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Dec. 12, 2012 at 11:58 AM   |   Comments

Sheriff: Mall shooter wanted to kill many

CLACKAMAS, Ore., Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The gunman who fired in a mall in suburban Portland, Ore., killing two before killing himself, was trying to slay as many people as possible, officials said.

The gunman, whom law enforcement officials declined to identify, swept through the Clackamas Town Center Tuesday afternoon, firing away as he moved to the food court and other public areas. Two people were killed and a third was seriously injured before the shooter killed himself.

Police have identified the gunman but aren't releasing his name, Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts told ABC's "Good Morning America" Wednesday.

"We have been able to identify the shooter over this last night," Roberts said. "I believe, at least from the information that's been provided to me at this point in time, it really was a killing of total strangers. To my knowledge at this point in time he was really trying, I think, to kill as many people as possible."

Witnesses at the mall said a young man raced through the upper level of Macy's to the food court, firing several shots with what is believed to be a black, semi-automatic rifle, ABC News said.

More than 10,000 people were at the mall during the day, police said. Roberts said officers were at the scene within minutes of the shooting and four tactical teams swept the 1.4 million-square-foot building for the shooter, who was eventually found dead.


WH, Boehner try to keep cliff talks alive

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama told the ABC news magazine "20/20" Tuesday night if Republicans relent on their resistance to tax rates going up on the wealthy, "then we are prepared to do some tough things on the spending side."

"Taxes are going to go up one way or another," he said, "and I think the key is that taxes go up on high-end individuals."

Obama spoke with House Speaker John Boehner Tuesday night after he submitted a proposal for averting the "fiscal cliff" to the White House virtually identical to the one rejected last week.

White House officials said they were still waiting for Republicans to produce an offer that includes higher tax rates on incomes above $250,000 to avert the $500 billion in tax increases and spending cuts due to kick in Jan. 1.

Obama was to hold a conference call with a bipartisan group of mayors and community leaders at noon EST Wednesday to discuss this demand as part of his "balanced approach" to reducing the deficit, the White House said Tuesday night.

"There is a deal out there that's possible, and we do believe that the parameters of a compromise are pretty clear," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday.

As part of the talks, the White House told Republicans it would include an overhaul of the corporate-tax code as part of any deal to reduce the deficit, The Wall Street Journal said.

The corporate-tax suggestion wasn't specific, other than committing to overhauling the corporate tax code next year, officials familiar with the offer told the newspaper.


Homegrown terror suspects arrested in Ga.

ATLANTA, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Police arrested a terror suspect at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, alleging he was bound for Africa in a plot to attack U.S. interests.

Federal officials said Randy Wilson, 25, of Mobile, Ala., was arrested in Atlanta while his alleged accomplice, Mohammad Abdul Rahman Abukhdair, 25, also of Mobile, was arrested at a bus station in Augusta, Ga., Tuesday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

U.S Justice Department officials said in a criminal complaint the men, both U.S. citizens, planned to travel to Morocco then to Mauritania to "prepare to wage violent jihad." Once in Mauritania, Wilson and Abukhdair were going to provide material support to terrorists to kill Americans or damage U.S. property abroad, authorities said.

The complaint was filed with the U.S. District Court in Alabama, Justice Department officials said. When they were arrested, the men under investigation by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force in Mobile, Ala.

The Constitution said the two reportedly met online in 2010.


Mandela responding to treatment, docs say

PRETORIA, South Africa, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Former South African President Nelson Mandela is responding to medical treatment and has made progress during the past 24 hours, his doctors said.

The revered anti-apartheid leader was admitted Saturday to a Pretoria hospital and is being treated for a lung infection, the South African government's news agency said Wednesday.

Hospital officials said a large number of well-wishers have camped in front of the hospital since news of Mandela's illness surfaced.

"We continue to request that [Mandela] and his family be accorded the necessary space and privacy and thank the media and the public for cooperation," the country's presidential office said.

In February, Mandela, the South Africa's first black president, was hospitalized for tests to address a chronic stomach complaint, the government said at the time. In January 2011, he was hospitalized for an acute respiratory infection.

Mandela, 94, retired from public life years ago, and was last seen publicly during the World Cup soccer tournament held in South Africa in 2010.


Pope Benedict posts first Twitter comment

VATICAN CITY, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI officially entered the Twitterverse Wednesday, posting his first message on his Twitter account, the Vatican said.

His first tweet: "Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart."

The pope's handle is @Pontifex, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Monsignor Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, called the event "an extraordinary moment," Vatican Radio reported.

The pope's post generated more than 2,000 re-tweets in less than two minutes, Tighe said.

Vatican Radio said the number of Pope Benedict's followers topped 1 million.

Now that he's using the microblog, Vatican officials said Pope Benedict spent Wednesday afternoon responding to selected questions from those submitted to #askpontifex.

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