Trustee, attorney offer legal help for armed self-defense

Published: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 @ 6:22 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 @ 9:13 AM
By: Lauren Pack - Staff Writer

A local attorney and a township official have started a business venture offering legal and financial resources for armed self-defense.

Both say they are filling a need in response to thousands of Ohioans obtaining or renewing conceal and carry permits annually and rising gun and ammunition sales.

The program is the only one in the country that gives comprehensive legal and financial resources for people for armed self-defense, according to attorney Sean Maloney of Liberty Twp. and West Chester Twp. Trustee George Lang.

The two have been friends for years and began talking about opening a shooting range about three years ago.

Lang said he already had a criteria for his next business and thought there should be a better way to help people that was not just a retail venture.

Thus, Second Call Defense was launched in February. About 500 members have signed up nationwide with more to come, Lang said.

“The really cool thing is it is not prepaid legal services and not insurance, it is a membership program,” Lang said. The men noted each brought something to the table when planning program - Maloney specializes in Second Amendment issues and Lang has an insurance background.

Maloney said prosecution for armed self defense is not unusual.

“It’s just too easy for law-abiding people to find themselves in trouble if they happen to defend themselves with a gun,” said Maloney. “Nearly every state allows people to use lethal force in self defense, but when you do you are often considered guilty until proven innocent. It puts people in an impossible situation.”

Maloney stressed Second Call Defense does not intend to defend criminal behavior.

“What we do is help you exercise your rights legally, and we offer legal and financial protection if you have any legal issues after using a gun in self defense.”

Lang, who stars in the company’s online video, said he was sold on the idea after seeing so many stories of people who legally and responsibly defended themselves with a gun, but found themselves in trouble anyway.

This year, in Butler County a grand jury exonerated a 84-year-old man who shot an intruder in his home and a Hamilton shop owner who fatally shot a man during a robbery.

Maloney said while people may ultimately not face any charges, they can still face bills for attorney fees.

He added it is not just shooting in self-defense that can put people in legal hot water, he has defended people against threat claims for just brandishing a gun and telling the aggressor, “I have a gun leave me alone.”

“It can get turned around and people end up in court when they have done nothing wrong,” Maloney said.

Second Call Defense offers comprehensive set of benefits, including training and education on legal firearm use, emergency resources including a 27 hour hotline and upfront cash for attorney retainers and bond, and insurance coverage for criminal and civil protection that is backed by the NRA endorsed insurance program.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said he believes not only his office, but a grand jury should review self-defense cases.

He said there may be some misconception about the “Castle Doctrine” and self-defense shootings.

“It does not mean they have the right to shoot willy nilly for whatever the hell they want,” Gmoser said.

“If someone is legitimately scaring the hell out of you, climbing in the window of your home and you fire your weapon you have a legal presumption of self defense,” Gmoser said.

But he said a resident who kills an intruder when they don’t appear to be in danger could face criminal charges.

Depending on the option they choose, members of Second Call Defense can get up to $10,000 upfront for an attorney retainer, immediate cash for bond up to $250,000, up to $500 per day wage compensation while in court, up to 40 sessions of psychological support, and up to $250,000 accidental shooting protection, $50,000 criminal defense reimbursement, unlimited civil suit defense protection, and $250,000 civil suit damages protection.

Memberships range from $8.95 to $35.95per month.

Woman's dog saves her from would-be attacker in broad daylight

Published: Monday, January 23, 2017 @ 8:31 PM
Updated: Monday, January 23, 2017 @ 8:47 PM
By: Kelcie Willis - Cox Media Group National Content Desk

            Woman's dog saves her from would-be attacker in broad daylight
A woman's Rottweiler puppy (not pictured) saved her when she was almost attacked in broad daylight on a jogging trail in Texas. (Daisyree Bakker/Flickr (CC BY 2.0))

One woman has her 10-month-old puppy to thank after a man tried to attack her while she was on a trail in a Houston suburb.

Catalina Humphrey told KTRK a man grabbed her from behind when she was walking her Rottweiler, Hercules, on Saturday afternoon.

