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At least 17 dead in ‘horrific’ Florida high school shooting

Terry Spencer and Kelli Kennedy, The Associated Press | posted Thursday, Feb 15th, 2018

A former student opened fire at a Florida high school Wednesday, killing at least 17 people and sending scores of students fleeing into the streets in the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Frantic parents rushed to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to find SWAT team members and ambulances surrounding the campus as classes prepared to dismiss for the day. Live footage showed emergency workers who appeared to be treating the wounded on sidewalks.

“It is a horrific situation,” said Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district in Parkland, about an hour’s drive north of Miami. “It is a horrible day for us.”

The 19-year-old suspect was taken into custody without a fight about an hour after he left the scene, authorities said.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said the suspect had at least one AR-15 rifle as well as multiple magazines.

“It’s catastrophic. There really are no words,” Israel said on Twitter.

Israel says the attack began outside the school Wednesday afternoon.

He told reporters that authorities subsequently found 12 people dead in the building and two more dead just outside the school and one more in a nearby street. Israel says two other people died later under medical treatment. .

The gunman was identified as Nikolas Cruz by a U.S. official briefed on the investigation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the information publicly.

Israel says investigators are dissecting the suspect’s social media posts and found material that is “very, very disturbing.” He didn’t elaborate.

Israel said the 19-year-old suspect had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for “disciplinary reasons.”

“I don’t know the specifics,” the sheriff said.

However, Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old junior, said Cruz was expelled last school year after a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. She said Cruz had been abusive to his girlfriend.

“I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him,” Olvera said.

School officials said Cruz was attending another school in Broward County after his expulsion.

Daniel Huerfano, a student who fled Wednesday’s attack, said he recognized Cruz from an Instagram photo in which Cruz posed with a gun in front of his face. Huerfano recalled Cruz as a shy student and remembered seeing him walking around with his lunch bag.

“He was that weird kid that you see … like a loner,” he added.

Dakota Mentcher, a 17-year-old junior, said he used to be close friends with Cruz but hadn’t seen him in more than a year following his expulsion from school.

“He started progressively getting a little more weird,” Mentcher said.

Mentcher recalled Cruz posting on Instagram about killing animals and said he had talked about doing target practice in his backyard with a pellet gun.

“He started going after one of my friends, threatening her, and I cut him off from there,” Mentcher said.

Runcie told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that he did not know of any threats posed by Cruz to the school.

“Typically you see in these situations that there potentially could have been signs out there,” Runcie said. “I would be speculating at this point if there were, but we didn’t have any warnings. There weren’t any phone calls or threats that we know of that were made.”

However, a teacher told The Miami Herald that Cruz may have been identified as a potential threat to other students. Jim Gard, a math teacher who said Cruz had been in his class last year, said he believes the school had sent out an email warning teachers that Cruz shouldn’t be allowed on campus with a backpack.

“There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus,” Gard said.

In a cul-de-sac near the school, Michael Nembhard was sitting in his garage when he saw a young man in a burgundy shirt walking down the street. In an instant, a police cruiser pulled up and officers jumped out with guns drawn.

“All I heard was ‘Get on the ground! Get on the ground!” Nembhard said. He said he could not see the suspect’s face, but that the man got on the ground without incident.

The day started normally at the school, which had a morning fire drill, and students were in class around 2:30 p.m. when another alarm sounded.

Noah Parness, a 17-year-old junior, said he and the other students calmly went outside to their fire-drill areas when he suddenly heard popping sounds.

“We saw a bunch of teachers running down the stairway, and then everybody shifted and broke into a sprint,” Parness said. “I hopped a fence.”

Beth Feingold said her daughter, Brittani, sent a text at 2:32 p.m. that said, “We’re on code red. I’m fine,” but sent another text shortly afterward saying, “Mom, I’m so scared.”

Brittani later was able to escape the school, which is one of the largest in the state, with about 3,000 students.

Inside the school, students heard loud bangs as the shooter fired. Many of them hid under desks or in closets and barricaded doors.

