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Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 4:08 PM
TAMARAC, Fla. — A Florida man spurred by the massacre that killed 17 people at a Parkland high school last week has “put (his) money where (his) mouth is” and surrendered his assault rifle to authorities.
Ben Dickmann, 40, wrote on Friday, in a Facebook post that has since gone viral, that he decided to lead by example.
“I own this rifle,” Dickmann wrote, sharing multiple photos of the semiautomatic AR-57 as he turned it in at the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s a caliber variant of the AR-15.”
The suspected gunman in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, former student Nikolas Cruz, is accused of using an AR-15 to gun down 14 students and three faculty members on Valentine’s Day.
“I am a responsible, highly-trained gun owner. (I am not a police officer or sheriff’s deputy),” Dickmann wrote. “However, I do not need this rifle.”
Dickmann wrote that no one without a police badge needs an AR-57.
“This rifle is not a ‘tool’ I have use for. A tool, by definition, makes a job/work easier,” Dickmann wrote. “Any ‘job’ I can think of legally needing doing can be done better by a different firearm.”
Dickmann wrote that, although he enjoyed shooting the weapon, he has other types of guns that he can shoot for recreation. He could have sold the rifle, he wrote, but “no person needs this.”
“I will be the change I want to see in this world,” Dickmann wrote. “If our lawmakers will continue to close their eyes and open their wallets, I will lead by example. #outofcirculation.”
Officials with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office praised Dickmann for his decision.
“We commend Ben for helping us get one more dangerous weapon off the streets,” a post on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page read.
The post also offered two ways for the public to turn in an unloaded, unwanted weapon. A citizen can call the department’s non-emergency line, 954-765-HELP, and inform a deputy that they have a weapon to surrender for destruction.
“Leave the firearm in a location away from you in the home/business, allowing the responding deputy to retrieve it when they arrive,” the post read. “The deputy will take possession of the weapon (and) ammunition for disposal.”
The second way to turn the weapon in is to secure the gun in the trunk of a vehicle and drive to the nearest Sheriff’s Office substation. After parking in the visitors’ lot, a citizen can go inside and tell the deputy at the desk that he or she has a firearm and/or ammunition in the vehicle for surrender.
“A deputy will meet with you and retrieve the weapon from your vehicle for disposal,” the post read.
Dickmann, who lives about 30 minutes from Parkland in Fort Lauderdale, told NPR in an interview that the decision to give up his assault rifle came after “a lot of soul searching.” He said that, like others, he sees a lot of “thoughts and prayers” being offered, but not much else.
“I thought, ‘Well, this is something I can do that I think is right,” Dickmann said. “And it’s something I can do that might spark a change. You know, my whole goal was maybe to inspire one friend on my Facebook page to do the same thing. And maybe that friend would inspire one other person.”
Dickmann said he considered taking action after the Las Vegas shooting, but thought that his gun was not hurting anyone sitting in his gun safe. The Stoneman Douglas massacre, however, hit close to home.
He said response to a Facebook post he wrote the day after the school shooting is what spurred that action. In that long post, Dickmann wrote that it was past time to do something about the mass violence undertaken with firearms in the United States.
“I can now say I know people who have been directly affected by three of the most horrific gun violence events in our history (Northern Illinois University, Las Vegas, Stoneman Douglas), and a couple more single events,” he wrote. “This makes me sick. This makes me mad. I’m tired.”
In the Northern Illinois University shooting, which took place 10 years to the day before the Stoneman Douglas massacre, former NIU student Steven Kazmierczak walked onto the stage in an auditorium where class was taking place and gunned down five students before killing himself. More than a dozen more were injured.
Commenters on Dickmann’s post, who numbered in the thousands, varied in their responses. Some thought he spoke common sense, while others accused him of being a paid lackey for the anti-gun crowd.
Dickmann told NPR that it was sarcasm from one man who told him, “Well, if you feel this way, why don’t you go turn your gun in?” The man even offered to drive Dickmann to the station.
“Even though he was being extremely sarcastic about it because he’s a very staunch conservative, gun rights activist person, it kind of spurred me to say, ‘You know what? Yeah, I’ll do that,’” he said.
Dickmann said he’s glad that his actions sparked a debate.
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 7:52 AM
— Koko the gorilla, the simian who showed the world that they could communicate has died.
Koko was born 46 years ago at the San Francisco Zoo. She was taught sign language by Dr. Francine Patterson starting in 1974, The Associated Press reported.
She had a vocabulary of about 1,000 words of American Sign Language, National Geographic reported.
Koko’s ability to communicate and the empathy she showed made the gorilla a national treasure. She was featured on National Geographic’s cover twice, including one from 1978 that featured a photo that the animal took of herself in a mirror.
She had learned how to use a camera after watching a photographer and imitating him. At the end of the National Geographic photoshoot, she signed “love camera,” according to National Geographic.
