LOS ANGELES – GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism report there were 145 incidents of anti-LGBTQ violence, harassment, and vandalism during Pride Month this year in the U.S.
The “dramatic spike” has seen at least five murders of LGBTQ people in recent weeks, GLAAD wrote in a statement about the killing of gay dancer O’Shae Sibley over the weekend in a suspected hate crime.
“Politicians spewing lies and proposing policies filled with disinformation, and media repeating their false and dangerous rhetoric unchallenged, are creating an incredibly hostile environment that endangers all LGBTQ people and all queer people of color,” said Darian Aaron, GLAAD’s director of local news, U.S. South.
GLAAD notes the following recent murders of LGBTQ people in addition to Sibley:
- 18-year-old Jacob Williamson in South Carolina, a transgender man who was killed after going on a date.
- 24-year-old Akira Ross, who was shot and killed at a Cedar Park, Texas, gas station by a man who reportedly yelled a homophobic slur at her.
- Three transgender women, Cam Chamberlain, Ashley Burton, and Chanell Perez Ortiz, who were killed in separate incidents in Central Texas, Atlanta, and Carolina, Puerto Rico, as first reported by PGHLesbian.
- Colin Smith, a straight, cisgender man, who was killed defending an LGBTQ friend being harassed by a man using homophobic slurs according to The Oregonian.
GLAAD’s research also found “more than 160 attacks against drag events and performers over the last year, increasingly with violence and fomented by extremist and white supremacist groups,” the group wrote.
In addition to the incidents documented over Pride month, GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism found “more than 350 incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault over an eleven-month period beginning in June 2022.”
Aaron said, “There are reports that Sibley was vogueing to a track from Beyonce’s Renaissance album, music from the biggest pop star in the world celebrating Black queer people. O’Shae Sibley had the audacity to live without the restraints of patriarchy and toxic masculinity, embracing freedom and joy. He should still be alive to celebrate all that made him great and inspired others to live their truth. “
Police sources told CBS News New York on Monday that a suspect involved in the stabbing death of Sibley has been identified by the NYPD
Anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and harassment are on the rise in the U.S.:
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Justice Dept. files new 23 count indictment against Rep. Santos
Santos allegedly filed fraudulent fundraising reports to FEC to & repeatedly charged the credit cards of contributors without authorization
CENTRAL ISLIP, NY – Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced Tuesday that a new 23-count superseding indictment was filed today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, charging New York Republican Rep. George Santos with additional criminal counts in the ongoing cases against him.
Last May Santos was indicted on 13 criminal counts of fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and making false statements.
Today’s announcement follows the Justice Department’s announcement last week of a guilty plea from the Long Island-based ex-campaign treasurer for Santos, Nancy Marks, who was a top financial official on Santos’ congressional campaign.
According to CBS News, Marks pleaded guilty last Thursday to one count of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, which included wire fraud, falsifying records and identity theft, according to court documents.
In pleading guilty to the criminal information, Marks admitted that she and the then candidate had added nonexistent donations from his friends and family in order to falsely inflate his campaign’s fundraising totals to qualify for help from the Republican National Party.
“Marks did so for the purpose of making the Campaign Committee appear more financially sound than it was,” according to the court documents.
Marks admitted in those same court documents to falsely attesting that Santos had made a $500,000 loan to his campaign when he had not done so, in order to make his campaign seem more financially successful than it was.
In today’s announcement by the U.S. Attorney, Santos was hit with with one count of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, two counts of wire fraud, two counts of making materially false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), two counts of falsifying records submitted to obstruct the FEC, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of access device fraud, in addition to the seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the United States House of Representatives that were charged in the original indictment.
He is due back in federal court in Central Islip on October 27, 2023.