Television footage showed those students who fled leaving in a single-file line with their hands over their heads as officers urged them to evacuate quickly. Parents hurried to the scene.

Caesar Figueroa said when he got to the school to check on his 16-year-old daughter, he saw police officers drawing machine-guns as they approached the campus.

“My wife called me that there was an active shooter, and the school was on lockdown. I got on the road and saw helicopters. … It was crazy and my daughter wasn’t answering her phone.” She finally texted him that she was inside a closet with friends.

Len Murray’s 17-year-old son, a junior at the school, sent his parents a chilling text: “Mom and Dad, there have been shots fired on campus at school. There are police sirens outside. I’m in the auditorium and the doors are locked.”

A few minutes later, he texted again: “I’m fine.”

Murray said he raced to the school only to be stopped by authorities under a highway overpass within view of the school buildings. He said he told his son to save his battery and stop texting. The boy’s mother told him to turn off his ringer.

Authorities told parents to gather at a nearby hotel to get information.

“I’m scared for the other parents here. You can see the concern in everybody’s faces. Everybody is asking, ‘Have you heard from your child yet?”‘ Murray said.

Murray said he’s had just one thought running through his mind since he got his son’s text: “All I keep thinking about is when I dropped him off this morning. I usually say, ‘I love you,’ and I didn’t this morning. He’s 17, he’s at that age, and I didn’t say it this morning, and I’m just kicking myself right now over and over and over. Say it early and often, I’m telling you.”

Duhamel, Radford take bronze in Olympic pairs figure skating

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Feb 15th, 2018

Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford compete in the pairs figure skating free program at the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics Thursday, February 15, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford have won a bronze medal in pairs figure skating at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The two-time world champions, who are competing in their final season, scored 153.33 points for their program to Adele’s “Hometown Glory,” and 230.15 total points.

Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot, who started the day just 0.23 points behind the Canadians, won gold with 235.90 while reigning world champions Sui Wenging and Han Cong of China took silver with 235.47.

Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, representing Russia, were second after Wednesday’s short program but fell to fourth place Thursday.

Duhamel and Radford were third after the short program, five-and-a-half points behind the leaders.

It is Canada’s 11th medal of the Games and second in figure skating.

Canada now has three gold, four silver and four bronze.

Humber Bay condo residents ordered to carry dogs through common areas

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Feb 14th, 2018

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Dog-owning residents at an Etobicoke condo say they are tired of being told by property management that they have to carry their canines through common areas.

 

The resident handbook at Key West condos at Humber Bay Shores tells tenants that pets “must be small enough, in weight and size, to be carried easily throughout all of the building’s common elements.” That includes the foyer, hallways, and even the front driveway.

The clause has forced some people to find a new place to live. And those who remain say management is making the daily routine of walking their dogs unpleasant.

One resident, Justin, started renting in the building two years ago. His landlord didn’t have a problem with his dog Fluff McGruff, a French Bulldog mix, weighs about 14 kg, or 35 lbs.

“There’s a poster in the door that says you have to carry it through the lobbies, through the hallway, through the elevator, it’s ridiculous,” he says.

He says that management has printed out a photo of him and his dog from security footage and slipped it under his suite door with a reminder not to use a particular building exit.

Other dog-owning residents have had similar issues. Another resident named Justin says he has been warned for walking his dog Mila, a large black Labrador, on a leash through the lobby.

“We just walk her through, but sometimes we get notifications saying we have to lift her up, which is incredibly hard for me, she doesn’t like to be lifted up,” Justin says. “I think it’s ridiculous, I have never heard of a rule like that before.”

Another resident points out that some people may not be able to carry their dogs due to injury or disability.

“I was just in an accident on Sunday,” says Aastha, who lives in the building with her small white dog, Coco, “I cannot lift her up, so where does that leave me, what do I do?”

She says that during the winter, the walkway to the back door where she’s supposed to enter with her dog, isn’t shoveled. “If I go through the front door, am I now going to be harassed?” she asks.

