Jacksonville, Oct 22 (AP/UNB) — Six people have been wounded in a street shooting blocks from the Florida stadium where the NFL's Houston Texans played and defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon, authorities said.
Ron Lendvay, director of investigations for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, said several shots rang out about 12:35 p.m. Sunday on a boulevard in the stadium's general area and that five men and one woman were hit by gunfire. All were rushed to hospitals, and the sheriff's office tweeted that three of the victims were in critical condition. The victims ranged in age from their 20s to the 70s, according to Lendvay.
The shooting broke out before the scheduled 1 p.m. start of play. Lendvay reported no link to the game, which went on without incident, and said investigators were investigating whether it was gang-related.
The Texans won their fourth consecutive game Sunday, defeating the Jaguars 20-7 to take a one-game lead in the AFC South at the stadium, TIAA Bank Field.
Local media reports cited authorities as saying the shooting had had no impact on game day activities though some fans headed to the game reported hearing the gunfire.
Lendvay told reporters that a shooter fired from the passenger side of a gray, four-door sedan driven by a companion and that the victims were hit outside on the sidewalk near a laundromat. He said the car immediately drove off and that detectives had been checking surveillance video in hopes of identifying the vehicle and those involved.
"There were at least two people in the car," Lendvay said. He added that investigators didn't know if any others were in the car and he didn't rule out the possibility of other shooters elsewhere.
"This may be gang-related based on information obtained in the early stages of the investigation," he told reporters Sunday, declining to elaborate.
Some fans told local broadcast outlet New4Jax that they heard shots as they headed to the stadium.
"We had just parked our cars," Vanessa Holmes told the new outlet, adding she and some family members were walking when it happened. "We heard the shots. We didn't know if we should fall to the ground. We didn't know what to do," she said.
Others told the broadcast outlet that they saw people running out of the coin laundry business when the shots were fired.
Some said it was a series of shots.
"We were over there talking and suddenly, it was like ten gunshots. We ran and went for cover and then I saw the police, and people were crowding down there," a woman identified as Yvonne Lee told News4Jax.
An update on the conditions of the wounded wasn't immediately available late Sunday and they were not identified by name.
"A couple of them were in very serious condition on their arrival at the hospital," Lendvay said. He added that five of the wounded were rushed by paramedics for emergency care and the sixth by private vehicle.
He said authorities have been unable to immediately determine whether there was any relationship among the wounded, noting none could be immediately interviewed though authorities hoped to do so later.
"It's hard to say if they are all associated or not," he added.
Lendvay spoke near the scene Sunday afternoon even as the game was in progress, saying investigators had cordoned off the area but fans who had cars parked in the area could expect an escort to their vehicles so they could leave unhindered after play was over.
Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney, who represents the district where the shooting occurred, told local media he was aware of crime problems in the neighborhood and urged a greater law enforcement presence there.
"In talking to the sheriff's department; they are going to beef up patrols ...We have a crime issue," Gaffney said. "Every other week and every other month out there, it's too much."
Florida Gov. Rick Scott also said in a statement that he had reached out to Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, offering any state resources that the city may need.
Tapachula, Oct 22 (AP/UNB) — A growing caravan of Honduran migrants streamed through southern Mexico on Sunday heading toward the United States, after making an end-run around Mexican agents who briefly blocked them at the Guatemalan border.
They received help at every turn from sympathetic Mexicans who offered food, water and clothing. Hundreds of locals driving pickups, vans and cargo trucks stopped to let them clamber aboard.
Besi Jaqueline Lopez of the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula carried a stuffed polar bear in a winter cap that seemed out of place in the tropical heat. It's the favorite — and only — toy of her two daughters, 4-year-old Victoria and 3-year-old Elisabeth, who trudged beside her gleaming with sweat.
A business administration graduate, Lopez said she couldn't find work back home and hopes to reach the United States, but would stay in Mexico if she could find employment here.
