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National
Lawsuit: University of Utah failed to protect slain student Lauren McCluskey
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Lawsuit: University of Utah failed to protect slain student Lauren McCluskey

University of Utah failed to protect slain student Lauren McCluskey, lawsuit says

Lawsuit: University of Utah failed to protect slain student Lauren McCluskey

University of Utah track star Lauren McCluskey and her friends contacted campus officials more than 20 times to report her ex-boyfriend’s abuse, stalking and intimidation.

They ignored her cries for help, and on Oct. 22, 2018, McCluskey was gunned down in a parking lot on campus, according to a $56 million lawsuit filed in June by her parents.

Her ex-boyfriend and killer, Melvin Shawn Rowland, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound the following day in Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City.

McCluskey’s parents, in an amended complaint filed Monday, allege that university officials, including those tasked with keeping students safe, showed “deliberate indifference” toward their 21-year-old daughter’s complaints.

“The university’s response to the reports of abuse was clearly unreasonable in light of the information it received, and its deliberate indifference to the information ultimately deprived Lauren of her access to an education and resulted in Lauren’s predictable, preventable and tragic death,” the lawsuit states.

Former Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham, who has joined the McCluskeys’ legal team, had strong words for the university during a Monday news conference.

“The treatment of Lauren McCluskey by university authorities in a period of grave danger and terror in her life is disappointing in the extreme, and, in the end, led to her horrifying death,” Durham said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

The university responded to the McCluskeys’ lawsuit in September, asking a judge to dismiss it in its entirety. University of Utah lawyers argued that campus police officers had no obligation to protect McCluskey from Rowland’s attacks.

They stated that because Rowland was not an employee or student -- and because McCluskey herself had invited him onto campus during their brief relationship -- the university has no liability in the case.

“(Liability for McCluskey’s death) would require that schools be guardians of every student’s safety from any act of relationship violence, no matter where the act arises or who perpetrates it,” the court filing states.

The new documents from the plaintiffs argue the university had a duty to protect McCluskey, regardless of who her attacker was. The Tribune reported that multiple current and former students have come forward since McCluskey was killed to report that ampus police officers have ignored reports of rape and harassment for years. 

The school obtained a $300,000 grant to address the problem after four women were killed in domestic violence incidents over the past three years, the newspaper said. 

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
The University of Utah campus is shown from Rice-Eccles Stadium Oct. 23, 2018, in Salt Lake City. Student and track athlete Lauren McCluskey, 21, was fatally shot on campus by her ex-boyfriend, Melvin Shawn Rowland, 37.
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Cops: Armed man threatened co-workers at Steak ’n Shake after being too drunk to work

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
The University of Utah campus is shown from Rice-Eccles Stadium Oct. 23, 2018, in Salt Lake City. Student and track athlete Lauren McCluskey, 21, was fatally shot on campus by her ex-boyfriend, Melvin Shawn Rowland, 37.

>> Read more trending news 

University of Utah President Ruth Watkins said in December, following the release of an independent investigation into the school’s actions, that the review did not “offer any reason to believe” the university could have acted differently to prevent McCluskey’s murder.

“Instead, the report offers weaknesses, identifies issues and provides us with a road map for strengthening security on our campus,” Watkins said.

McCluskey’s parents said Monday that the university failed their daughter, the Tribune reported. 

“We offer many reasons to show that the University of Utah police, and other officials and staff at the university, could have prevented Lauren’s murder,” her mother, Jill McCluskey, said during an emotional news conference.

“They did not believe her and were dismissive. Now they’re hoping people will forget about Lauren.”

‘An evil, violent, manipulative, predatory sex offender’ 

The independent review of campus officials’ response to McCluskey’s complaints found that officials did take the complaints seriously, but it laid out a multitude of flaws in the university’s response to the campaign of harassment the student-athlete faced.