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"I didn't have a purse on me. I just had my workout gear on," Humphrey told KHOU. "I didn't have something that would draw me out for him to want to attack me like that. I don't know what his intent was, but I know it wasn't good."

The 110-pound pup took action, biting the man over and over and pinning him to the ground until he ran away.

"The minute that he ran, I saw blood on the ground," Humphrey said. She ran home and called police right after.

Montgomery County Sheriff's Office deputies are still looking for the man.

"It's still hard for me to want to leave my house, because I'm still trying to wrestle with that," Humphrey said.

Police say the sttackeris a black male in his 20s with a clean-shaven face, a height of about 5 feet 10 inches and weight of about 175 pounds.

KHOU reported that investigators collected DNA from Hercules' mouth and a scratch the suspect made on Humphrey's shoulder.

Humphrey's hero was rewarded with a day at the doggie spa and a bone.

"To know he protected me ... I am beyond grateful he did that," she said. "He is a hero because he saved my life."

'A Dog's Purpose' video fallout: movie producer, animal supplier speak out

Published: Monday, January 23, 2017 @ 7:31 PM
Updated: Monday, January 23, 2017 @ 8:30 PM
By: Kelcie Willis - Cox Media Group National Content Desk

            'A Dog's Purpose' video fallout: movie producer, animal supplier speak out
'A Dog's Purpose' Cancels Premiere Amidst Investigation

"A Dog's Purpose" is set to premiere Jan. 27, but it is still battling publicity surrounding a controversial video that was obtained and posted by TMZ last week.

The video shows a 2-year-old German shepherd named Hercules struggling with a person who appears to be a trainer as rough waves churned in a pool.

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Producers of the film initially told TMZ on Wednesday hours after the video surfaced that the dog was fine, and the American Humane Association, which oversees safety guidelines for animal actors on movie sets, placed a representative who had been on set on leave.

On Thursday, Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, the distributor and creator of the film, announced that they canceled the Hollywood premiere of the film and the associated press junket.

Related: 'A Dog's Purpose' producers respond to video of possible abuse, says German shepherd is fine

Despite a statement from W. Bruce Cameron, the author of the book on which the film is based and the co-screenwriter, in which he questions the video, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has called for a boycott of the film and has criticized Birds & Animals Unlimited, the supplier of animal actors for the movie.

Gavin Polone, a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter and the producer of the movie, wrote an op-ed in THR, expressing concern over the involvement of AHA in the shoot, and criticized PETA for its response.

Polone said the dog had been trained to perform a stunt in which he appears to drag a woman to safety from a specific point at the set, but that point was moved for one of the shots, which he said made Hercules uncomfortable.

Related: 'A Dog's Purpose' premiere canceled as video of possible abuse investigated, author issues statement

"That, evidentially, is what caused him to be spooked," Polone said. "When the dog didn’t want to do the scene from the new position, they cut, though not soon enough, and then went back to the original position. The dog was comfortable and went in on his own and they shot the scene. The TMZ video only shows the unfinished take of when the dog was on the right side."

Polone did take issue with how Hercules was forced into the water and with another instance, shown in the video, in which the dog's head becomes submerged underwater.

"These two things are absolutely inexcusable and should never have happened," he said,  adding that the AHA representative on set and the person who was running the set that day "should have also intervened immediately on both of those parts of the filming. … Those individuals should be held accountable and never used again by that studio or its affiliates."

Polone's full response can be read on The Hollywood Reporter.

On Monday, PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange said in a statement to Deadline Hollywood that her organization's investigation of Birds & Animals Unlimited "revealed that dogs were kept in barren kennels and forced to sleep outside in the cold, animals were denied adequate food so that they would be hungry while being trained to do tricks, and other animals were denied adequate veterinary care and made to live in filthy conditions."

Lane also responded to Polone's op-ed:

Those who made the movie want it to succeed, but even the film’s producer, Gavin Polone, admitted that the incident should not have occurred, so for him to offer alternative facts about what countless people have now watched and condemned is a form of spin that even the best filmmaker couldn’t pull off.

