Official: Girl told 911 'send the police now' as cops waited

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — Students trapped inside a classroom with a gunman repeatedly called 911 during this week’s attack on a Texas elementary school, including one who pleaded, “Please send the police now,” as officers waited more than an hour to breach the classroom after following the gunman into the building, authorities said Friday.

The commander at the scene in Uvalde — the school district’s police chief — believed that 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos was barricaded inside adjoining classrooms at Robb Elementary School and that children were no longer at risk, Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said at a contentious news conference.

“It was the wrong decision,” he said.

Friday’s briefing came after authorities spent three days providing often conflicting and incomplete information about the more than an hour that elapsed between the time Ramos entered the school and when U.S. Border Patrol agents unlocked the classroom door and killed him.

Three police officers followed Ramos into the building within two minutes. In the next half hour, as many as 19 officers piled into the hallway outside. But another 47 minutes passed before the Border Patrol tactical team breached the door, McCraw said.


NRA speakers unshaken on gun rights after school massacre

HOUSTON (AP) — One by one, they took the stage at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Houston and denounced the massacre of 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school across the state. And one by one, they insisted that further restricting access to firearms was not the answer to preventing future tragedies.

“The existence of evil in our world is not a reason to disarm law-abiding citizens,” said former President Donald Trump, who was among the Republicans who lined up to speak before the gun rights lobbying group Friday as thousands of protesters angry about gun violence demonstrated outside.

“The existence of evil is one of the very best reasons to arm law-abiding citizens," he said.

The gathering came just three days after the shooting in Uvalde and as the nation grappled with revelations that students trapped inside a classroom with the gunman repeatedly called 911 during the attack — one pleading “Please send the police now" — as officers waited in the hallway for more than 45 minutes.

The NRA had said that convention attendees would “reflect on” the shooting at the event and “pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members and pledge to redouble our commitment to making our schools secure.”


Officials: Texas shooter talked about guns in private chats

Texas authorities said Friday that the gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers inside an elementary school discussed his interest in buying a gun in private online conversations, but backed away from earlier descriptions that he made public threats less than an hour before the attack.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday, a day after the shooting, that “the only information that was known in advance was posted by the gunman on Facebook approximately 30 minutes before reaching the school.” Abbott's claim prompted questions about whether technology companies could have provided advance warning.

But on Friday, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety said the gunman made the threatening comments in a private message.

“I want to correct something that was said early on in the investigation, that he posted on Facebook publicly that he was going to kill, that he was going to shoot his grandmother and secondly after that that he was going to, that he had shot her and that third he was going to go shoot up a school,” Steven McCraw said. “That did not happen.”

Facebook had already noted on Wednesday that the threats were in direct text messages, not a public post.


Governor saw deadly arrest video months before prosecutors

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — With racial tensions still simmering over the killing of George Floyd, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and his top lawyers gathered in a state police conference room in October 2020 to prepare for the fallout from a troubling case closer to home: troopers’ deadly arrest of Ronald Greene.

There, they privately watched a crucial body-camera video of the Black motorist’s violent arrest that showed a bruised and bloody Greene going limp and drawing his final breaths — footage that prosecutors, detectives and medical examiners wouldn’t even know existed for another six months.

While the Democratic governor has distanced himself from allegations of a cover-up in the explosive case by contending evidence was promptly turned over to authorities, an Associated Press investigation based on interviews and records found that wasn’t the case with the 30-minute video he watched. Neither Edwards, his staff nor the state police he oversees acted urgently to get the crucial footage into the hands of those with the power to charge the white troopers seen stunning, punching and dragging Greene.

That video, which showed critical moments and audio absent from other footage that was turned over, wouldn’t reach prosecutors until nearly two years after Greene’s May 10, 2019, death on a rural roadside near Monroe. Now three years have passed, and after lengthy, ongoing federal and state probes, still no one has been criminally charged.

“The optics are horrible for the governor. It makes him culpable in this, in delaying justice,” said Rafael Goyeneche, a former prosecutor who is president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a New Orleans-based watchdog group.


Ukraine fears repeat of Mariupol horrors elsewhere in Donbas

KRAMATORSK, Ukraine (AP) — Moscow-backed separatists pounded eastern Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region Friday, claiming to capture a railway hub, as Ukrainian officials pleaded for the sophisticated Western weapons they say they need to stop the onslaught.

The advance of Russian forces raised fears that cities in the region would undergo the same horrors inflicted on the people of the port city Mariupol in the weeks before it fell.

The fighting Friday focused on two key cities: Sievierodonetsk and nearby Lysychansk. They are the last areas under Ukrainian control in Luhansk, one of two provinces that make up the Donbas and where Russia-backed separatists have already controlled some territory for eight years. Authorities say 1,500 people in Sievierodonetsk have already died since the war's start three months ago. Russia-backed rebels also said they’d taken the railway hub of Lyman.

The governor of Luhansk warned that Ukrainian soldiers may have to retreat from Sievierodonetsk to avoid being surrounded. But he predicted an ultimate Ukrainian victory. “The Russians will not be able to capture Luhansk region in the coming days, as analysts predict,'' Serhiy Haidai wrote on Telegram on Friday. “We will have enough forces and means to defend ourselves.’’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelesnskyy also struck a defiant tone. In his nightly video address Friday, he said: “If the occupiers think that Lyman or Sievierodonetsk will be theirs, they are wrong. Donbas will be Ukrainian.’’


