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3-Year-Old Boy Dies After Being Shot over July 4th Weekend, Suspects in Custody

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A viewing of the fireworks on Monday turned deadly as a 3-year-old lost his life, and three others were injured.

What We Know:

  • Shaquelle Walker Jr. was watching fireworks with his family in Buffalo, NY, when shots were fired, and a bullet hit him in the head. The 3-year-old was taken to Oishei Children’s Hospital and was in critical condition until his passing on Friday. Three men were also shot at the gathering; a 27-year-old and 28-year-old were taken to Erie County Medical Center and are said to be in stable condition. The third male, another 28-year-old, was treated for a graze to the foot and released.
  • Maurice Walker, Shaquelle Walker Jr’s grandfather, said he is devasted by the loss of his grandson. He stated that he couldn’t believe Shaquelle was shot in front of his grandmother’s house while his father was cooking. Maurice expressed his heartbreak for his son and stated that he looked up to him as a father and that he didn’t deserve to lose his Shaquelle this way. He spoke on how his grandson could have become somebody in the world, and now the world will miss out on what he could’ve done.

“Him being three you just killed a whole generation! We don’t know what this man could have became. I was probably looking at the next mayor! As much stuff as I talk, I know he was going to do something,” said Maurice.

  • Law enforcement arrested Dequan I. Richardson, 22, and Jonay Robinson, 25, Thursday. Officers initially arrested the pair on drug and gun charges, but they are now considered “persons of interest” in the July 4th shooting. During the investigation, officers received a search warrant for the pair’s apartment and found an “illegal pistol, illegal rifle, cocaine, a scale, and diluents.” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn stated that they have not yet determined if the guns found are the ones that were used in the shooting. Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo credits the community for working together with the police and providing tips that pointed them to the suspects.
  • Buffalo had 13 shootings over the 4th of July weekend that caused injury to 21 people. Since the start of the year, the city has seen an increase in crime involving guns. During the first six months, there were reported 177 people shot in Buffalo, which according to Buffalo News analysis of police data, is “a 64% increase over the 10-year average of 108.” Rinaldo has increased police presence in spots that typically see gun violence. His department has solved 11% of shootings that have happened this year, per their July 1st report.
  • City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown released a statement calling the shooting “senseless” and begged his community members to put the guns down. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also spoke on the number of shootings that occurred in the state over the holiday weekend during a press conference on Tuesday.

Richardson and Robinson both could receive up to 15 years in prison on drug and gun charges alone. Their hearing will take place on July 12th. Shaquelle would have turned four next month.

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Crime

Classes canceled at Howard University as US Government investigates ransomware cyberattack

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Howard University officials along with leading cyber experts are trying to assess what has been compromised in an active ransomware, cyberattack on the HBCU campus. Officials have deemed the attack criminal.

What We Know:

  • Monday, the university issued a statement to faculty and students that “the service disruption was caused by a ransomware cyberattack against the university.”
  • Classes have been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Students have been notified that online and hybrid classes will remain canceled and only essential staff will be allowed on campus. All in-person undergraduate, graduate, professional, and clinical experiential courses will resume as scheduled on Wednesday.
  • A ransomware attack can be triggered by simple, everyday activity. Opening a unintended link inside of can lead to a cyberattack.  Computer, tablet and phone users are encouraged to change their passwords and security questions regularly.

Howard University is home to several notable high profile Black alumni such as Chadwick Boseman and Phylicia Rashad.

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Crime

New Orleans 911 Operator Wanted After Allegedly Disconnecting Calls on Purpose

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A New Orleans 911 operator deliberately disconnected emergency calls without obtaining necessary information or relaying the callers’ emergencies to other dispatchers, and she is now facing arrest, according to authorities.

What We Know:

  • Precious Stephens, 25, is wanted on a count of malfeasance in office, and she remained at large Thursday, police said. She has been fired from her job as a 911 operator, officials said.

“(The district) has and will continue to cooperate with the … investigation into this matter and dedicated to providing any and all assistance to aid in (the) efforts.”

  • Stephens worked for the Orleans Parish Communication District, which dispatches first responders to 911 calls. On Aug. 24, the district reported to police that Stephens had deliberately disconnected 911 calls without obtaining vital information or informing other dispatchers about the callers who were in need of help.  The district conducted an investigation into the quality of a random set of calls when they detected the problems with Stephens during her shifts Aug. 20 and Aug. 21, officials said.  A statement from the district highlighted how its own internal protocols identified the issues with Stephens, who was immediately turned over to police and dismissed from her post.

Police asked anyone who knows where Stephens is to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. Tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward.

Louisiana law defines malfeasance in office as unlawfully performing a job in public service. It can carry up to five years in prison.

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Crime

R&B Star R. Kelly Jurors Summoned for Sex Trafficking Trial

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The first phase of R. Kelly‘s trial began on Aug. 9 with a jury selection after several delays.

What We Know:

  • U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly asked potential jurors if they could keep an open mind about Kelly as he faces charges for abusing women and girls for nearly two decades. Donnelly also reminded jurors that Kelly was presumed innocent, so they should not feel influenced by any bad publicity the singer experienced because of the accusations.
  • Due to pandemic restrictions, the event took place online. Because of this, Kelly and the jurors faced difficulty popping up on the screen and the audio cut off at times.
  • During the trial, jurors will expect to hear testimonies from several of Kelly’s accusers. In addition, a judge ruled that officials may only use the women’s first names. Currently, Kelly faces sex trafficking charges. Scrutiny around Kelly’s sexual behavior has followed him for decades. These include charges for child pornography. Alongside the sex-trafficking case in New York, Kelly also faces sex-related charges against him in Illinois and Minnesota.
  • In addition, prosecutors might provide evidence that Kelly schemed with others to buy a fake ID for late R&B singer Aaliyah. In 1994, when Aaliyah was only 15, Kelly married and began a sexual relationship with her; it is also speculated he impregnated her. Prosecutors believe he married her so that she could not testify against him.
  • In regards to his sex-trafficking trial, Kelly denies any wrongdoing; he has pleaded not guilty to leading a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards, and other employees who recruited women and girls for sex. Concerning the criminal enterprise, federal prosecutors reported the group found victims at concerts and other venues. After recruiting the women and children, they would make travel arrangements so they could meet with Kelly. Kelly’s lawyers claimed the victims were “groupies” who showed up at his concerts and “were dying to be with” Kelly.

The case is scheduled to officially begin on Aug. 18 with opening statements.

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