Santos Allegedly Filed Fraudulent Fundraising Reports with the FEC to Obtain Financial Support for His Campaign and Repeatedly Charged the Credit Cards of Campaign Contributors Without Authorization
“As alleged, Santos is charged with stealing people’s identities and making charges on his own donors’ credit cards without their authorization, lying to the FEC and, by extension, the public about the financial state of his campaign. Santos falsely inflated the campaign’s reported receipts with non-existent loans and contributions that were either fabricated or stolen” stated U.S. Attorney Peace. “This Office will relentlessly pursue criminal charges against anyone who uses the electoral process as an opportunity to defraud the public and our government institutions.”
“Santos allegedly led multiple additional fraudulent criminal schemes, lying to the American public in the process. The FBI is committed to upholding the laws of our electoral process. Anyone who attempts to violate the law as part of a political campaign will face punishment in the criminal justice system,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Smith.
“The defendant – a Congressman – allegedly stole the identities of family members and used the credit card information of political contributors to fraudulently inflate his campaign coffers,” stated District Attorney Donnelly. “We thank our partners in the US Attorney’s Office and the FBI as we work together to root out public corruption on Long Island.”
As alleged in the superseding indictment, Santos, who was elected to Congress last November and sworn in as the U.S. Representative for New York’s Third Congressional District on January 7, 2023, engaged in two fraudulent schemes, in addition to the multiple fraudulent schemes alleged in the original indictment.
The Party Program Scheme
During the 2022 election cycle, Santos was a candidate for the United States House of Representatives in New York’s Third Congressional District. Nancy Marks, who pleaded guilty on October 5, 2023 to related conduct, was the treasurer for his principal congressional campaign committee, Devolder-Santos for Congress.
During this election cycle, Santos and Marks conspired with one another to devise and execute a fraudulent scheme to obtain money for the campaign by submitting materially false reports to the FEC on behalf of the campaign, in which they inflated the campaign’s fundraising numbers for the purpose of misleading the FEC, a national party committee, and the public.
Specifically, the purpose of the scheme was to ensure that Santos and his campaign qualified for a program administered by the national party committee, pursuant to which the national party committee would provide financial and logistical support to Santos’s campaign. To qualify for the program, Santos had to demonstrate, among other things, that his congressional campaign had raised at least $250,000 from third-party contributors in a single quarter.
To create the public appearance that his campaign had met that financial benchmark and was otherwise financially viable, Santos and Marks agreed to falsely report to the FEC that at least 10 family members of Santos and Marks had made significant financial contributions to the campaign, when Santos and Marks both knew that these individuals had neither made the reported contributions nor given authorization for their personal information to be included in such false public reports.
In addition, understanding that the national party committee relied on FEC fundraising data to evaluate candidates’ qualification for the program, Santos and Marks agreed to falsely report to the FEC that Santos had loaned the campaign significant sums of money, when, in fact, Santos had not made the reported loans and, at the time the loans were reported, did not have the funds necessary to make such loans. These false reported loans included a $500,000 loan, when Santos had less than $8,000 in his personal and business bank accounts.
Through the execution of this scheme, Santos and Marks ensured that Santos met the necessary financial benchmarks to qualify for the program administered by the national party committee. As a result of qualifying for the program, the congressional campaign received financial support.
The Credit Card Fraud Scheme
In addition, between approximately December 2021 and August 2022, Santos devised and executed a fraudulent scheme to steal the personal identity and financial information of contributors to his campaign. He then charged contributors’ credit cards repeatedly, without their authorization. Because of these unauthorized transactions, funds were transferred to Santos’s campaign, to the campaigns of other candidates for elected office, and to his own bank account.
To conceal the true source of these funds and to circumvent campaign contribution limits, Santos falsely represented that some of the campaign contributions were made by other persons, such as his relatives or associates, rather than the true cardholders. Santos did not have authorization to use their names in this way.
For example, in December 2021, one contributor (the “Contributor”) texted Santos and others to make a contribution to his campaign, providing billing information for two credit cards. In the days after he received the billing information, Santos used the credit card information to make numerous contributions to his campaign and affiliated political committees in amounts exceeding applicable contribution limits, without the Contributor’s knowledge or authorization.
To mask the true source of these contributions and thereby circumvent the applicable campaign contribution limits, Santos falsely identified the contributor for one of the charges as one of his relatives.