Iran seizes 2 Greek tankers in Persian Gulf as tensions rise

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard seized two Greek oil tankers Friday in helicopter-launched raids in the Persian Gulf, officials said. The action appeared to be retaliation for Athens' assistance in the U.S. seizure of crude oil from an Iranian-flagged tanker this week in the Mediterranean Sea over violating Washington's crushing sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

The raid marks the first major incident at sea in months as tensions remain high between Iran and the West over its tattered nuclear deal with world powers. As Tehran enriches more uranium, closer to weapons-grade levels than ever before, worries mount that negotiators won't find a way back to the accord — raising the risk of a wider war.

The Guard issued a statement announcing the seizures, accusing the tankers of unspecified violations. Nour News, a website close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, warned a short time earlier that Tehran planned to take "punitive action" over Greece assisting the U.S. in seizing oil days earlier from the Iranian-flagged tanker Lana.

Greece's Foreign Ministry said it made a strong demarche to the Iranian ambassador in Athens over the “violent taking over of two Greek-flagged ships” in the Persian Gulf. “These acts effectively amount to acts of piracy,” a ministry statement said.

The ministry called for the immediate release of the vessels and their crews, warning the seizure would have “particularly negative consequences” in bilateral relations and in Iran’s relations with the European Union, of which Greece is a member.


McCarthy, GOP lawmakers escalate standoff with Jan. 6 panel

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is making it clear that he will likely defy a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, escalating a standoff with the panel over his and other GOP lawmakers’ testimony.

In an 11-page letter to the panel Friday, an attorney for McCarthy argued that the select committee does not have the authority to issue subpoenas to the lawmakers under House rules and demanded answers to a series of questions and documents if his client were to comply.

Attorney Elliot Berke requested a list of "topics that the Select Committee would like to discuss with the Leader, and the constitutional and legal rationale justifying the request."

“I expressly reserve Leader McCarthy’s right to assert any other applicable privilege or objection to the Select Committee’s subpoena,” Berke wrote.

Committee spokesperson Tim Mulvey responded Friday evening, “Leader McCarthy and other Members who have been served subpoenas are hiding behind debunked arguments and baseless requests for special treatment.”


Liberal Los Angeles could take right turn in mayor's race

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Many voters in heavily Democratic Los Angeles are seething over rising crime and homelessness and that could prompt the city to take a turn to the political right for the first time in decades.

One of the leading candidates for mayor is Rick Caruso, a pro-business billionaire Republican-turned-Democrat who sits on the board of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and is promising to expand spending on police, not defund them.

At another time, the high-end mall and resort developer would seem an unlikely choice to potentially lead the nation’s second-most populous city, where democratic socialist Bernie Sanders was the runaway winner in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. A progressive City Hall has embraced so-called sanctuary city protections for people who entered the U.S. illegally and “Green New Deal” climate policies.

But these are fraught times in Los Angeles, with more than 40,000 people living in trash-strewn homeless encampments and rusty RVs, distress over brazen smash-and-grab robberies and home invasions while inflation and taxes are gouging wallets -- gas in a region built on car travel has cracked $6 a gallon. Rents and home prices have soared.

Caruso is spending millions of his estimated $4.3 billion fortune to finance a seemingly nonstop display of TV and online ads to tap into voter angst. At issue is whether enough people will embrace his plans to add 1,500 police officers and promises to get unhoused people off the streets, while not recoiling from his vast wealth.


Prepare for sticker shock if you are traveling this summer

DALLAS (AP) — Airlines and tourist destinations are expecting monster crowds this summer as travel restrictions ease and pandemic fatigue overcomes lingering fear of contracting COVID-19 during travel.

Many forecasters believe the number of travelers will match or even exceed levels in the good-old, pre-pandemic days. However, airlines have thousands fewer employees than they did in 2019, and that has at times contributed to widespread flight cancellations.

People who are only now booking travel for the summer are experiencing the sticker shock.

Domestic airline fares for summer are averaging more than $400 a round trip, 24% higher than this time in 2019, before the pandemic, and a whopping 45% higher than a year ago, according to travel-data firm Hopper.

“The time to have gotten cheap summer flights was probably three or four months ago," says Scott Keyes, who runs the Scott’s Cheap Flights site.


AP source: Lakers choose Darvin Ham as next head coach

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A person with knowledge of the decision says Darvin Ham has accepted an offer to be the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The person spoke with The Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been publicly announced.

The 48-year-old Ham is getting his first head coaching job as the 28th coach in Lakers history. He has been an assistant to Mike Budenholzer with the Milwaukee Bucks since 2018, and he played a significant role in their run to the 2021 NBA title.

Ham will be the successor to Frank Vogel, who was fired one day after the Lakers wrapped up one of the most disappointing seasons in NBA history by going 33-49 and missing the playoffs.

The Lakers flopped despite another impressive season from LeBron James, who welcomed his new head coach on social media even before the move was publicly announced.

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