Source:NJ.com — The manhunt for a suspect in the fatal shooting of a New Jersey Corrections Officer and wounding of his wife this morning ended this afternoon when police found the man in a Ewing Township cemetery and he committed suicide, according to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.
Ralph Johnson, 60, of Hamilton, shot himself in the head as Ewing police officers, at the request of Hamilton authorities, arrived at the Ewingville Cemetery to search for Johnson, and he saw the police approach.
Johnson was rushed to Capital Health Regional Trauma Center (formerly known as Fuld Medical Center) and later was pronounced dead, authorities said.
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Johnson had been the subject of a county-wide manhunt as the suspect in the 5:30 a.m. shooting death of New Jersey Corrections Officer Laughfiel Nicholson Jr., 46, and the wounding of his wife Joann Nicholson, 48, who is also a corrections officer, authorities said.
Joann Nicholson was listed in stable condition late today, and family members said she was expected to fully recover from her wounds.
Johnson is Joann Nicholson’s ex-boyfriend and the two have a teenage daughter together. Prosecutors say Johnson had been involved in an ongoing family court dispute with his former wife. Their teenage daughter apparently called 911 after hearing the shots.
The victims were in a sport utility vehicle outside their Hamilton home, preparing to head to work in Trenton.
The cemetery where Johnson was found is approximately eight miles northeast of the shooting site on Parkinson Avenue in Hamilton. Hamilton police had asked Ewing officers to check the cemetery after receiving a tip that Johnson frequently visited it when he was upset.
Schools were locked down in neighborhoods along the Hamilton-Trenton border as police searched for Johnson today.
Authorities found 16 bullet casings at the scene of the shooting and Laughfiel Nicholson, and Joann Nicholson were shot multiple times, authorities said. Joanne Nicholson, a corrections officer for 15 years, was shot three times and remains hospitalized.
Nicholson Jr., who died shortly after the shooting, was a 10-year-veteran of the office
Coast Guard Capt. Peter Troedsson said he spoke with all the workers’ families about the decision to suspend the search before announcing it to the media.
“I’m a father and husband, and I have done this a few times before. It’s never easy. Your heart goes out to these people,” Troedsson said.
The Coast Guard says it will resume the search if any ships in the area see anything, but the workers’ chances of survival had seemed slim well before Friday afternoon’s announcement. “The time of reasonable expectation of survivability has passed,” Rear Adm. Mary Landry said.
What caused Tuesday’s massive blast off the Louisiana coast is unknown. As the search was ending, oil company crews were trying to clean up the environmental mess created by the Deepwater Horizon, which finally sank Thursday. The other 115 crew members made it off the platform, though four were critically hurt.
Federal regulators did not need this week’s explosion aboard the state-of-the-art rig to know the offshore drilling industry needed new safety rules: Dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries over the last several years had already convinced them that changes were needed.
The U.S. Minerals and Management Service is developing regulations aimed at preventing human error, which it identified as a factor in many of the more than 1,400 offshore oil drilling accidents between 2001 and 2007.
The Deepwater Horizon was the site of a 2005 fire found to have been caused by human error. An MMS investigation determined that a crane operator on the rig had become distracted while refueling the crane, allowing diesel fuel to overflow. Records show the fire was quickly contained, but caused $60,000 in damage to the crane.
An MMS review published last year found 41 deaths and 302 injuries out of 1,443 accidents from 2001 to 2007, the majority of caused by human error and operational and maintenance problems.
As a result of the findings, the MMS is developing new rules that would require rig operators to develop programs focused on preventing human error, an area that hadn’t received as much attention in the past. The agency, which has yet to implement the new rules, also proposed audits once every three years.
Environmentalists say that while new technology touted by oil industry executives continues to improve, people still have to oversee those devices and human error remains a widespread problem.
“You can’t outlaw human error,” Richard Charter, a senior policy adviser with Defenders of Wildlife, who has been involved in drilling issues for 30 years, said of Tuesday’s explosion. “It’s one of the sidebar issues now emerging for the Horizon incident— these are common incidents and this was just a bigger one.”
Opponents of President Barack Obama’s plan for more offshore drilling, particularly off the East Coast, say the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon should be taken as a warning to slow the fervor to “drill, baby drill.”
