REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: SECOND MURDER CHARGE FILED AGAINST ALLEGED SERIAL KILLER

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Alleged serial killer Darren Deon Vann was charged Wednesday in the death of Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville, Indiana, whose body was found Saturday.  Vann already had been charged in the death of Afrika Hardy, 19, whose body was found Friday. Earlier in the day, Vann had refused to answer questions Wednesday during his initial hearing in the Hardy case. Vann, 43, of Gary, stood silently next to his public defender, Matthew Fech, as Lake Superior Court Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan asked him to be placed under oath. “Mr. Vann, are you choosing not to participate in this hearing?” Sullivan asked. Earlier in the day, Vann had refused to answer questions Wednesday during his initial hearing in the Hardy case.

Vann, 43, of Gary, stood silently next to his public defender, Matthew Fech, as Lake Superior Court Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan asked him to be placed under oath. “Mr. Vann, are you choosing not to participate in this hearing?” Sullivan asked. In Gary, a team of 20 police officers used a cadaver dog to comb through abandoned houses near sites where bodies were found. Just over the state line, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart sent deputies into several homes in Chicago’s south suburbs. Neither agency reported finding any additional bodies, but they undertook the task after Vann was arrested. Police said Vann admitted to other murders dating back 20 years. Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Marine Corps released to the Chicago Sun-Times some details about Vann’s military service.

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It shows he was trained as a Hawk missile system operator and was stationed at various times in California, Texas, Arizona and North Carolina. But it also shows his service in the Corps was abbreviated; he was discharged in September 1993, less than two years after enlisting in December 1991. He held the rank of private and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal. In releasing those details, the Marine Corps spokeswoman also noted that: “Mr. Vann’s premature discharge and rank are indicative of the fact that the character of his service was incongruent with Marine Corps’ expectations and standards. Due to the associated administrative processes, further details are not releasable at this time.”

Court records show Vann has a history of violence toward women in both Indiana and Texas. He served a five-year sentence in Texas for sexual assault. During his 2009 sentencing hearing, prosecutors brought up another attack in which he hit a woman in the face and attempted to force her into his apartment in Austin, Texas. During a 2004 standoff with Gary police, Vann doused himself and his then-girlfriend with gasoline and threatened to set them both on fire, according to court records and an officer who was at scene. He was later convicted of the minor offense of misdemeanor residential entry. Law-enforcement agencies say they will continue searching vacant homes. Gary officials said in a statement that vacant homes will be boarded up and marked for demolition after they are searched. So far, about 90 of the city’s 10,000 vacant buildings have been cleared, according to the city. In Chicago’s Cook County, Sheriff Dart said even though there isn’t hard evidence that Vann was active in Illinois, officers are still scouring cold cases and missing persons reports. “A guy who was prolifically killing people, why would he care about a boundary?” Dart said.

The Chicago Sun-Times and CBS Chicago contributed to this report.

REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: GERMAN U-BOAT 576 FOUND OFF COAST OF NORTH CAROLINA

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Researchers have found the wrecks of a Nazi U-boat and the ship it sank during a second world war convoy off of the North Carolina coast.  “That whole battlefield scene is there,” said Joe Hoyt of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, chief scientist for the expedition. “Both sides of the story are represented as a memorial to history.” A research team using sonar found the wrecks of U-boat 576 and the freighter Bluefields on 30 August in waters off Cape Hatteras, just 240 yards apart. The U-boat had attacked the Bluefields, which was operating under the flag of Nicaragua and was part of a convoy of 19 merchant ships.

The US navy and coast guard were escorting the ships from Norfolk, Virginia, to Key West, Florida, when the U-boat attacked on 15 July 1942, sinking the Bluefields and damaging two other ships. A US aircraft bombed the U-boat and a merchant ship attacked with a deck gun. All 45 men aboard the U-boat died and are believed entombed in the shipwreck; no one on the Bluefields was killed, Hoyt said. NOAA delayed releasing information about the discovery until Tuesday to give the Germans time to track down and notify any survivors of the 45 men, Hoyt said.

heinicke_hans_dieterKapitänleutnant Hans-Dieter Heinicke

The German foreign office told NOAA that it is not interested in recovering the remains but asked the US to view the wreck as a war grave. “As such, they are under special protection and should, if possible, remain at their site and location to allow the dead to rest in peace,” the foreign office said in a statement provided by NOAA. The shipwrecks are in such deep water, about 700ft, that it is unlikely divers would be able to reach the site, Hoyt said. The wrecks are protected by international law. The shipwrecks show how close the Battle of the Atlantic came to the United States, he said, even though many people think of it as a “North Sea-type story”.

