Category: Pennsylvania

July 17th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Residents in California, Pennsylvania, a small borough of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area, have said they are outraged after the federal government moved 40 Romanian ‘gypsies’ into the town of 7,000 as part of the government’s Alternative to Detention program.

On Thursday, more than 150 residents attended a community meeting about the immigrants, who residents say have failed to assimilate to American customs and norms. The residents cited trash in yards, disruptions in town markets, children and men defecating in public streets, and immigrants cutting off the heads of chickens in public areas, according to a report by WTAE-TV. None of the immigrants, who are undocumented, have been charged with any other serious criminal offenses.

“We’re a very diverse town, we’re very open, but they aren’t assimilating to our laws,” said Pam Duricic, a resident of California, according to a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We are understanding that these are immigrants. But this is not the same scenario as our grandparents. They didn’t come here to raise havoc.”

The Romanian immigrants ended up in California borough as part of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Alternative to Detention program, which allows immigrants to live in U.S. communities instead of being detained while they await a final decision about their immigration status.

The Romanian immigrants have said they came to America to escape persecution. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports they belong to a group called Roma, minorities in Romania that are distinct from most of the Romanian population. The 40 Romanian immigrants have self-described themselves as “gypsies.”

It’s unclear why they ended up in California borough, rather than in some other neighboring town or in nearby Pittsburgh, but the Post-Gazette reports one of the Romanians said at the town meeting they came to California borough because of its affordability and friendly reputation.

At the town meeting, town officials and the police chief told residents they had received no warning from the federal government about the immigrants’ arrival.

About 600 residents have signed a petition demanding the gypsies change their living habits.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Alternatives to Immigration Detention program was implemented in part to save taxpayer money. About $2 billion is spent every year for immigration detention. The ACLU also claims the AID program is “more humane” because the immigrants involved in the program would otherwise be detained only to ensure that they show up for their hearings, not because they’ve committed crimes.

Posted in Government, Immigration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh

June 9th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Police say that a men who killed three of his co-workers in a shooting spree in a northeast Pennsylvania grocery store had a history of posting violent messages on social media, including a chilling prediction about President Trump.
Authorities identified the Twitter account of 24-year-old Randy Stair, who committed suicide after his murder spree. And he made this disturbing prediction about Trump:

I can almost certainly guarantee you that Donald Trump will be assassinated. Maybe not this year, but in the near future.

— Andrew Blaze (@EGSandrew) September 28, 2016

The tweet reads, “I can almost certainly guarantee you that Donald Trump will be assassinated. Maybe not this year, but in the near future,” and was posted in September of 2016, before the election.

In another post after the election, he wrote, “Donald Trump’s face is the *ss of America.”

Police say Stair barricaded his fellow employees in a Pennsylvania grocery store and shot three to death. A fourth escaped and called the police. He spent 90 minutes blocking exits, and then began his murderous spree.

“This is really a mental health situation that utterly spiraled out of control,” Wyoming County District Attorney Jeff Mitchell said. “I think he had longstanding mental health issues that resulted in this horrible tragedy.”

“It’s just unspeakable, it really is,” he added. “These people went to work and they lost their lives because they went to work. It’s senseless.”

Stair seemed to obsess over massacres and idolize mass killers on his social media, including Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

In one of the movies Stair left on YouTube, he angrily lashed out at the world, saying, “I’ve been stepped on my whole life; not anymore. …I’ve had enough of this putrid planet and I’m going to leave my mark.”

He posted one last tweet before his massacre.

Goodbye humans…I’ll miss you….

— Andrew Blaze (@EGSandrew) June 8, 2017

Police say Randy Stair, who trapped and killed three co-workers and then himself inside of a Pennsylvania grocery store on Thursday left a

Posted in Donald Trump, mass shooting, Pennsylvania, Politics, Trump

December 4th, 2016 by Staff Writer

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein dropped her statewide recount effort in Pennsylvania late Saturday afternoon, according to Philly.com.

More from Philly.com:

In court documents filed shortly before 5 p.m., an attorney for the Stein campaign wrote, “Petitioners are regular citizens of ordinary means. They cannot afford to post the $1,000,000 bond required by the Court.”