In the following months, Santos repeatedly charged the Contributor’s credit card without the Contributor’s knowledge or authorization, attempting to make at least $44,800 in charges and repeatedly concealing the true source of funds by falsely listing the source of funds as Santos himself, his relatives and other contributors.
On one occasion, Santos charged $12,000 to the Contributor’s credit card, ultimately transferring the vast majority of that money into his personal bank account.
The charges in the superseding indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Public Integrity Section, the Long Island Criminal Division, and the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.
Massachusetts woman pleads guilty in anti-trans bomb threat
She admitted calling in the threat to Boston Children’s Hospital, but stated that she had no plan or intention to actually bomb the hospital
BOSTON – A Westfield woman pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Boston to calling in a hoax bomb threat against Boston Children’s Hospital.
Catherine Leavy, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false bomb threat and one count of intentionally conveying false or misleading information that a bomb was on the way to Boston Children’s Hospital. U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin scheduled sentencing for March 19, 2024. Leavy was initially arrested and charged by criminal complaint in September 2022 and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2022.
In August 2022, law enforcement began monitoring threats made against Boston Children’s Hospital and its employees. Among the wide range of healthcare services it provides, Boston Children’s Hospital is home to the Gender Multispecialty Service (GeMS) program – a healthcare program focused on gender-diverse and transgender adolescents.
On Aug. 30, 2022, Boston Children’s Hospital received a telephonic bomb threat in which the caller said, “There is a bomb on the way to the hospital, you better evacuate everybody you sickos.” As a result of the call, the hospital and surrounding area was placed on lockdown status and a bomb squad was dispatched. An investigation determined no explosive devices were located at the hospital. Subscriber and call detail records and location information for the phone number that called in the threat determined that the phone number was subscribed in Leavy’s name. In addition, cell tower data indicated the phone was nearby Leavy’s residence at the time the bomb threat was made.
During a search of Leavy’s residence on Sept. 15, 2022, the phone used to make the threat was recovered. In an on-scene interview with law enforcement, Leavy expressed disapproval of Boston Children’s Hospital on multiple occasions. Leavy also admitted that she called in the threat to Boston Children’s Hospital on Aug. 30, 2022, but stated that she had no plan or intention to actually bomb the hospital.
The charge of making a false bomb threat provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of intentionally conveying false or misleading information provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
QAnon follower enters guilty plea: Threating a member of Congress
QAnon has grown into a conspiracy movement that claims Satan-worshipping pedophiles secretly rule the world
LAS CRUCES, N.M. – A New Mexico man has entered a plea deal after being charged with a federal criminal complaint of making threats through interstate communications directed at a member of Congress.
Federal prosecutors charged Michael David Fox, a resident of Doña Ana County for calling the Houston District office of an unnamed U.S. Representative on or about May 18, 2023, and uttering threats that included knowingly threatening to kill an active member of Congress.
The plea agreement was brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Damian L. Martinez of U.S. District Court in New Mexico in the Las Cruces federal court by Fox’s attorney from the Federal Public Defender’s Office in August.
According to the criminal complaint as outlined by a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal investigator for the Albuquerque Field Office, Las Cruces Resident Agency, on May 18 at approximately 9;04 PM, Fox called the office of a congresswoman for the District of Texas, United States House of Representatives (Victim One/’V1″), who is from Houston, Texas. The call was received by V1 ‘s office.
In the phone call Fox stated “Hey [Vl], you’re a man. It’s official. You’re literally a tranny and a pedophile, and I’m going to put a bullet in your fucking face. You mother fucking satanic cock smoking son of a whore. You understand me you fucker?”
Law enforcement was able to trace the call back to Las Cruces, New Mexico, and it was believed that Fox was the user of cellular account used to make the call. According to the FBI agents who interviewed Fox, he admitted to making the call.
