Texas church gunman sent hostile text messages before attack

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas — The gunman who killed 26 people at a small-town Texas church had a history of domestic violence and sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law, a member of First Baptist, before the attack in which he fired at least 450 rounds at helpless worshippers, authorities said Monday. A day after the deadliest mass shooting in state history, the military acknowledged that it did not submit the shooter's criminal history to the FBI, as required by the Pentagon. If his past offenses had been properly shared, they would have prevented him from buying a gun. Investigators also revealed that sheriff's deputies had responded to a domestic violence call in 2014 at Devin Patrick Kelley's home involving a girlfriend who became his second wife. Later that year, he was formally ousted from the Air Force for a 2012 assault on his ex-wife in which he choked her and struck her son hard enough to fracture his skull. In the tiny town of Sutherland Springs, population 400, grieving townspeople were reeling from their losses. The dead ranged from 18 months to 77 years old and included multiple members of some families. "Our church was not comprised of members or parishioners. We were a very close family," said the pastor's wife Sherri Pomeroy, who, like her husband, was out of town when the attack happened. "Now most of our church family is gone." The couple's 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle Pomeroy, was among those killed.Kelley's mother-in-law sometimes attended services there, but the sheriff said she was not at church on Sunday. The massacre appeared to stem from a domestic situation and was not racially or religiously motivated, Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin said. He did not elaborate. Based on evidence at the scene, investigators believe Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he was chased by bystanders, one of whom was armed, and crashed his car. The 26-year-old shooter also used his cellphone Continue Reading

Lexus, Buick top J.D. Power’s Customer Service Index study

Lexus and Buick are winners once again, topping the list of J.D. Power’s Customer Service Index Study released Thursday. The Customer Service Index Study, which measures satisfaction of owners and lessees of 2012 – 2016 model year cars, surveyed more than 70,000 customers between October and December of last year, scoring satisfaction ratings of franchised dealership and independent service centers across several categories. In the mass market category, Buick clinched a clean sweep, earning a five “power circle rating” in the CSI study, scoring an 860 point rating, 53 points above the industry average 807 points. Points are measured on a 1,000-point scale. This is the GM brand’s third title in four years. Close on Buick’s heels was last year’s winner, Mini, which also garnered a five power circle rating, but missed the top spot by a mere 10 points. Rounding out the top spots were GMC, Chevrolet and Nissan earning between 822 and 837 points in the customer satisfaction survey, an impressive showing for General Motors brands. The picture wasn’t so pretty for Fiat Chrysler, as Fiat ended up dead last with 739 points (68 points below average), only closely followed by fellow FCA brands, Jeep, Ram and Dodge. Last year, the four brands, along with Chrysler, were last with Ram performing the worst of all. On the luxury front, Lexus returned to the top of the heap with an 874-point rating, 15 points above the 859-point industry average. The competition proved stiffer for luxury brands as Audi, Lincoln, Porsche and Cadillac followed behind Lexus by a less than 10-point margin. The only brands to perform below industry average were Land Rover, which ended up in last place with 828 points, Volvo, Acura and BMW. Land Rover, Volvo and Acura are no strangers to being at the bottom of the totem pole, as the brands were last place in the analysis firm’s 2016 CSI Continue Reading

‘I wanted to be the next big one’: Connecticut woman charged after allegedly threatening mass shooting at college

A 19-year-old Connecticut woman who prosecutors say threatened a Sandy Hook-style shooting at a community college — allegedly wanting to “one-up” gunman Adam Lanza — faces federal charges. Amanda Bowden of East Haven was arraigned Wednesday in state Superior Court on a charge of one count of false information and hoaxes, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. “As alleged, this defendant made a series of threats that described in great detail her intention to carry out a suicidal mass murder at a community college in New Haven,” U.S. Attorney David Fein said in a statement. “All threats of this nature will be viewed as serious by this office and prosecuted to the full extent of federal law.” Prosecutors say Bowden made the threats this month, initially through text messaging with a cooperating witness and subsequently through texts and verbal conversations with an undercover law enforcement agent. They say Bowden claimed to possess firearms and to have constructed at least two napalm-based bombs at her residence. Authorities say no firearms or explosive devices or related materials were found during a search of Bowden’s residence. A criminal complaint reveals a number of troubling threats against Gateway Community College in New Haven, where she was not actually a student or affiliated with the school, according to college officials. Bowden allegedly texted the cooperating witness Feb. 5, saying that she was “depressed” and that “shooting things is one of the few things I find fun,” according to the complaint. Bowden then mentioned she was targeting “Gateway” and was “pissed when the sandy hook happened ... Cuz I wanted to be the next big one.” The teen was referencing Lanza, the gunman who slaughtered 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December. The complaint says Continue Reading

