Bangkok, Jul 31 (AP/UNB) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he's very hopeful for a quick resumption in nuclear talks with North Korea despite the North's recent weapons tests that have clouded already uncertain prospects for a return to the table.
Pompeo told reporters accompanying him to an Asian security conference in Thailand that some preliminary work on a new round of talks has been done but no dates have been set. He said he's waiting to see if North Korea's foreign minister comes to Bangkok for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum and is confident they will meet if he does. The State Department says the lead U.S. negotiator, Stephen Biegun, will be in Bangkok for North Korea-related discussions but has not released his schedule.
"We think they'll be started before too long," Pompeo said. "I'm very hopeful."
Talks have been stalled since President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's summit in February in Hanoi that broke up over disagreements about sanctions relief and what actions the North would have to take in exchange. But they agreed to restart the talks when they met at the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas in June. At the time, U.S. officials spoke of the negotiations resuming in a matter of a few weeks.
"It's taken a little bit longer than that," Pompeo said. "There's been a little bit of preliminary work to be done. I never want to set a date (but) I hope before too long we will have Special Representative Biegun sitting with what I think will be a new counterpart from North Korea."
Since the latest Trump-Kim meeting, however, and just in the past week, the North has conducted two short-range ballistic missile tests. And, the two sides remain at odds on a definition of denuclearization. The U.S. says sanctions cannot be removed until the process is complete, although it has said some concessions are possible in return for partial steps.
The annual ASEAN security meeting has been used in the past as a venue for U.S.-North Korea talks and although the North has signaled that its top diplomat may not attend this year, Pompeo was nonplussed.
"We don't anticipate that the North Koreans will be at the event in Bangkok, but if they are, I'd look forward to the chance to meet with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho," he said, saying such a meeting "would be great." ''We'll see if they are there, and if they are there, I am confident we'll meet."
Even if such a meeting does not occur, Pompeo will have a full plate of thorny issues to contend with in Bangkok.
Among them, rising tensions with China over its increasingly assertive behavior in the South China Sea, hostility toward pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and mass detentions of Muslims and other minorities in the western region of Xinjiang. Pompeo will meet Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday as talks on ending a bitter U.S.-China trade dispute wrap up in Shanghai.
Pompeo will also be seeking in Bangkok to ease brewing tensions over trade between U.S. allies Japan and South Korea that threaten to disrupt Seoul's electronics industry and draws on long-standing bitterness over Japan's actions toward Korea during World War II. The dispute also threatens to poison relations at a time when Washington would prefer to see a united front in dealing with North Korea.
.On Friday, Pompeo will meet the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers separately before convening a three-way meeting among them.
"We will encourage them to find a path forward. We think it's important," Pompeo said aboard his plane. "They're both great partners of ours; they're both working closely with us on our efforts to denuclearize North Korea. So, if we can help them find a good place for each of their two countries, we certainly find that important to the United States, indeed, as well as to each of those two countries. I hope we'll have a good conversation and we can help get to a good place."
Southaven, Jul 31 (AP/UNB) - A gunman described as a disgruntled Walmart employee fatally shot two co-workers and wounded a police officer before he was shot and arrested Tuesday morning at a Walmart store in northern Mississippi, authorities said.
DeSoto County District Attorney John Champion said 39-year-old Martez Tarrell Abram shot a Southaven police officer, who was protected by a bulletproof vest and suffered minor injuries. Southaven Police Chief Macon Moore said a second Southaven officer shot Abram, who underwent surgery at a hospital in neighboring Memphis, Tennessee.
Both the people killed were Walmart employees, Moore said. Employees told The Associated Press that the first was shot in the parking lot, and the second was shot inside the store.
Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite described the suspect as a disgruntled worker with a grievance against his employer. Abram, a Southaven resident, had been suspended from the store in recent days after he showed a knife to a co-worker. A police report had been filed, but Champion said Abram didn't appear to have threatened the co-worker and criminal charges weren't being pursued.
"It wasn't an accident," said Travis Jones, an overnight stocker who was working when he heard shots. "He knew what he was doing when he came in there."
Jones said he saw the body of store manager Anthony Brown on the floor as they ran out of the store. "It was an ugly scene," he said. DeSoto County Coroner Joshua Pounders said the 40-year-old Brown, an Olive Branch resident, appears to have died from a gunshot wound.
Nicholas Gales said the other slain worker was his brother, 38-year-old Brandon Gales of Hernando. Jones called Brandon Gales his best friend and an "all-around good guy," saying he was the father of multiple children.
The shooting at about 6:30 a.m. brought a massive police response to the shopping complex, at a busy exit off Interstate 55 in Southaven, a suburb of 55,000 people.
"Our police really showed their guts today," Musselwhite said, noting Southaven officers recently undertook active shooter training, "If it hadn't been for their efforts there would have been more lives lost."
