Man arrested and charged with the senseless killing of pro golfer Gene Siller and two others.
What We Know:
- Last Saturday, Siller was at the Pinetree Country Club by Kennesaw, GA, where he held the director of golf position. He stopped by the country club to let the staff know that the driving range would be used for fireworks to celebrate the July 4th weekend. The pro golfer noticed a white Dodge Ram 3500 pickup driving on the course and was said to have “witnessed an active crime taking place.” Upon approaching the pickup driver, Siller was shot in the head and left for dead near the 10th hole. The shooter fled the scene, leaving behind the truck.
- Police arrived at the scene and found two dead bodies inside the truck’s bed, which authorities identified as Henry Valdez, 46, and Paul Pierson, 76. Both men had been shot, and Pierson was the owner of the pickup truck. Cobb County police released a statement that there was no connection between Siller, 46, and the two men and that he was not the initial target in the shooting.
- Authorities arrested Bryan Anthony Rhoden, 23, Thursday afternoon in Chamblee, GA. The Georgia native has been charged with three counts of murder, three counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of kidnapping. Before shooting Valdez and Pierson, Roden kidnapped the men and taped their hands, legs, and mouth.
- The 23-year-old was originally arrested on five traffic-related misdemeanor charges, including a DUI, hours after the killings. Officials weren’t aware at the time that he was their shooter, and he made bail on Tuesday. Police confiscated a large sum of money off of Roden during the arrest, which they were able to use to force Roden to come back into the Chamblee Police Department to collect…they arrested him when he arrived.
- Roden was arrested in 2016 while attending Georgia State University. He was 18 at the time and shot Shelton Flournoy II,19, three times. Roden, who was also shot at the scene, was said to have been selling Flourney marijuana at the time of the shooting. According to the Fulton County’s District Attorney, the charges against Roden in the case are “nolle prosequi,” meaning they decided not to proceed with prosecution. In 2020, authorities seized $19,000 from Roden’s suitcase when he was boarding a flight to Los Angeles, CA. He punched a drug unit officer and fled the scene…he was not charged. Roden also led Indiana police officers on a high-speed chase last year.
- Siller, who was a father of two young children, was considered a “man of compassion.” Rand Eberhard, a pastor in the community, spoke on how everybody loved Siller and that his murder has left a big void in the community.
- He had seven Top 10 finishes, 19 Top 25 finishes, and tied for 61st place out of 150 players at the Yamaha Atlanta Open back in May. The Georgia State Golf Association sent their condolences to the Siller family and posted the family’s GoFundMe link on their Twitter page. Siller’s funeral will be held on Monday, along with a celebration of life that evening at the Pinetree Country Club.
— Georgia State Golf Association (@GSGA) July 4, 2021
At the moment, authorities believe Roden worked alone in the murders, and they are still investigating his motive. According to WSBTV, Roden has obtained high-profile criminal defense attorney Bruce Harvey as his counsel. His bond hearing is set for July 27th.
Classes canceled at Howard University as US Government investigates ransomware cyberattack
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.
New Orleans 911 Operator Wanted After Allegedly Disconnecting Calls on Purpose
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.
R&B Star R. Kelly Jurors Summoned for Sex Trafficking Trial
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.