Birds & Animals Unlimited issued a response to Deadline Monday that said in part, the "falsely edited video" depicted something that did not happen, "nor would it ever occur under the supervision of our animal trainers."

The statement went on to detail the process of the stunt performed by Hercules:

Whenever Hercules was in the water there were two trainers poolside, one trainer in the water, a safety diver, as well as stunt personnel. The day before the scene was filmed, Hercules and his trainers did a comprehensive rehearsal at the pool location with safety and stunt teams to make certain that safety measures were in place to insure that the dog was not put in any danger.

The company said it is "currently reviewing available footage of these scenes and is evaluating its legal options."

Birds & Animals Unlimited's full statement, as well as Lange's full statement, can be read at

West Liberty-Salem school shooting: ‘He’s not a monster,’ sister says

Updated: Monday, January 23, 2017 @ 8:23 PM
By: Matt Sanctis, Breaking News Staff

UPDATE @ 6:15 p.m. (Jan. 23): Paige Serna, the sister of the teenager accused in the shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School, said, “I just want everyone to know he’s not a monster.... He made a mistake.”

Paige told WHIO-TV that violence is out of the ordinary for her brother.

She also said she is sorry for what happened to the victim, Logan Cole, and his family. 

According to Paige, Ely participated in sports and has a history of injuries and head trauma.

There has been no comment from Champaign County sheriff’s investigators in reaction to her statements.

UPDATE @ 12:24 p.m. (Jan. 23)

West Liberty-Salem school  is closed today, but faculty and staff are meeting to prepare for students to return tomorrow. 

“It is our goal to make tomorrow a day of healing,” said West Liberty-Salem Superintendent Kraig Hissong during a news conference on Monday. 

Students will have a 1-hour delayed start time tomorrow to allow teachers and counselors to work with students and discuss Friday’s shooting. 

Law enforcement officers will greet students tomorrow and additional staff will be present on school buses. These additional measures were designed to help students feel safe and comfortable when they return to school, Hissong said. 

In addition to outlining what students can expect tomorrow, Hissong said the Logan Cole’s condition continues to improve. 

Cole had 70 to 80 shotgun pellets in his body, according to family members.

UPDATE @ 10:18 a.m. (Jan. 23)

The court ruled Ely Ray Serna will continue to be detained during a hearing Champaign County Juvenile Court Monday morning.

The Champaign County Prosecutor’s Office said Serna is a danger to the community and himself, and asked the court to continue to detain the suspect in the West Liberty-Salem High School shooting.


The 17-year-old suspect in the West Liberty-Salem school shooting is scheduled to appearing in Champaign County Juvenile Court this morning. 

  • Prosecutors are seeking to prosecute Ely Ray Serna as an adult. 
  • Serna was taken into custody Friday morning. 
  • Serna is being held in a juvenile detention center. 

Serna, faces numerous charges, including two counts of attempted murder; three counts of felonious assault; six counts of improperly discharging a firearm; and single counts of inducing panic and illegal conveyance of a deadly weapon in a school, according to the county prosecutor’s office. 

Serna will appear in court one day before classes resume at West Liberty-Salem, according to the school district’s website.

Champaign County Sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant on Serna’s home on Saturday.

Classes resume on Tuesday

The district will be on a one-hour delay on Tuesday, with school starting at 8:35 a.m. for middle and high school students and at 8:40 a.m. for elementary students. 

The district will meet with staff on Monday and before school begins Tuesday, according to Superintendent Kraig Hissong. 

“I believe the true character of our staff and our community has been reflected by the actions taken in response to this incident,” Hissong said in a written letter. 

The district also will have ongoing reviews of safety and security procedures to learn from this event and do more to prevent such an incident, he said.

The shooting victims

West Liberty-Salem High School student Logan Cole, who was shot multiple times by a shotgun on Friday morning school shooting, is showing progress, according to family members.

Cole’s father Ryan posted a message on Facebook Saturday night saying his son was moved out of ICU at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Earlier, Ryan Cole posted on social media that doctors removed a breathing tube. 

