Brehmer: Arraigned with two other teens
A man who contacted an Alaska teen on the internet offered to pay $9 million for a murder, leading to a grisly crime in which five teens killed a developmentally disabled schoolmate. An 18-year-old woman, Denali Brehmer, formed an online relationship with a man she knew as “Tyler,” who said he would pay her to make a video of a killing. Brehmer allegedly offered four others a cut to help her murder their friend Cynthia Hoffman. Prosecutors this week said the teens took Hoffman, 19, on a June 2 hike and shot her in the back of the head. As Timothy Hoffman searched for his daughter, Brehmer texted, “I hope she comes home safely she’s my best friend.” Brehmer confessed to the murder and to sexually abusing two children, also at Tyler’s behest. She sent videos of the assaults to Tyler—actually Darin Schilmiller, 21, of New Salisbury, Ind.; Schilmiller, who has been arrested, never had the promised money.
Video of police threatening to shoot Dravon Ames and his fiancée, Iesha Harper, sparked nationwide outrage and has led to a $10 million lawsuit. Responding to a May 29 shoplifting call from a Family Dollar store, where Ames says his 4-year-old daughter walked out with a doll, a patrol unit followed the family to an apartment complex. An officer approached their vehicle with his gun drawn, shouting, “I’m going to put a cap in your a--!” As their daughters, 4 and 1, wailed, another officer approached with a drawn weapon, and one of them yelled at Ames, 22, “I’m going to shoot you in your f---ing face!” One officer allegedly tried to pull the infant by the neck from Harper, who was visibly pregnant. The police department contests their account. “The officers are still working,” Ames said, calling it “a slap in the face.”
The authors of the conspiracist manual Nobody Died at Sandy Hook defamed the father of a 6-year-old killed in the 2012 Connecticut massacre, a Wisconsin judge ruled this week. James Fetzer—who writes from Wisconsin—and Mike Palacek claimed the shooting that killed 20 first-graders and six educators was a drill, and the death certificate for Lenny Pozner’s son Noah was faked. Pozner is involved in several of nine cases brought by families of Sandy Hook victims, who’ve faced relentless harassment. The highest-profile case, against Infowars host Alex Jones, took an unexpected turn last week when Jones’ lawyers sent an image that appeared to be child porn in the discovery process. Jones accused one of the plaintiff’s lawyers of framing him and threatened him on-air. In response, he was sanctioned by a Connecticut judge. Jones claimed the child porn accusations had left him “unhinged.”
A man carrying a high-powered rifle with multiple magazines and a long knife was shot dead by federal officers this week after he opened fire outside a downtown court building. No one else was hurt in the shooting, which occurred around the corner from the site where five Dallas officers died in a 2016 sniper ambush. It’s unclear what motivated Brian Clyde, 22, whose Facebook page was filled with far-right anti-government conspiracy theories. The Texas native, who served in the Army for two years but struggled with training ahead of a possible deployment, posted on social media about CIA experiments and secret pedophile rings. Clyde also frequently posted violently misogynist memes on Facebook—as well as a picture of a swastika, which he called a “solution.” Days before the shooting, Clyde shared photos of his ammunition and sword collection. “God i love gun shows,” he wrote in April.
New York City
As convicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort prepared to be transferred to the infamous Rikers Island prison complex, senior Justice Department officials took the unusual step last week of intervening to block the move. Newly appointed Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen weighed in on behalf of Manafort, who was sentenced to seven and a half years for bank and tax fraud. Trump has said prosecutors were unfair to Manafort, 70, who was imprisoned in Pennsylvania but needed to be brought to New York to be arraigned on state charges; his conviction on those would effectively keep him from being freed by a presidential pardon. Manafort’s attorneys raised concerns “related to his health and personal safety” at the notoriously violent Rikers. Instead, he was moved to a federal detention center in lower Manhattan for his arraignment on state charges and will remain there or back in Pennsylvania to await his state trial.
Shanahan steps down
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan resigned this week and withdrew from contention for a permanent Cabinet spot, after an FBI background check revealed a history of family violence. In 2010, Shanahan’s then-wife, Kimberley, was arrested when police found him with a bloody nose and black eye after an argument; she denies having attacked her husband and claims he punched her in the stomach. They divorced, and a year later, an argument led their then-17-year-old son, William, to brutally beat his mother, hitting her in the head with a baseball bat. Her fractured skull and internal injuries required surgery. Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, initially rushed to his son’s defense, writing that he acted in “self-defense,” which he says he now regrets. “Bad things can happen to good families,” says Shanahan, 56, “and this is a tragedy.” President Trump named Army Secretary Mark Esper to replace Shanahan. ■