Fox acknowledged that the threat was direct but claimed that he did not own any guns. Fox
claimed to be a member of the Q2 Truth Movement, the Q Movement. Fox explained these
movements believe all over the world there were transgender individuals running
governments, kingdoms, and corporations.
Fox told the FBI that there is a plan called “Q the Plan to Save the World” which he learned about from an online video. Fox claimed that he believed Q was going to engage in the “eradication” of the people who were causing all the world’s misery. He believed that part of the eradication had already happened.
Fox explained that he had run Vl’s skull features through forensic analysis and determined
that Vl was born male and is now transgender. Fox discussed his military service with the
United States Air Force, Q the Plan to Save the World, and how God communicates using
Fox continued to reiterate several different types of conspiracy theories indicating
extreme far right ideologies as his explanation for why he conducted the phone call to
According to the FBI, Fox rescinded his threat against Vl and apologized. Fox claimed he was not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs when he made the call. Fox stated he understood how Vl would feel threatened by his phone call, and he acknowledged that anyone he knew or cared about would also be concerned with such a threat.
The charge of interstate threatening communications carries a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
QAnon began in 2017, when a mysterious figure named “Q” started posting on the online message board 4chan, claiming to have inside access to government secrets. Since then, QAnon has grown into a conspiracy movement that claims Satan-worshipping pedophiles secretly rule the world. It is claimed by QAnon adherents that former President Donald Trump is the only person who can defeat them.
Brooklyn-based journalist Ana Valens, a reporter specializing in queer internet culture, online censorship, and sex workers’ rights noted that Fox appears to be a “transvestigator.” Valens noted that the transvestigation conspiracy theory is a fringe movement within QAnon that claims the world is primarily run by transgender people. Phrenological analysis is common among transvestigators, with a prominent focus on analyzing celebrities for proof that they are trans.
17-year-old charged with hate crime in murder of O’Shae Sibley
He’s been charged with murder in the second degree with a hate crime enhancement and also being charged with criminal possession of a weapon
BROOKLYN – The 17-year-old suspected of fatally stabbing of Out Black dancer O’Shae Sibley a week ago, has been charged with murder as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon. New York City Mayor Eric Adams, NYPD officials and community leaders spoke at a public press conference held at the location of the deadly stabbing in Brooklyn’s Midwood neighborhood detailing the charges brought in the case.
Mayor Adams told those gathered that “[Sibley’s] parents have lost a child in something that was clearly a hate crime.” The Mayor then thanked the NYPD reflecting that the apprehension of the teenager was made possible by the contributions of “everyday New Yorkers” in aiding the NYPD with information and tips.
The Mayor then addressed the fact that initially it seemed “that the hate was coming from the Muslim community against the LGBTQ+ community- that was in fact not true,” Adams said. “These are both important communities in the City of New York, they contribute to the community, […] and both are against any level of hate.” He then pointed out that both of those minority communities have been targeted by hate. “They have been united in fighting any form of hate in this city,” the Mayor added.
“This is a city where you are free to express yourself, and that expression should never end with any form of violence,” Adams said.
After the Mayor’s remarks, Joseph E. Kenny, the NYPD Assistant Chief of the Detective Bureau took to the podium and summarized the case facts.
“As the group began to yell at Mr. Sibley and his friends, they began to call them derogatory names and used homophobic slurs against him,” Kenny said.“ They also made anti-Black statements, all while demanding that they simply stop dancing.”
“This encounter lasts for approximately four minutes, when the victim and the known perpetrator come together,” Kenny continued. “This perpetrator retreats away from Mr. Sibley, while striking him one time with a sharp object, piercing his chest and damaging his heart. Mr. Sibley falls to the sidewalk while the perpetrator flees the scene in a Toyota Highlander.”
Kenny noted the 17-year-old suspect’s identification happened “quickly,” saying he lives in Brooklyn and is a student at a “nearby high school.”
Kenny said that the apprehension was a joint effort by NYPD’s fugitive task force and the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Regional Task Force. The 17-year-old was charged under NY Penal Law § 125.25: Murder in the second degree with a hate crime enhancement, he’s also being charged with criminal possession of a weapon and has been remanded into custody.