It also laid bare everything that took place in the 50 days after McCluskey, described as a “well-liked, kind, trusting and caring” young woman, met Rowland, who the report described as a “master con man” who “manipulated people and events to benefit himself.”

“When Lauren refused to go along with his manipulation and reported his actions to the police, he stalked her and killed her,” the report stated.

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
An emotional Matthew and Jill McCluskey embrace following a June 27, 2019, news conference in Salt Lake City. The couple is suing the University of Utah in connection with the on-campus murder of their daughter, Lauren McCluskey, on Oct. 22, 2018.
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Cops: Armed man threatened co-workers at Steak ’n Shake after being too drunk to work

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
An emotional Matthew and Jill McCluskey embrace following a June 27, 2019, news conference in Salt Lake City. The couple is suing the University of Utah in connection with the on-campus murder of their daughter, Lauren McCluskey, on Oct. 22, 2018.

McCluskey met Rowland on Sept. 2, 2018, at a Salt Lake City bar where he worked as a bouncer, according to the review, the Tribune and a timeline from the University of Utah. Rowland, 37, lied to McCluskey about his name, calling himself Shawn Fields, as well as his age, convincing McCluskey and her friends he was 28 years old.

He also failed to mention he was a registered sex offender on parole for previous crimes.

Rowland admitted in 2004 that he attempted to sexually assault a teenage girl, the Tribune reported. At his parole hearing eight years later, he told the board he’d raped the girl, as well as two other women.

Four years later, he threatened a parole officer, but his attorney in the case questioned whether Rowland was actually violent. The rape admissions were not discussed, and Rowland, whose violent past was downplayed during his parole hearings, was later granted release, the newspaper said.

He was in and out of prison until he completed sex offender treatment and was paroled for the final time in April 2018, six months before he killed McCluskey.

“Melvin Shawn Rowland was an evil, violent, manipulative, predatory sex offender who took the life of a promising young woman,” the independent review stated. “He misled many people. He had multiple identities, plausible storylines and charm.”

“As we examined the totality of this troubling event, we discovered that there were several indications that Lauren McCluskey was in trouble,” the report said. “Had victim advocates been engaged, Lauren might not have been left to assess the dangerousness of her situation on her own.”

Read the amended complaint against the University of Utah below. 

Lauren McClusky Amended Federal Lawsuit by National Content Desk on Scribd

McCluskey knew nothing of his criminal past when she began dating Rowland, who often stayed with her at the residence hall where she lived on campus, the Tribune reported. He also became friends with other students living in the hall.

Later in September, McCluskey went pistol shooting with Rowland and some friends, unaware that Rowland, as a convicted felon, was not allowed to possess a gun, the report said.

Meanwhile, Rowland had begun attempting to control McCluskey’s life. On Sept. 26, according to the report, “Lauren calls two of her friends and is very sad. Lauren says that Rowland will not let her ‘hang out with friends.’”

The report said the friends felt that McCluskey didn’t sound like herself and that, during that same week, her physical appearance had changed as she began to lose weight.

“Both believe Lauren was too trusting and was being taken advantage of by Rowland,” the report stated. “Neither likes Rowland because he just ‘didn’t ring true.’”

According to the report, McCluskey’s friends went to the resident assistant for McCluskey’s dorm on Sept. 30 and expressed concern over Rowland’s controlling nature and the fact that he had been “practically living with her” in her room.

Rowland also talked about getting McCluskey a gun and bringing it to campus, the students told the resident assistant.

The review found that the concerns of McCluskey’s friends were never passed on to the University of Utah Department of Public Safety, or UUPS. Though housing officials discussed McCluskey’s case among themselves, their focus was on whether housing rules had been broken and not whether she was in a dangerous situation.

They discussed following up with McCluskey about the “guest policy” and that they “should counsel Lauren about the implications of firearms on campus.”

Rowland’s comments about bringing a gun onto campus were never reported to campus police, the independent review found.

Read the independent review of the handling of the McCluskey case below.

