350,000 Ukranian Residents Urged to Evacuate ASAP

Ukrainian servicemen strengthen trenches on their position near the frontline in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Tuesday, July, 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrii Marienko)

The governor of the last remaining eastern province partly under Ukraine’s control urged his more than 350,000 residents to flee as Russia escalated its offensive and air alerts were issued across nearly the entire country.

 

Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said that getting people out of Donetsk province is necessary to save lives and enable the Ukrainian army better to defend towns from the Russian advance.

“The destiny of the whole country will be decided by the Donetsk region,” Kyrylenko told reporters in Kramatrosk, the province’s administrative center and home to the Ukrainian military’s regional headquarters.

“Once there are less people, we will be able to concentrate more on our enemy and perform our main tasks,” Kyrylenko said.

The governor’s call for residents to leave appeared to represent one of the biggest suggested evacuations of the war, although it’s unclear whether people will be willing and safely able to flee. According to the U.N. refugee agency, more than 7.1 million Ukrainians are estimated to be displaced within Ukraine, and more than 4.8 million refugees left the country since Russia’s invasion started Feb. 24.

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy said air alerts were issued Tuesday night in nearly all of the country, in many places after a long period of relative calm during which people searched for an explanation.

“You should not look for logic in the actions of terrorists,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address. “The Russian army does not take any breaks. It has one task — to take people’s lives, to intimidate people — so that even a few days without an air alarm already feel like part of the terror.”

Much of the military activity appeared concentrated in Ukraine’s east. The Kramatorsk governor said that because they house critical infrastructure such as water filtration plants, Russia’s main targets are now his city and a city 16 kilometers (10 miles) to the north, Sloviansk. Kyrylenko described the shelling as “very chaotic” without “a specific target … only to destroy civilian infrastructure and residential areas.”

Sloviansk also came under sustained bombardment Tuesday. Mayor Vadim Lyakh said on Facebook that “massive shelling” pummeled Sloviansk, which had a population of about 107,000 before Russian invaded Ukraine more than four months ago. The mayor, who urged residents hours earlier to evacuate, advised them to take cover in shelters.

At least one person was killed and seven were wounded Tuesday, Lyakh said. He said the city’s central market and several districts came under attack, adding that authorities were assessing the extent of the damage.

The barrage targeting Sloviansk indicated Russian forces were advanc ing farther into Ukraine’s Donbas region, a mostly Russian-speaking industrial area where the country’s most experienced soldiers are concentrated.

Sloviansk has previously taken rocket and artillery fire during Russia’s war in Ukraine, but the bombardment picked up in recent days after Moscow took the last major city in neighboring Luhansk province, Lyakh said.

“It’s important to evacuate as many people as possible,” he warned Tuesday morning, adding that shelling damaged 40 houses on Monday.

The Ukrainian military withdrew its troops Sunday from the city of Lysychansk to keep them from being surrounded. Russia’s defense minister and Putin said the city’s subsequent capture put Moscow in control of all of Luhansk, one of two provinces that make up the Donbas, but the regional governor said Tuesday that fighting was continuing on Lysychansk’s outskirts. He said Russian forces were moving weaponry to Donetsk.

The question now is whether Russia can muster enough strength to complete its seizure of the Donbas by taking Donetsk province, too. Putin acknowledged Monday that Russian troops who fought in Luhansk need to “take some rest and beef up their combat capability.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that Moscow’s main priorities are “preserving the lives and health” of its troops and “excluding the threat to the security of civilians.”

When Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine more than four months ago, his stated goals were defending the people of the Donbas against Kyiv’s alleged aggression, and the “demilitarization” and “denazifaction” of Ukraine.