"My goal is to find work for a better future for my daughters," she said.
In dozens of interviews along the journey, they have said they are fleeing widespread violence, poverty and corruption in Honduras. The caravan is unlike previous mass migrations for its unprecedented large numbers, and because it largely began spontaneously through word of mouth.
Guatemala's migration agency confirmed that another group of about 1,000 migrants crossed into the country from Honduras on Sunday.
After praising Mexico for its no-nonsense response when police at a southern border bridge pushed the migrants back with riot shields and pepper spray, U.S. President Donald Trump again hammered Democratic Party opponents over what he apparently sees as a winning issue for Republicans a little over two weeks ahead of midterm elections.
After blaming the Democrats for "weak laws" on immigration a few days earlier, Trump said via Twitter: "The Caravans are a disgrace to the Democrat party. Change the immigration laws NOW!"
"Full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing our Souther (sic) Border," he said in another tweet. "People have to apply for asylum in Mexico first, and if they fail to do that, the U.S. will turn them away. The courts are asking the U.S. to do things that are not doable!"
Hundreds of migrants from the caravan did just that — applied for refugee status in Mexico in the southern city of Ciudad Hidalgo. By Sunday evening, the Interior department reported that it had received more than 1,000 requests.
But a far bigger group forded the Suchiate River from Guatemala to the Mexican side individually and dozens at a time, and resumed the trek at first light, marching 10 abreast on the highway.
"Si se pudo!" they chanted in Spanish — "Yes, we did!"
The throng grew even larger than when the migrants arrived at the border bridge, swelling overnight to 5,000.
It was not immediately clear where the additional travelers came from since about 2,000 had been gathered on the Mexican side Saturday night. But people have been joining and leaving the caravan daily, some moving at their own pace and strung out in a series of columns.
Their destination Sunday was the city of Tapachula in Chiapas state. Under a blazing sun, small groups of 20 to 30 paused to rest in the shade of trees on the side of the road, and by afternoon the caravan had evolved into long lines of walkers straggling for miles.
Jesus Valdivia, of Tuxtla Chico, Mexico, was one of the many who pulled his pickup truck over to let 10 or even 20 migrants hop in at a time, sometimes causing vehicles' springs to groan under the weight.
"You have to help the next person. Today it's for them, tomorrow for us," Valdivia said, adding that he was getting a valuable gift from those he helped: "From them we learn to value what they do not have."
Passing freight trucks were quickly boarded by dozens of migrants, and straining tuk-tuks carried as many as a half-dozen.
Brenda Sanchez of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, who rode in Valdivia's truck with three nephews ages 10, 11 and 19, expressed gratitude to "God and the Mexicans who have helped us."
She even had kind words for Mexican police: "We are very grateful to them because even though they closed the doors to us (at the border), they are coming behind us taking care of us."
Federal police monitored the caravan's progress from a helicopter and had a few units escorting it. Outside Tapachula, about 500 black-uniformed officers briefly gathered along the highway on buses and in patrol units, but they said their orders were to maintain traffic and not to stop the caravan. They moved on toward the city before the caravan reached them.
As the migrants passed through villages on the outskirts of Ciudad Hidalgo, locals applauded, shouted encouragement and donated supplies.
Maria Teresa Orellana, a resident of Lorenzo, handed out sandals. "It's solidarity," she said. "They're our brothers."
Mexico's Interior Department said in a statement that federal and Chiapas state authorities were providing assistance to migrants, including legal counseling for those who applied for asylum. It released a video showing workers doling out food, medicine and medical treatment.
In comments to reporters after a rally in Elko, Nevada, on Saturday night, Trump said of Mexico's response: "I just want to say, on behalf of the American public, that we appreciate what Mexico is doing. They've really stepped up, and it will not be forgotten."
Trump also repeated: "I will seal off the border before (the migrants) come into this country, and I'll bring out our military, not our reserves."
Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he was suggesting to Trump that the United States, Canada and Mexico seek an agreement to invest in development in Central America and southern Mexico, which is home to many of that country's poor.
"In this way we confront the phenomenon of migration, because he who leaves his town does not leave for pleasure but out of necessity," said Lopez Obrador, who takes office Dec. 1.
Mexican authorities had refused to allow the caravan mass entry from Guatemala, instead accepting small groups to process asylum requests and handing out some 45-day visitor permits. An estimated 1,500 were still on the Guatemalan side of the Suchiate, hoping to enter legally.
But police could do little if anything in the face of the throngs who avoided the official entry point and crossed the notoriously porous border elsewhere.
Migrants marching north Sunday said they gave up on Mexico because the application process was too slow, and most wanted to continue to the United States anyway.
"We're warriors, we got to get to the place we got to get to. We're gonna keep on going and we're not gonna stop," Luis Puerto, 39, of Colon, Honduras, said in English.
For Puerto, that place is North Carolina, where he has a wife and two daughters. He said he was recently deported from the United States after a brush with the law that he did not specify.
"We are going to get to the border of the U.S.," he said. "I am not going to stop. I don't care if I die."
Mexico City, Oct 22 (AP/UNB)— Newly formed Hurricane Willa rapidly gained force and grew into an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm in the Pacific off Mexico on Sunday, with a potential to make landfall on a western stretch of coast between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta in the coming days.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm was "forecast to produce life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall over portions of southwestern and west-central Mexico beginning on Tuesday."
A hurricane warning was posted for a stretch of shore between San Blas and Mazatlan, while a tropical storm warning was in effect from Playa Perula to San Blas and Mazatlan to Bahia Tempehuaya. Hurricane force winds extended out 25 miles from the storm's core and tropical storm force winds were up to 90 miles out.
Willa was about 210 miles (340 kilometers) south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes late Sunday, with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (230 kph). It was moving to the north-northwest at 7 mph (11 kph), but a turn toward the north was likely during the night or Monday.
The hurricane center forecast 5 to 10 inches (12.5 to 25 centimeters) of rain across parts of western Jalisco, western Nayarit and southern Sinaloa states, with lesser amounts falling as it moves inland.
Meanwhile, a weakening Tropical Storm Vicente appeared to be a less potent threat farther south. Forecasters said it was expected to weaken into a tropical depression Monday night or early Tuesday while moving near Mexico's southern Pacific.
Its core was about 220 miles (355 kilometers) southeast of Acapulco with top sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph). The hurricane center said it could produce 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 centimeters) of rain in parts of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima and Jalisco states.
Elko, Nevada, Oct 21 (AP/UNB) - President Donald Trump on Saturday said he will exit a landmark arms control agreement the United States signed with the former Soviet Union, saying that Russia is violating the pact and it's preventing the U.S. from developing new weapons.
The 1987 pact, which helps protect the security of the U.S. and its allies in Europe and the Far East, prohibits the United States and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles.
"Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years," Trump said after a rally in Elko, Nevada. "And we're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we're not allowed to."
The agreement has constrained the U.S. from developing new weapons, but America will begin developing them unless Russia and China agree not to possess or develop the weapons, Trump said. China is not currently party to the pact.
"We'll have to develop those weapons, unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and say let's really get smart and let's none of us develop those weapons, but if Russia's doing it and if China's doing it, and we're adhering to the agreement, that's unacceptable," he said.
National Security Adviser John Bolton was headed Saturday to Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. His first stop is Moscow, where he'll meet with Russian leaders, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev. His visit comes at a time when Moscow-Washington relations also remain frosty over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race and upcoming U.S. midterm elections.
There was no immediate comment from the Kremlin or the Russian Foreign Ministry on Trump's announcement.
Trump didn't provide details about violations, but in 2017, White House national security officials said Russia had deployed a cruise missile in violation of the treaty. Earlier, the Obama administration accused the Russians of violating the pact by developing and testing a prohibited cruise missile. Russia has repeatedly denied that it has violated the treaty and has accused the United States of not being in compliance.