Lauren McCluskey Independent Review by National Content Desk on Scribd

On Oct. 1, there was talk that something should be done immediately regarding McCluskey’s situation, but a report was not submitted because the computerized reporting system was down.

“No further action is taken at this time,” the review said.

The following day, the assistant director of residential education was contacted regarding McCluskey and Rowland’s relationship. Again, since no housing violations had occurred and McCluskey was not seeking help for herself, nothing was done.

‘Many identities’ 

According to the report, McCluskey began to have suspicions about Rowland on Oct. 3. She soon found out about his criminal record and learned his real age.

“When she asks Rowland about this, he tells her he has ‘many identities,’” the report stated.

Between Oct. 5 and Oct. 8, housing officials reviewed the situation but decided “not to ‘overstep’” in helping McCluskey unless she sought help.

McCluskey visited her family in her hometown of Pullman, Washington, from Oct. 5 through Oct. 9 for fall break and, during the visit home, admitted the things she’d found out about Rowland.

Meanwhile, campus housing officials had determined that one of McCluskey’s friends should approach her about the policy regarding firearms on campus. They apparently attempted to contact the friend, but she had also left campus for fall break, the report said.

University of Utah
The remnants of a candlelight vigil for University of Utah student-athlete Lauren McCluskey, 21, are pictured. McCluskey was killed on campus by her ex-boyfriend, Melvin Shawn Rowland, 37, who then killed himself in a Salt Lake City church.
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Cops: Armed man threatened co-workers at Steak ’n Shake after being too drunk to work

Photo Credit: University of Utah
The remnants of a candlelight vigil for University of Utah student-athlete Lauren McCluskey, 21, are pictured. McCluskey was killed on campus by her ex-boyfriend, Melvin Shawn Rowland, 37, who then killed himself in a Salt Lake City church.

The report stated that McCluskey returned to school Oct. 9, at which point she contacted Rowland, and he came to campus.

“As he approaches, he looks into the window before going to the front door. This action startles Lauren,” the report said. “She opens the door, confronts Rowland and breaks off her relationship with him.”

McCluskey allowed Rowland to spend the night in her room and, the following day, to use her car to run some errands. Later in the day, she got a text from one of his friends stating she “had broken Rowland’s heart,” but that he would return her car, the report said.

Other messages told McCluskey she should kill herself.

Jill McCluskey called campus police that day, asking someone to go with her daughter to get the vehicle.

“He has her car, and she broke up with him, and he’s supposed to return it to the parking lot at the stadium,” Jill McCluskey said in the call, which was made public by the university in January. “I’m worried that he’s dangerous.”

A few minutes later, the dispatcher called Lauren McCluskey and gave her options on how to retrieve her vehicle. She initially denied help, saying she felt comfortable with Rowland’s friend dropping the car off outside her dorm.

“I think it’s OK,” McCluskey told the dispatcher.

“OK, ‘cause if it’s all right with you, we’re here 24/7. I’m super cool,” the dispatcher said. “You could come hang out here and have him drop it off here.”

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
University of Utah students are seen during an Oct. 21, 2019, protest advocating for better security on the Salt Lake City campus. The protest was held on the eve of the first anniversary of the murder of student and track athlete Lauren McCluskey.
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Cops: Armed man threatened co-workers at Steak ’n Shake after being too drunk to work

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
University of Utah students are seen during an Oct. 21, 2019, protest advocating for better security on the Salt Lake City campus. The protest was held on the eve of the first anniversary of the murder of student and track athlete Lauren McCluskey.

Around 5 p.m. that day, McCluskey called police again to say a friend of Rowland’s had dropped the car off at Rice-Eccles Stadium on campus. She asked for a ride and an escort to pick up the car.

The investigation following McCluskey’s murder found that Rowland had been using a “spoofed” telephone number to pretend to be a friend so McCluskey would not know it was him dropping off the vehicle.

