News You Should Know

The country is reeling after another mass shooting on Sunday, this time in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The gunman, Devin Kelley, shot and killed 26 people and injured 20 more during a service at Sutherland’s First Baptist Church. The victims of the shooting ranged from 18 months to 77 years. Victims included the Pastor’s daughter, a pregnant mother and eight extended members of a single family, among others.

Kelly, who was 26, was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force after he assaulted both his wife and infant stepson. The Air Force acknowledged that they failed to enter this information into a federal database. This would have made him fail a background check and would have prevented him from legally purchasing firearms. Former classmates of Kelly described him as an “outcast” and an “atheist.” It is believed the motive for the attack was a domestic related incident between Kelly and family members who attended the Church.

More casualties were potentially prevented when a citizen of the community started shooting back at Kelly. The citizen, who is being hailed as hero, has been identified as Stephen Willeford. When Kelly exited the Church, Willeford used his own rifle to engage with Kelly, which resulted in Kelly dropping his rifle and fleeing. Willeford then got in another citizen’s truck, belonging to Johnnie Langendorff, and pursued the shooter. Langendorff was then able to run Kelly of the road. By the time police arrived, Kelly had died after sustaining three gunshot wounds. It is unclear whether a self inflicted gunshot or one of Willeford’s previous shots was the fatal shot.

Local News:

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering adding two truck tolls in the state. One would be in Exeter on the Tefft Hill Bridge, and the other would be on the Richmond-Hopkinton border at the Wood River Valley Bridge. Gov. Gina Raimondo has proposed 14 new tolls in order to fund road and bridge repairs that were approved by the state legislature in 2016.    

The DOT is allowing time for the public to comment on these proposed tolls. They will be holding a meeting at Chariho Middle School on Nov. 21. Critics are concerned that this will lead to more traffic on other roads, especially Route 3, as truck drivers attempt to avoid the tolls. They also fear companies will transfer the costs drivers spend on tolls onto the customer. The Rhode Island Trucking Association has promised to bring forth a lawsuit if the tolls are implemented.

 

In other transportation news, Raimondo has talked to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) about a possible express commuter train that would run from Providence to Boston. Officials believe that Amtrak and Acela “northbound express trains don’t run frequently enough.” Raimondo has reached out to the MBTA to discuss possible solutions.

MBTA officials say that it would be difficult to turn this idea into reality. The MBTA said that they would first need to expand South Station in Boston because the proposed train would require additional space that is not currently available.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is “currently reviewing schedules and estimated costs,” in order to see if they could add a train that goes from Providence to Boston during non-peak hours.

National News:

Rand Paul, a Republican Senator from Kentucky, was assaulted Friday outside his Bowling Green, Kentucky home. Paul had just finished mowing his lawn when his neighbor, Rene Boucher, tackled him. It is still not clear what the specific motive behind the assault was. It has become more clear that it was not politically motivated, however. It is believed to be related to a neighborly dispute over the upkeep of their adjacent properties, or their property line.

Paul suffered five broken ribs and bruises to his lungs, which has made his breathing difficult. This will prevent him from returning to Washington in the immediate future. Boucher was charged with fourth degree assault. Authorities are considering increasing the charges to a felony because of the severity of Paul’s injuries.

Paul was reportedly “embarrassed” by the incident and did not want to talk about the subject. Paul called the incident “unfortunate,” and does not know exactly why he was attacked. Boucher’s lawyer said it was a “trivial” dispute and hopes they can return to being neighbors “as soon as possible.” Boucher has been released on $7,500 bail. Paul is currently recovering from the FBI investigates the incident.

Florida State University has indefinitely suspended all Greek Life from their campus following the death of a freshman pledge, and an unrelated arrest of a fraternity member on cocaine charges. While the incidents are unrelated, they took place within several days of each other.

Andrew Coffey, a pledge of the Phi Kappa Phi fraternity, died after consuming alcohol at a party and later being found unconscious. An official autopsy will determine the exact cause of death. Garrett John Marcy, a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, was arrested three days later for selling cocaine.

The President of the University, John Thrasher, said that the 28 fraternities and 26 sororities will remain suspended from campus until a “new normal for Greek Life at the university” occurs. Thrasher said, “there must be a new culture, and our students must be full participants in creating it.” Thrasher remains concerned about drug and alcohol use at the university, and said that organizations such as Greek Life must “participate in the solution.”

International News:

A missile was launched from Yemen over the weekend and was intended to hit Saudi Arabia’s capital city of Riyadh. The missile was intercepted by Saudi Arabia, which prevented any casualties. The missile was fired by Houthi rebels, who Saudi Arabia believes are supported by Iran. The United States believes that Iran has armed the rebels in the past.

Saudi Arabia said that the missile being fired at their capital was an “act of war” by Iran. Iran has denied the accusations, saying that the claims were “false, irresponsible, destructive, and provocative.”

This leaves tensions between the two countries very high. The two countries were already “rival nations” and the weekend’s events have further escalated their relationship.