Lake Hallie, Nov 4 (AP/UNB) — A pickup truck lurched off a road in western Wisconsin Saturday and hit a group of Girl Scouts picking up trash in a ditch, leaving three girls and one adult dead and critically injuring a fourth girl, police said.
Sgt. Daniel Sokup of the Lake Hallie Police Department said the driver of the black Ford F-150 pickup truck fled the scene but later turned himself in. He identified the driver as Colton Treu, 21, of Chippewa, Falls, Wisconsin.
Sokup said Treu will be charged with four counts of homicide through the negligent use of a vehicle. Sokup said the crash happened before a hill and there were no blind spots.
"The area is not an unsafe area," he said. Sokup said it was not immediately known if there were other factors that might have led the driver to leave the road.
The crash happened late Saturday morning as the girls were picking up litter in a ditch in Lake Hallie, a town about 95 miles (153 kilometers) east of Minneapolis. The pickup was heading north and crossed over a lane and went into the ditch, striking the group.
The girls were in the fourth grade at Halmstad Elementary School in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune quoted a relative of a girl in the troop who was not injured as saying. The Girl Scouts were all wearing bright safety vests and were accompanied by several adults.
Two of the girls and the woman were pronounced dead at the scene. A third Girl Scout was transported to a hospital where she later died, Sokup said. The fourth girl was transported to a hospital in critical condition. The names of the dead were not immediately released.
Tallahassee, Nov 3 (AP/UNB)— A gunman killed two people and wounded five others at a yoga studio in Florida's capital before killing himself Friday evening, officials said.
Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo told reporters Friday night that the man shot six people and pistol-whipped another after walking into the studio, which is part of a small Tallahassee shopping center.
The suspect then fatally shot himself, DeLeo said.
Early Saturday morning, the Tallahassee Police Department identified the shooter as Scott Paul Beierle, 40.
The department identified the two people who were killed as Dr. Nancy Van Vessem, 61, and Maura Binkley, 21.
Van Vessem was an internist who served as chief medical director for Capital Health Plan, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported.
Capital Health Plan issued a statement praising Van Vessem, the Democrat reported.
"As CHP's longtime chief medical director, Nancy has been a guiding, visionary force in our daily work to serve the wellness and health care needs of thousands of families in this community. Her dedication, caring, leadership, humanity, and experience made her one of the most respected, inspiring, and accomplished medical professionals in the state and country. Our hearts are filled with sorrow and prayers for her family. We all have been so blessed to have Nancy in our lives," the company said.
Florida State University President John Thrasher says Van Vessem and Binkley had ties to the university, the Democrat reported.
"To lose one of our students and one of our faculty members in this tragic and violent way is just devastating to the Florida State University family. We feel this loss profoundly and we send our deepest sympathies to Maura's and Nancy's loved ones while we pray for the recovery of those who were injured," Thrasher said in a statement.
DeLeo said police are asking for anyone who saw something unusual around the time of the shooting to contact police. He said the shooter acted alone and authorities are investigating possible motives. He declined to say what kind of gun the shooter had.
"We're all very saddened and shocked by the events that occurred, but it's important that people understand that there is no immediate threat outside of what has already occurred this evening," DeLeo said.
Melissa Hutchinson said she helped treat a "profusely" bleeding man who rushed into a bar after the incident. She said three people from the studio ran in, and they were told there was an active shooter.
"It was a shocking moment something happened like this," Hutchinson said.
The people who came in were injured, including the bleeding man who was pistol-whipped while trying to stop the shooter. They told her the shooter kept coming in and out of the studio. When he loaded his gun, people started pounding the windows of the studio to warn people.
City Commissioner Scott Maddox was on the scene. He said on Facebook, "In my public service career I have had to be on some bad scenes. This is the worst. Please pray."
Elle Welling said she was leaving a liquor store across the street from the shopping center and saw at least three people loaded into ambulances.
"You don't think about this in Tallahassee and now you have to," said Welling, 26, who lives in the neighborhood.
The plaza is home to popular restaurants, a jewelry store, a framing shop, a hair salon and other businesses.
Erskin Wesson, 64, said he was eating dinner with his family at a restaurant located below the yoga studio when they heard the gunshots above them.
"We just heard 'pow, pow, pow, pow,'" Wesson said. "It sounded like a limb falling on a tin roof and rolling."
The restaurant's owner came by a short time later, asking if anyone was a doctor, Wesson said. His step-daughter is an emergency room nurse and helped paramedics for about an hour, he said.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is the Democratic nominee for governor, broke off the campaign trail to return to Tallahassee. He earlier appeared at a campaign event with former President Barack Obama.
Late Friday night, Gillum spoke to reporters near the scene of the shooting to say that he had visited in the hospital two people who were shot at the yoga studio. The mayor said they were in good spirits despite their injuries.
Gillum asked residents to pray for those who survived and those who were killed in the shooting.
"We all feel a sense of added vulnerability" because of the shooting, the mayor said.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, called DeLeo and the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to get details of the shooting.
"I will remain in constant communication with law enforcement. We have offered state assistance," Scott tweeted.