The independent review found that because there was no mechanism to record and share routine security calls, like the one asking for an escort to pick up McCluskey’s car, officers and detectives later working on the case were unaware that McCluskey and her mother had been concerned about her safety.

A pattern of harassment 

The report found that the harassment of McCluskey continued the following day, Oct. 11, when she received text messages alleging that Rowland was hospitalized after an accident. She texted family in Washington, who were skeptical because Rowland didn’t have a car and was supposed to be out of state.

Early Oct. 12, McCluskey got a text message telling her Rowland had died and that it was her fault. Again, she and her family were skeptical, in part because she had seen recent social media activity from Rowland. UUPS investigators later determined Rowland was again using a spoofed number, pretending to be a friend contacting McCluskey.

The Tribune reported that the posts McCluskey had seen were a violation of parole for Rowland, who was barred from using social media.

McCluskey filed a report with campus police that day, 10 days before she was slain. She explained to officers that she believed Rowland’s friends were trying to lure her off campus and into a trap.

“Lauren states that the texts are not threatening,” the independent report stated. “(Redacted) tells Lauren that not much can be done if the messages do not contain threats, but to contact UUPS if things escalate.”

On Oct. 13, she called police again, telling them Rowland or his friends were emailing and using an unspecified app to threaten her -- they said they would release “compromising pictures” of her and Rowland if she didn’t pay $1,000.

McCluskey paid the cash, the Tribune reported.

She called the police several times that day, sending them copies of the messages she had received. She spoke with campus police by phone, then in person, at which time she filled out a witness statement and told officers she was frightened when she found Rowland peeking into her window the day she broke up with him.

The rest of the day was a flurry of phone activity for McCluskey, who was in contact several times with police regarding what information they needed to investigate Rowland, the report said.

A fearful McCluskey also called the Salt Lake City Police Department twice, seeking additional help, but they referred her back to campus police.

Campus police Chief Dale Brophy said officers took McCluskey’s report and pulled Rowland’s criminal history but did not check to see if he was on parole, the Tribune reported. If they had, McCluskey’s friends’ claims that Rowland could have a gun likely would have resulted in his arrest for violating his parole, the newspaper said.

“There was never an attempt by any of the officers involved to check his ‘offender status.’ Further, there were no policies or procedures that required such checks,” the independent review stated.

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
An image of University of Utah student and track athlete Lauren McCluskey, 21, is seen onto a video board Nov. 10, 2018, during an NCAA game. McCluskey was shot and killed on campus Oct. 22, 2018, by her ex-boyfriend, Melvin Shawn Rowland, 37.
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Cops: Armed man threatened co-workers at Steak ’n Shake after being too drunk to work

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
An image of University of Utah student and track athlete Lauren McCluskey, 21, is seen onto a video board Nov. 10, 2018, during an NCAA game. McCluskey was shot and killed on campus Oct. 22, 2018, by her ex-boyfriend, Melvin Shawn Rowland, 37.

The Tribune reported that Rowland’s parole officer spoke with him on Oct. 16 but was not aware of McCluskey’s complaints about him.

For the next several days, McCluskey’s case went nowhere because investigators were tied up with other cases. She called Salt Lake City police dispatchers again on Oct. 19, concerned about her case because she had not heard anything in days.

“She expresses concern that she believes there might be an ‘insider’ within UUPS because her ex-boyfriend knows all about her contact with the police,” the report stated.

The report pointed out, however, that McCluskey had given Rowland access to her computer in the course of their relationship, which could have provided him with access to the emails she wrote to police in real time.

Again, Salt Lake City investigators referred her back to university police.

The campus detective assigned to work McCluskey’s case, who was off duty, returned her call, but told her she wouldn’t be back at work until Oct. 23.

By then, it would be too late.

‘No, no, no, no, no!’ 

The increasingly terrified student continued to forward emails and texts to police in which Rowland or his friends made statements like, “What did you tell the cops? We know everything!”