“The judge’s outrageous demand that voters pay such an exorbitant figure is a shameful, unacceptable barrier to democratic participation,” Stein said in a statement Saturday, according to Philly.com. “This is yet another sign that Pennsylvania’s antiquated election law is stacked against voters.”

Stein and the Green Party filed for a recount in the state because they wanted state board of election officials to ensure the integrity of the election and its results. According to the Associated Press, Stein wanted to explore whether or not voting machines had been hacked and whether or not voting results had been manipulated.

Stein has officially filed for recounts in two other states, Michigan and Wisconsin. All three states proved pivotal to Trump winning the White House.

The Wisconsin recount is underway, while the Michigan recount is likely to begin this week, barring intervention from a judge.

According to Philly.com, Stein still plans to continue with the county-by-county recount in Pennsylvania. She also plans to hold a press conference outside Trump Tower Monday morning to discuss the latest developments.

Posted in Business, Donald Trump, Jill Stein, Pennsylvania, Recount

November 28th, 2016 by Staff Writer

One community in central Pennsylvania has literally taken to the streets to show support for their law enforcement officers.

According to the Lancaster Online, Conoy Township in Lancaster County has painted a blue stripe between the double-yellow lines on some of its streets to express support for police, firefighters and ambulance workers.

But the state Department of Transportation is concerned that the town may have crossed a line — figuratively, that is.

The lines in Conoy Township look very similar to this image, which was taken in the New Jersey township of Aberdeen. (Image via Aberdeen Township/Facebook)
The lines in Conoy Township look very similar to this image, which was taken in the New Jersey township of Aberdeen. (Image via Aberdeen Township/Facebook)

According to the Lancaster Online’s report, the stripe doesn’t comply with state highway rules.

PennDOT spokesman Greg Penny told the Lancaster Online that drivers could get confused and the township could be liable if the coloring causes a crash. Still, Penny wasn’t sure if the agency would take action.

“It’s well intentioned and a nice idea, but it’s not really an appropriate way to show support,” he told the newspaper.

More from the Lancaster Online:

Penny said he’s unaware of any other Pennsylvania municipality painting lines in such a way. A couple years ago, a township wanted to paint its centerline red, white and blue to mark its 250th anniversary, but PennDOT denied the request.

Township supervisor chairman Stephen Mohr disputes the idea that a blue line could be such a distraction.

“If that little blue line distracts somebody, they were going to be distracted and weren’t too attentive anyway,” Mohr told the Lancaster Online.

The town has no immediate plans to remove the stripes. Towns in neighboring New Jersey took similar action earlier this year, drawing both praise and criticism.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Posted in Pennsylvania, Police, US

October 6th, 2016 by Staff Writer

When she left school, she just thought her parents were asleep. But when she came home, her entire world was turned upside down.

For more than 24 hours, one 7-year-old girl had been trying to rouse her parents. When she was unable to do so, she simply carried on with business as usual. She got ready for school, boarded the bus and left her small apartment just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Monday morning.

According to a report from the Washington Post, the small child kept her concerns to herself throughout the day, but when the bus driver returned her that afternoon, police said the little girl told the driver she had been unable to awaken the adults living in her home.

Officers with the McKeesport Police Department entered the apartment and discovered the worst of scenarios: Christopher Dilly, 26, and Jessica Lally, 25, had died of an apparent heroin overdose. And, along with the 7 year old, were three other children, ages five, three and nine months.

The children were unharmed, according to the Post, but nevertheless were taken to a nearby hospital to be evaluated before being placed in child protective services. Sadly, the terrible fate these four young kids are facing is not that uncommon, according to Allegheny County health officials.

“There is an opioid overdose epidemic in the U.S., and Allegheny County is not immune,” a county report reads, noting that over the past year, there have been 422 overdoes deaths in the area — more than any prior year.

And, though Allegheny County “has experienced fatal overdose rates higher than those seen throughout Pennsylvania and many other states,” the drug epidemic is one that has permeated the entire state, according to Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat.

