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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

President Cites Other Shootings Since Newtown

When President Obama announced Wednesday that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. would lead a new effort to address the problem of gun violence, he cited several other cases of people around the country who were also shot and killed since the school shootings last Friday in Newtown, Conn.

“Since Friday morning, a police officer was gunned down in Memphis, leaving four children without their mother,” President Obama said in his speech, as our colleague Michael D. Shear reports. “Two officers were killed outside a grocery store in Topeka. A woman was shot and killed inside a Las Vegas casino. Three people were shot inside an Alabama hospital. A 4-year-old was caught in a drive-by in Missouri and taken off life support just yesterday.”

Video of President Obama's remarks on Wednesday about recent gun violence.

Here are more details about the cases and the lives lost in Tennessee, Kansas, Nevada, Alabama and Missouri.

Memphis Officer Killed in Shootout

When Mr. Obama mentioned the killing of a police officer in Memphis, he was alluding to a shootout Friday that left one officer dead and another wounded.

The two officers, Martoiya V. Lang, 32, and William Vrooman, 32, entered a home in East Memphis on a drug-related search warrant when a man with a 9-millimeter pistol and a high-capacity magazine exited a bedroom and fired numerous shots, police officials told The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. The officers returned fire, shooting the man in the abdomen.

Officer Lang was shot in her upper torso and died of her injuries, Police Director Toney Armstrong said. Officer Vrooman was struck in the leg and is recovering.

Accord ing to The Commercial Appeal, Officer Lang joined the Police Department in 2003 and was assigned to its Organized Crime Unit. She was the mother of four girls, ages 14, 13, 12 and 2.

Essica Littlejohn, vice president of the Memphis Police Association, told the newspaper, “She was very motivated and not afraid of anything.”

Ms. Littlejohn and a police chaplain accompanied officers and family members to the high school and the middle school the girls attended to tell them of their mother's death. “You have to think, it's two weeks before Christmas and you have to imagine how tough this can be for the girls and how tough every Christmas from now on will be for those girls,” Ms. Littlejohn said.

A candlelight vigil in Memphis on Saturday after Officer Martoiya Lang was shot and killed while serving    a warrant the day before.Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal, via Associated Press A candlelight vigil in Memphis on Saturday after Officer Martoiya Lang was shot and killed while serving a warrant the day before.

Mayor A. C. Wharton of Memphis told reporters that the 9-millimeter pistol was commonly used by criminals, according to The Associated Press.

“More often than not, it seems to be the gun of choice,” he said, adding that too many guns end up in the wrong hands. “Nobody has a Second Amendment right to load up and kill a police officer.”

Two Topeka Police Officers Shot and Killed Outside Grocery Store

Officer Jeff Atherly, left, and Cpl. David Gogian of the Topeka Police Department were fatally shot    outside a grocery store on Sunday.Topeka Police Department, via Associated Press Officer Jeff Atherly, left, and Cpl. David Gogian of the Topeka Police Department were fatally shot outside a grocery store on Sunday.

The shooting in Topeka, Kan., mentioned by President Obama also involved police officers.

The officers, Cpl. David Gogian and Officer Jeff Atherly, were shot and killed outside a grocery store while responding to a report of drug activity in a suspicious vehicle, according to The Kansas City Star.

The suspect escaped but was later shot and killed by the police in a standoff Monday at a Topeka home.

Sheriff Herman Jones of Shawnee County told reporters that the suspect, identified as David Edward Tiscareno, was seated behind the driver's seat of a car stopped in the parking lot o f the grocery store when the police ordered him to get out. After shooting two of the three responding officers in the head, Mr. Tiscareno got back into the car and drove away, Sheriff Jones said.

The next day, the police located Mr. Tiscareno at a nearby home. When they arrived, he emerged from the house and opened fire before the police shot him dead, the authorities said.

Mr. Tiscareno had several prior arrests, including for criminal use of a weapon, for which he was sentenced to 12 months of unsupervised probation, according to an Associated Press report.

A notation in court records available online said, “This defendant should be advised against carrying a firearm.”

Police officials declined to identify the gun used because the killings are under investigation.

Although President Obama did not mention this case, The Kansas City Star noted that another police officer was killed early Saturday in east central Missouri. The newspaper said that a Washington County deputy, Christopher Parsons, 31, was shot to death after responding to a 911 call about an unconscious woman.

The woman was being loaded into an ambulance when a man walked outside and fired a shot, killing Parsons, who had been a deputy only two months. The suspect, Gary Sancegrow, 30, was arrested Saturday night and is charged with first-degree murder in the 31-year-old deputy's death.