The second cover, from 1985, showed the large western lowland gorilla cradling a kitten. Koko had asked for a kitten for Christmas in 1984. Her caretakers gave her a stuffed animal, but that didn’t work for the gorilla who told her human family that she was sad that she didn’t get a real cat, The Los Angeles Times reported in 1985. So on her birthday, she was allowed to chose one and became famous being a gorilla who had a kitten as a pet. Researchers said that Koko would cradle and pet the small cat, while the feline would treat Koko like a human. Like any cat, she was independent, and would bite, or get loose when she had had enough love from her gorilla caretaker. When that happened, Koko would sign “obnoxious cat.” But when the kitten, whom Koko named All Ball, wanted affection, Koko would sign,“soft, good cat.” Koko and All Ball’s family came to an end, though, when the cat wandered into a road and was hit by a car. Koko signed about death after the kitten was killed and cried, mourning her pet, the Times reported.
That wasn’t the only time that Koko showed that she understood death and would mourn the passing of a friend, the “Today” show reported. When she was told of Robin Williams’s death in 2014, she became sad, Patterson wrote on Koko.org. Williams and Koko became friends after they met in 2001.
The Gorilla Foundation said it will keep Koko’s memory alive by continuing its conservation efforts in Africa, operating a great ape sanctuary on Maui and developing a sign language app that features Koko that will help gorillas and children learning to sign.
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 2:26 AM
PINE BLUFF, Ark. — A suspected thief is behind bars after police say he handed an Arkansas waitress her own stolen card while paying his bill at a Pine Bluff restaurant.
According to The Associated Press, Shamon West, 21, was arrested Tuesday after Shannon's Restaurant waitress Flora Lunsford went to swipe the credit card and noticed her own name on it. She called police, who searched West and found Lunsford's Social Security card and driver's license, as well, the AP reported.
The arrest came two days after someone took Lunsford's purse from her car, which was parked outside a gas station two blocks from the restaurant, KATV reported.
West now faces charges of theft by receiving and forgery.
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 6:23 AM
ADAMS COUNTY, Ohio — An Ohio break-in suspect who goes by "Popeye" and sports a large, unusual face tattoo may be as recognizable as the sailor man himself.
According to WKRC, Anthony Ward was arrested on theft and breaking-and-entering charges Wednesday after the Adams County Sheriff's Office shared his photo on Facebook.
"Be on the look out for aka (Popeye) Anthony Ward," the post began. "Subject has Felony warrants through Brown County and wanted for questioning on several B&E's [breaking and entering]. AIso Dottie Worthington is with this subject and are driving a Black Chevy Cruz."
MALE HAS BEEN LOCATED AND IS IN CUSTODYPosted by Adams County Sheriffs Office on Wednesday, June 20, 2018
The post quickly racked up 2,700 shares and more than 100 comments from bemused followers.
"Don't you have a better pic? This could be anybody," one commenter quipped.
"Now they need to put a 'be on the lookout' for a bad tattoo artist," wrote another.
Late Wednesday, the Sheriff's Office updated the post, saying Ward was in police custody.
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 9:37 PM
SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. — A Florida oncologist and 2003 Satellite High School graduate is asking questions after she and several of her former classmates were diagnosed with cancer.
Dr. Julie Greenwalt, of the Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center in Jacksonville battled a rare, aggressive form of appendix cancer.
She first contacted the Florida Department of Health about one year ago to ask the agency to take a closer look at the cancer cases. Her resolve was strengthened after a recent Military Times article about the detection of water contaminates linked to cancer and developmental delays in children at military bases nationwide, including Patrick Air Force Base.
Greenwalt asked Victoria Hicks, a friend and fellow Satellite High School alumna, to discuss her breast cancer diagnosis with the health department.
"I was 33, and I had no family history," Hicks said. "I went to the doctor nine months before my actual diagnosis and was told it's nothing, it's no big deal, and it grew into an 8-centimeter mass."
Greenwalt said the pattern of cancer diagnoses is concerning.
"I think it's an abnormal pattern that so many young people in their 30s are getting cancer without family history," she said. "I'm not trying to cause any panic, just trying to create awareness that there might be a problem."
Officials with the FDOH said although the agency hasn't launched a formal investigation, it recognizes the importance of gathering and assessing information that could help determine necessary next steps.
Greenwalt said current and former Brevard County residents who have been diagnosed with cancer are asked to contact the county health department's epidemiologist to provide details of their diagnosis and related information.
Relatives of patients who have died from cancer are also asked to report that information to the agency.
"I just feel grateful to be alive, and I know that God has a plan for my life," Greenwalt said. "(Perhaps) this is part of it -- to try and help figure this out."
She said she plans to organize a community meeting in Satellite Beach to increase awareness.
"I hope now that it's out there, the possibility of people getting screened sooner can help save more lives," Hicks said.