Mass. 18-year-old gets 2 years for texting-while-driving death

An 18-year-old Massachusetts man will spend a year in prison for killing a father of three in a car accident that occurred because he was texting behind the wheel, a judge said. Aaron Deveau on Wednesday became the first driver in the state to get prison time for killing someone while driving and texting, The Boston Globe reported. Deveau was fiddling with his cell phone on Feb. 20, 2011, when his car drifted across the center line of a Haverhill, Mass., street and plowed into another car, killing its driver, Daniel Bowley, 55, prosecutors said. District Court Judge Stephen Abany said Deveau's harsh sentence was meant to send a message about the dangers of texting while driving. "People really want to be safe on the highways," he said, according to the Globe. Drivers need to "keep their eyes on the road.” Deveau, who was 17 at the time of the crash, pleaded not guilty. He testified that he sent a text message before leaving his job at a local grocery store and called his parents after the crash, but wasn't texting while on the road. Prosecutors provided phone records that showed he sent a message at 2:34 p.m. and got another back at 2:35 p.m., the same time as the crash. Deveau was sentenced to two concurrent sentences — two-and-a-half years for motor vehicle homicide and two years for causing injury while driving and texting. Abany ordered him to serve one year and suspended the rest of the sentences. Deveau apologized to Bowley’s three children and girlfriend, who survived the crash. "I made a mistake,” he said, according to the Globe. "If I could take it back, I would take it back.” With News Wire Services Prosecutor Ashlee Logan with a photograph from the crash in May. (Tim Jean/AP) Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Australians hit with mass death-threat text message

Thousands of Australians received a frightening message on their cell phones this weekend demanding they pay $5000 or face death, in what a local detective has called the worst scam he’s ever seen of its kind. The message, blasted to Australians all over the country on Sunday, threatened, “Sum1 paid me to kill you get spared, 48 hours to pay $5000. If you inform the police or anybody, death is promised...Email me now.” The text included a Yahoo email address which police said has since been disabled. “I’ve never seen this before,” Detective Superintendent Brian Hay of the Queensland Police Service said at a press conference on Monday, referring to the speed and widspread reach of the scam. “The crooks have an extraordinary level, or quantity, of Australian consumer data that they’re exploiting.” Police departments across Australians were deluged with calls, leading them to believe a significant number of people were affected. “Our phones have been going all day,” Hay said. “It’s extraordinary - absolutely extraordinary.” Police are “still making inquiries” as to who was responsible for the threats, but in the meantime Hay cautioned anyone who received the message to “delete it immediately” and told those who had responded and actually sent money to report that to the police “immediately.” Most importantly, he said, was to remain calm and understand it was simply a hoax. “Don’t panic - that’s what they prey upon,” he said. “That’s what they take great joy in, getting you to panic and respond.” New South Wales Police via Facebook Police are “still making inquiries” as to who was responsible for the threats, but in the meantime Superintendent Brian Hay cautioned anyone who received the message to “delete it immediately” and told those who had responded Continue Reading

Clean Elections to review utility regulator’s texts

Arizona's election regulators are looking into the text-message dust-up involving a utility regulator who before the 2014 election exchanged hundreds of messages with candidates and a political group who were not supposed to talk with one another.Bob Stump served as chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission at the time. Republicans Tom Forese and Doug Little were running for office and benefiting from independent groups advertising on their behalf.Such advertising is allowed as long as candidates don't coordinate with the campaigns.An investigation into Stump's text messages found he communicated often with both the candidates and the head of one of the independent political groups supporting them. RELATED: Phone records show close contact between regulator, APS and 'dark money' ROBERTS: ACC cozy with APS? Say it isn't so!Stump also texted often with an official from Arizona Public Service Co., the utility widely believed to have contributed to the political groups supporting Forese and Little.The two won their elections and are among the five regulators who set APS rates.APS won't comment on whether it donated to the political groups. Political spending by such groups is referred to as "dark money" because the groups' donors don't have to be disclosed.Forese and Little ran their campaigns with public money from the Citizens Clean Election Commission, which is looking into the matter because it could indicate violations of campaign rules.The Clean Elections Commission requested Stump's phone logs from the Checks and Balances Project, a non-profit that first reported on Stump's texts this week."Essentially, there is a nexus among those four people," said Thomas Collins, the Clean Elections Commission's executive director. "As a preliminary matter, I think it is prudent for us to ask the folks who produced this report if they are willing to share with us the source documents of the report they put out."Collins said the review of the phone records is Continue Reading

Pizzology on Mass Ave. is closing

A string of heartbreaking Indianapolis restaurant closings over the past year gets a little longer with the news that Pizzology on Mass Ave. will end its run.The 608 Massachusetts Ave. pizzeria will close Feb. 19, but owner Neal Brown isn't leaving the neighborhood. In the same space March 21, he'll debut Stella, a restaurant celebrating the southern European wine regions of Italy, France and Spain.“We're excited to bring some new vibes to our Mass Ave. spot,” Brown said on Facebook.Brown is making the change to help his team evolve, he wrote in a text message to IndyStar. "As much as we have loved having Pizzology on Mass Ave., we also thrive on challenging ourselves and providing growth opportunities for our team."Matt Strum, chef at Brown's other Mass Ave. property Libertine Liquor Bar, and formerly of The Local Eatery & Pub in Westfield, will head the Stella kitchen, Brown said, but he provided no other details about Stella's decor or menu.Brown was facing more pizzeria competition on Mass Ave. Goodfellas, promising New York-style pizza and 300-plus bourbons, opens soon in 3,750 square feet next door to Salt on Mass seafood restaurant, in the Millikan on Mass building. Bazbeaux pizzeria also is on the avenue.Last week, Brown stepped up to take over the SoBro space that hosts Recess, due to close Feb. 18 after nearly seven years in business. Japanese restaurant Ukiyo, which Brown had planned to put in Fountain Square this year, will instead occupy the Recess site, 4907 N. College Ave.Recess chef/owner Greg Hardesty announced Feb. 1 that he was ready to abandon the physical and mental demands of the restaurant business.Excitement surrounded Pizzology's opening on Mass Ave. in spring 2014. The original location in Carmel, 13190 Hazel Dell Parkway, was already popular thanks to Brown's signature pies, devotion to locally sourced ingredients and from-scratch Continue Reading