The Tribune reported that between Oct. 19 and Oct. 22, the day McCluskey was killed, university security footage showed Rowland at multiple locations on campus, apparently looking for McCluskey.

On the day McCluskey was killed, she received a fake text, purportedly from Deputy Chief Rick McLenon with the campus police.

“I plan on calling you, but I’m in a meeting at the moment,” the text read. “Can you come to the station as soon as possible? There is something you need to see. I will go over details when you get here.”

Contacting campus police later that morning, McCluskey learned the text was sent from a number unaffiliated with the university. The officer who confirmed the text was fake told McCluskey not to respond to it but failed to report it to his supervisors, the report said.

From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Rowland waited for McCluskey in the residence hall with some of her friends, the Tribune reported.

Just over two hours later, at 8:20 p.m., McCluskey was on the phone with her mother as she returned home from a night class. Jill McCluskey heard Rowland grab her daughter and drag her away.

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
University of Utah students stand near the campus parking lot where student and track athlete Lauren McCluskey, 21, was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend Oct. 22, 2018.
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Cops: Armed man threatened co-workers at Steak ’n Shake after being too drunk to work

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
University of Utah students stand near the campus parking lot where student and track athlete Lauren McCluskey, 21, was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend Oct. 22, 2018.

Three minutes later, Lauren McCluskey’s father called 911 in Washington state and reported his daughter’s possible abduction in Utah, explaining what his wife had heard on the phone. The dispatcher transferred him to University of Utah dispatchers.

“Hi, my daughter, Lauren McCluskey, was talking to her mom, and then she just started saying, ‘No, no, no, no, no,’ like someone might have been grabbing her or something,” Matt McCluskey told the dispatcher.

Nine minutes later, officers found Lauren McCluskey’s cellphone and other belongings on the ground near her dorm and mobilized additional officers.

The slain student’s body was found around 9:55 p.m., 95 minutes after her abduction, in a car abandoned in a parking lot on campus, the newspaper said. According to police, Rowland had dragged McCluskey into the back seat of the car, which he had driven to the university.

He shot her seven times with a gun he borrowed from a friend.

Click here to listen to all the 911 calls released in the Lauren McCluskey murder.

As police officers scoured the campus for the missing student, her killer called a woman he’d recently met on a dating website and asked her to pick him up, the Tribune said. The went to dinner and then to her downtown home, where Rowland took a shower, police said.

The woman then dropped the fugitive off at a coffee shop.

As authorities sought Rowland in connection with the shooting, the woman saw his photo on the news and called police.

Just before 1 a.m. the following morning, Salt Lake City police officers spotted Rowland and followed him on foot to Trinity AME Church, the Tribune reported. As officers entered the church, Rowland fatally shot himself, authorities said.

AP Photo
People gather outside Trinity AME Church in Salt Lake City on Oct. 23, 2018. The church was the site where Melvin Shawn Rowland, who was suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend, 21-year-old Lauren McCluskey, took his life that morning.
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Cops: Armed man threatened co-workers at Steak ’n Shake after being too drunk to work

Photo Credit: AP Photo
People gather outside Trinity AME Church in Salt Lake City on Oct. 23, 2018. The church was the site where Melvin Shawn Rowland, who was suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend, 21-year-old Lauren McCluskey, took his life that morning.

‘Evidence of possible dangers’ and an untrained police force 

John T. Nielsen, the former Utah Department of Public Safety commissioner who led the independent investigation into McCluskey’s case, identified multiple missed opportunities where University of Utah staff should have responded differently to the case, the Tribune reported.

Besides the campus department’s failure to learn Rowland was on parole for violent felonies, the report also pointed out the delays by housing officials in taking action when McCluskey’s friends attempted to get early intervention in what they believed to be a bad relationship.

Rowland’s consideration of bringing a firearm on campus was never reported to police or to the Behavioral Intervention Team, which was never utilized at all, the report said. No one investigated the reports that Rowland was violating campus housing policy and had easy access to the dorm.