As the Post noted, speaking last week to lawmakers in Harrisburg, Wolf asserted that Pennsylvania is staring down “a public health crisis, the likes of which we have not before seen.”

“Every day, we lose 10 Pennsylvanians to the disease of addiction,” he said. “This disease does not have compassion, or show regard for status, gender, race or borders.”

And similar reports further bolster what Wolf said.

In early September, police released images of a man and a woman arrested in Ohio after they allegedly passed out while under the influence of drugs in a vehicle with the woman’s 4-year-old son sitting in the back seat. Children’s Services placed the little boy under the care of a neighbor.

Once again, toward the end of September, disturbing video surfaced, showing a toddler trying to awaken her mother, who had allegedly passed out from drug use while shopping in a Family Dollar in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

“It’s very disturbing to see someone like this. It’s obvious addiction has overtaken them, to the point of not being able to care for their child,” Police Chief James Fitzpatrick said at the time. “She’s lucky to be alive.”

In the U.S., opioids like heroin and prescription drugs killed more than 28,000 people in 2014 — more than any other year on record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roughly half of those deaths, the CDC reported, were a result of prescription drug overdose.


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Posted in Crime, Drugs, Pennsylvania, US, Video, watch

August 24th, 2016 by Staff Writer

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence got a haircut surrounded by journalists on Tuesday, but the barber had no idea he was cutting the hair of the Republican vice presidential candidate.

“Your name was?” the Norristown, Pennsylvania, barber asked after about 20 minutes of cutting Pence’s hair in front of CNN and ABC News cameras broadcasting live online.

Norristown, PA barber, after cutting @Mike_Pence’s hair: “Your name was?…Woo! This is history!” https://t.co/aNMsp2iwnM

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) August 23, 2016

“Mike Pence,” Donald Trump’s running mate replied, shaking the barber’s hand. “I’m the governor of the state of Indiana, and I’m running for vice president of the United States.”

The surprised barber, tapping Pence on the arm, responded, “Go ahead, man. Vice president? Oh, boy.”

“Give me a handshake again, man,” he continued. “This is great — woo! This is history over here, I’m telling you.”

During the haircut, Pence and the barber talked about how long he had owned his barbershop, the places the Indiana governor likes to get a haircut back home, their respective marriages and even football, but there was no mention of the 2016 election.

At one point, the barber mentioned he came in to the shop to cut Pence’s hair at the request of a friend, but said he “didn’t know it was gonna be nothin’ like this,” referring to the gaggle of reporters filling the shop.

“Neither did I,” Pence replied, before a reporter asked the barber if this was his “first televised haircut.”

Pence was visiting the battleground state Tuesday for campaign events while Trump was in Texas taping a town hall event with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

Watch the entire haircut below, via CNN.


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Posted in Campaign 2016, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Pennsylvania, Politics, Video, watch

August 12th, 2016 by Staff Writer

A child fell off a roller coaster at a Pennsylvania amusement park Thursday, Westmoreland County officials said.

An ambulance arrived at Idlewild Park & SoakZone in Ligonier around 1 p.m., shortly after the unidentified boy fell, according to Westmoreland County Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Mary Beth Eslary. The incident took pace around 12:18 p.m. and the child’s immediate family was at the park, officials said.

Prior to being flown to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, the boy was conscious and treated on site, the park said in a statement to Time. He fell from the Rollo Coaster, which opened in 1938 and calls for riders to be a minimum of 36 inches tall. Idlewild has been open since 1878, and is located roughly 50 miles outside Pittsburgh.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the boy and his family,” the Idlewild statement read. “A full investigation has begun to determine the cause of the incident. The Rollo Coaster will be closed pending the results of the investigation. We are fully cooperating with area agencies in this investigation.”

Thursday’s incident is the latest in a string of other catastrophic accidents in amusement parks this week. On Sunday, a 10-year-old boy died after riding a massive waterslide at Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Two other riders at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, were injured the same day after a ride’s launch cable detached. Three children were also injured after falling from a Ferris wheel because of a mechanical malfunction at a Tennessee county fair Monday.

