The University of Arizona junior was standing 30 feet away from the Democratic congresswoman when she was shot in the head at a meet-and-greet event in her district, and he immediately rushed to her side. As everyone on hand waited for emergency medical support to arrive, Hernandez held Giffords’s head in his lap and applied pressure to her wound.
At the same time, Hernandez advised others on providing help for the other 20 others injured and killed in the attackâ€”and that quick thinking has led many to label him a hero in Saturday’s horrific event.
“When I heard gunshots, my first instinct was to head toward the congresswoman to make sure that she was okay,” Hernandez said in an interview with ABC’s Christine Amanpour Sunday. “Once I saw that she was down, and there were more than one victim, I went ahead and started doing the limited triage that I could with what I had.”
Hernandez, who is 20, told ABC that he simply “shut off all emotion.” “I knew I wouldn’t be good to anyone if I had a breakdown,” he recalled. He noted that he went to help because he had “limited experience in triage and training.”
He lifted up Giffords’ head, because he feared she might choke on her own blood, and used smocks from the grocery store’s meat department as a makeshift bandages for her and other victims.
Giffords, he says, was alert, but couldn’t talk.
“‘Just grab my hand to let me know that you’re okay,’” he recalls telling the injured lawmaker.
According to Hernandez, she squeezed his hand, and he didn’t let go, riding with her in the ambulance to the hospital, where she was rushed into emergency surgery.
“It was probably not the best idea to run toward the gunshots,” he told the Arizona Republic. “But people needed help.”
One girl was accused of inviting about 100 students on the social networking website to participate in the event Friday, and the other five were accused of responding with online threats against specific teachers, Carson Middle School Principal Dan Sadler said.
The Nevada Appeal in Carson City reported the girls were booked Wednesday at juvenile hall on a misdemeanor charge of communicating threats. Their names were not released.
While the students insisted it was a joke, Sadler noted they were arrested on the same day a suspended 17-year-old student in Omaha, Neb., fatally shot an assistant principal and wounded his principal before fleeing the campus and taking his own life.
“School shootings really happen. That’s why we took it seriously,” Sadler told The Associated Press on Friday. “It’s not OK, and it’s not funny in this day and age if you’re going to make a threat against a teacher.”
Five of the students attend Sadler’s school and the other attends Eagle Valley Middle School. Both schools are in Carson City.
Eighteen students accepted the invitation to participate in the attacks at the two schools, which had been set to take place from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Friday. A parent brought the posting to the attention of authorities, Sadler said.
Classes took place Friday without incident at both schools after students were earlier notified of the arrests and parents of the students who were arrested or accepted the invitations were contacted by authorities.
The 12- and 13-year-old students were arrested after allegedly posting threatening statements against six teachers at the two schools. One student used the word “die” before a teacher’s name, while others wrote that they would “attack” certain teachers, Sadler said.
No specifics, such as weapons or how the attacks would be carried out, were mentioned, said Carson City sheriff’s Deputy Jessica Rivera, the school district’s resource officer. The invitation to join the attacks went out either Monday or Tuesday night.
“Even if the six girls meant it as a joke, there’s no way to know if the other students who accepted the invitation weren’t going to carry out the attacks in some fashion,” Rivera said. “The school shooting in Nebraska is just another thing that shows us you can’t take this kind of situation lightly.”
The girls were released to the custody of their parents after their arrests. They were suspended from school for between three and five days.
The Facebook posting was removed by the parent of the girl who sent out the invitation to join the attacks.
Sadler said the teachers targeted by the threatening comments were shocked by the arrests because the six girls were good students. Some held leadership positions while others had top grades.
“I would say their reaction was ‘Are you serious? Is this really happening?’” Sadler said. “The more they thought about it, they said they were not OK with it. This is kind of disheartening to an educator.”
Kathy Haas, a Carson Middle School teacher who taught two of the students who were arrested, said she was surprised because they seemed normal.