Officials update on investigation into death of O’Shae Sibley:
NYPD: Person of interest in death of O’Shae Sibley in custody
The NYPD spokesperson would not confirm if the person in custody is the suspect detectives were searching for
BROOKLYN – The New York City Police Department confirmed that they have a “person of interest” in custody in the stabbing death of 28-year-old Out Black dancer O’Shae Sibley last weekend at a Brooklyn Mobil convenience mart and gas station. An NYPD spokesperson told the Blade that no charges have been made yet.
The NYPD’s 66th Precinct homicide investigators along with detectives from the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force (HCTF) had been searching for a 17-year-old suspect, who had been seen on surveillance video footage arguing with the victim prior to Sibley being stabbed. The police spokesperson would not confirm if the person in custody is the suspect detectives were searching for.
The arrest was also confirmed by New York City Councilmember Inna Vernikov, whose district includes the Mobil convenience mart and gas station in the Midwood neighborhood where Sibley was murdered.
The suspect in the fatal stabbing of O’Shae Sibley in my district last Saturday night just turned himself in to the @NYPD61Pct & is now in their custody. Wishing the family peace during this difficult time & hoping for swift justice & serious consequences for the perpetrator. https://t.co/q2R4SzueAP— Councilwoman Inna Vernikov (@InnaVernikov) August 4, 2023
According to witnesses and the NYPD, Sibley and a group of his friends performed an impromptu voguing dance session while refueling after a day trip to the Jersey Shore. The teenage suspect and several others had emerged from the convenience mart and engaged Sibley using profanities and homophobic epithets.
It was later disclosed to the media that Sibley and the group of his friends were dancing to Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” album, a fact noted by the 41-year-old singer-songwriter who paid tribute to the dancer on her website.
“The choruses of Big Apple Performing Arts (BAPA) including the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, Youth Pride Chorus, and Tonewall are deeply saddened and outraged by the tragic killing of O’Shae Sibley, a 28-year old Black gay man who was murdered at a Mobil gas station in Brooklyn for simply voguing. Vogue is a beautiful style of dance with origins in the queer community of color,” NYCGMC Chair Troy Blackwell said in a statement released Friday.
“O’Shae was a shining light to his family and friends, especially those in the dance community. Everyone should be able to exist and artistically express themselves without fear of harm. This is why the choruses of BAPA not only strive to cultivate a safe space for artists, but combat homophobia through music and advocate for protections for LGBTQ people,” Blackwell continued.
“This hate crime is part of a pattern of physical violence that continues to disproportionately impact members of the LGBTQ community. An attack against one of us is an attack against all of us and in times of tragedy, silence is not an option. It never has been and never will be. We stand in solidarity with New York City’s LGBTQ community and demand justice for O’Shae,” he added.
The dancer’s death is being investigated as a potential bias crime and occurs as GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism report there were 145 incidents of anti-LGBTQ violence, harassment, and vandalism during Pride Month this year in the U.S.
After anti-LGBTQ+ YouTuber visit, LGBTQ+ church firebombed
Authorities haven’t categorized it as a hate crime & asked if the visit by the YouTuber could be tied to the incident refused to comment
PLANO, TX. – Weeks after anti-LGBTQ Christian YouTuber Bo Alford, who posts content showing himself and occasionally with friends confronting congregants of LGBTQ+ friendly houses of worship about their beliefs, the Unitarian Universalist church was firebombed according to Plano Police and Fire-Rescue officials.
In a statement released by Plano Fire-Rescue, a witness observed flames and smoke billowing out of front door area of the Community Unitarian Universalist Church of Plano between 12:00 am and 12:30 am this past Sunday, July 23, 2023. Responding units were able to quickly extinguish the fire. The Fire-Rescue department has launched an arson investigation in addition to a criminal investigation by Plano Police.