“There is just no clarity on why this rule has been implemented,” Aastha adds. CityNews reached out to Time Property Management about the rules. The company declined to comment. Our reporter was also asked to leave the premises, despite being an invited guest of a resident.

For one former resident, the rules were enough to force her out of the building.

“It was harassment after harassment from the building managers,” says Jenna, who has a large Rottweiler named Zia. “They would send pictures of me not holding my dog in the elevator. I’m 100 lbs. and my dog is 70 lbs. I am not going to hold her in common areas – she is not harming anyone, she never once did anything to anyone.”

Jenna and her boyfriend eventually moved.

Management has consistently cited the building handbook’s rules as grounds for fines or notices, even telling residents they have to have their dogs out of the building by prescribed dates. Lawyers that CityNews spoke with say that doesn’t hold up. Handbooks aren’t official condo rules, and shouldn’t be used to enforce regulations. The residents we spoke with say they’ve never seen the condo’s official rules on pets.

Kim Campbell says it’s ‘demeaning’ when female news anchors wear sleeveless dresses

The Canadian Press, News Staff | posted Wednesday, Feb 14th, 2018

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Kim Campbell is admonishing female news anchors who wear sleeveless dresses on the air, calling the bare-armed attire “demeaning.”

 

The former prime minister tweeted her displeasure with the fashion choice on Tuesday morning by saying “bare arms undermine credibility and gravitas.”

She faced quick criticism and one tweeter pointed out that former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama frequently wore sleeveless dresses.

Campbell replied that she was specifically referring to female broadcasters.

She pointed to an essay by U.S. speaking coach Nick Morgan for back-up, who asserts in a blog post that “if you show up in front of us with skin exposed, we’re going to think about your body.”

He also takes issue with men who wear an “expensive, cool-looking casual T-shirt” for an important speech.

On her verified Twitter account, Campbell said: “I am struck by how many women on television news wear sleeveless dresses — often when sitting with suited men.”

“I have always felt it was demeaning to the women and (Morgan’s blog post) suggests that I am right. Bare arms undermine credibility and gravitas!”

Her position elicited dozens of replies, most of them in protest.

“Please be joking, Kim,” tweeted one user.

CityNews’ Ginella Massa has drawn worldwide attention, not for what she’s bared, but what’s covered. She became Canada’s first hijab-wearing television news reporter in January 2015.

Massa defended a woman’s right to dress however they feel comfortable, tweeting: “I don’t care if her arms are covered or not – I care if she’s a good journalist…”

Another pointed out that Canada’s first and only female prime minister — who was in office from June 25, 1993 to Oct. 24, 1993 — once bared her shoulders for a provocative black and white photo in 1993 in which she held up a suit of lawyer’s robes in front of her body, as if naked.

Again, Campbell replied she wasn’t presenting the news at the time.

“Photo was art — juxtaposition of bare shoulders (femininity) and legal robes — (male dominated power structure),” she tweeted.

The controversy harkens back to a similar uproar over female attire on the now-defunct Sun News Network.

That flap erupted soon after the right-wing all-news network debuted in April 2011, with National Post columnist Tasha Kheiriddin deriding the network’s female journalists for dressing like cocktail hostesses in “low cut, sleeveless” attire.

At the time, Luiza Ch. Savage of Maclean’s magazine also called the all-news network “Skank TV” in a tweet that was eventually retracted.

Toronto firefighter who went missing in Lake Placid found safe in California

Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Feb 14th, 2018

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A Toronto firefighter who was the subject of an extensive six-day search at a New York ski centre has been found safe in California, leaving officials puzzled as to how the 49-year-old managed to get across the country.

 

Constantinos (Danny) Filippidis was reported missing last Wednesday at Whiteface Mountain during an annual ski trip with colleagues. Officials say more than 140 people spent a combined 7,000 hours searching the rugged mountain terrain, calling in helicopters and search dogs to assist.