Pro-Russia separatists have fought Ukrainian forces and controlled much of the Donbas for eight years. Before the invasion this year, Putin recognized the independence of the two self-proclaimed separatist republics in the region. He also sought to portray the tactics of Ukrainian forces and the government as akin to Nazi Germany’s, claims for which no evidence has emerged.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian military said Russian forces also shelled several Donetsk towns and villages around Sloviansk in the past day but were repelled as they tried to advance toward a town about 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the city’s north. South of the city, Russian forces were trying to push toward two more towns and shelling areas near Kramatorsk.

Meanwhile, Moscow-installed officials in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region on Tuesday announced the formation of a new regional government, with a former Russian official at the helm.

Sergei Yeliseyev, the head of the new Moscow-backed government in Kherson, is a former deputy prime minister of Russia’s western exclave of Kaliningrad and also used to work at Russia’s Federal Security Service, or the FSB, according to media reports.

It wasn’t immediately clear what would become of the “military-civic administration” the Kremlin installed earlier. The administration’s head, Vladimir Saldo, said in a Telegram statement that the new government was “not a temporary, not a military, not some kind of interim administration, but a proper governing body.”

“The fact that not just Kherson residents, but Russian officials, too, are part of this government speaks clearly about the direction the Kherson region is headed in the future,” he said. “This direction is to Russia.”

Kherson’s Russia-installed administration previously stated plans for the region to become part of Russia, either through a referendum or other means.

There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian officials.

In other developments:

— The 30 NATO allies signed off on the accession protocols for Sweden and Finland, sending the two nations’ membership bids to the alliance capitals for legislative approvals. The move further increases Russia’s strategic isolation. Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hailed the signing as a “truly a historic moment for Finland, for Sweden and for NATO.”

— The war in Ukraine has drawn millions of dollars away from countries facing other crises. Somalia, suffering a food shortage largely driven by the war, may be the most vulnerable. Its aid funding is less than half of last year’s level while overwhelmingly Western donors have sent more than $1.7 billion to respond to the war in Europe. Yemen, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Congo and the Palestinian territories are similarly affected.

— Spain boosted military spending in an attempt to reach its commitment to NATO to dedicate 2% of gross domestic product to defense. Spain’s Cabinet approved a one-off Defense Ministry expenditure of almost 1 billion euros ($1 billion) that the government said was necessary to pay for unexpected expenses from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Spain has sent military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and deployed more troops and aircraft to NATO missions in Eastern Europe.

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Despite Threats, Shooting Suspect Dressed as a Woman Bought 5 Weapons to July 4th Parade 

Members of the FBI’s evidence response team remove personal belongings one day after a mass shooting in downtown Highland Park, Ill., Tuesday, July 5, 2022. A shooter fired on an Independence Day parade from a rooftop spraying the crowd with gunshots initially mistaken for fireworks before hundreds of panicked revelers of all ages fled in terror. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

A man charged Tuesday with seven counts of murder after firing off more than 70 rounds at an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago legally bought five weapons, including the high-powered rifle used in the shooting, despite authorities being called to his home twice in 2019 for threats of violence and suicide, police said.

 

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said the suspect, if convicted of the first-degree murder charges, would receive a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. He promised that dozens more charges would be sought.

A spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force said the suspected shooter, who was arrested late Monday, used a rifle “similar to an AR-15” to spray more than 70 rounds from atop a commercial building into a crowd that had gathered for the parade in Highland Park, an affluent community of about 30,000 on the Lake Michigan shore.

seventh victim died of their injuries Tuesday. More than three dozen other people were wounded in the attack, which Task force spokesman Christopher Covelli said the suspect had planned for several weeks.

The assault happened less than three years after police went to the suspect’s home following a call from a family member who said he was threatening “to kill everyone” there. Covelli said police confiscated 16 knives, a dagger and a sword, but said there was no sign he had any guns at the time, in September 2019.

Police in April 2019 also responded to a reported suicide attempt by the suspect, Covelli said.

The suspect legally purchased the rifle used in the attack in Illinois within the past year, Covelli said. In all, police said, he purchased five firearms, which were recovered by officers at his father’s home.