Earthquake damage did not jam cell phone service, spike in calls did, say experts

A sudden spike in calls - not damage to the system - is the reason why cell phone service jammed up after the East Coast earthquake, experts said Wednesday.Amy Storey, spokeswoman for CTIA-The Wireless Association. "The congestion was caused by the wireless networks processing substantial spikes in volume."Manhattan and Brooklyn, failed briefly as millions of users tried to place calls or fire off text messages.Federal Emergency Management Agency urged people to stay off their cells unless it was an emergency.Verizon reported. "There was some network congestion in the East after tremors. Continuing to monitor."Sprint called the interruptions a "mass calling event" and urged customers to text rather than call loved one.T-Mobile also reported "heavy call volumes." Sean Kirkendall told The Politico.com. "It's just that we can't have mission critical public safety running on those systems."9/11 Commission, but it's been bogged down by bickering in Congress. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

AT&T hopes TerreStar Genus phone will improve service — wherever you are in the U.S.

AT&T has weathered plenty of complaints about spotty cell phone coverage. On Tuesday, it will start selling its first phone that includes a backstop for AT&T's own network, over a satellite. That means blanket coverage of the U.S., even in the wilderness or hundreds of miles offshore. The new phone, the TerreStar Genus, could be an important tool for boaters, fishermen, forest rangers, emergency crews and others who go outside regular cellular coverage. There are a number of caveats, though. To use the phone, it has to have a clear view of the southern sky, where the satellite hovers, with no intervening trees, buildings or hills. That restricts its use to the outdoors. The satellite is aimed at the U.S. and doesn't provide global coverage in the same way Iridium Communications Inc.'s satellite constellation does. AT&T will initially be selling it to professional customers through business channels, but it will be in retail stores later this year, said Chris Hill, the Dallas-based phone company's vice president for Advanced Enterprise Mobility Solutions. The phone will cost $799 without a two-year contract, and requires regular AT&T voice and data service plans. It uses the AT&T network where it's available. The option to be able to switch over to the satellite costs $25 extra per month, and then 65 cents per minute of calling. Calls won't be the only way to communicate using the Genus: It's the first satellite phone that's also a full-blown smart phone. It runs Windows Mobile 6.5 software and has a full-alphabet keyboard and looks much like a slightly thicker BlackBerry. It doesn't have a large, protruding antenna, like other satellite phones do. It can send and receive data over the satellite, which means it can be used for e-mail and Web surfing. The cost, like the satellite, is sky-high: $5 per megabyte, or 400 times more expensive than a standard $25-per-month terrestrial data plan. Text messages, by comparison, are a bargain. Continue Reading

Did AT&T power texting win ‘American Idol’ for Kris Allen and rob Adam Lambert?

Adam Lambert fans have dubbed it "the AT&T scandal." Supporters of the raven-haired glam rocker are outraged over reports that AT&T – one of "American Idol's" biggest corporate sponsors – may have skewed the votes in winner Kris Allen's favor by distributing mobile phones for free text-messaging to the Arkansas crooner's fan groups and offering lessons in casting mass votes. AT&T is the only mobile network fans can use to cast text votes for contestants on the Fox show. According to a report in the New York Times, the phone company provided free text-messaging services at two fan parties in Arkansas for Allen supporters after last week's final sing-off, but offered no such services for Lambert fans. AT&T defended its presence at Allen fan events by say the company was there by invitation. "In Arkansas, we were invited to attend the local watch parties organized by the community. A few local employees brought a small number of demo phones with them and provided texting tutorials to those who were interested," said a company spokesperson via a statement. It also said that in the future, the company will ensure employees understand that its sponsorship "celebrates the competition, not individual contestants." In a separate statement, Fox and the show's producers said they are certain the results are "fair, accurate and verified" and that the integrity of the voting process was protected against unfair influence. After news of the texting parties first circulated, Lambert fans joined forces online, posting messages on "Idol" fan forums with complaints that the voting was unfair and skewed the tally in Allen's favor. They don't blame Allen - most fan wrath was directed at the show's producers. "I don't think AI will do anything about it," writes hs309. "If they did, it would mean they admit that their voting system is flawed... Everyone will remember season 8 as the season where adam got robbed." Commenter idc Continue Reading