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Teen killed in Colorado school shooting hailed as a hero for charging at attackers – National

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Teen killed in Colorado school shooting hailed as a hero for charging at attackers National

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HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — The lone fatality in the Colorado high school shooting was Kendrick Castillo, a friendly 18-year-old who, witnesses said, leaped from his desk in a literature class and charged the two attackers, sacrificing his life to buy classmates time to escape.

Another 18-year-old who was preparing to enter the Marines also tackled at least one of the shooters. And an armed security guard then confronted and detained one of the gunmen, officials said.


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1 student dead in shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch; adult suspect identified by police

Authorities said these acts of bravery helped minimize the bloodshed from the attack, which also wounded eight people.

“We’re going to hear about very heroic things that have taken place at the school,” Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said Wednesday.

The attackers were identified by law enforcement officials as 18-year-old Devon Erickson and a younger student who is a juvenile and was not named. They allegedly walked into the STEM School Highlands Ranch through an entrance without metal detectors and opened fire in two classrooms.

This undated photo provided by Rachel Short shows Kendrick Castillo, who was killed during a shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo.

(Rachel Short via AP)

Because the attack happened only miles from Columbine and just weeks after the shooting’s 20th anniversary, questions quickly arose about whether it was inspired by the 1999 massacre. But investigators offered no immediate motive.

Student Nui Giasolli told NBC’s Today show that she was in her British literature class when Erickson came in late and pulled out a gun.

READ MORE: Columbine school shooting – family, friends pay tribute to victims on 20th anniversary

Castillo lunged at the gunman, who shot the teen. Castillo’s swift action gave the rest of the class time to get underneath their desks and then run across the room to escape, Giasolli said.

A member of the school’s robotics club and a relentless tinkerer, Castillo had an infectious smile and gentle sense of humour, according to friends. He worked part-time at a local manufacturing company that had offered him a job after an internship because he was such a standout employee.

WATCH: At least 7 injured in shooting at school in Colorado, 2 suspects in custody





“To find he went down as a hero, I’m not surprised. That’s exactly who Kendrick was,” said Rachel Short, president of the company, Baccara.

Cecilia Bedard, 19, had known Castillo since elementary school and said he was always friendly, modest and excited to help people. He made a point of always joining his father at Knights of Columbus fundraisers and bingo nights.

“He was amazing,” Bedard said. “He was honestly the sweetest kid I ever met. Never said a mean joke.”

Brendan Bialy, also 18 and a senior who was enrolled in a delayed-entry program for the Marines, charged the shooters as well, helping fight them off, according to authorities and witnesses. “His decisive actions resulted in the safety and protection of his teachers and fellow classmates,” Marine Capt. Michael Maggiti said.

READ MORE: Alberta remembers Taber school shooting 20 years later

Then, as the shooters moved through the 1,800-student campus, an armed security guard detained one of them, Spurlock said.

The guard was employed by Boss High Level Protection, a company started by a former SWAT team leader who responded to the Columbine shooting. The owner, Grant Whitus, told The Associated Press the security guard is a former Marine who ran to the area of the shootings and confronted one of the armed students in a hallway.

The guard drew his weapon and apprehended the person, Whitus said.

“He doesn’t even realize how many lives he saved by stopping a school shooting,” Whitus said.

Both suspects were students at the school, and they were not previously known to authorities, Spurlock said.

Erickson made his first court appearance Wednesday and kept his head down. His black hair, streaked with purple dye, covered his face. The juvenile second attacker was due to appear before the judge immediately afterward. Formal charges were expected to be filed by Friday.

A message left at a phone number listed for Erickson’s home was not immediately returned.

WATCH: Grieving Parkland mom makes tearful plea for sensible gun control





Josh Dutton, 18, said he was close friends with Erickson in middle school but had not seen him for four years while attending a different high school. On Sunday, he spotted Erickson at a local light rail station and said he was shocked at how much his friend had changed.

Erickson wore all black and was significantly thinner and did not seem interested in talking.

“He said he’d just turned 18 and he owned rifles,” Dutton said.

READ MORE: Columbine survivor talks about life after a school shooting

The shooting took place exactly a week after a gunman killed two students and wounded four at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. In that case as well, one of the fatalities was a student who charged the attacker.

The Colorado attack unfolded came nearly three weeks after neighbouring Littleton marked the anniversary of the Columbine attack that killed 13 people. The two schools are separated by about 11 kilometres in adjacent communities south of Denver.

WATCH: 1 adult, 1 juvenile in custody after at least 7 injured in shooting at school in Colorado





Douglas County District Attorney George Brauchler said the community remains resilient in the face of multiple shootings, including Columbine, the 2012 theatre shooting in the Denver suburb of Aurora and the 2013 shooting at Arapahoe High School.

The attacks are “aberrant acts” although they might seem otherwise to the rest of the world, he said.

“Who we are is a kind, compassionate, caring people, and this does not define us. It won’t today and it won’t tomorrow,” he said.

Riccardi reported from Denver. Associated Press writers Dan Elliott and Colleen Slevin in Denver and AP researchers Monika Mathur in Washington and Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.



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FOREIGN NEWS

Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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