The multi-agency search included members of the U.S. Department of Environmental Conservation, New York state police, Homeland Security, U.S. boarder officials and volunteer Toronto firefighters.

The search was called off Tuesday afternoon when Filippidis was located near Sacramento, Calif.

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Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said the service was relieved to know Filippidis was safe, and in the care of police in Sacramento.

Filippidis has been taken to hospital as he appeared to be “confused and was unable to give direct answers,” Frank Ramagnano, president of the Toronto Professional Firefighters’ Association, told reporters at a news conference Tuesday evening.

“He had phoned (his wife) and called her by a nickname, she quickly recognized the voice and that it was him,” Ramagnano said. “Then they lost contact and he contacted her again and they kept him on the phone and asked him to call 911 to get him help as soon as possible.”

Filippidis was alone when he was found and was still wearing the clothing he had been skiing in when he went missing, Ramagnano said, adding that he didn’t know if Filippidis has a history of mental illness.

“We understand that there will be speculation and many questions at this time, however, please appreciate that authorities will be conducting a full and thorough investigation into what transpired,” Ramagnano said.

He said Filippidis was last seen by one of his colleagues on the ski hill at about 2:30 p.m. last Wednesday.

“The person who was skiing with him was feeling fatigued, he wanted to take a rest, he didn’t want to ski anymore,” Ramagnano said. “Danny stayed because he wanted to do one more run.”

He added that American authorities were in possession of the man’s passport, so it was unlikely he flew to California.

Filippidis remains in hospital and his family and colleagues are relieved he was found alive, Ramagnano said.

“We were quite concerned, and I had discussions with some of our peer support people on exactly what we could do for our members who were skiing with him,” Ramagnano said. “You could imagine the guilt they would have if this turned out to be a tragic event.”

With files from Michelle McQuigge

Kim Boutin threatened on social media after bronze-medal win

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Feb 14th, 2018

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Short-track speedskater Kim Boutin shut down all her social media accounts Wednesday after hundreds of angry tweets were directed at her by irate South Koreans in the wake of her controversial bronze-medal win in the 500-metre race at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Boutin finished fourth, but was promoted to third when South Korea’s Minjeong Choi was disqualified for interfering with the Canadian. Angry fans, mainly from South Korea, tweeted animated gifs or still images from the race, claiming that Boutin had pushed Choi.

“Congratulations on a dirty medal,” one message said.

“You had been teaching Kim Boutin how to cheat, Canada!!” said another on Twitter.

Boutin, from Sherbrooke, Que., closed her social media accounts and the RCMP, the IOC and Speed Skating Canada began investigations.

“The health, safety and security of all our team members is our top priority and as such we are working closely with Speed Skating Canada, our security personnel and the RCMP,” said a statement from the Canadian Olympic Committee. “We will not make further comment on this issue, so that Kim can focus on her upcoming events.”

The subject was also raised later in the day at the International Olympic Committee’s media briefing.

“Clearly what we want is for great performances to be applauded and that’s what the Olympic Games is about,” said IOC spokesperson Mark Adams. “We’re not in control, nor should we be, of social media and unfortunately these incidents do come up from time to time. It’s regrettable.

“I haven’t seen the comments but I can imagine. We’ve had it, as I say, in previous Games. All we can do is say let’s concentrate on what was a great performance and congratulations by the way to Canada for the bronze medal. I was there last night and it was pretty amazing.”

In figure skating, Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford were third in the pairs event after the short program.

The two-time world champions, who will retire after the Olympics, scored 76.82 points for their skate to April Meservy’s cover of U2’s hit song “With or Without You.”

China’s reigning world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong scored 82.39 points for the flawless skate to Canadian k.d. lang’s version of “Hallelujah.”

Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, representing Olympic Athletes from Russia, were the last team to go, bumping Duhamel and Radford down to third with an 81.68-point performance.

Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot were fourth with 76.59 points.

Canada’s other pairs duos also qualified for the free skate. Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau were 12th with 67.52 points. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro were 13th with 65.68.

