, Frank Reynolds, apologized and defended Captain Baker as not intending to disrespect the victims or their families. “We regret any heartache Captain Baker’s words may have caused,” Sheriff Reynolds said.

Efforts to reach Mr. González in recent days have also been unsuccessful.

Tuesday had been a date night for Mr. González and Ms. Yaun, and the couple, who married last spring, went after work to Young’s Asian Massage, in Acworth, an Atlanta suburb. They arrived shortly before the shooting started, Mr. González said in the video interview, and they were ushered into separate rooms for their massages.

The authorities said that Robert Aaron Long, 21, began his rampage[2] shortly before 5 p.m. on Tuesday at Young’s, which is wedged in a small shopping center between a boutique and hair salon.

Mr. González told Mundo Hispánico that he heard the gunshots but that he was too afraid to open the door to see what was happening. He feared the bullets were flying into the room where his wife was taken.

Once Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies arrived, he was detained and held for about four hours, Mr. González said, according to Mundo Hispánico.

He said he did not see his wife as he was led out of the spa, and officers did not let him get close to her. Eventually, he said, officers told him that his wife had been killed.

“And they knew that I was the husband,” Mr. González said of the authorities. He held a photograph of himself with his wife as he spoke. “They gave me the news that she was dead.”

He questioned why it took officials so long to tell him that his wife had died, and wondered why they had detained him in the first place.

“Maybe because I’m Mexican, I don’t know,” he said. “Because the truth is, they treated me badly.” He showed the camera the marks left on his arm from the handcuffs placed on him by officers.

Mr. González had met Ms. Yaun at a Waffle House[8] restaurant, where he was a customer and she was a server. Ms. Yaun had been a single mother, raising a 13-year-old son. The couple married last year and had a daughter, who is now 8 months old. “What I need most right now is support,” Mr. González said in the interview.

After the shooting at the Acworth spa, the authorities said that Mr. Long continued his attack. Gunfire was reported at two other massage parlors near each other in Atlanta.

His car was spotted two hours later, about 150 miles south of Atlanta, in Crisp County, Ga., officials said.

Investigators said that Mr. Long appeared to have been motivated by an addiction to sex. He targeted the spas as an outlet for something “that he shouldn’t be doing,” Captain Baker said in a news conference last week.

Mr. Long has been charged with eight counts of murder. On Sunday, Crabapple First Baptist Church, the conservative congregation that had been central to his life, formally ejected him from church membership, saying it could “no longer affirm that he is truly a regenerate believer in Jesus Christ.”

In Sunday services, the first since the rampage, the sermon was devoted to grief and pain, including biblical passages of loss and lament. The names of the eight victims were read aloud.

“All of our hearts are broken,” said Jerry Dockery, the senior pastor, adding that the congregation had been gutted by the “hatred and violence” of the attacks.

It was a sense of devastation that Mr. González struggled with as he contemplated raising his stepson and his daughter without Ms. Yaun.

“That murderer,” he said in the interview, “only left me pain.”

Rick Rojas reported from Acworth and Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio from New York. Jack Healy contributed reporting from Milton, Ga.

Rick Rojas and Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio

Atlanta Shooting Victims Are Remembered for Love and Hard Work

Ms. Yue found work as a cashier at a grocery store outside of Fort Benning and the couple stayed there until getting divorced in 1982. Their families had been close — “She used to take my sister to the spa,” Mr. Peterson said — and they had kept in touch, having lunch together as recently as last summer.

“She was a good mother,” Mr. Peterson said. “She was always there for her kids.”

Ms. Yue was the last person killed in the shootings on Tuesday.

Ms. Grant’s sons, Eric and his brother Randy, 22, first learned about the attacks from a Gold Spa employee’s daughter. They did not know that their mother had died until late that night, after a relative in Korea saw Ms. Grant’s name in a news report.

On Friday morning, the brothers were at home, looking through photo albums for their mother’s upcoming memorial.

This was a new place for them, relatively. They had moved into the house, a rental, from an apartment last year, a moment of celebration because it was a step closer to Ms. Grant’s dream of buying a home.

But Ms. Grant had not spent as much time in it. She was gone for days and weeks on end, Randy Park said. She often stayed at Gold Spa or at a friend’s place near the business, he said, because she did not have a car and the commute to work was lengthy and tedious.

Still, Randy Park said his mother called every night after work to check in on him and his younger brother. The last time she called was Monday evening, he recalled. She asked if they were doing OK and if they had eaten, and then wished them good night.

“I knew she was working for us,” said her youngest son, Eric. “So I never resented her for when she wasn’t around.”

Juliana Kim reported from Atlanta, Corina Knoll from New York, and Campbell Robertson from Pittsburgh. Reporting was contributed by Richard Fausset, Jack Healy, Inyoung Kang, Linda Qiu, Rick Rojas and John Yoon from Atlanta, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Sarah Mervosh and Edgar Sandoval from New York, and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs from Tivoli, N.Y. Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

Juliana Kim, Corina Knoll and Campbell Robertson