“I would hope it would serve as another wake-up call on this issue that there is no such thing as safe oil drilling,” said Sara Wan, a member of the California Coastal Commission, a state regulatory agency. “Once that oil starts leaking in the ocean, that damage is irreversible. You just look at what happened with Exxon-Valdez—they’re still feeling the effects of it. There’s no real way to clean it up.”
Obama showed no sign of budging Friday. Spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president still believes increasing domestic oil production can be done safely, securely and without harming the environment.
“I don’t honestly think it opens up a whole new series of questions, because, you know, in all honesty I doubt this is the first accident that has happened and I doubt it will be the last,” Gibbs said.
On March 31, Obama called for new offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean from Delaware to central Florida, plus the northern waters of Alaska. He also wants Congress to lift a drilling ban in the oil-rich eastern Gulf of Mexico, 125 miles from Florida beaches.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Friday that the Obama administration’s drilling plan would assess potential risks and benefits of any offshore site before drilling is pursued. No new lease sales are planned before at least 2012.
An undetermined amount of oil has spilled from the Deepwater Horizon, which is owned by Transocean Ltd. The sheen appeared to cover an area about two miles wide and eight miles long Friday afternoon, said Petty Officer Ashley Butler of the Coast Guard.
BP PLC, which leased the rig and is taking the lead in the cleanup, said it has activated an extensive oil spill response, including using remotely operated vehicles to assess the well and 32 vessels to mop up the spill.
Rear Adm. Landry said no oil appeared to be leaking from a well head at the ocean floor, nor was any leaking at the water’s surface. But she said crews were closely monitoring the rig for any more crude that might spill out.
About half a dozen boats were using booms to trap the thin sheen, which extended about seven miles north of the rig site. There was no sign of wildlife being affected; the Louisiana coast is about 50 miles away.
Strong winds were blowing generally from the south as a cold front approached from Texas. The passage of the front late Friday or Saturday was expected to shift winds to the north, which could push the sheen away from the coast. Crews were trying to contain what spilled and prevent any threat to the coast’s fragile coastal wetlands—nurseries for fish and shrimp and habitat for birds.
The Marine Spill Response Corp., an energy industry cleanup consortium, brought seven skimmer boats to suck oily water from the surface, four planes that can scatter chemicals to disperse oil, and 500,000 feet — 94.6 miles—of containment boom, a floating barrier with a skirt that drapes down under the water and corrals the oil.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson called for a congressional investigation of safety practices at offshore oil rigs. Nelson, a Florida Democrat who has led opposition to offshore drilling, said he asked the U.S. Interior Department to investigate and provide a comprehensive report on all U.S. drilling accidents over at least the last decade.
“The tragedy off the coast of Louisiana shows we need to be asking a lot more tough questions of big oil,” Nelson said. “I think we need to look back over 10 years or so to see if the record denies the industry’s claims about safety and technology.”
Four men ran into Harstans Jewelers inside the Westfield Shoppingtown in Trumbull Thursday night dressed in dark clothes, began smashing the glass display cabinets and stole dozens of pieces of jewelry, police said.
At least one suspect had a weapon when the men ransacked the store around 8 p.m.
In all, they stole $450,000 in merchandise before taking off in a waiting vehicle, according to police.
Mall security guards followed the suspects into Bridgeport, where the men abandoned the car on Main Street, and fled into the parking area of Brookside Shopping Park.
Bridgeport police located one suspect, Larry Johnson, 31, of Brooklyn, New York in the Shangri La restaurant.
He is charged with first-degree robbery, forgery, criminal impersonation and possession of burglary tools.
Johnson is being held on $500,000 bond
Around 10:30 a.m. Friday, a female guard was trying to stop a woman suspected of stealing merchandise.
As the suspect drive off, police say she hit the security guard with a vehicle, then got out of the car and ran off.
An East Grand Rapids officer located and arrested the suspect north of the mall a short time later. Police say as many as three other suspects were also involved in the retail fraud. They fled the scene in another vehicle.
Lawyers for Kerry Lewis had asked the jury to award at least $25 million to punish the Boy Scouts for what the jury had already agreed in the first phase of the trial was reckless and outrageous conduct.
They also noted the Boy Scouts had never apologized to Lewis, who said Friday at a news conference that the verdict shows that “big corporations can’t be above the law.”
Lewis added that an apology “would mean something to me, but I’m not expecting it.”
