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Dec. 16, 2012 at 5:14 PM   |   Comments

Obama in Conn. to comfort Newtown families

NEWTOWN, Conn., Dec. 16 (UPI) -- President Obama arrived in Connecticut Sunday and was on his way to Newtown to meet family members of those killed in Friday's shooting rampage.

A White House news pool report said Air Force One landed at Bradley Air Force base outside Hartford at 3.53 pm. The president walked down the steps under a light drizzle and climbed aboard his SUV for a motorcade to Newtown.

A White House official said the president is the primary author of his speech at a planned vigil.

It would be the fourth time Obama has represented the nation in the aftermath of such a massacre.

The president was scheduled to meet with all the the families of the victims of the shooting, then speak at an interfaith vigil in the evening, The Washington Post reported. His meetings are to include those families of the 20 small children killed inside their elementary school.

The Post said the president made similar visits to Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009, Tucson in 2011 and Aurora, Colo., in July in the aftermath of a gunman's spree.

Meanwhile, police sought a motive in the Newtown school massacre.

Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed six adults and 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday before turning his gun on himself. His mother, Nancy, was found dead in their home.


Newtown church cleared after threat

NEWTOWN, Conn., Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Police gave the all-clear sign Sunday after searching a Newtown, Conn., church that was evacuated following an unspecified threat.

Brian Wallace, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Bridgeport, said Monsignor Robert Weiss was delivering his homily during a mass at St. Rose of Lima Church when word of a threat emptied the church about 12:40 p.m., the Hartford Courant reported.

Authorities have cleared the scene of an evacuation of St. Rose of Lima Church. The church was evacuated around 12:40 p.m. and armed police officers swarmed the area.

Armed police officers converged on the church, combing it and other buildings on the property until they were satisfied they were secure, the newspaper said.

Wallace lamented the intrusion on the worship service. "To interrupt that is a very tragic and difficult thing," he said.

St. Rose was the site of a vigil Friday night for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.


Bloomberg chides Obama on gun control

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg Sunday called on President Obama to make gun control a top priority in the wake of last week's Connecticut school massacre.

Bloomberg said on NBC's "Meet the Press" gun violence was out of control in the United States with a body count that was multiplying at a wartime pace.

"If he (Obama) does nothing during his second term, something like 48,000 Americans will be killed with illegal guns," Bloomberg said. "That is roughly the number of Americans killed in the whole Vietnam War."

Bloomberg said shooting sprees like the one that claimed 28 lives in Newtown, Conn., Friday were becoming increasingly frequent and could no longer be downplayed as isolated incidents. He said Obama needed to take control of the issue and seek tighter controls on firearms even if he is rebuffed by Congress.

"He at least has to try," said Bloomberg, who as long advocated stricter rules on guns. "That's his job."

The mayor also expressed impatience with Obama, whom he saw as overly timid in the face of opposition from gun-rights organizations.

"The president campaigned in 2008 on an assault weapon ban, and the only gun legislation that the president has signed since then is the right to carry a gun in national parks where our kids play and to carry guns on Amtrak. I assume that's to stop the rash of train robberies which stopped back in the 1800s."


Man arrested for school shooting threat

CEDAR LAKE, Ind., Dec. 16 (UPI) -- A 60-year-old Indiana man was arrested after he threatened to set his wife on fire and "kill as many people as he could" at an elementary school, police said.

Von I. Meyer was arrested Friday afternoon at his home in Cedar Lake, Ind., the Chicago Tribune reported.

Police were called to Meyer's home after he allegedly threatened to set his wife on fire after she fell asleep, said a statement from Cedar Lake police. There was no indication in the statement that the case was related to school shootings in Newtown, Conn.

Meyer also allegedly threatened to enter Jane Ball Elementary School, which is near his home, and "kill as many people as he could before police could stop him," the statement said.

All local school officials were notified of the threat and implemented extra security measures as a precaution, police said.

About 47 guns and ammunition were found hidden around Meyer's home, police said.

Meyer was officially charged on Saturday with four counts of felony intimidation, one count of misdemeanor domestic battery, and two counts of misdemeanor resisting law enforcement, the police statement said. He has been held without bail at the Lake County, Ind., Jail pending an initial hearing.


Suspect held in Pa. Mennonite assault

LANCASTER, Pa., Dec. 16 (UPI) -- A suspect was in custody for the alleged assault on three elderly Mennonite women in rural Pennsylvania, police said.

The suspect, whose name was not immediately released, apparently had a grudge of some sort against the Mennonite religion and allegedly took his anger out on the three women, police in Lancaster County said.

The suspect allegedly broke into the Clay Township home Friday, tied up and assaulted the three women, ages 84-90, who were still hospitalized Sunday.

"They suffered multiple electrical shocks, were incapacitated and left," said North Lancaster County Regional Police Chief David Steffan. "They were unable to move for a long period of time. That could have led to bad things like blood clots and positional asphyxia."

The Intelligencer Journal in Lancaster/New Era, said the victims had apparently by shocked by "an incapacitation device," possible a cattle prod, and repeatedly beaten.

The man told the women he had a "rage" against Mennonites and read Bible verses while ransacking the home, police said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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