The condition of the child involved in Thursday’s accident is unknown and the cause of the mishap is not yet apparent.


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Posted in Pennsylvania, US, Video, watch

April 25th, 2016 by Staff Writer

Former U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford announced that he will be marrying a man 50 years younger than himself almost 20 years after his wife passed away from leukemia, according to an op-ed that was published in the New York Times Sunday.

Wofford, 90, a former Democratic senator from Pennsylvania, had also been a top adviser to John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., according to CNN. In his op-ed, Wofford attempted to explain his reasoning behind his decision to marry a man significantly younger than himself after having been previously married to a woman.

In this June 21, 2011, file photo, former Sen. Harris Wofford attends the National Building Museum for the Jefferson Awards for Public Service in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

In this June 21, 2011, file photo, former Sen. Harris Wofford attends the National Building Museum for the Jefferson Awards for Public Service in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

“Too often, our society seeks to label people by pinning them on the wall — straight, gay or in between,” Wofford wrote in the op-ed. “I don’t categorize myself based on the gender of those I love. I had a half-century of marriage with a wonderful woman, and now am lucky for a second time to have found happiness.”

Wofford proceeded to explain how at age 75 he met the then 25-year-old Matthew Charlton standing on a beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“As we talked, I was struck by Matthew’s inquisitive and thoughtful manner and his charm. I knew he was somebody I would enjoy getting to know. We were decades apart in age with far different professional interests, yet we clicked,” Wofford recalled. “We took trips around the country and later to Europe together, becoming great friends. We both felt the immediate spark, and as time went on, we realized that our bond had grown into love.”

Wofford also spent time explaining in the op-ed his relationship with his late beloved wife, Clare, who passed away in 1996. Wofford wrote that the two of them “fell in love trying to save the world during World War II.”

“… I held her hands in mine as she died. During 48 years of marriage, we had spent a lifetime together,” Wofford wrote. “We spent a happy half-century together with different perspectives on life. Growing up during the Depression, in which her father suffered while my family prospered, she became a skeptic while I emerged an optimist.”

The former senator indicated that he felt the need to write his op-ed to explain his new relationship that “comes as a strange surprise.”

Mr. and Mrs. Harris Wofford (AP Photo/John Lindsay)

Mr. and Mrs. Harris Wofford (AP Photo/John Lindsay)

“To some, our bond is entirely natural, to others it comes as a strange surprise, but most soon see the strength of our feelings and our devotion to each other. We have now been together for 15 years,” Wofford wrote. “Twice in my life, I’ve felt the pull of such passionate preference. At age 90, I am lucky to be in an era where the Supreme Court has strengthened what President Obama calls ‘the dignity of marriage’ by recognizing that matrimony is not based on anyone’s sexual nature, choices or dreams. It is based on love.”

Wofford revealed that he and Charlton will marry on April 30.

The former senator’s op-ed was met with a variety of responses on social media.

After reading ex-Sen. Harris Wofford (D-PA), at age 90, is marrying a man who is 50, all I can say is “con men are now conning men.”

— John Gizzi (@johngizzi) April 24, 2016

Beautiful story of love and loss. Congratulations to Senator Harris Wofford and Matthew Charlton on their marriage. https://t.co/EliooQD82S

— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) April 24, 2016

I have to admit that Harris Wofford saying he is marrying a man who is 50 years younger than he is probably is more unexpected than Trump.

— Harry Enten (@ForecasterEnten) April 24, 2016

I was a huge Harris Wofford fanboy in college. If I’d known I had a shot with him romantically, my life might be very different.

— Angus Johnston (@studentactivism) April 24, 2016

Harris Wofford is marrying a man? Reminds me of Louis CK joking he might “do the second half gay.” No joke this time https://t.co/pV1ZYZWq9u

— Will Saletan (@saletan) April 25, 2016

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Posted in Gay Marriage, LGBT, New York Times, Pennsylvania, US

April 25th, 2016 by Staff Writer

NORTH WALES, Pa. (AP) — Authorities say a dispute between two members of a suburban Philadelphia church during a Sunday worship service ended with one person shooting and killing the other.