Dixie Burrus Browning of Buxton on Hatteras Island knows better, however. Browning, 84, was not quite a teenager when the second world war was being fought close to her home. “I remember waking up in the middle of night in our flimsy wooden house, hearing the rattle of dishes” when ships attacked each other, she said. Wrecks of U-boats are unusual because most were scuttled as the second world war was ending, Hoyt said. Still, the wrecks of three other U-boats sit in more shallow waters off the North Carolina coast and have been used for fishing and diving, even though they are also considered war graves. But what is most interesting about this new site is that two shipwrecks sit there, he said. “That is much more unique and more interesting than just a single vessel,” Hoyt said. NOAA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management began working together in 2008 to find vessels lost off the North Carolina coast during the second world war. Researchers used archival information for an initial survey earlier this year, then used sonar on a research vessel to confirm the shipwrecks.

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The merchant tanker Bluefields, flying the Nicaraguan flag, was part of a 24-ship convoy with air cover on its way south from Virginia to Florida on July 14, 1942. U-576 was at the time limping back to port in Germany, having sustained damage during a month of unsuccessfully hunting Allied shipping vessels along the American coast. The German sub, commanded by Kapitanleutnant Hans-Dieter Heinicke, engaged the convoy, singling out the Bluefields. ‘In spite of his damaged ship, Heinicke decided to attack at all costs,’ a document held by the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary reads.  ‘However, at 4:00 pm just before he could fire his torpedoes, one of the Coast Guard cutters picked up a sonar contact.’

The Coast Guard escorts dropped a series of three depth charges, soon followed by five more. Determined to strike against the convoy, Heinicke fired four torpedoes that sunk the Bluefields and damaged two other ships. Kingfisher floatplanes escorting the convoy zeroed in on the sub, hitting it with depth charges, while the Unicoi merchant ship swung around its deck gun and fired. Both vessels sank, but a grisly end awaited the crew of U-576, as all 45 sailors died aboard the doomed sub.

 

REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: CANADIAN PARLIAMENT SHOOTER IDENTIFIED

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Canada’s Parliament Hill came under attack today after a man with a rifle shot and fatally wounded a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa, before seizing a car and driving to the doors of Parliament Hill’s Centre Block nearby. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau has been identified by Canadian officials to their American counterparts as the suspected gunman in Wednesday’s shooting in Ottawa, multiple U.S. officials tell DMN this evening. Bibeau, who was born in 1982, was a convert to Islam and had a history of drug use before he converted, two sources said. Bibeau, who was born in 1982, was a convert to Islam and had a history of drug use before he converted, two sources said.

The slain soldier is Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, a reservist from Hamilton. “Our thoughts are with the member and the members of his family at this time,” said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud at an afternoon press conference. “Remember how one person’s life has been taken — from his family, from his friends, from the future that was supposed to be his,” said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. MPs and other witnesses reported 30 to 50 shots fired inside the main Parliament building. It was confirmed later the gunman was shot dead inside the building, felled by the House of Commons sergeant-at-arms and RCMP, according to MPs’ accounts.

 

 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on the Hill at the time of the shooting, but was safely taken away. He is expected to make an address to the country later this evening. His spokesman tweeted that Harper had met with members of his cabinet to discuss the shooting. CBC News has confirmed the dead shooting suspect is Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Canadian born in 1982. CBC News has learned that Zehaf-Bibeau has a criminal record in Quebec dating back 10 years on some drug-related charges. Court documents from that time show that he lived at an address in Montreal. Ottawa police say “there is no one in custody at this time.”

Later in a news conference, police and military officials confirmed the incident is not over, saying people in the downtown core should remain vigilant and stay inside. Police would not say whether they still suspect another shooter is involved. Parliament Hill remains under lockdown late Wednesday afternoon. “This is a dynamic and unfolding situation,” said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud, commanding officer of the national division. Michaud also suggested that police had no forewarning of the attack, saying “it caught us by surprise.” He added that it’s too soon to say whether the dead gunman was already known to security officials. Michaud added that police have maintained a “medium” level of security of Parliament for the past number of years, and that had not changed in recent days.