Defense Secretary James Mattis has previously suggested that a Trump administration proposal to add a sea-launched cruise missile to America's nuclear arsenal could provide the U.S. with leverage to try to convince Russia to come back in line on the arms treaty.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said in February that the country would only consider using nuclear weapons in response to an attack involving nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, or in response to a non-nuclear assault that endangered the survival of the Russian nation.
"We are slowly slipping back to the situation of cold war as it was at the end of the Soviet Union, with quite similar consequences, but now it could be worse because (Russian President Vladimir) Putin belongs to a generation that had no war under its belt," said Dmitry Oreshkin, an independent Russian political analyst. "These people aren't as much fearful of a war as people of Brezhnev's epoch. They think if they threaten the West properly, it gets scared."
Trump's decision could be controversial with European allies and others who see value in the treaty, said Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who focuses on nuclear arms control.
"Once the United States withdraws from the treaty, there is no reason for Russia to even pretend it is observing the limits," he wrote in a post on the organization's website. "Moscow will be free to deploy the 9M729 cruise missile, and an intermediate-range ballistic missile if it wants, without any restraint."
U.S. officials have previously alleged that Russia violated the treaty by deliberately deploying a land-based cruise missile in order to pose a threat to NATO. Russia has claimed that U.S. missile defences violate the pact.
In the past, the Obama administration worked to convince Moscow to respect the INF treaty but made little progress.
"If they get smart and if others get smart and they say let's not develop these horrible nuclear weapons, I would be extremely happy with that, but as long as somebody's violating the agreement, we're not going to be the only ones to adhere to it," Trump said.
Luke Air Force Base, Oct 20 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump on Friday called Saudi Arabia's announcement that suspects are in custody in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi a "good first step" and said he would work with Congress on a U.S. response.
The president spoke to the media at a defense roundtable in Arizona hours after Saudi Arabia claimed that Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor last seen on Oct. 2, was killed in a "fistfight" at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The kingdom also said that 18 suspects were in custody and that intelligence officials had been fired.
Asked by a reporter whether he thought Saudi Arabia's explanation for Khashoggi's death was credible, Trump said, "I do. I do." But he said before he decided what to do next, he wanted to talk to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
"Saudi Arabia has been a great ally, but what happened is unacceptable," Trump said. Regarding the Saudi arrests, he said, "It's a big first step. It's only a first step, but it's a big first step."
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers including Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham expressed skepticism of the Saudi account, which was vastly different than that given by Turkish officials, who had said an "assassination squad" sent by the kingdom had killed and dismembered Khashoggi.
"First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement," Graham, R-S.C., tweeted Friday. "Now, a fight breaks out and he's killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince."
Khashoggi, a prominent journalist and royal court insider for decades in Saudi Arabia, had written columns critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the kingdom's direction while living in self-imposed exile in the U.S. He went to the Saudi consulate to obtain paperwork for his upcoming marriage.
"The Saudi 'explanation' for murdering journalist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi in a consulate_a fistfight gone wrong_is insulting," tweeted Sen. Tim Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee. "Since the Trump Administration won't stand up against atrocity, Congress must."
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California said Saudi Arabia's claim that Khashoggi died in a brawl wasn't credible.
"If Khashoggi was fighting inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, he was fighting for his life with people sent to capture or kill him," said Schiff, the ranking member of the House intelligence committee.
"The Kingdom and all involved in this brutal murder must be held accountable, and if the Trump Administration will not take the lead, Congress must," Schiff said.
In a statement Friday night, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the U.S. will closely follow international investigations into Khashoggi's death and will advocate for justice that is "timely, transparent and in accordance with all due process."
Earlier Friday, Sanders said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had spoken to the crown prince and briefed the president and John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser. Trump dispatched Pompeo earlier in the week to Saudi Arabia and Turkey to speak to officials about the case.