The jury decided on April 13 that the Boy Scouts were negligent for allowing former assistant Scoutmaster Timur Dykes to associate with Scouts, including Lewis, after Dykes admitted to a Scouts official in 1983 that he had molested 17 boys.
The jury awarded Lewis $1.4 million in compensatory damages with that verdict and agreed the Boy Scouts of America were liable for punitive damages to be determined in the second phase of the trial that ended Thursday.
Boy Scouts officials declined to comment on details of the case because other cases are pending, but issued a statement saying it maintains a “rigorous” system to screen Scout leaders.
“The Boy Scouts of America has always stood against child abuse of any kind,” it said.
The case was the first of six filed against the Boy Scouts in the same court in Oregon, with at least one other separate case pending. If mediation fails to settle the next cases, they also could go to trial.
The amount of the damages surprised Patrick Boyle, editor of the Youth Today newspaper and author of a book about sex abuse within the Scouts.
“That’s a lot of money. This is by far the biggest award against the Scouts for sex abuse, probably by several times,” Boyle said.
The award is also significant, he said, because it is only against the national Boy Scouts organization and is not divided among any of its local councils or other defendants.
Kelly Clark and Paul Mones, the attorneys for Lewis, told the jury the Boy Scouts were nearly a $1 billion corporation that could well afford punitive damages intended to deter them from similar conduct in the future.
Clark and Mones said Friday after the verdict that publicity about the case also could act as a deterrent.
“They’ve always settled. And they’re silent. No one hears because it does not see the light of day,” Mones said. “What we saw here in Portland really pulled back the covers on the Boy Scouts of America, and what it did to cover up.”
During the first phase of the trial, Clark and Mones introduced more than 1,000 files the Scouts kept on suspected child molesters from 1965-85 as evidence the organization should have put a sex abuse prevention program into place decades ago.
The Scouts executive now in charge of those files admitted they had never been evaluated or analyzed to help design or determine the effectiveness of a prevention program that is now in place.
A number of witnesses testified for the Scouts during the second phase of the trial that they participated in a training and prevention program since at least the late 1980s. None could say why the Scouts had not yet made the “youth protection training” program mandatory.
Under Oregon law, 60 percent of the punitive damages awarded by the jury will go to the state crime victim compensation fund.
Because the Boy Scouts have settled some lawsuits out of court, it is difficult to say where the total awards imposed by the Portland jury rank with those of the past.
In a 1987 sex abuse case, an Oregon jury awarded more than $4 million to the victim, including $2 million in punitive damages against the Scouts that were thrown out when the case was appealed. A jury in San Bernardino, Calif., awarded $3.75 million to three sex abuse victims in 1991.
Boyle said from 1984 through 1992, the Scouts were sued at least 60 times for alleged sex abuse with settlements and judgments totaling more than $16 million.
Polk County officials arrested dozens in a child pornography investigation, including an Isleworth Country Club security guard.
Cutting edge software is making it easier for law enforcement across the state of Florida to target those suspected of downloading and trading child porn, according to Polk County detectives.
A high-profile bust led Polk County authorities to the Isleworth Country Club where they arrested security guard Stephen Kaczmarski and charged him with 28 counts of child porn possession.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies call their latest investigation “Operation Child Shield Two” and said the program has brought in 50 arrests.
Sheriff Grady Judd said during the course of the operation, they were able to rescue eight children who were being actively abused or exploited by adults.
One common complaint from law enforcement is that once they make these child porn arrests, judges are not passing stiff enough sentences.
These latest arrests by Polk County investigators brings the number of people arrested on child porn charges to 141 since 2007.
Police arrested 25-year-old Kristen Sullivan Tuesday, after the 14-year-old boy’s mother found out the two were allegedly having sex.
Sullivan’s former students came to her defense Thursday afternoon. “She won’t do that. I know Ms. Sullivan, she won’t do that,” Robert Walker said.
Another student, Jasmine Hunt, also did not believe the claims. “Ms. Sullivan is a good teacher. She was very nice. I don’t think Ms. Sullivan would ever do that. She’s not that type of person,” Hunt said.
According to police, Sullivan had sex with the teen about 100 times, sometimes multiple times a day. The acts took place at school, at her apartment and inside her car, in front of the student’s house.
The teen’s girlfriend discovered text messages that Sullivan allegedly sent the student.