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Police also would not say whether the gunman was a Canadian citizen or whether police had retrieved the weapon. Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau asked witnesses to the incidents to come forward. Ottawa Civic Hospital confirmed four people were taken to hospital: the soldier, who died, and three who are stable with minor injuries. One of those injured was a parliamentary security guard shot in the foot and later released from hospital, according to CBC’s Judy Trinh. Despite earlier reports of shots fired near the Rideau Centre shopping mall east of Parliament Hill, police later said “no incident occurred near the Rideau Centre.” Alain Merisier, who works at the cafeteria in one of the Parliament Buildings, told CBC News that he saw a man in a car at the Centre Block with a long gun.

Cellphone video shot by a Globe and Mail reporter showed a chaotic scene in the elegant hallway leading from the front doors of Parliament’s Centre Block to the Library of Parliament during the attack. A sustained volley of shots was fired. Startled security personnel and political staff scrambled to take cover in the limestone alcoves as bullets flew.

In the minutes after the shooting on Parliament Hill, MPs and parliamentary staff began tweeting and telling reporters that it was Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers who shot the gunman. The tweets included:

  • NDP MP Craig Scott: “MPs and Hill staff owe their safety, even lives, to Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers who shot attacker just outside the MPs’ caucus rooms.”
  • Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, former head of the Ontario Provincial Police and ex-Toronto chief of police: “I am safe & profoundly grateful to Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers & our security forces for selfless act of keeping us safe.”
  • Justice Minister Peter MacKay: “Thank God for Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers & our Cdn security forces. True heroes.”

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Cabinet ministers, MPs and journalists in the buildings housing the House of Commons and Senate were in lockdown as police tracked the gunman. Sources tell CBC News that Harper was on the Hill at the time, and was extracted safely from the area by security. Opposition NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau were also reported safe. In a statement released earlier in the day by Harper’s office, he said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were attacked.” His office released a photo of the prime minister being briefed away from Parliament Hill by RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson. Harper’s spokesman Carl Vallée said on Twitter that Harper also spoke briefly to U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday afternoon. Harper also spoke with Mulcair and Trudeau, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Earlier, police sealed off the area around the National War Memorial while the injured soldier was given emergency medical aid. He was later put into an ambulance. “We were waiting there for a city tour and suddenly I heard four shots,” said Jan Lugtenborg, a tourist visiting downtown Ottawa from Holland. “Suddenly I saw a small guy with long black hair … with a long rifle, and he ran away after the shots, across streets in the direction of ParliamentHill,” he said. Raivo Nommick, another bystander, said “all of a sudden I just heard a shot, turned around and there was a guy with a rifle …. and just pow pow. “Then I saw one of the other Armed Forces guys just running. He barrelled over, just ran right over. The other guy just dropped. I looked back and just dived underneath and immediately called 911.”

The National War Memorial stands in Confederation Square in the heart of downtown Ottawa. The Parliament Buildings are to the northwest. Scott Walsh, who was working on Parliament Hill, said he saw a man running with a double-barrelled shotgun, wearing a scarf and blue jeans. Walsh said the man hopped over the stone fence that surrounds Parliament Hill, with his gun forcing someone out of a car. He then drove to the front doors of Parliament and fired at least two shots, Walsh said. Some witnesses were taken to the city’s police headquarters. New Democrat MP Hélène Laverdière said she heard 20 to 30 shots inside Parliament, and hit the floor. She and fellow MPs Charlie Angus and Rosane Doré Lefebvre were later led out of the Centre Block to safety. Doré Lefebvre said she was worried about getting her daughter from the daycare facility on Parliament Hill.

THE WORLD TONIGHT

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TERROR ROCKS CANADIAN CAPITAL AS GUNMEN OPEN FIRE…SOLDIER DEAD

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OTTAWA, Canada | DMN — Canada’s Parliament Hill came under attack today after a man with a rifle shot and killed a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa, before seizing a car and driving to the doors of Parliament Hill’s Centre Block nearby. MPs and other witnesses reported 30 to 50 shots fired inside Parliament, and a gunman has been confirmed dead inside the building, shot by the House of Commons sergeant-at-arms, according to MPs’ accounts. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on the Hill at the time of the shooting, but was safely taken away. Harper will make an address to the country later this evening. Ottawa police confirmed early Wednesday afternoon that the soldier died from his injuries.  “One shooting victim succumbed to injuries. He was a member of the Canadian Forces,” a release said.