The UUPS was understaffed and its officers lacked training in how to recognize and investigate cases of interpersonal violence or domestic violence, the report concluded. Officers also leaned more toward communicating with the victim via email and text rather than in person.

The department also failed to ensure vital information was followed up on when the detective assigned to the case was off duty.

“An important email was sent to (the detective) on her day off,” the report stated. “She did not read it until after the homicide had occurred.”

It was, in fact, while the detective -- who was called in on her day off to help with McCluskey’s homicide -- was at the crime scene that she logged into her departmental email account and found the student’s emails about the fake message from McLenon, according to the report.

The McCluskeys in December wrote an open letter disagreeing with the university’s stance that officials could not have foreseen the murder or stopped it from taking place. Ultimately, no one was disciplined in the case, the Tribune reported.

“There were numerous opportunities to protect her during the almost two weeks between the time when our daughter began expressing repeated, elevating and persistent concerns about her situation and the time of her murder,” the couple wrote. “This situation cries out for accountability beyond updating policies and training and addressing (campus police) understaffing by hiring five new department personnel.”

Last month, on the eve of the anniversary of Lauren McCluskey’s killing, her former track coach agreed with her parents.

“They didn’t value it. That is the ugly truth,” Chris Vogel told ABC4 in Salt Lake City. “Lauren’s life was not, at some very basic levels, worth fighting for. They didn’t realize they were actually gambling with life.”