Parents too were in disbelief. “I’m shocked. I was very shocked,” Willie Hunt said.
Police said the 25-year-old showered the teen with gifts, such as a cell phone, jewelry, Air Jordans, money and pot.
Sullivan has been released from jail on bond.
The school district will launch their own investigation as to what happened before taking any action against her.
The hunt started after someone found a letter in the women’s bathroom of a south Alabama truck stop. It said the woman and her children had been kidnapped and were being taken to Atlanta, Georgia.
The note was quickly passed up the line to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department and then to the Alabama State Troopers post in Evergreen.
The note indicated that the woman and her two children’s abductor was driving a gray Acura.
With information in hand, including knowledge that the Acura had Louisiana plates, troopers issued a lookout and started watching for similar vehicles.
A trooper in Butler County spotted a vehicle matching the lookout’s description a short time later and stopped it around the 107 mile marker on Interstate 65.
Inside was a man, a woman and two children. The car had a Louisiana plate.
The trooper checked the vehicle registration and confirmed it was wanted in connection with a reported kidnapping. He then arrested the driver, 25-year-old Therral Hatfield of Jefferson, La.
Along with charges of giving troopers false information, Hatfield was charged with carrying a pistol without a permit when authorities discovered a .45-caliber Ruger automatic handgun in the door of the car.
Since the kidnappings crossed state lines, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved in the case, which remains active at this time.
The woman and her children, from Louisiana, were reported safe.
The St. Johns Sheriff’s Office said a security guard discovered the burglary to the Gucci store about 2:30 a.m. The guard said he was sitting in his security truck at the entrance to the mall when four men in a small white compact car approached and asked for directions. One of the passengers got out with a handgun and ordered the guard to get down.
They drove to the Gucci store and used a crowbar to force their way inside, the Sheriff’s Office said. They took an undetermined amount of merchandise from the store. They then removed the keys to the guard’s truck and fled the area. The guard was then able to call the Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies located them on northbound I-95 and began a pursuit. Speeding onto County Road 210, the driver lost control of the car as it fishtailed onto Sandy Creek Parkway, the Sheriff’s Office said. The four thieves got out of the car and fled into the woods. It turns out the car was stolen from Jacksonville.
Deputies searched both from the ground and air and captured three of the four.
There has always been friction between between Paul Villareal and his neighbors. But the visit by a notorious political operative, nicknamed by one newspaper columnist “little pistol,” turned the heat up several notches.
Villareal’s security-guard training agency is in a neighborhood long known as “The Patch.” It’s the former haunt of now-jailed mob boss Joey “the Clown” Lombardo. The building is owned by the family of Italian immigrant Steve LeSelva.
“It’s wrong,” LeSelva said of his tenant’s recent problems. “Everybody’s supposed to get along.”
The harassment they describe has been getting worse. Villareal says someone damaged his locks with glue and damaged a window. He says an evidence technician from the police department said the culprits weren’t trying to get inside, “they’re trying to send a message that they don’t want you here.”
A similar message was delivered by Ron Calicchio, the city’s deputy Business Affairs commissioner. Tribune Columnist John Kass has nicknamed him “little pistol” for the gun he allegedly likes to carry. He is a major Northwest Side political operative.
Calicchio showed up to the property and flashed some kind of city ID and said there had been complaints, LeSelva said.
Early Thursday, the city department said there had been no complaints. When they found out the inquiries were related to Calicchio, they said there had actually been three complaints in three years, but none were founded.
Calicchio just happened to be in the neighborhood when he showed up at Villareal’s business to check out an anonymous complaint, a city spokesman says.
Villareal said Calicchio made pointed comments.
“He says, ‘Look, I’m just gonna tell you this, if there’s violations here, I’m gonna find ‘em … if you got people standing in front of your school, your training center in the morning, you’re gonna get a ticket,’” Villareal said.
Calicchio could not be reached for comment Thursday at his office or at his Far Northwest Side home. But Villareal says he thinks the trouble he’s had centers on his students and their diversity.
“They’re African-American, black, Hispanic … they’re not welcome in this neighborhood, and neither am I,” he said.
A spokesman for the city says Calichio denies making any threats. And in fact, it was he who suggested the charges of hate crimes be taken to the city’s Human Relations Commission, which is now investigating.