Police are not releasing the soldier’s name until next of kin are notified. CBC News has confirmed the soldier is a reservist from Hamilton. Police also confirmed the death of a “male suspect” and added “there is no one in custody at this time.” Later in a news conference, police and military officials confirmed the incident is not over, saying people in the downtown core should remain vigilant and stay inside. “This is a dynamic and unfolding situation,” said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud, commanding officer of the national division. Michaud also suggested that police had no forewarning of the attack, saying “it caught us by surprise.” He added that it’s too soon to say whether the dead gunman was already known to security officials.

Michaud added that police have maintained a “medium” level of security of Parliament for the past number of years, and that had not changed in recent days. Police also would not say whether the gunman was a Canadian citizen or whether police had retrieved the weapon. Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau asked witnesses to the incidents to come forward. Ottawa Civic Hospital confirmed three people were taken to hospital, two of them with non-life-threatening injuries. One of those injured, with a gunshot wound, is a parliamentary guard. Despite earlier reports of shots fired near the Rideau Centre shopping mall east of Parliament Hill, police later said “no incident occurred near the Rideau Centre.”

 

 

Alain Merisier, who works at the cafeteria in one of the Parliament Buildings, told CBC News that he saw a man in a car at the Centre Block with a long gun. Cellphone video shot by a Globe and Mail reporter showed a chaotic scene in the elegant hallway leading from the front doors of Parliament’s Centre Block to the Library of Parliament during the attack. A sustained volley of shots was fired. Startled security personnel and political staff scrambled to take cover in the limestone alcoves as bullets flew.

In the minutes after the shooting on Parliament Hill, MPs and parliamentary staff began tweeting and telling reporters that it was Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers who shot the gunman. The tweets included:

  • NDP MP Craig Scott: “MPs and Hill staff owe their safety, even lives, to Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers who shot attacker just outside the MPs’ caucus rooms.”
  • Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, former head of the Ontario Provincial Police and ex-Toronto chief of police: “I am safe & profoundly grateful to Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers & our security forces for selfless act of keeping us safe.”
  • Justice Minister Peter MacKay: “Thank God for Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers & our Cdn security forces. True heroes.”

Cabinet ministers, MPs and journalists in the buildings housing the House of Commons and Senate were in lockdown as police tracked the gunman. Sources tell CBC News that Harper was on the Hill at the time, and was extracted safely from the area by security. Opposition NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau were also reported safe. In a statement released earlier in the day by Harper’s office, he said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were attacked.” His office released a photo of the prime minister being briefed away from Parliament Hill by RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson.

 

 

Harper’s spokesman Carl Vallée said on Twitter that Harper also spoke briefly to U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday afternoon. Harper also spoke with Mulcair and Trudeau, the Prime Minister’s Office said. Earlier, police sealed off the area around the National War Memorial while the injured soldier was given emergency medical aid. He was later put into an ambulance. “We were waiting there for a city tour and suddenly I heard four shots,” said Jan Lugtenborg, a tourist visiting downtown Ottawa from Holland. “Suddenly I saw a small guy with long black hair … with a long rifle, and he ran away after the shots, across streets in the direction of ParliamentHill,” he said.

Raivo Nommick, another bystander, said “all of a sudden I just heard a shot, turned around and there was a guy with a rifle …. and just pow pow. “Then I saw one of the other Armed Forces guys just running. He barrelled over, just ran right over. The other guy just dropped. I looked back and just dived underneath and immediately called 911.” The National War Memorial stands in Confederation Square in the heart of downtown Ottawa. The Parliament Buildings are to the northwest. Scott Walsh, who was working on Parliament Hill, said he saw a man running with a double-barrelled shotgun, wearing a scarf and blue jeans. Walsh said the man hopped over the stone fence that surrounds Parliament Hill, with his gun forcing someone out of a car. He then drove to the front doors of Parliament and fired at least two shots, Walsh said. Some witnesses were taken to the city’s police headquarters. New Democrat MP Hélène Laverdière said she heard 20 to 30 shots inside Parliament, and hit the floor. She and fellow MPs Charlie Angus and Rosane Doré Lefebvre were later led out of the Centre Block to safety. Doré Lefebvre said she was worried about getting her daughter from the daycare facility on Parliament Hill.

 

 

REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: MICHAEL BROWN MAY HAVE GONE FOR DARREN WILSON’S GUN

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Guess what? Domino’s Pizza is hot again

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REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: MICHAEL BROWN MAY HAVE GONE FOR DARREN WILSON’S GUN

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In protests held in Ferguson, Mo., for more than two months, some said 18-year-old Michael Brown had his hands up when he was killed by police officer Darren Wilson. Hence the clarion call: “Hands up, don’t shoot.” But a St. Louis Post-Dispatch analysis of Brown’s official county autopsy suggests the teenager may not have had his hands raised after all. Experts told the newspaper Brown was shot Aug. 9., at close range — and may have been reaching for Wilson’s weapon. The autopsy found material “consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm” in a wound on Brown’s thumb. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco, said this “supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound.”