The men’s curling tournament began on Wednesday with Calgary’s Kevin Koe leading Canada to a 5-3 win over Italy in the first draw.

Canada scored a deuce in the eighth end to break a 2-2 tie but the Italians came right back with a double takeout to earn a single in the ninth. Holding hammer in the 10th, Koe earned an easy point with his final stone for the game’s decisive score.

The Canadians will play Britain in the day’s second draw.

The top four teams in the 10-nation round robin advance to the semifinals.

Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur to appear in court Wednesday

The Canadian Press and News Staff | posted Wednesday, Feb 14th, 2018

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Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur will appear in a Toronto court by video on Wednesday morning.

McArthur is facing five first-degree murder charges related to the disappearances of men who are all believed to have had ties to the LGBTQ community.

Investigators have said they expect to lay more charges against the 66-year-old in the coming days.

Police say they’ve recovered the dismembered remains of six individuals from large planters at a home on Mallory Crescent where McArthur rented storage space and worked as a landscaper.

Toronto police have so far only identified one of the sets of remains — those of Andrew Kinsman.

On Tuesday, police wrapped up the excavation of the property where the remains were found and announced that they had not found any more.

However, that doesn’t mean the investigation at Mallory Crescent is over. Heavy construction equipment was brought in on Tuesday to dig up the main drain connected to the home.

Last month, McArthur was charged with 49-year-old Kinsman’s death, as well as the presumed death of 44-year-old Selim Esen. Both men went missing from Toronto’s gay village in 2017.

Police laid three more first-degree murder charges against McArthur about two weeks later, related to the disappearances of Majeed Kayhan, 58, and Soroush Mahmudi, 50, as well as the death of Dean Lisowick, either 43 or 44, who had never been reported missing.

Det.-Sgt. Hank Idsinga said Tuesday that the investigation will concentrate on evidence gathered so far before focusing on the 30 other properties identified as places of interest.

Blue Jays broadcaster Jerry Howarth retires after 36 seasons

Sportsnet Staff | posted Tuesday, Feb 13th, 2018

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Sportsnet’s Jerry Howarth has announced his retirement, closing out a remarkable 36-year career as the radio broadcaster of the Toronto Blue Jays. With health issues affecting his voice in recent years, Howarth’s personal decision to retire takes effect immediately.

“I had every intention of continuing my career into the 2018 season but my health and stamina and continuing voice issues dictated otherwise,” said Howarth. “Who knew that I would spend more than half my life in Toronto with my wife, Mary, and our two sons, Ben and Joe, doing what I love to do most, reaching out to friends and fans alike across our great country to talk baseball? I am blessed and I am grateful. I thank everyone who has made this journey of mine so rewarding in every way.”

Born in York, Pennsylvania and raised in San Francisco, Howarth launched his career with the Tacoma Twins of the Pacific Coast League in 1974. He joined the Blue Jays in 1981 and has called Toronto home ever since, becoming a Canadian citizen in the process.

“Jerry is an absolute legend in this industry,” said Scott Moore, president, Sportsnet and NHL properties. “He’s been a dedicated and consummate professional covering the Blue Jays for more than three decades. His longevity is exceptional and it speaks to not only his talent as a broadcaster, but also his incredible passion for baseball. He is beloved by Blue Jays fans across the country and has left an indelible impression on us all.”

Over his four-plus decades in the industry, Howarth has broadcast upwards of 7,500 ballgames, calling every major milestone for the Blue Jays including six division titles and two World Series championships.

“He’s been there for every home run, strike out, and flip of the bat that has mattered most to Blue Jays fans,” said Dave Cadeau, national format director, sports, Rogers Radio. “He’s as knowledgeable a baseball mind as you can find, and an even better storyteller. It’s been a privilege to work with Jerry over the years.”

In 2012, Howarth was honoured by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame with the Jack Graney Award for lifetime contributions to baseball in Canada. He was also awarded the Sports Media Canada award for achievement in broadcasting both in 2003, with then broadcast partner Tom Cheek, and again individually in 2016.

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