Sam's Top 5 Stories You Should Know for Wednesday

Photo still from FedEx security camera footage, allegedly showing the Austin bomber.

1. Austin bomber kills himself with explosive device

 CNN: A suspect in a wave of bombing attacks in Austin killed himself inside his car with an explosive device early this morning as authorities closed in. Since the bombings started on March 2, investigators frantically searched for clues, calling the attacks the work of a"serial bomber" who increasingly changed tactics. The bombings killed two people and left the Texas capital terrorized with fear for 19 days.

Within the past 36 hours, law enforcement received information directing them to a person of interest, who ultimately became a suspect. Surveillance teams tracked the suspect's vehicle to a hotel in Round Rock, north of Austin. As police waited on tactical units, the vehicle left the hotel. SWAT approached the vehicle and the suspect detonated a bomb, killing himself and injuring a SWAT member. A SWAT officer fired his weapon at the suspect after an officer was knocked down by the blast. It's unclear whether the officer shot the suspect.

The suspect is a 24-year-old white man, and authorities don't know whether he acted alone or what his motive was. Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said he is responsible for all the incidents in Austin. Manley also said, "This is the culmination of three very long weeks in our community.”

He urged residents to be vigilant, saying they don't know where the bomber has been for the past 24 hours and if he sent additional packages.

Photo still from FedEx security camera footage, allegedly showing the Austin bomber.

Additional: Videos "could possibly" show suspect

Associated Press: Before the suspect killed himself, Congressman Michael McCaul, the chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security committee, was informed that investigators had obtained surveillance videos in Austin that "could possibly" show a suspect in the package bombing at a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio. Austin police earlier said another suspicious package was discovered at a second FedEx center near Austin's main airport. McCaul said evidence obtained from that package if kept intact could’ve been key in finding the bomber. McCaul, whose district includes Austin, had said that he figured the bomber's "biggest mistake was going through FedEx." 

Officer Mohamed Noor

2. Charges Filed Against Officer Noor in Damond Shooting

KSTP: Noor turned himself in late Tuesday morning and is being held at the Hennepin County Jail on $500,000 bail. If convicted of third-degree murder, he could face a maximum of 25 years in prison. A judge could issue a sentence ranging from about 10 ½ to 15 years. The second-degree manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

According to the criminal complaint filed against him, prosecutors say at the time of the shooting Noor neither investigated nor confirmed a threat "that justified the decision to use deadly force." The complaint also states Noor "recklessly fired his handgun" when he shot Damond, leaving her with her hands on a gunshot wound to the left side of her abdomen, saying "I'm dying" or "I'm dead."

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at a press conference yesterday, "To lose a family member to violence is always wrenching and painful. But to lose one when she was acting as a concerned and caring citizen, at the hands of a person she had called for help, is inexplicable."

Noor has become the second Minnesota police officer in 16 months to be charged in the fatal shooting of a civilian. A jury acquitted former St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez in June of similar charges in connection to the death of Philando Castile.

3. Don Lucia steps down as Gophers hockey coach

Star Tribune: After 19 years, two national championships, 13 NCAA tournament appearances and a recent run of disappointing seasons, the Don Lucia Era of Gophers hockey will end. Lucia stepped down as head coach on Tuesday and will become a special assistant to athletic director Mark Coyle through the end of next school year, when his hockey contact was set to expire. This big change, described in a university news release as mutually agreed upon, comes two days after the Gophers failed to advance to the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years. Lucia told his players of the move in a team meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

4. Teen shoots girl in Maryland school, dies in confrontation

Associated Press: A teenager with a handgun shot a girl inside his Maryland high school Tuesday before he was fatally wounded during a confrontation with a school resource officer. It wasn't immediately clear whether the shooter took his own life or was killed by the officer's bullet. The 16-year-old girl was hospitalized with a life-threatening wound. A 14-year-old boy also suffered a gunshot wound to the thigh, but it wasn't clear who shot him. He was in good condition. The officer, who doubles as a SWAT team member, was unharmed.

Politicians responded swiftly, acknowledging that this shooting increases the pressure for action against gun violence as anger swells nationwide over the Valentine's Day killings of 17 people at a Florida high school by a teenager with an assault weapon.

However in this case, it appeared that the shooter had illegally possessed the gun. In Maryland, a person must be 21 to possess a handgun, unless carrying one is required for employment. The shooter was identified 17-year-old Austin Rollins. Authorities believe he had a prior relationship with the girl but a motive wasn't immediately clear.

The sheriff praised the officer, Deputy Blaine Gaskill, a six-year veteran in his first year at the high school, for containing the situation in less than a minute. Cameron said, "He had to cover significant ground. The premise is simple: You go to the sound of gunfire."

5. Bond set at $500,000 for brother of Parkland school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz.

Miami Herald: A Broward County judge set a $500,000 bond Tuesday for Zachary Cruz, who was caught skateboarding Monday on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School grounds where brother Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people in February. Prosecutors asked for $750,000. The standard bond for trespassing on school grounds is $25 and Cruz, 18, had paid it, his bond attorney said. Cruz’s bond attorney argued before Judge Kim Theresa Mollica, “He’s being held because of who he’s related to, not because of what he did,”

Mollica, who also handled Nikolas Cruz’s bond hearing, said Zachary Cruz’s Lake Worth home is to be searched for guns; he’s to have no contact with his brother or any Stoneman Douglas students or staff. And, should Zachary Cruz post bond, he’s to wear an ankle monitor; stay one mile from Stoneman Douglas High School and 500 feet from any school or child care facility. According to the probable cause affidavit, Zachary Cruz came on campus around 4:30 p.m. Monday. He said he wanted to “reflect on the school shooting and soak it in.”

Prosecutors said some parents kept their children home from Stoneman Douglas Tuesday upon hearing of Zachary Cruz skateboarding around campus Monday afternoon.

Justice & Drew

Justice & Drew

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