Highway shooting spree: A recently released convict with
a history of mental illness went on a shooting rampage along Washington’s busiest highway this week, killing six people, including a sheriff’s deputy, and wounding at least two others before surrendering to police. Isaac Zamora, 28, was “desperately mentally ill” after serving a six-month sentence on drug charges, according to his mother, Dennise, and had been unable to find help. The killings began in the tiny northwestern town of Alger, where Zamora allegedly shot to death Deputy Anne Jackson, 40, and four other people. He killed another man during a subsequent high-speed chase along Interstate 5, police said. Officials were trying to determine what triggered the rampage. “There are a lot of answers that are just not available right now,” said investigator Robert Goetz.
Armed for teaching: Public school students in Harrold found a new pastime when they started school last week: guessing which teachers are packing heat. The Harrold School Board last year voted to permit teachers and staff to carry guns—as a defense against a Columbine-style massacre. School Superintendent David Thweatt said that having some armed teachers and administrators is necessary because the tiny north Texas town is 17 miles from the county sheriff’s office. To keep any perpetrator off-balance, Thweatt says, he won’t identify which teachers possess concealed firearms. “Everybody knows everybody here,” said junior Eric Howard, 16. “We will find out.”
St. Paul, Minn.
Convention melee: Nearly 300 protesters at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul were arrested this week, following rowdy clashes with police and National Guardsmen. An estimated 10,000 people took part in an anti-war march near the Xcel Energy Center, the site of the convention. While the demonstration was largely peaceful, about 200 people broke windows and harassed delegates, police said. Among those arrested were an Associated Press photographer, radio host Amy Goodman, and two of her producers, who were covering the protests. The journalists were later released. Police blamed the violence on a “splinter group” of self-described anarchists. “I think they did a disservice to those that came here to protest,” said St. Paul police spokesman Thomas Walsh.
Students skip first day: Thousands of Chicago high school students boycotted the first day of classes this week to protest crowded classrooms, antiquated textbooks, and a shortage of computers. The boycott was organized by several Chicago clergymen to draw attention to disparities in funding between city schools and those in the suburbs. The Chicago public schools spent $11,300 per student last year, compared with $17,500 at New Trier High School in the upscale suburb of Winnetka. Chicago school officials discouraged the boycott, acknowledging the schools’ funding problems but arguing that “adults should fight that battle.”
New York City
Pakistani scientist indicted: A federal grand jury this week indicted a Pakistani scientist linked to al Qaida for attempted murder and assault, charging that while being interrogated in Afghanistan, she disarmed one of her interrogators and held a group of American officers at gunpoint. Aafia Siddiqui, 36, a Pakistani national who studied behavioral science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was arrested in Afghanistan in July and taken into U.S. custody. American officials say she was carrying notes relating to a “mass-casualty event,” as well as instructions for building bombs and other weapons. During her interrogation, the indictment says, she snatched a rifle from an Army officer and threatened her seven-member interrogation team before being shot and subdued. Siddiqui’s lawyer called the charges “ludicrous” and said that before her July arrest, she had been held incommunicado in Pakistan for several years.
Gonzales admits breach: Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales improperly handled classified data involving sensitive U.S. national-security programs while in office, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog said this week. The data concerned the administration’s controversial warrantless wiretapping program and detainee interrogation methods. Gonzales sometimes ferried the notes between his home and office in an unlocked briefcase, a violation of security procedures. He didn’t store the notes in a safe at his home, the report says, because he “couldn’t remember the combination.” Gonzales, through his lawyers, admitted that he’d mishandled documents, but said it did not result in any leaks of secret data. The Justice Department said Gonzales would not face criminal charges.