April 25, 2018

Toronto officer praised for ‘terrific policing’ after arresting van attack suspect without firing shot

Handout via Storyful(TORONTO) -- A Toronto police officer who confronted the man accused of plowing into pedestrians with a van Monday has been praised by officials for how he was able to apprehend the suspect without firing a single shot. Dramatic video taken by an onlooker shows the moment the officer gets out of his unmarked vehicle in the middle of the street in northern Toronto and engages in a standoff with the suspect. By that point, the suspect had allegedly rammed numerous pedestrians while driving down Yonge Street in the Canadian city's bustling North York neighborhood. The battered white van then turned onto Poyntz Avenue, where it finally stopped, police said. That's when the alleged driver got out of the vehicle and was confronted by a lone police officer. In the video footage, the officer draws his firearm and can be heard repeatedly shouting at the suspect to "get down" amid a blaring siren. The suspect, clad in black pants with a black jacket over a blue shirt, has also drawn an object and is seen in the video pointing it at the officer. The officer repeats his calls for the man to "get down." The suspect then repeatedly draws and aims the object at the officer. The officer quickly reaches into his vehicle to turn off the siren and then draws his gun again. "Come on, get down!" the officer yells at the suspect. "Kill me!" the suspect shouts while pointing the object at the officer. The officer responds, "No, get down! Get down!" "I have a gun in my pocket," the suspect says, with the object still drawn in his hands. "I don't care, get down!" the officer responds. "I have gun in my pocket," the suspect says again. "Get down! Get down, or you'll be shot!" the officer shouts as he slowly advances toward the suspect. "Shoot me in the head!" the suspect responds before starting to walk toward the officer with the object still in his hands. The officer takes a few steps back and yells, "Get down on the ground! Get down! Get down! Get down!" At this point, the suspect finally yields to the officer's commands and lays face down on the sidewalk. "Hands behind your back!" the officer shouts as he runs toward the suspect on the ground and handcuffs him. The officer never fires his weapon in the entire encounter. The suspect, identified by authorities as 25-year-old Alek Minassian of Toronto, was arrested and later charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder as well as 13 counts of attempted murder. So far, there's no indication that Minassian was armed with a gun, police said. It's not clear what object he was holding. Ten people were killed and 14 others were injured in Monday's attack, police said. A law enforcement source told ABC News that the officer in the video is Constable Ken Lam, who works in traffic enforcement. However, the Toronto Police Service has not publicly confirmed the officer's name and has declined media requests to interview him or his supervisor. Without naming the officer involved, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders praised how he handled the situation. "I can tell you it's directly related to the high-caliber training that takes place. The officers here are taught to use as little force as possible in any given situation," Saunders told reporters during a press conference Monday. "The officer did a fantastic job with respect to utilizing his ability of understanding the circumstances and the environment and having a peaceful resolution." Saunders said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon that the officer showed a combination of remarkable restraint and remarkable training. When Saunders briefly spoke with the officer, he said he had defaulted to his training and was thankful for the support he's received. Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, told ABC News that Lam "did everything he was trained to do." "He was constantly surveilling," McCormack said. "... This officer showed amazing ability from his training." Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynn said she watched the footage of the standoff and said it shows "terrific policing." "The way he behaved was pretty much an example of terrific policing," Wynn said at a press conference this morning. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
April 24, 2018

Trump administration to decide fate of nearly 9,000 Nepalis in US with humanitarian protection