The revelation about his gun purchases is just the latest example of y oung men who were able to obtain guns and carry out massacres in recent months despite glaring warning signs about their mental health and inclination to violence.

Illinois state police, who issue gun owners’ licenses, said the gunman applied for a license in December 2019, when he was 19. His father sponsored his application.

At the time “there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger” and deny the application, state police said in a statement.

Investigators who have interrogated the suspect and reviewed his social media posts have not determined a motive or found any indication that he targeted victims by race, religion or other protected status, Covelli said.

Earlier in the day, FBI agents peeked into trash cans and under picnic blankets as they searched for more evidence at the scene. The shots were initially mistaken for fireworks before hundreds of revelers fled in terror.

A day later, baby strollers, lawn chairs and other items left behind by panicked parade goers remained inside a wide police perimeter. Outside the police tape, some residents drove up to collect blankets and chairs they abandoned.

David Shapiro, 47, said the gunfire quickly turned the parade into “chaos.”

“People didn’t know right away where the gunfire was coming from, whether the gunman was in front or behind you chasing you,” he said Tuesday as he retrieved a stroller and lawn chairs.

The gunman initially evaded capture by dressing as a woman and blending into the fleeing crowd, Covelli said.

The shooting was just the latest to shatter the rituals of American life. Schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades have all become killing grounds in recent months. This time, the bloodshed came as the nation tried to celebrate its founding and the bonds that still hold it together.

A police officer pulled over 21-year-old Robert E. Crimo III north of the shooting scene several hours after police released his photo and warned that he was likely armed and dangerous, Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said.

His father, Bob, a longtime deli owner, ran for mayor in 2019. The candidate who won that race, current Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, said she knew Crimo as a boy in Cub Scouts.

“And it’s one of those things where you step back and you say, ’What happened?” Rotering told NBC’s “Today” show. “How did somebody become this angry, this hateful, to then take it out on innocent people who literally were just having a family day out?”

Crimo’s attorney, Thomas A. Durkin, a prominent Chicago-based lawyer, said he intends to enter a not guilty plea to all charges.

Asked about his client’s emotional state, Durkin said he has spoken to Crimo only once — for 10 minutes by phone. He declined to comment further.

Steve Greenberg, the lawyer for the parents, told The Associated Press Tuesday evening the parents aren’t concerned about being charged with anything related to their son’s case.

“There is zero chance they will be charged with anything criminal,” he said. “They didn’t do anything wrong. They are as stunned and shocked as anyone.”

The shooting occurred at a spot on the parade route where many residents had staked out prime viewing points early in the day.

Among them was Nicolas Toledo, who was visiting his family in Illinois from Mexico, and Jacki Sundheim, a lifelong congregant and staff member at nearby North Shore Congregation Israel. The Lake County coroner released the names of four other victims.

Nine people, ranging from 14 to 70, remained hospitalized Tuesday, hospital officials said.

Since the start of the year, the U.S. has seen 15 shootings where four or more people were killed, including the one in Highland Park, according to The Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University mass killing database.

Scores of smaller-scale shootings in nearby Chicago also left eight people dead and 60 others wounded over the July 4 weekend.

In 2013, Highland Park officials approved a ban on semi-automatic weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines. A local doctor and the Illinois State Rifle Association quickly challenged the liberal suburb’s stance. The legal fight ended at the U.S. Supreme Court’s doorstep in 2015 when justices declined to hear the case and let the suburb’s restrictions remain in place.

Under Illinois law, gun purchases can be denied to people convicted of felonies, addicted to narcotics or those who are termed “mental defectives” and capable of harming themselves or others. That might have stopped a suicidal Crimo from getting a weapon.

But under the law, just who is a “mental defective” must be decided by “a court, board, commission or other legal authority.”

The state has a so-called red flag law designed to stop dangerous people before they kill, but it requires family members, relatives, roommates or police to ask a judge to order guns seized.