“It shows you just don’t know what’s going on in their minds,” she said. “I don’t understand their motivation. I don’t think they think about the consequences because they’re young. They’re pretty immature then.”
The arrests gave teachers at the schools a chance for classroom discussions about online communications with students, Haas added.
“It’s a teachable moment and hopefully it prevents it from happening in the future,” she said. “Most students know it was wrong. A lot of students said they knew about it (Facebook posting) and deleted it.”
Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said the case demonstrates the need for parents to monitor their children’s online activities.
“They made some pretty violent comments about some teachers, and this isn’t even close to a joke,” he said. “Children’s stresses are so great that they can act out on their frustrations. Parents need to monitor what their kids are doing on communication devices.”
Tucson AZ Jan 9 2011 The man identified by authorities as the gunman in Saturday’s shooting rampage, which killed six and critically injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), appears to have left a trail of bizarre and anti-government messages on the Internet.
Law enforcement sources identified the gunman as Jared Lee Loughner, 22, of Tucson. Loughner — or someone using his name — left a series of postings and homemade videos that laid out a fervent, though largely incoherent, set of political views.
On YouTube, Loughner’s profile listed Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s “The Communist Manifesto” and Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” among his favorite books. He also included high school English class classics such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Old Man and the Sea,” plus children’s works such as Aesop’s fables and “The Phantom Tollbooth.”
In one video, titled “America: Your last memory in a terrorist country!,” a figure in dark clothing and a smiley-face mask burns an American flag in the desert. The soundtrack is a 2001 song by the band Drowning Pool, in which the singer repeatedly shrieks “Let the bodies hit the floor!”
Another, posted Dec. 15, begins with a line of text reading “My Final Thoughts: Jared Lee Loughner!” What follows on the screen are seemingly unconnected thoughts about currency and dreams, and the words “I can’t trust the current government because of the ratifications: the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.”
The videos also say that Loughner applied to join the U.S. Army. The Army issued a statement Saturday saying that he attempted to enlist but was rejected for reasons that officials would not disclose.
Another video attacks the police at Tucson’s Pima Community College, where he had been a student.
School officials said in a statement late Saturday that Loughner attended the community college from 2005 until last fall, when he withdrew after disciplinary problems.
The statement said that between February and September last year, campus police were called five times to deal with disruptions Loughner caused in classrooms and libraries. On Sept. 29, the college said, it discovered that Loughner had posted a YouTube video he had made on the campus.
“In the video, he claims that the College is illegal according to the U.S. Constitution, and makes other claims,” the college’s statement said.
That day, two police officers delivered a letter of suspension to Loughner at his parents’ house in a Tucson suburb.
On Oct. 4, during a meeting with Loughner, his parents and college administrators, he agreed to withdraw, the college said. School officials told him he could return only if he obtained a clearance certifying that “in the opinion of a mental health professional, his presence at the College does not present a danger to himself or others.”
The videos do not mention Giffords by name. They do not describe any specific actions Loughner planned. And they do not seem to link Loughner explicitly to any mainstream political group or figures.
Federal law enforcement sources said Loughner used a Glock 19 semiautomatic pistol that was found with a fully loaded magazine that held about 30 bullets. He had another magazine that held about 30 bullets and two others that each held about 15 bullets. He also was carrying a knife.
The sources said he was standing about 15 feet from Giffords and started running, screaming something. Then he began firing rapidly, “pulling the trigger really fast.”
An eyewitness to the shooting said a “shabby”-looking young man in dark sweats appeared as Giffords met constituents on the sidewalk.
Steven Rayle said the shooter raised a handgun and shot Giffords in the face from a few feet away. After that, Rayle said, the gunman shot repeatedly into a crowd of people who had been standing around Giffords.
“I don’t think he was even aiming. He was just firing at whatever,” Rayle said. After the shooting stopped, the gunman was tackled, and Rayle said he helped hold him down. Even then, Rayle said, Loughner said nothing to explain his actions.
“I think he did say something. But there was no, like, protest statement, or anything crazy,” Rayle said. As people strained to hold him on the ground, “he might have just said, ‘Stop.’”