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Pema Lama was at work in New York City three years ago when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck her home country of Nepal. Over the next four days, she didn’t sleep or eat as she tried to reach her children from more than 7,000 miles away. “Finally, finally my son called me,” she said. Lama is one of nearly 9,000 people from Nepal living in the United States with humanitarian protection known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The Trump administration must decide by Wednesday whether to terminate status for Nepal, which was granted after the April 25, 2015 earthquake left approximately 9,000 people dead, 22,000 injured and 755,000 homes significantly damaged or destroyed. Roughly 25 to 33 percent of Nepal’s population - eight million people - were affected. Wednesday is the three-year anniversary of the earthquake. Lama, who works as a nanny, came to the U.S. in 1994, leaving her children – ages 4 and 6 – behind. She said she stayed in the U.S. for a “better chance, better education and better future for me and my kids.” Protected status allowed her to travel to Nepal this year and "touch my kids and celebrate my daughter's birthday after 24 years." The deadline for Nepal arrives amid a slew of TPS terminations as the administration has taken a strict interpretation on what conditions qualify for an extension. Over the past year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would terminate status for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan – more than an estimated 300,000 people that will either need to leave the United States of face residing illegally. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in January announced an 18-month extension for Syria. And the decision deadline for Honduras is next week. Somalia, Yemen and South Sudan also have protected status and will be up for renewal in the next months and into next year. “America is a very family-oriented country, so I am hoping for the best,” said Lama as the deadline looms. The DHS Secretary is authorized to grant TPS to nationals of foreign countries when conditions temporarily prevent people from returning safely. The program provides for work authorization but does not offer a pathway to citizenship. Lama is also the primary financial provider for her family in Nepal. Remittances from Nepali citizens working abroad is roughly 30 percent of Nepal's GDP, according to Austin Lord, Ph.D. Student of Sociocultural Anthropology, Cornell University. "I would argue that remittance is probably the most effective and efficient way to support locally-driven and earthquake-safe reconstruction, as compared to institutionally managed programs that often require significant overhead and that do not adequately cover even half the average cost of construction,” said Lord. Lama was able to help her children get an apartment after nearly three years of living under a tent and then from one friend’s house to another. “There’s no shelters, like in America,” she said. Humanitarian relief was extended for Nepal for 18-months in 2016, after DHS determined that although conditions in Nepal had improved, the “recovery and reconstruction process was delayed and people remained without homes or adequate infrastructure. At this time DHS does not have an announcement regarding Nepal's TPS, but one is expected in the coming days, according to an administration official. “TPS allowed me to continue working and become part of a community,” said Namrata Pradhan, Nepali TPS holder, domestic worker, and organizer at Adhikaar (NYC). Pradhan said that after moving to the U.S. a decade ago, she was forced to leave behind her legal education and become a nanny, but as a TPS holder she was able to join the staff at both Adhikaar and the National Domestic Workers Alliance. “For them [DHS], it is just a single decision like a signature on a piece of paper. But for me and the almost 9,000 other Nepalis with TPS like me, this is a life-changing decision. Our homes are here, we are as American as anyone else and we deserve to be here,” she said. Nepal has made some limited progress in stabilizing and rebuilding since the earthquake, but a humanitarian crisis remains, found a recent Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC) report. The report concluded that the safe return of Nepali TPS holders and their families remains impossible at this time due to the severe lack of adequate shelter, food, water, healthcare, education and jobs as well as other risks. “It is critical for the TPS designation for Nepal to be extended, in light of the slow pace and numerous obstacles to reconstruction and recovery from the 2015 earthquake,” said Jennifer Ruddle, CLINIC staff attorney. Lama said that when she visited this March, she witnessed the country “still struggling” with clean water and air. “People are happy and trying to build their country, but how?” she said. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
April 24, 2018

A look at what will be served when South Korean President Moon Jae-in meets Kim Jong Un

iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL) -- When South Korea's president meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday, they'll be dining on some of Korea's most famous dishes. Cold buckwheat noodles from Pyongyang's famous restaurant, Okryugwan, will be served and its head chef will bring a noodle-making machine to the demilitarized zone, where it will be delivered to the House of Peace building, the location of the historic summit. South Korea's presidential office publicly released the menu for the multi-course meal, along with envy-inducing photos. "We have sincerely prepared (dishes) from the sea and land of South and North carrying all people's wishes towards peace," according to a statement posted on the office's Facebook page. Here's a glimpse of what dishes will be prepared: - Cold octopus appetizer from Tongyeong, a port at the southern tip of South Korea. It is the hometown of a famous composer, Yun I-sang, who is beloved by all Koreans. - Swiss rosti with a Korean twist, in tribute to Kim's early school years spent in Switzerland. - Pyeonsu dumpling made of croaker and sea cucumber from the hometown of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung who met with Kim Jong Un's father, Kim Jong Il, for the first historic summit in 2000. - Grilled dalgogi from President Jae-in Moon's hometown, Busan. - Barbecued beef from a famous ranch in Seosan, in the western province. The founder of Hyundai gave hundreds of cows from this ranch to North Korea in the 1990s. - Bibimbap made of vegetables grown inside the demilitarized zone and rice grown from former South Korean President Ro Moo-hyun's hometown in Bongha village. Ro had also met Kim's father in 2007 for the second inter-Korean summit. - Steamed red snapper and catfish, a common dish during feasts for Koreans. It is to symbolize similarities between the two Koreas, the president's office said. - Mango mousse dessert decorated to convey the wishes of reunification. - Pine mushroom tea from the Baekdu Mountains in the far north of North Korea and citrus cake from the island of Jeju in the far south of South Korea. It represents the "the mood of peace transferring down from the North's Baekdu Mountain to the end of Jeju," the president's office said. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
April 24, 2018