Crimo, who goes by the name Bobby, was an aspiring rapper with the stage name Awake the Rapper, posting on social media dozens videos and songs, some ominous and violent.

In one animated video since taken down by YouTube, Crimo raps about armies “walking in darkness” as a drawing appears of a man pointing a rifle, a body on the ground and another figure with hands up in the distance.

Federal agents were reviewing Crimo’s online profiles, and a preliminary examination of his internet history indicated that he had researched mass killings and had downloaded multiple photos depicting violent acts, including a beheading, a law enforcement official said.

The official could not discuss details of the investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who had been in Chicago to address the National Education Association’s annual meeting Tuesday, visited the site of the shooting to offer condolences to first responders and local officials.

“The whole nation should understand and have a level of empathy, to understand that this can happen anywhere, in any peace loving community,” Harris said in brief comments to reporters in Highland Park. “And we should stand together and speak out about why it’s got to stop.”

Shapiro, the Highland Park resident who fled the parade with his family, said his 4-year-old son woke up screaming later that night.

“He is too young to understand what happened,” Shapiro said. “But he knows something bad happened.”

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Forgotten Victims of Gun Violence

 

Daniel Guess holds a photograph of himself, right, along with his father, Larry Guess, center, and brother David Guess, left, on Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Athens, Ala. David Guess, 51, was killed by gun violence in March. Guess’ death began with an argument over a car part. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Amid the stream of mass shootings that have become chillingly commonplace in America, the reality of the nation’s staggering murder rate can often be seen more clearly in the deaths that never make national news.

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Australian Tennis Player Nick Kyrgios to Appear in Court Next Month in “Domestic Relationship” Assault Charge

Tennis – Wimbledon – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain – July 4, 2022 Australia’s Nick Kyrgios reacts during his fourth round match against Brandon Nakashima of the U.S. REUTERS/Paul Childs

Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios will appear before a Canberra court next month following a charge of alleged assault for an incident last year, local police said on Tuesday. Continue reading “Australian Tennis Player Nick Kyrgios to Appear in Court Next Month in “Domestic Relationship” Assault Charge”

Venezuelan Police Investigate Murder of Indigenous Leader

An aerial view show a wildcat gold mine, also known as a garimpo, at a deforested area of the Amazon rainforest near Crepurizao, in the municipality of Itaituba, Para State, Brazil, August 6, 2017. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Nacho Doce/File Photo

Venezuelan criminal investigators have launched inquiries into the murder of an indigenous leader, who was killed on June 30 in the country’s southern Amazonas state, the police said on Tuesday. Continue reading “Venezuelan Police Investigate Murder of Indigenous Leader”

Georgia Grand Jury in Trump Election Investigation Subpoenas Rudy Giuliani, Senator Lindsey Graham

A special grand jury in Georgia probing former U.S. President Donald Trump’s alleged attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat there issued subpoenas to Senator Lindsey Graham and Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Continue reading “Georgia Grand Jury in Trump Election Investigation Subpoenas Rudy Giuliani, Senator Lindsey Graham”

Mistakes Plague Identification of Migrants who Died in Deadliest U.S. Human Smuggling Tragedy

Yolanda Olivares, holds pictures of her sons Jair, 19, Yovani Valencia, 16, and her nephew Misael Olivares, 16, at her house as she believes they were traveling inside the trailer where several migrants died in San Antonio, Texas, in the town of San Marcos Atexquilapan, in Veracruz state, Mexico June 30, 2022. REUTERS/Yahir Ceballos/File Photo

A week after 53 migrants died in a sweltering trailer in San Antonio, Texas, some of their nationalities are still unclear, highlighting the challenges that officials from at least four different countries face in identifying the victims of the deadliest U.S. human smuggling tragedy on record. Continue reading “Mistakes Plague Identification of Migrants who Died in Deadliest U.S. Human Smuggling Tragedy”