Melinek, who was not involved in the investigation, said the autopsy did not support those who claim Brown was attempting to flee or surrender. “If he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he’s going for the officer’s gun,” she said. St. Louis medical examiner Michael Graham, who also reviewed the autopsy results for the Post-Dispatch, said they were consistent with Wilson’s reported claim that he and Brown struggled inside a police SUV. The examination “does support that there was a significant altercation at the car,” he said. Early Wednesday, the newspaper published Wilson’s most detailed account yet, according to an unnamed source with knowledge of his statements to police.

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According to the source, Wilson saw Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, walking down the middle of Canfield Drive. Wilson noticed Johnson’s clothing matched the description of a suspect who had just robbed an area market where cigarillos were stolen. Brown was carrying cigarillos in his hand. Wilson reportedly told investigators that when he tried to get out of the vehicle, Brown slammed the door on him and punched him in the face. Wilson drew his weapon and a struggle ensued. The source said the first time Wilson tried to shoot, the gun didn’t fire. The second time, it did.

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The Post-Dispatch reported:

Wilson told investigators he thought the bullet had struck Brown in the hand, the source said. … Broken window glass was everywhere, and blood was on the door, the gun and Wilson’s hands. At the time, Wilson said, he wasn’t sure whose blood it was. Sources told the newspaper that Brown’s blood was found on Wilson’s gun. The autopsy confirmed Brown’s blood was on Wilson’s car. “Someone got an injury that tore off skin and left it on the car,” Graham said. “That fits with everything else that came out. There’s blood in the car, now skin on the car, that shows something happened right there.” Brown has had three autopsies. The Post-Dispatch obtained the official autopsy, released to prosecutors but not the public, for its latest story. A private autopsy done at the behest of Brown’s family, discussed in detail at an August press conference, largely agreed with the official autopsy, but said Brown had not been shot at close range. A third autopsy — the results of which have not been released or been leaked — was performed by the Justice Department.

Eyewitness accounts vary. Johnson, 22, said Wilson grabbed Brown and tried to pull him into the vehicle. Then later, when Brown tried to run, Wilson allegedly chased him, shot him once before he turned around and then shot and killed him while his hands were raised. Others have said Wilson shot at Brown as he fled. Some said Brown stood still. Some said his hands were in the air; some said they were not. The source who spoke to the newspaper said Wilson told investigators he did indeed get out and chase Brown before Brown rushed him.

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The Post-Dispatch wrote:

Wilson said he had yelled for Brown to stop, then fired, the source said. Brown flinched as if he was hit, and Wilson said he had stopped shooting. Brown continued running toward him, and Wilson said he had fired several more shots. The source said that Wilson had recalled that Brown’s head was down when the last shot hit him there. A toxicology report performed with the autopsy stated Brown had THC, indicating marijuana use. “The detection of THC in the postmortem blood of Michael Brown really indicates his recent use of marijuana (within a few hours) and that he may or may not have been impaired at the time of his death,” Alfred Staubus, a consultant in forensic toxicology at the Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, told the Post-Dispatch in an e-mail.

The Post-Dispatch’s report has no legal significance as the world waits for a St. Louis County grand jury to decide whether Wilson will be charged in connection with the shooting. The grand jury’s deadline isn’t until Jan. 7. However, as protests that sharply divided Ferguson in August occasionally re-ignite, the newspaper’s account — even if cloaked in forensic science leaked to media — may prove inflammatory. “I hope I’m wrong, but I have a feeling that prosecutors are getting ready to drop the hammer on us,” attorney Eric Guster wrote on the Root. “They want us to be ready for what every tear-gassed, unlawfully arrested, shot at, beaten, harassed, billy-clubbed protester doesn’t want to hear: Wilson probably won’t be charged in the killing of Michael Brown.”

On social media, St. Louis Alderman Antonio French (D) — a familiar face on Ferguson’s front lines — questioned whether Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCullouch or the U.S. attorney general should investigate the leaky investigation of Brown’s death. “Bob McCulloch and Attorney General Holder should be launching investigations into who is leaking this info,” French posted to Twitter. “Police? Attorneys? Jurors?”