#UPDATE: Man killed in North Wales, Montgomery County church shooting ID’d https://t.co/F05XgywFVR pic.twitter.com/0b6rCpHHKL

— Action News on 6abc (@6abc) April 24, 2016

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said the disagreement escalated from an 11 a.m. “disturbance” at Keystone Fellowship Church in North Wales. Authorities didn’t say what the disturbance was or describe the crux of the disagreement at the evangelical church.

Police were called and found Robert Braxton, 27, of Montgomeryville, with a gunshot wound to the chest. He was rushed to Abington Lansdale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after noon. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday.

Steele said the other man involved, who was treated at a hospital and released, was cooperating with police but was not in custody as investigators determine whether charges are warranted.

“We’re going to have to determine whether the shooting was justified under the law,” he said.

The man had a concealed carry permit for his semiautomatic handgun, he said. Braxton was unarmed as far as investigators know, but that was still under investigation, Steele said

“We don’t know what the relationship is between the two of them,” Steele said.

Keystone Fellowship Montgomeryville issued a statement saying officials were “saddened” by the shooting. “Our congregation is in prayer for everyone involved,” the statement said.

No video exists of the shooting, which occurred in between two seating areas, Steele said. He said investigators were still trying to determine what kind of disturbance led to the shooting, interviewing “hundreds” who were in the church.

“We’ve got a lot of interviews to do,” Steele said. “That’s ongoing, that’s going to take some time to do.”

The church earlier posted a notice on its Facebook page that appearing as a special guest speaker would be an unnamed “pastor serving in a country that is extremely hostile to the Christian faith.” The post said photos or videotaping would be forbidden “for our guest’s safety,” but Steele said the shooting appeared unrelated to any such speaker.

“I believe there was music playing while this went on, so I don’t think this was during a sermon portion of this or anything,” he said.

Breeana Somers, 24, of Lansdale, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that she heard some kind of fight going on between two men, and then three gunshots that sounded like champagne corks popping.

“I went under a chair in a fetal position,” she said. “I tried to make myself as small as possible. It’s really frightening that anything like this could happen here.”

Sunday church shooting near Philadelphia leaves one injured, gunman arrestedhttps://t.co/jiBUZ8DQ3B pic.twitter.com/STkOj0PgzK

— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) April 24, 2016

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Posted in Church, Crime, Pennsylvania, Shooting

February 29th, 2016 by Staff Writer

One Philadelphia business owner is offering the burglar he believes robbed his store twice $20 and a job offer if the person returns for a third a time.

Luke Smith, a lifelong resident of Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood and married father of four, told WCAU-TV that a burglar recently came twice to his store in one week, taking tools and copper pipes the first time and disappearing with everything else of value in the store the second time. Smith believes that the same burglar robbed his store, a “fixer-upper” he bought a month ago, on both occasions.

But rather than respond with anger and frustration, Smith chose to take a softer approach — and to install security cameras.

“I’m not a rich man and have many mouths to feed, but you need this $20 more than I do. I’m sorry I can’t afford more,” Smith penned in a hand-written letter that he posted beside his store’s front door, along with the money, according to WCAU.

“It was a deliberate change in my outlook, not to be angry about this,” Smith told WCAU. “We just don’t get reminded enough that we all should do that and I’m going to try to do it more often.”

The entire text of Smith’s letter reads as follows:

Dear Fellow Human,

If you broke into my building a third time despite the cameras, you must really be desperate for money.

Since you’ve already stolen anything of value, please take this $20. I hope it helps you. And I hope you can find a way to make money and support yourself through less destructive means.

I’ve lived in Germantown my whole life and am committed to improving it. I want to hire locally and if you’re looking for work you should drop by during the day sometime and offer your help. This building has been nothing but headaches and I could use a helping hand from my community.

I wish you luck and prosperity.

Sincerely,

Luke

P.S.: I’m not a rich man and have many mouths to feed, but you need this $20 more than I do. I’m sorry I can’t afford more.

As of Friday, no one has yet responded to Smith’s letter.

(H/T: WCAU-TV)

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Posted in Crime, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Robbery, US, Video, watch

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