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Published: Wednesday, October 04, 2017 @ 1:54 PM
LAS VEGAS — Photographer David Becker had finished shooting the final act of the Route 91 Harvest Festival and was in the media tent, filing his photos, when the first round of popping sounds began.
“A security guy said it was just firecrackers, so I went back to work,” Becker told Time magazine on Monday.
Little did Becker, who was working the festival for Getty Images, know that he was about to witness firsthand the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Suspected gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire Sunday night from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, which overlooked the festival grounds, and killed at least 59 people and wounded more than 500 more.
“The second time I heard the popping sounds, somebody said to me, ‘It was just speakers or sound equipment,’ and again, I went back into the media tent,” Becker told the Washington Post. “Then the noises went again, and that was when the crowd started to flee.”
Even as he grabbed his camera and went outside, Becker had no idea what he was seeing. Still, he began shooting photos of the crowd, some of whom were crying, ducking for cover or talking on cellphones.
Becker stood on a table and kept taking photos, telling himself it was a speaker popping, he told both Time and the Post. He had no idea at the time that the sporadic sounds he was hearing was gunfire from automatic rifles being fired about 500 yards away.
“It was really hard to get a sense of what was happening,” Becker said, according to the Post. “At this stage, I still just thought it was a speaker popping, so I was trying to capture people’s emotions and a sense of the panic that was around me.”
He witnessed a man shielding a woman with his body. Unable to tell if the woman was injured because the lighting was so poor, Becker watched as she and the man got up and ran away.
He saw a man in a wheelchair being helped to an exit. He saw bodies lying on the ground, but could not tell if the people were injured, or just pretending.
“I was trying to capture anything that was moving and that had good lighting,” Becker said. “That was critical. It was so dark, and there was limited lighting.”
Becker said it was only after he went back into the media tent that he learned the reality of what he was seeing. He called a colleague, who told him that police had called a “code red” and set up a perimeter around the festival grounds.
“It was then I started looking at my photographs, and what I was seeing was just unbelievable,” Becker said. “It had been so dark outside, I couldn’t see the details. I just saw a lot of people laying on the ground, thinking they were playing possum, but now I could see people covered in blood and I thought, ‘This is real.’
“When I saw the image of the woman lying on the ground, covered in blood, that was when the impact of what I was experiencing hit. When I realized people were dying.”
Becker kept editing and filing his photographs, working solely by the light of his laptop after officials cut the power to the venue to help hide those cowering in fear. After several minutes of working, police officers arrived and escorted him to his car.
See more photos from Becker and other photographers in the galleries at the bottom of this story.
The seasoned photographer did not stop working, however. He spent the rest of the night capturing images of law enforcement moving in and those wounded in the shooting helping one another on the streets.
Becker told the Post it is hard for him to comprehend what he saw that night. He said he continued working by using his instinct to “photograph first and ask questions later,” which he said is “second nature” for a photojournalist.
Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 2:45 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 2:45 PM
AUSTIN, Texas — Police continue to investigate a series of deadly bombings in Austin after authorities said the suspect, identified as Mark Anthony Conditt, 23, killed himself early Wednesday.
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 10:05 PM
TULSA, Okla. — Residents in North Tulsa, Oklahoma, want justice for a dog they believe was killed by his owner.
James Penix said he looked out his window on Feb. 21 after hearing the screams of a dog. Penix said he saw his neighbor killing his dog named Gabriel with a dumbbell in the driveway.
Penix said he called 9-1-1 and emergency operators referred him to the City of Tulsa's animal control division. But he said responding animal welfare officials allegedly said they could not find the home involved in the dog’s death and left.
Penix began a petition on Change.org, calling for justice for Gabriel. It had more than 2,500 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
Animal Control reopened the investigation and will present possible charges to the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office.
An update to the petition suggests the neighbor's other dog was taken as evidence and remains in the custody of Animal Welfare.
The City of Tulsa responds to animal cruelty reports Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and forwards such calls to Tulsa Police after hours.
Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 1:31 AM
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania lawmaker has introduced legislation that could have parents footing the bill if their child bullies another kid at school.
It started out as a rule in Sharpsburg.
WPXI checked with the police officer who enforces the law and he said it is working as a deterrent.
He also said it's raised awareness of how serious bullying is, and the potential consequences.
After Brentwood and Sharpsburg passed local anti-bullying ordinances that fine parents of bullies, a state lawmaker is proposing more encompassing legislation.
State Rep. Frank Burns' bill gives parents three strikes. He's from Cambria County.
The first time a child bullies someone, the school is required to inform his or her parents how it handled the situation. If it happens a second time, parents would have to take a class on bullying and attend a bullying resolution conference.
The third time, parents would receive a court citation and pay up to a $500 fine.
Punishing parents for the actions of their kids —> Pa lawmaker proposes fining parents $500 for child's bullying. http://on.wpxi.com/2p8XrPLPosted by WPXI Courtney Brennan on Tuesday, March 13, 2018
In a statement issued last week, the Democrat said bullying can lead to physical assaults and suicide.
He said holding students, parents and officials accountable "is the only way to put an end to this scourge."
The proposal also includes an anonymous bullying reporting system requiring the state education department to track bullying incidents and file monthly reports.
Sharpsburg police have yet to file any citations against parents.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 2:03 AM
SNOQUALMIE NATIONAL FOREST, Wash. — A Mill Creek, Washington, man is facing charges after a treehouse was found in the Snoqualmie National Forest with child pornography hanging on the walls inside.
KIRO-TV first reported on the discovery off the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River in February. The unauthorized treehouse was reported by an employee of the Department of Natural Resources, according to court documents. A DNR worker took a couple of the photographs off the wall to show law enforcement and called the King County Sheriff's Office.
The DNR employee took a detective to the treehouse, which was described in court documents as "an elaborate tree house that resembled a fairy or gingerbread house." The treehouse was about 8 feet off the ground with a porch surrounding it.
Investigators say that inside the treehouse they found photographs of naked young girls framed on the walls. There was also a bed, food, supplies, a book and an electronic keyboard.
They found an envelope with more pornographic images.
The King County Sheriff's Office handed the case over to the FBI to investigate. The FBI sent KIRO-TV new photos of the house on Monday.
The FBI searched the cabin in April 2017 and collected items to test for fingerprints and DNA to find out who built the cabin.
They took construction photos, smoking material, bedding, glasses, photos of girls, bags of batteries and glass from the photograph frames.
They sent the items to the FBI laboratory in Quantico.
Federal investigators said they also talked to a Search and Rescue volunteer who said he had seen an SUV near the cabin on multiple occasions, and he had the license plate information. Investigators tracked down the owner of the vehicle and watched him.
Investigators said they took a swab from the handle of his motorcycle and later got a paper drinking cup he discarded. Those items were also sent to the lab in Quantico.
According to court documents, the items tested at Quantico positively identified the 56-year-old Mill Creek man. Court records show Daniel Wood, of Mill Creek, has been charged with two counts of child pornography possession.