Loughner’s address is in a neighborhood of ranch houses and ramblers in a Tucson suburb lined with palm trees and cactus, just a few miles from the shopping center where Giffords was shot. By midafternoon, police had cordoned off an area of several blocks, as streams of reporters and other interested people rushed to the neighborhood.
In high school, Loughner played saxophone in the jazz band, and his clothes alternated between typical Arizona high school fashions – shorts and a T-shirt – and “Goth” clothes. Some days, said friend Timothy Cheves, Loughner would wear long, dark pants with chains on them, and T-shirts with the names of heavy-metal bands.
“He wasn’t very outgoing, but he was personable. If you sat down to talk to him, he would talk to you back,” Cheves, 22, said. “But he’d get frustrated with people easily. . . . He’d think that a lot of people were just idiots.”
That included people in politics, Cheves said: “He was like a radical against both parties. . . . From what I got, it seemed like he didn’t like anybody that was in power.”
Cheves recalled one moment when they worked together at a restaurant, the Mandarin Grill, where Loughner was a dishwasher.
“I was trying to tell him, you know, you need to get your life on the right track,” Cheves said. He believed Loughner was using marijuana. “I was telling him about God and all that. And he broke down crying, and he gave me a big ol’ hug, and said, ‘Thank you, you’re one of the only ones that ever listened to me.’ “
Loughner never talked of using violence, Cheves said, but “there was something there that wasn’t quite right.”
Atlanta GA Jan 9 2011 Len Cutter woke one morning earlier this year to find his late-model Honda Civic had some reconstructive work done. The rear window was laying, broken, across the rear seats, although nothing inside the car was taken. As it turns out, the thieves were after his roof rack.
“They’re going to break into my car and steal a roof rack?” he said. “Gimme a break.”
Cutter, of Long Beach, California, fell victim to a common trend in auto thievery: components are now more attractive than the car itself.
Vehicles are getting harder to steal outright, especially given massive advances in anti-theft technology (current hi-tech keys won’t even allow you to turn the engine over unless the right microchip is present, moving hotwiring into the realm of cultural artifact). As a result, car thieves are stealing components such as GPS devices, DVD systems, rims and tires and, indeed, roof racks, rather than the whole vehicle. Yet, as cars become more futuristic, some old trends are returning. Here are the top trends in auto knavery that you need to keep in mind:
1. Odometer Fraud
Amid so many technological advances, the full digitization of the dashboard has had an effect on odometers. Odometer rollbacks are “back in a big way,” said Christopher Basso of Carfax. “There is widespread use of digital odometers. People are getting software off the internet rather than cracking open the dash and hand-cranking back the odometer. It’s harder to detect as there are no physical signs the vehicle has been tampered with.”
Odometer rollbacks increased 57 percent from 2004-2008 (the last year for which data is available), with more than 450,000 cases reported annually. Over the last five years there’s been a nearly 60 percent increase in the number of vehicles reported with odometer rollbacks, Basso says. The number of unreported cases — where a consumer is unaware there is a problem — is potentially much higher.
“It is a big and growing problem that continues to plague used-car buyers,” said Basso.
But Frank Scafidi, of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, says rolling back odometers “is not as easy as it used to be.”
“It happens here or there but it is not the predominant cause of auto fraud. Just like making moonshine, you’re still going to find people somewhere doing it because they know how to do it. It’s just now most people prefer to get their alcohol at a liquor store.”
2. Car Cloning
Scafidi says one of the newest auto frauds is “car cloning.” Cloning occurs when multiple (usually higher-end) cars of the same model are stolen and registered with a VIN number from a legitimate vehicle.
“The thieves go get a VIN number from a showroom floor and reproduce it three or four times and attach it to the stolen vehicles and then ship them to four or five states,” said Scafidi. “The multiple VIN numbers for us are the biggest red flags out there, and we go get ‘em.”