Tallahassee's crime and murder rate has been an issue in the governor's race, with Gillum's opponent, Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, calling the capital Florida's most crime-ridden city, a claim that is incorrect.
Cairo, Nov 3 (AP/UNB) — The United Nations Children's Fund regional director says authorities in Yemen are making it "impossible" to deliver and distribute much-needed humanitarian aid to the country.
Geert Cappelaere says both Yemeni government and Houthi rebel authorities are being uncooperative. He tells The Associated Press in an interview from Yemen that impeding relief efforts could accelerate famine conditions.
Cappelaere says: "Respective authorities are not enabling us to do our work as fast as we should."
Yemen has been at war since March 2015 when Houthi rebels occupied northern regions and forced the government into exile. The Saudi-led coalition backing the exiled government accuses the Houthis of acting as Iran's proxy. The coalition has waged an extensive air campaign, causing thousands of deaths.
Noumea, Nov 3 (AP/UNB)— Voters in New Caledonia are deciding whether the French territory in the South Pacific should break free from the European country that claimed it in the mid-19th century.
A referendum being held on Sunday marks a milestone in the process of the archipelago's decolonization and will help define New Caledonia's future as an independent country or as a continuing extension of France.
More than 174,000 registered voters are invited to answer the question: "Do you want New Caledonia to gain full sovereignty and become independent?"
Observers expect a majority to favor remaining a part of France, based on opinion polls and previous election results.
Polling stations open at 8 a.m. (10 p.m. Saturday in mainland France; 9 p.m. GMT) and close 10 hours later. Results are expected later Sunday.
New Caledonia, a cluster of islands, is home to about 270,000 people. They include the native Kanaks, who represent about 40 percent of the population, people of European descent (about 27 percent) and others from Asian countries and Pacific islands.
It relies on France for defense, law enforcement, foreign affairs, justice and education, yet has a large degree of autonomy. New Caledonia receives about 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in French state subsidies every year, and many fear the economy would suffer if ties are severed.
The referendum is the result of a process that started 30 years ago to end years of violence between supporters and opponents of separating from France.
The violence, which overall claimed more than 70 lives, prompted a 1988 deal between rival loyalist and pro-independence factions. Another agreement a decade later included plans for an independence referendum.
Most Kanaks have tended to back independence, while most descendants of European settlers have favored keeping the French connection.
To ensure security during the vote, additional police were sent to New Caledonia. Authorities also banned the carrying of firearms and alcohol sales immediately before and during the vote.
If voters say no to independence Sunday, the 1998 agreement allows two more self-determination referendums to be held by 2022.
Yangon, Nov 3 (AP/UNB) — Voters in several parts of Myanmar went to the polls Saturday in 13 by-elections seen as a test of support for leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her ruling party.
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won a landslide victory in the 2015 general election, putting an end to decades of rule by the military and its proxies, though the army retains considerable power under a constitution it implemented.
Suu Kyi's appeal with the country's Buddhist majority has not suffered much from a crisis involving 700,000 members of the Muslim Rohingya minority who fled a brutal army counterinsurgency campaign in the country's west. Still, economic development has been lagging.
The 13 parliamentary seats at stake represent a tiny fraction of the 1,171 national, regional and state assembly seats nationwide, and by-elections rarely drum up the same level of enthusiasm as a general election. The next general election is in 2020.
The seats became vacant through death or resignation.
The two seats at stake in Yangon, the country's biggest city, are all but certain to stay in the NLD's hands. Turnout in Yangon appeared to be low, but several voters there said they are keeping the faith in Suu Kyi.
"We don't see we are going to get immediate change. It's impossible to make things right that have already been wrong for many years," said Htun Thein, a Yangon voter. "We have to give them time and have understanding."
Because of that, he said, voters "have to encourage and support" the NLD.
Myo Pa Pa Htun had a simpler explanation for supporting the NLD candidate: "Because we like and love Mother Su very much, that's the thing."
Other contests are taking place in ethnic minority regions where 2015 votes for installing Suu Kyi and slapping down the military's favored candidates may give way to more traditional loyalties to local ethnic parties. That possible political realignment could come at the ruling NLD's disadvantage. Areas involved include Chin, Shan and Rakhine states.
Low voter turnout may be the main hallmark of Saturday's polls, though more so in Yangon than in ethnic minority regions.
In Yangon's Tamwe township, more than 70,000 voters cast ballots in 2015's general election, according to Toe Win, the NLD's candidate for the constituency. He estimated Saturday's turnout will reach around 20,000.
Toe Win is running to fill the seat of President Win Myint, who by law had to step down from his legislative post when he was appointed the country's chief executive earlier this year.
Businessman Maung Maung said he had to queue with hundreds of voters to vote in 2015. "This morning I saw about 20 voters. In 2015, more than 200 people were ahead of me. The ruling party should take it as a lesson for 2020," he said.
"Falling voter turnout in the by-elections raises big questions about the NLD's popularity midway through its five-year term," said Yan Myo Thein, a political commentator in Yangon. "People particularly in ethnic areas have been disappointed about the NLD's election promises, the performance of the government and MPs and economic burdens."