By Ginger Gibson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After years of thwarted efforts to tighten restrictions on firearms, gun control activists are heralding the 2016 elections as a watershed moment. Everytown for Gun Safety said its membership spiked by 20,000, to 3.5 million, in the hours after the California shooting - in which a young married couple armed with assault-style rifles left their infant daughter in the care of a grandmother before opening fire at a workplace holiday party.
The trial of a Baltimore police officer charged with manslaughter in the death of a young black man is due to resume on Friday, a day after prosecutors showed a video of his arrest that reduced his family to tears. Officer William Porter has also been charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in the April death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. On Thursday, Gray's mother and other relatives wept as a cellphone video, taken by bystander Kevin Moore, showed Gray screaming as he was arrested and people yelling at police.
Muslim Americans fear their religion will be demonized and Islamophobia will spread after a young Muslim couple was accused of carrying out one of the bloodiest mass killings in the United States. Across the country, Muslim Americans responded with shock and outrage after a shooting in which authorities said Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, stormed a holiday party attended by San Bernardino County employees in California on Wednesday, killing 14 people and wounding 21. "I was at the gym yesterday while the shooting was taking place and all the TVs were showing that footage and all I could keep thinking to myself is 'God, I hope they don't have any Eastern descent, not just Middle Eastern, anything we'd associate with a Muslim'," said Adam Hashem, 32, in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb with one of the country’s largest Muslim populations.
By Yasmeen Abutaleb SAN BERNARDINO (Reuters) - California shooter Syed Rizwan Farook was a devout Muslim who made a pilgrimage to Mecca in 2013 and prayed regularly at a mosque in Riverside, California and later at one in nearby San Bernardino, officials at the mosques said on Thursday. "He is someone who used to listen to my sermons, my talks here," said Mustafa Kuko, director of the Islamic Center of Riverside. "I sat up last night thinking about him and what's happened." Kuko has trouble understanding how Farook could have betrayed the very principles of his religion.
By Tim Reid and Yasmeen Abutaleb SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (Reuters) - The couple suspected of killing 14 people at a holiday party in California amassed thousands of rounds of ammunition and a dozen pipe bombs, authorities said on Thursday as they sought clues to the pair's motives and whether they had links to Islamist militants. Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, his wife and mother of his 6-month-old daughter, were killed in a shootout with police five hours after Wednesday's massacre at the Inland Regional Center social services agency in the city of San Bernardino. Twenty-one people were wounded in the shooting, which ranks as the deadliest instance of U.S. gun violence in three years.
By Alana Wise WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and his family led the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on Thursday, with charity, thanks, and a moment of reflection for the victims of Wednesday's shooting. Merry Christmas, everybody!" Obama said as the national tree took sparkle for the 93rd year. Flanked by his wife, two daughters and mother-in-law, Obama led the countdown in windy President's Park, across the street from their home at the White House, in a celebration that included performances by pop singer Aloe Blacc and rock band Fall Out Boy.
By Ben Klayman DEARBORN, Mich. (Reuters) - Muslim Americans fear their religion will be demonized and Islamophobia will spread after a young Muslim couple was accused of carrying out one of the bloodiest mass killings in the United States. Across the country, Muslim Americans responded with shock and outrage after a shooting in which authorities said Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, stormed a holiday party attended by San Bernardino County employees in California on Wednesday, killing 14 people and wounding 21. It was the deadliest U.S. mass shooting since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre three years ago.
By Peter Eisler PAGELAND, South Carolina (Reuters) - As sheriff’s investigators threaded past the battered cars, cast-off tires and rusted farm equipment cluttering Brent Nicholson’s front yard, there was no hint of the sinister stockpile hidden behind his windowless front door. “This has completely changed our definition of an ass-load of guns,” said Chesterfield County Sheriff Jay Brooks. Six weeks after the discovery, officers are still cataloging the weapons, many of which have proved stolen, and the final tally is expected to be close to 5,000.
The girls endured such long-term isolation that the eldest, now 19, was diagnosed with a condition known as disarticulation disorder, prosecutor J. Alan Goodwin told the court in Tucson on Wednesday during closing arguments. The two girls told police they fled after their stepfather, Fernando Richter, now 36, kicked in their bedroom door while brandishing a knife.
New York's so-called "Cannibal Cop" was cleared of all charges by a divided U.S. appeals court on Thursday, more than two years after a jury convicted him of plotting to kill and eat women. Former New York City Police Officer Gilberto Valle was found guilty at trial in March 2013 of conspiring to kidnap women and illegally accessing a police database to collect information on potential victims.
The trial of a Baltimore police officer for the death of a black man from an injury while in custody heads into a second day of testimony on Thursday, with prosecutors saying the officer ignored the man's pleas for medical aid. Officer William Porter is the first of six officers to go on trial in Baltimore City Circuit Court for the death in April of Freddie Gray. Gray died a week after he was taken into custody for fleeing an officer and possessing a knife.
By Zandi Shabalala BLOEMFONTEIN (Reuters) - Paralympian Oscar Pistorius's conviction for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp has been scaled up to murder from culpable homicide by South Africa's top appeals court. "Blade Runner" Pistorius could now be sent back to jail for at least 15 years for shooting Steenkamp dead on Valentine's Day 2013. The athlete is expected to be sentenced for the new murder conviction by a lower court at a date still to be determined.