Carlos Odom, 35, had just made his usual visit to his cousin, who works at the Walmart on Tuesday, and said he was leaving when he heard more than a dozen shots.
"I just hear gunshots," Odom said. "Pow. Pow. Pow. Pow. Pow."
"When the cops run into the Walmart, you hear more gunshots," Odom said. "After that, it stopped."
Phil Cox, 70, said he had just bought some nasal spray and was in the parking lot when he thought he heard a gunshot, and then saw a man who may have been the shooter run into the store. He got into his truck to leave as police began arriving.
"Everything went crazy at that point," Cox said, expressing sympathy for employees. "It's just hard to believe what happened here, but it seems like it's happening everywhere."
Champion said police had recovered multiple weapons and a vehicle and searched Abram's apartment. He said Abram had purchased guns legally, although he didn't describe them, and said Abram had no prior criminal record. He said investigators were also reviewing video recordings.
Investigators also believe Abram set a fire in the store. Champion said charges could be upgraded or more charges added after the investigation concludes.
"I feel extremely confident we'll have a very prosecutable case," Champion said.
No one answered the door at an address listed for Abram on Tuesday afternoon. Some neighbors at the apartment complex about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the shooting scene said they did not know him.
Moore said about 60 employees were working at the time. They were taken to the parking lot of an adjoining Chili's restaurant and interviewed by officers, remaining there for hours. Some embraced, while one was placed in an ambulance. Others gathered in a circle to pray. Finally, authorities brought employees back into the store after noon, spoke to them and released them to go home. The store remained closed, even as businesses operated as usual elsewhere on the high-traffic suburban strip.
"The entire Walmart family is heartbroken by the loss of two valued members of our team," Walmart U.S. President and CEO Greg Foran said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "We feel tragedies like this personally, and our hearts go out to the families of our two associates and the officer who was injured."
The company is relieved the suspect was apprehended, and appreciates the quick response by authorities and its employees, Foran said.
"We'll continue to focus on assisting law enforcement in their investigation and on supporting our associates," he added.
London, Jul 30 (AP/UNB) — Britain has officially had its hottest day on record.
Weather agency the Met Office says the temperature reached 38.7 C (101.7 F) at Cambridge University Botanic Garden in eastern England during last week's heat wave.
The temperature was recorded Thursday and confirmed Monday after "quality control and analysis" by the Met Office.
The previous U.K. record was 38.5 C (101.3 F), set in August 2003.
Temperature records fell across Europe last week as a suffocating heat wave swept up from the Sahara.
Met office climate scientist Mark McCarthy said climate change was making extreme temperatures more common.
He said "climate change has increased the likelihood and severity of heatwave episodes across Europe, which will have also increased the risks of a 40 Celsius temperature event in the U.K."
Chippewa Falls, Jul 30 (AP/UNB) — A shooter killed three family members at a home in a small Wisconsin town, then went to a residence in a nearby community and opened fire on more people, sheriff's officials said Monday.
The shootings some 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) apart in northwestern Wisconsin left a total of five people dead, including the suspect, and two others wounded, authorities said.
Authorities found the shooter and another person dead while responding to a 911 call in Lake Hallie in about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Sheriff James Kowalczyk told WQOW-TV. Authorities said the dead were a man and a woman, but Kowalczyk didn't say which one was the shooter or how authorities were able to determine who the shooter was.
Two other adults at the home in Lake Hallie were rushed to the hospital with gunshot wounds. There was no immediate word on their conditions.
Authorities looking to notify the shooter's relatives then went to a home in the Town of Lafayette around 2:30 a.m. Monday and discovered three more bodies, Kowalczyk said.
"We went to the door, received no answer, attempted to make a call, again no answer. We finally forced our way in and found three other victims of a homicide," Kowalczyk said.
The dead there were a man, a woman and a boy.
The names of the victims and the shooter have not been released. Kowalczyk told WQOW that authorities were still trying to determine a motive. The sheriff didn't immediately return a phone message left by The Associated Press.
Hannah Larson, who lived in the same four-unit complex in Lafayette, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune an 8-year-old boy lived there along with his father and grandmother. Larson said the 8-year-old had sometimes played with her 7-year-old brother.
Lafayette Chairman Dave Staber said the shooting in his town has rocked the normally quiet, bedroom community of 6,000.
"We're seldom in the news, which is just the way we like it. My heart goes out to the residents affected by this," Staber said.
Gilroy, Jul 30 (AP/UNB) — Before a 19-year-old gunman opened fire on a famed garlic festival in his California hometown, he urged his Instagram followers to read a 19th century book popular with white supremacists on extremist websites, but his motives for killing two children and another young man were still a mystery Monday.