Suspect in Toronto van attack charged with murder, attempted murder after 10 die

CTV/ABC News(TORONTO) -- The 25-year-old Canadian man accused of mowing down pedestrians with a van in northern Toronto Monday has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. Alek Minassian, with a stone-faced expression and clad in a white jail jumpsuit, appeared in court this morning in Toronto, which is the sprawling capital of Ontario province. He is scheduled to appear in court again May 10 via video link. Minassian was arrested and taken into custody Monday as the suspected driver in the van attack, which killed 10 people and injured 15 others, according to the Toronto Police Service. Neighbors of Minassian, who lived in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hills, described him as very quiet and odd. They told ABC News they saw him in the neighborhood -- including one neighbor who said he regularly saw him jogging -- but had never spoken to him. At a news conference in Canada's capital this morning, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided no suspected motive for the attack but said investigators still "have no reason to suspect that there is any national security element to this attack." "Obviously, all Canadians continue and will continue to have questions about why this happened, what could possibly be the motives behind it,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa. "As was indicated last night by our public security minister, at this time we have no reason to suspect that there is any national security element to this attack, but obviously the investigations continue." Monday's attack began at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue in Toronto's bustling North York neighborhood, police said. The suspect then drove the white Ryder van south for nearly 1 1/2 miles, ramming into more pedestrians at Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue. The vehicle finally stopped on Poyntz Avenue, just off Yonge Street. Witness Ali Shaker saw the van jump the sidewalk and said people walking were "crumbled up," he told Canada's CTV News. "He’s just hitting people one by one, going down," Shaker said. "It was a nightmare." Visibly frightened by what he saw, Shaker could barely recount the horror he witnessed. He said he was driving when the incident occurred. "I'm so shaky -- I can't believe this is happening," he said. "This is so unbelievable." Shaker initially assumed the driver was experiencing some kind of medical emergency, he said, and even attempted to try to stop the driver from causing more carnage. "I thought he had a heart attack or something so I was trying to chase him on the way, almost trying to catch up," he told CTV News, adding that the driver was moving fast. "He hit everybody on the sidewalk; anybody in his way he would hit," Shaker added. "The bus stop -- all shattered. There was a lady in there I saw and I stopped and I looked and I went after and all I see is just crumbling one by one." Phil Zullo, who also witnessed the attack, told CTV News he saw "shoes and hats flown everywhere." Another witness said he stopped outside of a building for a smoke break and saw a middle-aged man get struck as he was crossing the street. "As I lit up my cigarette I saw a man walking in the middle of the intersection and a van plowed right into him," the witness, who went by Steve, told CTV News. "I saw the guy go flying. ... It was just clear as day, just saw the guy get hit by the van and pieces of the van fell off." Afterward, Steve said he rushed into the middle of the street to tend to the injured man "to make sure no other cars struck him." The victim, he said, was around 50, was unconscious "and could barely move." The van kept driving and hit others, Steven added, leaving behind pools of blood. "I saw three or four [people] on the ground around me," he said. "Other people were getting CPR." He's convinced that stopping for the cigarette break saved him, Steve said. "I had just stopped to light the cigarette and if I hadn't done that I would have been killed as well," he said. "I would have been right there with that guy." Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto confirmed in a statement that it had received a total of 10 patients from Monday's incident. Two of them were pronounced dead upon arrival. Five others were in critical condition and three were in serious condition, the hospital said. Images from the scene showed multiple victims on the ground, while video showed the moment a single police officer confronted the suspect on the street. In the video, taken by an onlooker, the officer draws his firearm and stands off against the suspect, who appears to be pointing an object. The two exchange words, and the suspect eventually drops the object he was holding and gets down on the sidewalk, allowing the officer to handcuff him. During Tuesday morning's press conference, Trudeau called the incident "a senseless attack and a horrific tragedy." He told reporters he spoke with Ontario's premier and Toronto's mayor Monday night. Trudeau will go to Toronto "as soon as it makes sense to do so," he said, but doesn't want to distract from the investigation for now. Toronto Mayor John Tory told reporters Monday afternoon that his "thoughts are with those affected by this incident." He said the beautiful weather meant many people were out o the street. “There were a lot of pedestrians out," Tory said, "enjoying the sunny afternoon." Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale called the incident an attack but said he didn't want to speculate when asked whether the terrorism was to blame. "We cannot come to any firm conclusions at this stage," Goodale told reporters Monday. "The police are conducting their thorough investigation into what happened and why it happened." U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen is in Toronto as part of the G-7 Security Ministerial, which is set to conclude Tuesday. A senior official with the U.S. Department of State told ABC News the U.S. delegation is safe. The White House released its first comment on the attack late-Monday night, saying, "The United States stands with the Canadian people in the aftermath of today’s tragic event in Toronto, where a van drove into a crowd of people killing several and injuring many more." "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those affected, and we wish a full recovery to those injured," the statement continued. "The United States Government pledges to provide any support Canada may need." Ryder, the brand of rental truck involved in the incident, said in a statement it was saddened by "this tragic event" and extended its "deepest sympathies" to those impacted. The company also stated that it is "cooperating fully with authorities." 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