Also Saturday, officials revealed that another student, a 17-year-old who was not named, was hit by part of a shot but was not seriously injured. 

Ryan Cole said his son has 70 to 80 shotgun pellets in his body, including two in his spinal canal. His backbone took a lot of impact from one of the shots and he will need to wear a neck and back brace for months as his bones heal. He also has lung damage and three broken teeth from hitting the floor, his father posted. 

Logan Cole is talking, and one of the first things he asked was that his family pray for his shooter. The suspect was identified on Satuday as 17-year-old West Liberty-Salem senior Ely Serna. Prosecutors say they will seek to have him tried as an adult. 

Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus released this statement provided by the family of victim Logan Cole: 

“We are thankful for the Lord’s protective hand on our son. We are also grateful for the outpouring of support from our family, friends, and community. We would like to ask for continued prayers for Logan. Also, we’d like to encourage prayer for the community, the other student, and his family. We are certain they have been deeply hurt as well. We are confident that God has a purpose and plan through this tragedy.”

A call for help

A 911 caller told the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office that four shots were fired during a school shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School on Friday.

Caller: “Hi we’re at West Liberty-Salem High School and there’s a shooter.” 

Dispatcher: “There’s a shooter at West Liberty?” 

Caller “Yes. West Liberty-Salem High School.” 

The caller, possibly a female student, said they heard two shots, then her teacher went out to the hallway. The caller said the shots came from the wing with math classrooms and the boy’s bathroom. 

“Please hurry, please hurry,” she told the dispatcher. “We’re hurrying, OK? We’re sending everybody that we can, OK?” the dispatcher said. 

The caller said they heard at least two more shots, with one going through the window, and that students and staff were running and were going out the window to get out of the building. The shooter was inside, she told the dispatcher.

The initial report of shots fired came in at 7:36 a.m. on Friday.

RELATED: 5 things to know about West Liberty

The shooting happened during the beginning of the school day, according to the superintendent. Once they were notified of an active shooter, they ran, got into rooms and barricaded rooms. Students and staff also ran from the school. 

“I can’t say how pleased I am with how staff and students handled this today,” Hissong said. 

Hissong reported all students on site at school were safe. Students were evacuated to Lyons Park in West Liberty where parents could pick them up. 

Hissong asked for patience in getting students evacuated to the park, noting they need to take their time. 

RELATED: 7 lessons learned from another local school shooting

RELATED: 5 things to know about West Liberty

RELATED: 7 lessons learned from another local school shooting

RELATED: Parents pick up West Liberty students after shooting

Federal agents seize $20M hidden in a box spring in Massachusetts

Published: Monday, January 23, 2017 @ 6:22 PM
Updated: Monday, January 23, 2017 @ 8:14 PM

            Federal agents seize $20M hidden in a box spring in Massachusetts
United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts via Twitter

Federal agents seized nearly $20 million in cash hidden in a box spring in a Westborough, Massachusetts, apartment. 

The money was seized this month and a Brazilian man was arrested in connection with conspiring to launder proceeds of a massive TelexFree pyramid scheme. 

>> Read more trending stories

The U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts said agents searched TelexFree, Inc. headquarters in April 2014 in Malborough, Massachusetts. Later that same day, one of the company's founders, Carlos Wanzeler, allegedly fled to Brazil. 

Wanzeler and his co-founder, James Merrill, were indicted in July 2014. They pleaded guilty to running the pyramid scheme in October 2016 and are awaiting sentencing. 

Agents said that millions were still hidden in the Boston area. The U.S attorney for the District of Massachusetts posted a photo on Twitter of about $20 million in cash found hidden in a box spring.

They said an associate, 28-year-old Cleber Rene Rizerio Rocha, was working to launder cash through Hong Kong and transfer it to Brazilian accounts. They claim Rocha was a carrier for Wanzeler's nephew. 

Agents followed Rocha to an apartment complex in Westborough and arrested him. He may face a maximum 20 years in prison, three years supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, the district said.