Feud between residents at senior facility led to fatal shooting of firefighter, authorities say
LOS ANGELES — A 77-year-old man suspected of shooting and killing a Long Beach Fire Department captain during an emergency call at a high-rise senior living facility had set off an explosive device in an apparent attempt to kill a neighbor, according to prosecutors.
On Wednesday, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office charged Covenant Manor resident Thomas Kim with one count of murder, one count of attempted murder of a firefighter, two counts of attempted murder and one count each of arson of an inhabited structure and explosion with intent to murder.
“Kim also faces a special circumstance allegation that the murder was committed while a firefighter was on duty and the special allegation that he personally and intentionally discharged a handgun that caused great bodily injury and death,” said Greg Risling, spokesman for the district attorney’s office.
According to prosecutors, Kim had been feuding with a female neighbor who lived above him at the 11-story housing complex for seniors and disabled people. On Monday morning, Kim set off an explosive device in his apartment “with the intent to kill her,” prosecutors said.
After the explosion, Kim sat at the opposite end of the hallway from his apartment on the second floor, authorities said.
Firefighters descended on the complex to investigate reports of an explosion and the smell of gasoline. Among them was Capt. Dave Rosa, a 17-year veteran of the Fire Department, and firefighter Ernest Torres.
Around 4 a.m., prosecutors said, Kim opened fire on the pair, killing Rosa and wounding Torres. An elderly man who lives in the building was also injured by gunfire.
Long Beach police said that they are still trying to determine a motive in the slaying, but that a note written by Kim and left at the crime scene leads them to believe the incident was a murder-suicide attempt.
In a statement released Monday, Long Beach police said it did not appear Kim started a fire to lure first responders to the location to ambush them, as reported by media outlets earlier in the week.
If convicted on all charges, Kim faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
— Los Angeles Times
Libyan man sentenced to 22 years for role in 2012 Benghazi attacks
WASHINGTON — A Libyan national was sentenced Wednesday to 22 years in prison for his role in the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
Ahmed Abu Khatallah, 47, was sentenced by a judge in Washington, the Justice Department said in a news release. Khatallah was captured in Libya in June 2014 and brought to the United States to face trial in U.S. District Court in the U.S. capital.
He was found guilty by a jury in November following seven weeks of trial. The government charged him with 18 counts but he was acquitted of most of them, including murder.
Prosecutors accused him of orchestrating the attack in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the other Americans died. They said he was a leader of an extremist militia and in the months before the attack on the U.S. mission sought to incite violence against the presence of the United States in Libya.
During the attack, according to U.S. government evidence presented at his trial, he positioned himself on the perimeter of the compound and kept others, including emergency responders, from getting to the scene.
In the end the jury found him guilty of four charges, including providing support to terrorists, destroying property and a weapons charge.
JetBlue radio glitch sets off hijacking fear at JFK
NEW YORK — A communications failure sparked a hijacking scare on a JetBlue flight at JFK Airport on Tuesday, setting off a frenzy from first responders over what turned out to be a false alarm.
JetBlue Flight 1623, an Airbus 320 bound for Los Angeles, lost contact with the air traffic control tower while taxiing for takeoff at about 8 p.m. After five minutes passed, the pilot entered a hijack alert by mistake, sending in a Port Authority Police Emergency Services unit to board the plane, sources said.
At one point, the plane’s pilot held up a piece of paper with his cell phone number written on it, so police could call him and find out what happened, sources said.
Passengers on the plane tweeted that “heavy armed” police boarded the plane to investigate. The passengers disembarked the plane and were transferred to another flight, sources said.
“There was a false alarm sent to tower as a result of a radio communications failure,” Port Authority spokeswoman Lenis Rodrigues said Tuesday night. “(The) aircraft was inspected and cleared with no security threat.”
The tower reestablished radio contact with the plane’s crew by 8:15 p.m., sources said.
JetBlue spokeswoman Paula Acevedo couldn’t say Tuesday night what caused the communications problem.
— New York Daily News