Florida high school shooting suspect flagged as threat before tragedy

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 10:28 PM

Who Is Nicolas De Jesus Cruz, Alleged Gunman In Florida School Shooting?

The suspected gunman in Wednesday’s horrific shooting at a Florida high school displayed a pattern of disturbing behavior and anger issues that got him flagged as a potential threat long before the tragedy that took 17 lives.

>> Related: Who is Nikolas Cruz, accused gunman in Florida high school attack?

Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, had been expelled from the school and did not graduate after causing so much concern that school administrators banned him from campus, according to police. The suspect’s former classmates revealed he had a history of making dark, gun-related jokes and suffered from “a lot of anger management issues.”

“Finding out it was him makes a lot of sense now,” said 19-year-old Jillian Davis, who participated in the U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps with Cruz.

According to her, Cruz often joked about shooting people and/or establishments and would frequently talk about having guns and using them. Math teacher Jim Gard said that Cruz had been aggressive toward other students in the past.

>> Related: 17 dead, more than a dozen injured in shooting rampage at Parkland, Florida high school

“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” he said. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”

Joe Melita, former head of the Professional Standards & Special Investigative Unit at Broward County Public Schools, indicated that several district security officials knew of Cruz, saying, “They were familiar with who the young man was.”

>> Photos: Shooting at high school in Parkland, Florida

On Wednesday, Cruz put his disturbing obsessions and fantasies into action when he opened fire on the school with an AR-15 assault weapon and multiple magazines of ammunition, fatally shooting 17 people and injuring over a dozen more. According to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, of Florida, Cruz arrived at the school wearing a gas mask and carrying smoke grenades. In order to create chaos and panic, he allegedly pulled the fire alarm, prompting students to begin pouring out of their classrooms and into the hallways.

“There the carnage began,” Nelson said.

Police and emergency vehicles soon swarmed the scene, and Cruz was arrested and taken into custody.

Parents wait for news after a reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)(Joel Auerbach/AP)

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National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster out; former U.S. ambassador John Bolton in

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 6:37 PM

Who Is H.R. McMaster, Trump’s National Security Adviser

National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster is resigning from the Trump administration and will be replaced by former U.S. ambassador John Bolton, according to a tweet Thursday afternoon from President Donald Trump.

>> Read more trending newsWho is H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security advisor

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster attends a meeting between President Donald Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office at the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington, D.C.(Pool/Getty Images)

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Congress sends giant government funding bill to President Trump

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 8:40 PM

Just over 24 hours after GOP leaders unveiled the details of massive plan to fund the federal government, the House and Senate gave easy bipartisan approval to the $1.3 trillion spending measure, even as members in both parties grumbled about the actions of their leaders, the process, the size of the bill, the amount of money involved, and the specifics.

The final Senate vote – which took place soon after midnight – was 65 to 32 in favor of the over 2,000 page bill, which no lawmaker claimed to have read from start to finish.

“Washington has reached a new low,” complained Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who ridiculed the increase in spending agreed to by both parties.

“This is beyond pathetic. It is irresponsible, and a danger to our Republic,” Perdue added.

“Our congressional budget process is badly broken, and this Omnibus bill is just another symptom of Washington’s sickness,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK).

Among the many items in the final bill:

+ A big boost in defense spending, giving the Pentagon $700 billion in 2018, an increase of over $60 billion.

+ A substantial increase in domestic spending, highlighted by money for infrastructure, medical research and more.

+ Two bills pressed in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school shooting – the “Fix NICS” bill that would funnel more information into the instant background check system for gun buyers, and the “STOP School Violence Act,” which would help schools better recognize possible threats of violence in the future.

A rush to a final vote in the Senate was first delayed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who spent hours going through the bill, tweeting out what he found – but after about 600 of the 2,232 pages, the Kentucky Republican called it quits.

“I will vote no because it spends too much and there’s just too little time to read the bill and let everyone know what’s actually in it,” Paul tweeted.

“Every Republican would vote against this disgusting pork bill if a Democrat were President,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE).  “This spending kegger is a wildly irresponsible use of the taxpayers’ money.”

At the White House, officials acknowledged that if the GOP had 60 votes in the Senate to stop a filibuster, they would have designed a much different bill to the fund the operations of the federal government through the end of September.

But they still argued the measure funded a number of the President’s priorities.

“It funds national defense,” said White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney. “It funds opioids, it funds school safety.”

Earlier on Thursday, the House approved the bill on a vote of 256-167, as the two parties switched arguments from several years ago – when it was Republicans complaining about Democrats bringing a big bill to the floor with little time for review.

This time, it was Democrats echoing the Tea Party line of, “Read the bill!”

When the bill reached the Senate, Senators were ready to quickly approve the plan, and head out of town on a two-week break for Easter.

But the fine print caused some troubles, as Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), reportedly objected to a provision put in the bill that would rename a park in his state after a former Governor, Cecil Andrus, described in home state press reports as a past rival.

In the hallways off the Senate floor, Risch was not interested in discussing the Idaho dust up with reporters.