Santino William Legan posted the caption about the book "Might is Right," which claims race determines behavior. It appeared with a photo of Smokey the Bear in front of a "fire danger" sign and also complained about overcrowding towns and paving open space to make room for "hordes" of Latinos and Silicon Valley whites.
In his last Instagram post Sunday, Legan sent a photo from the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Minutes later, he shot into the crowd with an AK-47 style weapon, killing a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and a man in his mid-20s.
Under it, he wrote: "Ayyy garlic festival time" and "Come get wasted on overpriced" items. Legan's since-deleted Instagram account says he is Italian and Iranian.
The postings are among the first details that have emerged about Legan since authorities say he appeared to fire at random, sending people running and diving under tables. Police patrolling the event responded within a minute and killed Legan as he turned the weapon on them.
He legally purchased the semi-automatic assault rifle this month in Nevada, where his last address is listed. He would have been barred from buying it in California, which restricts firearms purchases to people over 21. In Nevada, the age limit is 18.
Legan grew up less than a mile from the park where the city known as the "Garlic Capital of the World" has held its three-day festival for four decades, attracting more than 100,000 people with music, food booths and cooking classes.
Authorities were looking for clues, including on social media, as to what caused the son of a prominent local family to go on a rampage. His father was a competitive runner and coach, a brother was an accomplished young boxer and his grandfather had been a supervisor in Santa Clara County.
Police said they don't know if people were targeted, but at this point, but it appears he shot indiscriminately. Twelve people were injured.
Police searched Legan's vehicle and the two-story Legan family home, leaving with paper bags. Authorities also searched an apartment they believed Legan used this month in remote northern Nevada. Officials didn't say what they found.
Big Mikes Gun and Ammo, which appears to be a home-based internet gun shop in Fallon, Nevada, said on its Facebook page that Legan ordered the rifle off its website and "was acting happy and showed no reasons for concern" when the store owner met him. The post said it was "heartbroken this could ever happen."
In California, police had training in how to respond to an active shooter. While they prepared for the worst, they never expected to use those skills in Gilroy, a city of about 50,000 about 80 miles (176 kilometers) southeast of San Francisco known for the pungent smell of its prize flowering crop grown in the surrounding fields — garlic.
The city had security in place for one of the largest food fairs in the U.S. It required people to pass through metal detectors and have their bags searched. Police, paramedics and firefighters were stationed throughout the festival.
But Legan didn't go through the front entrance. He cut through a fence bordering a parking lot next to a creek, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said. Some witnesses reported a second suspect, and authorities were trying to determine if he had any help.
Police arrested a 20-year-old man who claimed involvement online, but investigators determined he was just trying to get attention.
The police chief praised officers for stopping Legan with handguns without injuring anyone else.
"It could've gotten so much worse, so fast," Smithee said.
The gunfire sent people in sunhats and flip-flops running away screaming. Some dove for cover under the decorated food booth tables. Others crawled under a concert stage, where a band had started playing its last song.
The youngest victim, Stephen Romero, described by his grandmother as a kind, happy and playful kid, had just celebrated his sixth birthday in June at Legoland in Southern California.
"My son had his whole life to live and he was only 6," his father, Alberto Romero, told San Francisco Bay Area news station KNTV after the shooting.
Also killed was 13-year-old Keyla Salazar from San Jose, seen dressed in pink, wearing a tiara of flowers and smiling as she poses with relatives in photos posted on her aunt's Facebook page.
"I have no words to describe this pain I'm feeling," Katiuska Pimentel Vargas wrote.
The oldest victim killed was Trevor Irby, 27, a biology major who graduated in 2017 from Keuka College in upstate New York.
The wounded were taken to multiple hospitals, and their conditions ranged from fair to critical, with some undergoing surgery.
Troy Towner said his sister, Wendy Towner, was at the festival for her business, the Honey Ladies, when she saw a man with a gun climb over the fence. She yelled at him: "No, you can't do that!"
The gunman shot her in the leg and her husband three times, while a young girl dragged their 3-year-old son under a table, Towner wrote on a fundraising page he set up for his sister.
Legan then approached the couple as they lay motionless on the ground and asked if they were all right. They didn't move, fearing he would finish them off, Towner wrote.
Towner said his sister underwent surgery and was expected to have long-term nerve damage, while her husband faces many surgeries.
Candice Marquez, who works for Wendy Towner and her husband, Francisco, told The Associated Press that she had stepped away to go to the bathroom and saw the gunman heading to their tent. She said her 10-year-old niece helped the toddler to safety.
"She was brave," Marquez said.
Jan Dickson, a neighbor who lives across the street from the Legan family, described them as "a nice, normal family." She said Santino Legan had not lived there for at least a year.
"How do you cope with this? They have to deal with the fact that their son did this terrible thing and that he died," Dickson said.