As the US mourns another mass shooting, Trump says guns not to blame

Law enforcement officials work at the scene of a shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man dressed in black tactical-style gear and armed with an assault rifle opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing and wounding many. The dead ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old. (AP/Eric Gay)
Updated 06 November 2017
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As the US mourns another mass shooting, Trump says guns not to blame

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, United States: The United States was in mourning Monday after a gunman wearing a bulletproof vest opened fire with an assault rifle on the congregation of a small-town Texas church, killing 26 people and wounding 20 more in the nation’s latest shooting massacre.
President Donald Trump said the nation was living through “dark times” but guns were not to blame for Sunday’s carnage, which came just five weeks after the worst mass shooting in modern US history.
“I think that mental health is your problem here,” said the US president, speaking in Tokyo as part of his Asia tour. “This was a very — based on preliminary reports — a very deranged individual.”
“This isn’t a guns situation,” Trump insisted, calling it “a mental health problem at the highest level.”
The victims, who ranged in age from five to 72, were gunned down at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, a rural community of some 400 people 30 miles (50 kilometers) southeast of San Antonio.
The gunman, widely identified as Devin Kelley, 26, was described by authorities as a young white male who was found dead in his vehicle after being confronted by a local resident.
The Air Force said Kelley served at a base in New Mexico starting in 2010 before being court-martialed in 2012 for allegedly assaulting his wife and child.
He was sentenced to 12 months in confinement and received a “bad conduct” discharge, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told AFP. He was discharged in 2014.
Dressed all in black, Kelley fired outside the church before entering the building and continuing to spray bullets, said Freeman Martin, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“As he exited the church, a local resident grabbed his rifle and engaged that suspect. The suspect dropped his rifle, which was a Ruger AR assault-type rifle, and fled from the church. Our local citizen pursued the suspect at that time,” Martin said.
Law enforcement later found Kelley dead in his car, which had crashed on the Wilson-Guadalupe county line. It was not clear if he had killed himself or was shot by the resident who had confronted him.


Multiple weapons were found in the car, which was processed by bomb technicians.
“We have multiple, multiple crime scenes. We have the church, outside the church. We have where the suspect’s vehicle was located,” said Martin.
“We have been following up on the suspect and where he’s from. We have Texas Rangers at all the hospitals locating those and interviewing those who were injured.”
“There’s so many families who have lost family members. Fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters,” Governor Greg Abbott said, warning the toll could rise.
“The tragedy, of course, is worsened by the fact that it occurred in a church, a place of worship, where these people were innocently gunned down. We mourn their loss, but we support their family members.”
The wounded had been transported to various hospitals with “injuries that vary from minor to very severe,” Martin said.
The dead included the 14-year-old daughter of pastor Frank Pomeroy, the church leader told ABC News.
Annabelle Renee Pomeroy “was one very beautiful, special child,” her father said.
Frank Pomeroy had been in the neighboring state of Oklahoma at the time of the shooting, and was driving back to Texas after the tragedy.
Other victims, some of whom were evacuated by helicopter, included a six-year-old boy named Rylan who was in surgery after being shot four times, his uncle told CBS News. A two-year-old was also shot and wounded, The Dallas Morning News reported.
A spokeswoman for Connally Memorial Medical Center in nearby Floresville said the hospital received eight patients with gunshot wounds. Four were transferred to San Antonio.


Police formed a perimeter around the area while tearful relatives and neighbors stood outside, nervously awaiting news from inside the traditional white-frame church.
Agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were headed to Sutherland Springs, the agencies said.
Trump called the “horrific shooting” an “act of evil,” ordering flags be flown half-staff at the White House and federal buildings.
“Our hearts are broken but in dark times — and these are dark times — such as these, Americans do what they do best: we pull together,” he said.
Though he said “it’s a little bit soon to go into it” regarding renewed calls for gun control, the president promised his administration’s “full support” for the investigation.
As with many other previous shootings, Democrats pointed to the latest tragedy to highlight the need for gun control, a hot-button issue in a country that holds the right to bear arms as almost sacred.
In denouncing the “act of hatred,” Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama said: “May God also grant all of us the wisdom to ask what concrete steps we can take to reduce the violence and weaponry in our midst.”
The shooting comes just over a month after a gunman in Las Vegas fired down from a hotel room on to an outdoor concert, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
A little more than two years ago, white supremacist Dylann Roof entered a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, and shot nine people to death.


Bosnians welcome UN verdict against Karadzic

Updated 21 March 2019
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Bosnians welcome UN verdict against Karadzic

  • ‘He should never be allowed to go free,’ Bosnian diplomat tells Arab News
  • Families of victims who traveled to The Hague hailed the verdict

JEDDAH: Former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, widely known as the “Butcher of Bosnia,” has had his sentence for genocide and war crimes increased to life in prison.

He was appealing a 2016 verdict in which he was given a 40-year sentence for the Srebrenica massacre in the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

More than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in the town of Srebrenica by Bosnian-Serb forces in July 1995. Karadzic, 73, was also found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

The UN court said the 40-year sentence did not reflect the trial chamber’s analysis on the “gravity and responsibility for the largest and greatest set of crimes ever attributed to a single person at the ICTY (the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia).”

The ruling by the judges on Wednesday cannot be appealed, and will end one of the highest-profile legal battles stemming from the Balkan wars.

Karadzic showed almost no reaction as presiding Judge Vagn Joensen of Denmark read out the damning judgment.

The former leader is one of the most senior figures tried by The Hague’s war crimes court. His case is considered as key in delivering justice for the victims of the Bosnian conflict, which left more than 100,000 people dead and millions homeless.

Joensen said the trial chamber was wrong to impose a sentence of just 40 years, given what he called the “sheer scale and systematic cruelty” of Karadzic’s crimes. Applause broke out in the public gallery as Joensen passed the new sentence.

Families of victims who traveled to The Hague hailed the verdict. Mothers, some elderly and walking with canes, wept with apparent relief after watching the ruling read on a screen in Srebrenica.

Halim Grabus, a Bosnian-Muslim diplomat based in Geneva, told Arab News that the verdict “will act as a deterrent against the criminals responsible for the genocide of Muslims during the 1992-1995 war. He (Karadzic) should never be allowed to go free. He deserves maximum punishment.”

Grabus was in Bosnia during the war, and witnessed the scorched-earth policy of Karadzic and his fellow generals.

Grabus said it was not possible in today’s world to expect total justice, “but the verdict is important for the victims and survivors of Karadzic’s genocidal politics and ideology of hate.” 

A large majority of Serbs “continue to justify what he did, and continue to carry forward his hateful campaign against Bosnian Muslims,” Grabus added.

“Many of the killers of Muslims during the Bosnian war are still roaming free. They need to be arrested and brought to justice.”

Ratko Mladic, a Bosnian-Serb wartime military commander, is awaiting an appeal judgment of his genocide and war crimes conviction, which earned him a life sentence. Both he and Karadzic were convicted of genocide for their roles in the Srebrenica massacre.