The hours of waiting, which included a procedural vote that called on the Sergeant At Arms to request the presence of absent Senators – left one short-timer aggravated.

“This is juvenile,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who is not running for re-election this year.

“This is a ridiculous process that we go through where people extort us, until we get so tired, that we are willing to do whatever it is that they wish for us to do,” said Corker just before the clock struck midnight.

Corker said it would have been better to come back at 8 am and vote, but he backed off that threat, and allowed Senators to finish work on the Omnibus, which funds the government only through September 30.



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Bomb at FedEx facility targeted Austin Med Spa employee, worker’s mom says

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 11:01 PM

A Texas state flag flies outside a FedEx facility following an explosion on March 20, 2018 in Schertz, Texas. A package exploded while being transported on a conveyor shortly after midnight. 
Scott Olson/Getty Images
A Texas state flag flies outside a FedEx facility following an explosion on March 20, 2018 in Schertz, Texas. A package exploded while being transported on a conveyor shortly after midnight. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A bomb found at a FedEx facility in Southeast Austin on Tuesday morning was addressed to an employee at Austin Med Spa, according to spa workers and the employee’s mother. 

>> Read more trending news 

Anita Ward, a nurse at Austin Med Spa, said FBI agents and Austin police told her Tuesday morning that her daughter, who also works at the spa in downtown Austin, was to be the recipient of the unexploded bomb at a FedEx sorting facility at 4117 McKinney Falls Parkway near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. 

Ward, who did not want to give her daughter’s name, said her daughter does not know Mark Conditt, who police say terrorized Austin with a series of bomb attacks that left two people dead and five injured.

Anita Ward said Conditt also did not look familiar to anyone who works at the spa.

>> Related: Austin bombings: Click here for complete coverage

“We’ve been trying to just keep it in the down low just for the FBI and police,” Ward said. “All of us here are just very thankful for the FBI and police and the work they’ve been doing.”

“I got to see a little bit of the inside of (the investigative process) and they were very quick at checking and stopping this package, and so we completely 100 percent credit this to them for stopping this from being delivered to our office,” she said.

>> Related: Austin bomber on recording: ‘I wish I were sorry but I am not’ 

Ward’s daughter attends Austin Community College, but did not attend the school from 2010 to 2012, when Conditt was pursuing a business administration degree but did not graduate.

They’re still investigating, we’re still providing them information,” Ward said. “We pretty much know as much as (authorities) can release to us. We still have a lot of unanswered questions.”

For now, Ward said she and her daughter are scared but thankful for the work of the FBI and Austin police. “We’ve both been very actively concerned and involved with this, her being targeted.”

Common Traits Of A Serial Bomber

Police said the unexploded package at the FedEx facility in Southeast Austin was one of two sent from a Sunset Valley FedEx Office store. Authorities determined it was a bomb and detonated in a controlled manner, they said.

>> Related: Austin bomb victim's father thanks authorities in letter, questions son's death

The first three victims, all in East Austin, were two black men who were killed in the attacks and a Hispanic woman. Two white men were injured on Sunday when they accidentally triggered a trip wire attached to a bomb in Southwest Austin. Ward and her daughter are white.

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Toys R Us closing sales: What you need to know when liquidation begins

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 9:48 AM

Toys ‘R’ Us May Close All U.S. Stores

Shoppers looking for a bargain lined up at Toys R Us stores across the country to cash in on the liquidation sale that was expected to begin Thursday.

However, the sales have been postponed, according to multiple reports.

WYFF reported that a sign on the Greenville location stated that the liquidation sale was postponed until further notice.

The sales are now expected to start Friday, CNN Money reported.

But no matter when the sales start, experts told CNN Money that bargain hunters should be ready to go as soon as the sales begin.

Toys R Us announced last week it was closing or selling all of its stores in the United States, but shoppers need to act fast.

MORE: Toys R Us store locator

Industry experts say shelves will clear out quickly and the sale may only last about 30 days.

Inventory on the most popular toys are already slim, and whatever is left will be the first to go.

People with Toys R Us gift cards and Endless Earnings Gift Cards should use those first.

Toys R Us will not accept them after April 20.

>> Read more trending news 

Starting Thursday, stores will not be accepting coupons or rewards.

If you have a return, Toys R Us will accept items for the next 30 days, but anything purchased during the liquidation sale is final and cannot be returned.

Amazon, one of Toys R Us’ most fierce competitors, is apparently considering buying up some of the empty store fronts once Toys R Us officially closes.

Bloomberg is reporting that Amazon would like to expand its brick-and-mortar presence by acquiring some of those locations.

MORE: What happens to Toys R Us employees, gift cards?

The Seattle-based company recently bought Whole Foods and opened its own line of bookstores and convenience stores.

Toys R Us is closing 735 locations, and will lay off about 31,000 employees.

Before you shop, check your location. Some local stores were part of the initial closing announcement and have been liquidating for weeks.

EMERYVILLE, CA - MARCH 15: Customers enter a Toys R Us store on March 15, 2018 in Emeryville, California. Toys R Us filed for liquidation in a U.S. Bankruptcy court and plans to close 735 stores leaving 33,000 workers without employment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

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