Maryland high school shooter dies after exchange with officer -sheriff

Emergency responders are seen at Great Mills High School in Lexington Park, Maryland after a shooting at the school. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2018
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Maryland high school shooter dies after exchange with officer -sheriff

GREAT MILLS, United States: A student armed with a handgun wounded two classmates at a Maryland high school on Tuesday, officials said, in an outburst of campus violence just days before a student-organized nationwide march for gun control.
The shooter, who was not identified, has died following the incident at Great Mills High School, St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron told reporters.
Cameron said the “school resource officer” responsible for security engaged the shooter after hearing gunfire at around 7:45 am (1145 GMT), shortly before classes were due to begin for the day.
“A male student produced a handgun and fired... wounding a female student and another male student in a hallway,” Cameron said. The female student was in critical condition while the male student was in stable condition, he said.
“When the shooting took place, our school resource officer, who was stationed inside the school, was alerted to the event and the shots being fired,” he said.
“He pursued the shooter, engaged the shooter — during that engagement, he fired a round at the shooter,” Cameron said. “Simultaneously the shooter fired a round as well.”
“In the hours to come, in the days to come, through detailed investigation, we will be able to determine if our school resource officer’s round struck the shooter,” the sheriff said, suggesting the assailant may have instead taken his own life.

Following the shooting in Great Mills, located about a 90-minute drive southeast of the US capital Washington, students were evacuated to a nearby school where they were reunited with their parents, Cameron said.
“It happened really quickly, right after school started,” Jonathan Freese, a Great Mills student, told CNN.
“The police came and responded really quickly,” Freese said. “They had a lot of officers respond.”
Mollie Davis, who identified herself on Twitter as a student at Great Mills, posted a series of tweets about the shooting.
“Now my school is the target,” she said. “WHY DO WE LET THIS KEEP HAPPENING??? I’m so tired, I’m so tired.”
“You never think it’ll be your school and then it is,” Davis said. “Great Mills is a wonderful school and somewhere I am proud to go. Why us?“
The Great Mills incident comes about five weeks after a shooting at a Florida high school left 14 students and three adult staff members dead.
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School launched a grassroots campaign for gun control following the shooting.
They have organized an event on Saturday called “March For Our Lives,” which is expected to turn out large crowds in US cities, with the main event in Washington.
Emma Gonzalez, a Stoneman Douglas student, tweeted her support Tuesday for her peers at Great Mills.
“We are Here for you, students of Great Mills,” Gonzalez said. “Together we can stop this from ever happening again.”
Under the banner #ENOUGH, tens of thousands of US high school students walked out of classrooms around the country on March 14 to protest gun violence.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan pledged to provide assistance.
“Our prayers are with students, school personnel and first responders,” Hogan said in a tweet.


Japan to buy more US-made stealth jets, radar to counter China, Russia

A Marine Corps pilot prepares for a vertical landing of Lockheed Martin F-35B stealth fighter aboard the USS Wasp amphibious assault carrier during their operation in the waters off Japan's southernmost island of Okinawa March 23, 2018. (REUTERS
Updated 19 December 2018
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Japan to buy more US-made stealth jets, radar to counter China, Russia

  • “The budget is increasing and there has been an acceleration to deploy capability as soon as possible,” Robert Morrissey, head of Raytheon Co’s unit in Japan, said this month

TOKYO: Japan will accelerate spending on advanced stealth fighters, long-range missiles and other equipment over the next five years to support US forces facing China’s military in the Western Pacific, two new government defense papers said.
The plans are the clearest indication yet of Japan’s ambition to become a regional power as a military build-up by China and a resurgent Russia puts pressure on its US ally.
“The United States remains the world’s most powerful nation, but national rivalries are surfacing and we recognize the importance of the strategic competition with both China and Russia as they challenge the regional order,” said a 10-year defense program outline approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government on Tuesday.
The United States, followed by China, North Korea and Russia, are the countries that most influenced Japan’s latest military thinking, the paper said.
China, the world’s second biggest economy, is deploying more ships and aircraft to patrol waters near Japan, while North Korea has yet to fulfil a pledge to dismantle its nuclear and missile programs.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Japan was “singing the same old tune” and making “thoughtless remarks” about China’s normal defense activities.
“What Japan is doing here is neither conducive to improving and developing China-Japan relations, nor to the broader picture of regional peace and stability,” Hua told a news briefing.
“China expresses strong dissatisfaction and opposition at this and has already lodged stern representations with Japan,” she added.
Russia, which continues to probe Japan’s air defenses, said on Monday it built new barracks for its troops on islands seized from Japan at the end of World War Two.
MORE STEALTH FIGHTERS
Japan plans to buy 45 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 stealth fighters, worth about $4 billion, in addition to the 42 jets already on order, according to a separate five-year procurement plan approved on Tuesday.
The new planes will include 18 short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) B variants of the F-35 that planners want to deploy on Japanese islands along the edge of the East China Sea.
The islands are part of a chain stretching past Taiwan and down to the Philippines that has marked the limit of Chinese military dominance east of the disputed South China Sea.
“Japan’s decision to acquire more F-35s is a testament to the aircraft’s transformational capability and its increasing role in promoting regional stability and enhancing the US-Japan security alliance,” Lockheed Martin said in a statement.
The navy’s two large helicopter carriers, the Izumo and Kaga, will be modified for F-35B operations, the paper said.
The 248-meter (814 ft) long Izumo-class ships are as big as any of Japan’s aircraft carriers in World War Two. They will need reinforced decks to withstand the heat blast from F-35 engines and could be fitted with ramps to aid short take-offs, two defense ministry officials told Reuters.

TRADE WAR THREAT
The new F-35 order may also help Japan avert a trade war with the United States.
US President Donald Trump, who has threatened to impose tariffs on Japanese car imports, thanked Abe for buying the F-35s when the two met at a summit in Argentina this month.
Other US-made equipment on Japan’s shopping list includes two land-based Aegis Ashore air defense radars to defend against North Korean missiles, four Boeing Co. KC-46 Pegasus refueling planes to extend the range of Japanese aircraft, and nine Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye early-warning planes.
Japan plans to spend 25.5 trillion yen ($224.7 billion) on military equipment over the next five years, 6.4 percent higher than the previous five-year plan. Cost-cutting will free up another 2 trillion yen for purchases, the procurement paper said.
Japan only spends about 1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defense, but the size of its economy means it already has one of the world’s largest militaries.
“The budget is increasing and there has been an acceleration to deploy capability as soon as possible,” Robert Morrissey, head of Raytheon Co’s unit in Japan, said this month.
Wary of North Korean promises to abandon ballistic missile development, Japan’s military is buying longer-range Raytheon SM-3 interceptor missiles able to strike enemy warheads in space.
The defense papers assessed non-traditional military threats as well. A new joint-forces cyber unit will bolster Japan’s defenses against cyberattacks.
More electronic warfare capabilities are planned, and the air force will get its first space unit to help keep tabs on potential adversaries high above the Earth’s atmosphere. ($1 = 113.4800 yen)