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Ron DeSantis said Friday morning at a news conference. “The FBI is working with (the Department of Defense), they’re working with (the Florida Department of Law Enforcement), they’re working with Escambia County sheriff’s to answer those questions.” DeSantis said he spoke earlier Friday with President Donald Trump. “One of the things that I talked to the president about is given that this was a foreign national in the employ of a foreign service ... obviously the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for the victims,' DeSantis said. 'I think that they, they are going to owe a debt here, given that this was one of their individuals.” Authorities confirmed at a news conference that the suspect used a handgun in Friday’s shooting. Capt. Tim Kinsella, commanding officer of NAS Pensacola, said the suspect was at NAS Pensacola for aviation training. Earlier in the day, deputies said the suspect opened fire just before 7 a.m. local time in a classroom building at NAS Pensacola. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 1:45 p.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities in Pensacola are expected to provide an update Friday afternoon on the investigation into the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola that left four people dead. Update 1:20 p.m. EST Dec. 6: President Donald Trump said Friday afternoon that he’s spoken to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and received a full briefing on the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time,” Trump said. “We are continuing to monitor the situation as the investigation is ongoing.” Update 12:50 p.m. EST Dec. 6: An official told The Associated Press that the person who opened fire Friday at Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing three people and wounding several others before being shot and killed by authorities, was an aviation student from Saudi Arabia. Authorities are investigating to determine whether the shooting was terrorism-related, according to the AP. Military from around the globe attend the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Authorities are expected to hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m. local time Friday to update the public on the investigation. Update 11:50 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities expect to hold a news conference at 12 p.m. local time Friday to provide more updates on the shooting that left four people dead at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities said a total of 11 people were injured or killed in Friday morning’s shooting, including the suspected shooter. The injured included two responding deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff David Morgan said Friday at a news conference. One deputy was shot in the arm and the other was shot in the knee, Morgan said. They were both expected to survive. Morgan described walking through the scene left by Friday’s attack as being similar to “being in a movie.” “You just don’t expect this to happen here at home,” he said. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 10:45 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials are holding a news conference to update the public on Friday morning’s deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Update 10:25 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Vice President Mike Pence said he’s monitoring the situation in Florida after a shooting left two victims and a suspect dead at Naval Air Station Pensacola. “Praying for the victims & their families,” Pence wrote Friday morning in a Twitter post. “We commend the first responders for their swift action in taking down the shooter & getting those on base to safety.”  Update 10:20 a.m. EST Dec. 6: White House officials said President Donald Trump has been briefed on the deadly shooting reported Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 10:15 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with Naval Air Station Pensacola said the base will closed for the day Friday after a shooting left three people dead earlier in the day. Authorities said at least three people, including the suspected shooter, were killed in the incident. Reports indicated at least eight other people were wounded in the shooting. The incident happened two days after authorities said a U.S. sailor shot and killed two civilian employees before turning the gun on himself at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. One other person was injured in that shooting. Naval Air Station Pensacola employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to officials. Update 10:10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said his office has been in “close contact with all the relevant officials & closely monitoring events” after a shooter opened fire at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday morning, killing two people. Authorities said the shooter also died. “Please pray for everyone impacted by this horrible situation,” Rubio said in a Twitter post. Update 10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: A spokesman at Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital told CNN that hospital officials expected to get three patients who had been injured in Friday morning’s shooting, down from the six expected earlier in the day. Hospital spokesman Mike Burke told the news network most victims were taken to Baptist Hospital because of its proximity to the base. Kathy Bowers, a spokeswoman for Baptist Hospital, earlier told the Pensacola News Journal that the hospital had received five patients wounded in Friday’s shooting. Update 9:45 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with the U.S. Navy have confirmed that a second person has died after a shooter opened fire Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 9:35 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials told the Pensacola News Journal two people were confirmed dead after Friday morning’s shooting, in addition to the shooter. Naval officials previously said at least one person had been killed. Update 9:20 a.m. EST Dec. 6: At least 11 people were hospitalized in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s deadly shooting, according to The Associated Press. Ascension Sacred Heart spokesman Mike Burke told the AP six people were taken to the hospital after a shooter opened fire at Naval Air Station Pensacola early Friday. The Pensacola News Journal previously reported five other people were taken to Baptist Hospital with injuries. Naval officials said at least one victim was killed in Friday’s shooting. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 9:10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with the U.S. Navy said at least one person died Friday morning in a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. Authorities said the suspected shooter was also dead Friday morning. Update 9 a.m. EST Dec. 6: An official with Baptist Hospital told the Pensacola News Journal five patients were taken to the hospital after Friday morning’s reported shooting. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 8:55 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said a suspected shooter was dead Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Original report: Authorities are responding Friday morning to reports of shots fired at Naval Air Station Pensacola, according to base officials. Authorities at NAS Pensacola said both gates to the base were closed Friday morning as authorities investigated. Officials with the U.S. Navy said the base was on lockdown around 7:45 a.m. local time. A spokeswoman for ECSO told the Pensacola News Journal deputies were working to “take down” what was described as an active shooter around 7:30 a.m. local time. Officials with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office told WEAR-TV injuries were reported. Details on the number of people wounded and the extent of their injuries was not immediately available. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy has now been given the go ahead by a judge with his lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company. According to AV Club, the complaint stems from when his show was produced by Buena Vista Television. The agreement reportedly entitled Nye to 16.5% of the net profits from sales and distribution of the show. Back in April 2008, he received a payment of $585,123, but then it was retracted by Disney three months later, with them claiming it was an accounting error, and they asked for a payment back of $496,111 and that he would not get any more money until he paid that back.  In the complaint, Nye says he hired an auditor to review Buena Vista's records, which he claims Disney dodged until May of 2016, which showed that he was owed more than $9 million in under-reported royalty payments.  After making certain changes to his complaint, the judge ruled that he may proceed with his $28 million lawsuit, which not only covers what he is owed, but also includes legal fees and damages. In a statement from Nye's legal team, they told Fox Business that 'it is our hope that this case, which Disney has fought so hard to stall, will finally shine some light upon the improper accounting practices that Disney utilizes to unjustly deprive profit participants, like our clients, of their fair share of revenues from the programming that they work so hard to create.'  While Disney has sold a select amount of episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy to Netflix( which has since been removed in May of this year), the show cannot be found on Disney+.
  • Despite it being a week since a 73 year old Sanford man has been missing, his family and members of the community are not giving up. Police in Sanford say Robert Ford left his home on November 29th on the 300 block of Fern Drive and has not been back since. They say Ford is a Navy veteran who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and is on medication for depression.  While police continue their search, his daughter has put up flyers around the community and has even set up a Facebook page so that volunteers can help look for him.  Ford is 5 feet, 7 inches weighing 160 pounds and was last seen wearing a dark colored shirt and a jacket. Police say he may act confused and might not know his own name. Anyone who knows where he is is asked to contact the Sanford Police Department at 407-688-5070.