The FBI says that car-cloning rings — often established for decades — operate in most major cities nationwide. While there is no way to calculate true rates of car cloning, the FBI says it constitutes a “significant percentage” of vehicle thefts, the value of which totaled $6.4 billion in 2008. The agency recommends always buying your car from a reputable dealership and checking your car’s VIN number with your state’s licensing agency before you buy.
Common warning signs that you may have bought a cloned car include receiving unpaid traffic tickets you haven’t sustained; a model being sold for much less than buyer’s guides indicate it should be; scratches or evidence of tampering on the car’s VIN number on the door frame or engine block; or a missing vehicle history report.
Terri Miller, director of Michigan’s Halt Auto Theft program, says: “We’re seeing a lot of cloning. They’ll go to a scapyard and buy a clean title and they can then use that number on a vehicle of the same make and model.”
3. Component theft and resale
With car stereos — traditionally the item most stolen from cars – getting harder to pilfer as a result of electronic security measures, thieves are getting more inventive.
Nationally, more than 75,000 airbags are stolen every year, according to the FBI. Thefts of GPS and DVD systems are increasing alongside the popularity of the devices among aftermarket buyers. Thefts of xenon headlights are also a growing problem. The advantage (or disadvantage) of component theft: The goods often are difficult to track and usually there’s a fairly constant demand for them.
Miller says component theft is “the biggest thing. As cars are getting harder to steal, they have to steal parts of them. We’re seeing easily fenced items such as tires, rims and GPS units getting stolen.”
She says many items end up being sold online or on the street. In many cases buyers may think they’re buying a legitimate product rather than a stolen part. She says that criminal enterprises, like legitimate businesses, mainly work on the basis of supply and demand.
“Occasionally, when, for example, Ford Taurus airbags are on back order, we’ll see an increase in thefts.”
You may think that carjackings had gone the way of spinning rims, but rates are holding steady in Southern California and increasing in Michigan. And there are pockets of America urban areas where the trend never really died down.
Officer Canales of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart Division says carjacking is still “pretty common.”
“We get a few every now and then, usually a gun or knife is involved. It can be anything from high-value to low-value [cars] but we see more Hondas — Accords and Civics — and Toyotas.”
Carjackings occur most frequently in urban areas and account for about three percent of all thefts, the Insurance Information Institute reports.
“A co-worker of my husband last week was carjacked outside a pizza parlor,” Miller said. “He pointed a gun and said, ‘You know what I want,’ and drove off in his brand-new Mustang.
“Most carjackings involve a weapon so we always advise motorists to hand over their keys before they become a statistic,” Miller says.
Where You Live Is As Important As What You Drive
A motor vehicle is stolen in the United States every 33 seconds, according to the FBI. In 2008, most vehicles — or 37.8 percent, were stolen in the South, followed by the West at 33.9 percent, the Midwest at 18.3 percent and the Northeast at 10 percent. But thefts are decreasing by about 12 percent year on year for the last five years.
“Thefts follow technology,” said Scafidi. “Smart keys or digital security devices are playing a big part in the reduction.”
Here are the latest car theft statistics from broken down by city and model.
Rank (by density)/ Metropolitan / Vehicles Stolen
1. Laredo, TX 1,792
2. Modesto, CA 3,712
3. Bakersfield, CA 5,530
4. Stockton, CA 4,479
5. Fresno, CA5,875
6. Yakima, WA1,525
7. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 26,374
8. Visalia-Porterville, CA 2,440
9. Las Vegas-Paradise, NV 10,706
10. Albuquerque, NM 4,815
Source: Auto thefts by cities 2009; National Insurance Crime Bureau
Rank / Year / Make / Model
1. 1994 Honda Accord
2. 1995 Honda Civic
3. 1989 Toyota Camry
4. 1997 Ford F-150 Pickup
5. 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup
6. 2000 Dodge Caravan
7. 1996 Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee
8. 1994 Acura Integra
9. 1999 Ford Taurus
10. 2002 Ford Explorer
Source: Auto theft by model 2008; National Insurance Crime Bureau.