“He used a rifle, but I don't know if it wa s high-powered or a shotgun or what,” a Missouri state police trooper told The Star.

Four-Year-Old Dies After Being Caught in Crossfire

In Kansas City, Mo., a 4-year-old, Aydan Perea, was shot and killed while he sat in his car seat in a vehicle parked in a driveway. The police said he was with his father and two other men in the car when a 1984 Monte Carlo pulled up behind them and fired shots, hitting the driver and the child.

On Tuesday, the boy was removed from life support. The local Fox television station shared images of the boy while he was in the hospital on life support, his head wrapped in bandages.

The police said that the child was caught in the crossfire during a continuing gang dispute.

The Kansas City Star reported that it was the second time the boy had been involved in a shooting.

He was inside a house in the 2400 block of Oakley Avenue last year when a gunman fired four shotgun blasts at it in the middle of the night, breaking the front window and damaging a car. No one was hurt, according to the police report.

Law enforcement officials did not publicly identify the type of weapon used.

Murder-Suicide in a Las Vegas Casino

Las Vegas Metro Police officers outside the Excalibur hotel and casino on Friday night after a man shot and killed Jessica Kenny before turning the gun on himself.Julie Jacobson/Associated Press Las Vegas Metro Police officers outside the Excalibur hotel and casino on Friday night after a man shot and killed Jessica Kenny before turning the gun on himself.

A man shot and killed a woman and then took his own life in the packed lobby of a Las Vegas casino-hotel on Friday night, just hours after the news that 20 schoolchildren and six staff members had been killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

As gunfire erupted in the lobby, hundreds of gamblers and guests scurried for cover. The gunman, however, had carefully targeted his victim, the police said. She was Jessica Kenny, a woman he had become obsessed with since before they stopped dating tw o years ago, the police said.

Ms. Kenny, 30, worked at the concierge desk of the Excalibur casino as a vendor for a travel Web site, Vegas.com, according to The Las Vegas Sun.

At around 8:30, a man walked into the hotel and opened fire, hitting Ms. Kenny, the police said. She was rushed to the hospital, where she died of multiple gunshot wounds.

The man, later identified as Edward Brandt, 31, then shot and killed himself. He was pronounced dead at the scene, the police said.

Lt. Ray Steiber told The Las Vegas Review-Journal that it was a planned murder-suicide.

Co-workers described Ms. Kenny to reporters from The Review-Journal as “amazingly sweet.”

Mr. Brandt, who lived in Lake Forest, Ill., had no criminal record and used a .38-caliber revolver, purchased legally and registered in his name, the police said.

Shooting at Hospital in Alabama

The Birmingham police arrived at the scene of a shooting at St. Vincent's Hospital on Saturday.Joe Songer/Al.com, via Associated Press The Birmingham police arrived at the scene of a shooting at St. Vincent's Hospital on Saturday.

Three people were shot and wounded at a hospital in Birmingham, Ala., early Saturday morning by a man who was then shot and killed by police.

The gunman, identified as Jason Letts, 38, was killed after he opened fire on the police and hospital workers who confronted him at St. Vincent's Hospital about 4 a.m., according to The Associated Press.

Mr. Letts was pronounced dead at the scene. A police officer and two employees were wounded, but none had life-threatening injuries.

According to al.com, Mr. Letts was the husband of a patient who became irate over his wife's care and was “ejected from the hospital.”

“He returned with a gun hours later, forced a security guard to take him up to the fifth-floor cardiac unit and later opened fire,” the report said, noting t hat the hospital has since announced it will beef up security and add an armed guard at the hospital.

The weapon used in the shooting was identified in news reports simply as a handgun.

Police Chief A. C. Roper released a statement:

In light of the recent mass shooting in Connecticut, too many of these incidents end with unimaginable tragedy. I am amazed at the bravery of our officers as they confronted this armed gunman in the hallway. I have absolutely no doubt that their courageous actions at that exact moment saved many lives. All of Birmingham should be proud and appreciative that these are the type of officers that protect our communities every day. The hospital staff and especially the security team should also be commended because they performed with selfless service which contained the incident until the officers' arrival.

Pres ident Obama said in his remarks that gun violence took “the lives of more than 10,000 Americans every year - violence that we cannot accept as routine.”

“So I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” he said. “We won't prevent them all, but that can't be an excuse not to try. It won't be easy, but that can't be an excuse not to try.”