Washington Insider

  • Even as Democrats press ahead with a historic effort to impeach President Donald Trump in the House, lawmakers in both parties are on the cusp of possibly producing series of major, bipartisan legislative deals, covering everything from a crackdown on surprise medical bills to a compromise establishing the President's plan for a 'Space Force' at the Pentagon in exchange for a big benefits change for federal workers. The calendar doesn't offer much time for action in either the House or Senate, as lawmakers hope to leave town by the weekend before Christmas - which would give the House and Senate until around December 20-23. Here are some of the big issues which might get resolved in Congress at the same time as Democrats force a vote on impeachment. 1. Lawmakers cut deal on surprise medical bills. Sunday brought news that a group of key lawmakers - in both parties from the House and Senate - had reached agreement on a plan to rein surprise bills which consumers often face, especially after emergency care. Backers stressed the bipartisan nature of the agreement. 'The legislation includes proposals from 80 Senators, 46 Democrats and 34 Republicans,' said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in a Sunday statement. That does not necessarily mean this deal gets voted on in the next two weeks. 2. New minimum age to buy tobacco products. The deal on the issue of surprise medical bills also has some other items involved in it, including a provision which would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 years. The idea of raising the legal age for buying cigarettes and tobacco has been supported in recent months by the Senate's top Republican - Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - but it's not clear if McConnell would rush such a bill to the Senate floor over the next two weeks. 3. 'Space Force' might be ready for launch. Lawmakers in both parties were trying to finalize a major defense policy bill early this week, and the details are expected to finally give President Trump his plan to set up a 'Space Force' inside the Pentagon. The plan - which has been resisted by lawmakers in both parties - would not set up a brand new branch of the military, as sought by President Trump. Instead, the Space Force would operate out of the Air Force, sort of like the Marines are considered part of the Navy. Critics argued a plan to set up a separate new branch of the military would have been too expensive, and would create an unnecessary new bureaucracy. 4. Paid family leave benefit for federal workers? The President won't get his Space Force for nothing in this major defense policy bill, as reportedly the deal with the White House will give around 2.7 million federal workers a new benefit - paid family leave. The plan would reportedly include up to 12 weeks of such leave for federal civilian workers. While no final bill language has been released, a tweet from over the weekend by President Trump's daughter shows this exchange could well be part of the defense bill. Stay tuned. 5. USMCA trade deal still a late year possibility. With a flurry of late negotiations involving U.S., Mexican, and Canadian trade officials, it's still possible that the final touches could be put on a new trade deal among the three nations, and have it voted on by the House and Senate. The White House has been quietly working with Mexico and Canada in recent weeks to work out tweaks to the agreement, mainly dealing with labor and environmental enforcement, trade dispute resolution, and issues dealing with some medical drugs. While the President and his allies keep saying the plan has been sent to Congress already for a vote - that is simply not true. 6. Government funding plan remains in limbo. While there were seemingly agreement on surprise medical billing, the Space Force, and more, lawmakers still have not finalized a giant package of bills to fund the operations of the federal government for 2020. The current temporary funding bill runs out on December 20. While there is obviously the threat of a government shutdown, lawmakers in both parties hope they can either reach a deal now - or extend that temporary spending plan into the New Year. So, this could also be part of a late rush of big legislation.