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May 5, 2015

Gunman in Mohammad cartoon attack in Texas monitored for years

GARLAND, Texas/PHOENIX (Reuters) – Federal agents for years monitored one of the two gunmen who were shot dead after opening fire with assault rifles at a heavily guarded Texas exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.

Two government sources who asked not to be named said the shooters were roommates Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, of Phoenix. Court documents show that Simpson had been under surveillance since 2006 and was convicted in 2011 of lying to FBI agents over his desire to join violent jihad in Somalia.

May 4, 2015

At Texas mosque, anger at both shooters and Mohammad exhibit

GARLAND, Texas (Reuters) – At a small mosque in Texas near the site where two gunmen were shot dead after trying to storm an exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad, there was little sympathy for the assailants or the organizers of the event.

“It is frustrating because freedom of speech is a very good thing. But you don’t use it to make a mockery out of the person. You don’t do it to be disrespectful,” said Mohammed Jetpuri, a retired North Texas resident who was one of about 10 men who came for prayers at Makkah Masjid, in Garland, the same melting-pot Dallas suburb of nearly a quarter million people where the shooting occurred.

May 4, 2015

Police raid home of gunman in Mohammad cartoon attack in Texas

GARLAND, Texas/PHOENIX (Reuters) – Police and FBI on Monday searched the Arizona apartment of one of two gunmen shot dead on Sunday after they allegedly opened fire with assault rifles outside a Texas exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.

Police and federal agents had planned security for months ahead of the event in the Dallas suburb of Garland, which was organized by American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a free-speech organization that is also described as a hate group, and that paid $10,000 for extra protection.

May 1, 2015

Oklahoma will not say if it has returned lethal injection drug

By Heide Brandes and Jon Herskovitz

(Reuters) – Oklahoma does not plan to reveal whether it has
abided by the request of a drug maker to return a sedative it
uses in its executions that is also at the center of a case
before the U.S. Supreme Court, officials said on Friday.

Akorn Inc sent a letter to the Oklahoma Attorney
General in March saying the use of its drug midazolam for
executions violated U.S. drug protocols and asked the state to
return what it had purchased.

Apr 29, 2015

White House, Texas at odds over military drills decried by far right

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – A decision from Texas Governor Greg Abbott to deploy the Texas State Guard to monitor a U.S. military training exercise some conspiracy theorists see as a prelude for federal occupation was met with puzzlement by the White House on Wednesday.

“I have no idea what he’s thinking,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told a news conference. The eight-week training exercise known as “Jade Helm 15″ is a multi-state exercise with members of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Apr 29, 2015

Texas trooper files suit over punishment for Snoop Dogg picture

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – A Texas state trooper who says he was reprimanded after posing for a photograph with rapper Snoop Dogg filed a civil suit on Wednesday over the punishment he felt was unjust.

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) told Trooper Billy Spears, who was off duty but working in uniform as security at a music festival, that he posed “with a public figure who has a well-known criminal background including numerous drug charges” and it reflected poorly on the agency, according to the suit.

Apr 26, 2015

Oklahoma lethal injection drug faces U.S. Supreme Court test

By Jon Herskovitz

(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments this week on whether a drug used in Oklahoma’s lethal injection mix should be banned in a case that comes as a shortage of execution chemicals has sent some states scrambling for alternatives.

The main question before the nine justices in the case brought by three death row inmates that will be heard on Wednesday is whether the use of the sedative midazolam violates constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

Apr 16, 2015

Texas executes man for murder of San Antonio policeman

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Texas on Wednesday executed a 34-year-old man convicted of seizing a gun from a San Antonio police officer and fatally shooting him in a struggle in 2001, a prison spokesman said.

Manuel Garza was killed by lethal injection and pronounced dead at 6:40 p.m. at the state’s death chamber in Huntsville. The execution was the 524th in Texas since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the most of any state.

Apr 15, 2015

Texas set to execute man for murder of San Antonio police officer

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Texas plans to execute Manuel Garza on Wednesday for seizing a gun from a San Antonio police officer and fatally shooting him in a struggle in 2001.

Garza, 34, is set to be put to death by lethal injection at 6 p.m. at the state’s death chamber in Huntsville. If the execution goes ahead, it will be the 524th in Texas since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the most of any state.

Apr 10, 2015

Purple Hearts to be awarded for 2009 shooting survivors at Army post in Texas

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – About 50 people who survived a 2009 shooting rampage at the Fort Hood U.S. Army base in central Texas are set to receive Purple Heart and Defense of Freedom medals on Friday after years of lobbying by politicians and lawyers.

In February, the U.S. Army cleared the way for the military and civilian distinctions after the shooting was declared an act of international terrorism..