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Dec. 17, 2012 at 5:00 PM   |   Comments

Teens accused of Facebook shooting threats

COLUMBIA, Tenn., Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Two young men in California and Tennessee faced charges Monday for their alleged Facebook posts threatening mass school shootings, authorities said.

Kyle Bangayan, 24, of Pomona, Calif., was arrested at his parents' East Hollywood home Sunday where police confiscated nine guns, the Los Angeles Times reported. It wasn't clear who owned the weapons and none were found at Bangayan's residence, the newspaper said.

Bangayan was held on $500,000 bail after being booked on suspicion of making criminal threats and held on $500,000 bail.

Sources told the Times his alleged Facebook threat made reference to "kindergarten and elementary school kids." City police said specific schools were not named but the threat referred to the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

In Tennessee, Shawn Lenz, 19, of Columbia was arrested at his parents' home Sunday and charged with terrorism, harassment and possession of drug paraphernalia, The (Columbia) Daily Herald reported.

Police were called to Lenz's home after a woman complained to the Maury County Sheriff's Department about a Facebook post on Lenz's Facebook in which he allegedly wrote: "feel like goin on a rampage, kinda like the school shooting were that one guy killed some teachers and a bunch of students."

Police seized a computer, at least three shotguns, one rifle and drug paraphernalia from Lenz's home, Capt. Jimmy Tennyson said.

Lenz's friends responded with their own reaction, saying his post was "meant to be a joke," and Lenz "doesn't have the heart to take a life." Others, however, said they saw it as a possible plea for help or an ominous threat.

Tennyson said police did not hesitate to take action after receiving the report about Lenz.


First school shooting victims buried

NEWTOWN, Conn., Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Townspeople in Newtown, Conn., Monday began burying the 26 victims of last week's massacre at an elementary school -- two 6-year-old boys.

One eulogizer at Jack Pinto's funeral said the boy commanded attention as soon as he "arrived into this world," The New York Times reported.

"Who could ignore that beautiful energy, the sparkle in his eye, or that spirit that clearly said, 'I am here and I am something special'?" asked Mary Radatovich, a family friend.

Pinto and Noah Pozner were the first of the funerals for the victims of the slaughter inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 20 children and six adults died, before shooter Adam Lanza killed himself Friday. Police said Lanza also killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at the home they shared before he went to the school.

Police on Sunday officially confirmed Lanza, 20, was the killer in all 27 deaths before he shot himself.

Also Monday, investigators said it could be months before a complete account of the events up to and during the shooting spree on the school is available.

Connecticut State Police spokesman J. Paul Vance said investigators still had to talk to many witnesses, including two adults who wounded during the shooting at the school, as well as analyze the ammunition and details of the weapons.


Manchin calls for dialogue on gun reform

NEW YORK, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., a prominent pro-gun-rights advocate, called for a bipartisan conversation on reforming gun laws.

Speaking Monday morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" television program in the aftermath of the shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Manchin, who has an "A" rating from the Nation Rifle Association, said, "Anyone saying they don't want to talk and sit down and have that type of conversation is wrong," adding, "Millions and millions of people are proud gun owners, and they do it responsibly. Seeing the massacre of so many innocent children, it's changed. It's changed America. We've never seen this happen."

In his comments Monday Manchin was careful to note the dialogue would have to reassure NRA members and others their right to bear arms was not in jeopardy, and said he would approach the organization to discuss the issue soon, The New York Times reported.

Manchin, who pointed out his NRA membership, emphasized it was necessary to involve the NRA in the discussions, saying, "You have to have everybody at the table, not just the people you think will support this."

Joe Scarborough, the host of the program and a pro-gun-rights former Florida Congressman, said recent mass shooting incidents are "being spawned by the toxic view of a violent popular culture, a growing mental health crisis and the proliferation of combat-style weapons."


Boehner, Obama meet on fiscal cliff

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- President Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner met Monday to discuss deficit reduction and the fiscal cliff, a White House official said.

While not commenting on specific proposals or counter-proposals, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama's requirement that tax rates go up on the top 2 percent of wage-earners "has to be met."

"That remains his position," Carney said during his daily news briefing. "So we have seen since the election a change in tone, in some cases a change in position from different Republicans, including elected Republicans on the issue of, first, revenue, and then acknowledging that rates have to go up."

Carney said Obama's plan so far is the only proposal that achieves balance necessary so senior citizens, the middle class or students aren't unduly burdened.

The country faces a Dec. 31 deadline for lawmakers and the White House to strike a deal to avert a draconian combination of tax hikes and spending cuts, colloquially known as the fiscal cliff.

The meeting came after Boehner proffered a proposal that would call for $1 trillion in new tax revenue -- including increasing tax rates on income greater than $1 million -- and $1 trillion in spending cuts that would include entitlement program reform.

Obama has insisted on higher tax rates on incomes above $250,000 and wants a deal that addresses the $16.4 trillion debt limit.

The White House rejected Boehner's offer, saying it would raise too little money to make a big enough dent in the budget deficit, a Democrat familiar with the talks told The Washington Post. The plan also was rejected because it didn't mention an extension of emergency unemployment benefits.


Multiple bombings kill 32 in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Ten car bombs exploded in a wave of violence in northern Iraq that killed 32 people and injured 100 more amid sectarian strife between Shiites and Kurds.

Health and police officials said several explosions in the village of Khazna, about 12 miles northeast of Mosul, killed at least seven people and wounded 11 others, CNN reported.

In Tuz Khurmato, near Kirkuk, authorities said two car bombs killed at least five people and wounded 25 others. Police said one explosion was outside a hospital and the other occurred outside a Shiite mosque.

China's Xinhua News Agency reported an ethnic Shiite minority named al-Shabak was the target of another car bomb, which ripped through their village of Tahir-Awa, east of Mosul. Seven people were killed in that attack.

The explosions Monday came during a time of high tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the central government of Iraq over the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

In another area under dispute, a car bomb Sunday targeted the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Baquba, the capital of Diyala province, killing eight people and injuring at least 24 others, officials said.

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