The church, located at 2875 E Parker Road in this city located in the North East region of Texas, 21 miles due north of Dallas, released the following statement:
On Sunday, July 23, 2023, between 12:00 am and 12:30 am, a firebomb attack took place at Community Unitarian Universalist Church of Plano. An incendiary device with a chemical accelerant was thrown or placed at the front doors of the main church building. The fire and smoke caused the monitored fire alarm system for the building to go off, which notified church personnel. The City of Plano 911 system received a call from a passerby who saw the fire at the same time. City of Plano Firefighters arrived on the scene and were able to extinguish the fire. Because of the quick action of Plano’s First Responders, the damage to the church property was limited to the front doors, the materials directly outside the front doors, and the entrance foyer. There were no injuries. Plano Police and Fire Department personnel did a thorough collection of evidence of the crime scene. They also interviewed multiple church personnel who arrived on-site to assess the incident.
Church officials have been reviewing building security and working with the Plano Police Department since the intrusion of a hate group in the church building during and after Worship Service on Sunday, June 25. That group has posted video of their activities inside the church on various social media sites.
On Tuesday, July 25, the Church released an update noting:
We do not have any more information regarding the incident at this time. The investigation by law enforcement authorities is ongoing. Once we can provide more details publicly, we will try our best to do so.
We have been contacted by numerous media outlets, and we are aware that many news stories have been broadcast and published. As we recover and rebuild, we are focused on attending to the needs of the congregation, and church officials are not doing any media interviews at this time. Again, when we have more information to share we will endeavor to make that happen. We truly appreciate all who have reached out to us. We also continue in our gratitude to the Police and Fire Departments of the City of Plano.
The reference to the hate group visit a month previously during Pride Month on June 25 was highlighting a far-right Christian extremist YouTube creator Bronson ‘Bo’ Alford, who uses the moniker ‘bodittle’ and has 134K subscribers to his channel.
Alford who is from Cookeville, Tennessee, and has a record of being a Mixed Martial Arts/Boxer with one bout credited to him, has shown up at protests in Tennessee challenging abortion rights and this past February demonstrating against drag entertainment where he scuffled with pro-drag protesters in Nashville.
On his YouTube Channel, Alford has posted 3 plus dozen videos, the majority of which are vehemently anti-LGBTQ+ and all espousing Christian nationalist dogma. Several videos show Alford entering LGBTQ+ affirming churches and cornering pastors or congregants under the guise of “asking questions’ but instead engaging in argumentative and combative behaviour that ultimately ends with his being asked to leave or being ejected from those churches.
Alford’s video, titled “We acted LGBT at LGBT Church,” which he uploaded to YouTube on July 12, was shot at the Plano church according to church board member Jodie Zoeller Bloom.
NBC News reported and the Blade confirmed in that video, Alford, fellow YouTuber Cassady Campbell and another man film themselves visiting Community Unitarian Universalist Church.
They ask the congregation about their beliefs while in their words, “pretending to be LGBTQ” with the goal of “testing” the church’s theology and exposing “false teachers.” Their actions mirror Alford’s other videos of visits to other LGBTQ+ affirming churches.
At the end of the video, which has been viewed more than 200,000 times, the three men are seen standing by the church’s sign asking viewers to “pray for these people,” calling the church “pagan and satanic.”
In an email to NBC News, Alford said, “First and foremost, my prayers go out to anyone effected by the fire. As to the accusations, My channel spreads the message of Jesus and his love for us. If you watch the video you will see the members of the church having nothing but nice things to say about us. She enjoyed our conversation and even ended it with a hug. The fact we are being labeled as a hate group and being tied to this fire in any way is appalling.”
The local authorities have not yet categorized the arson-fire as a hate crime and refuse further comment citing the ongoing investigation. The officials also refused to comment when asked if the visit by the YouTuber could be tied to the incident.
Club Q shooter gets 5 life sentences without possibility of parole
He also received 46 consecutive 48-year sentences for the attempted murder counts followed by mandatory periods of parole
COLORADO SPRINGS – In a press conference Monday after the final court hearing, El Paso County Colorado District Attorney Michael J. Allen announced that a plea deal had been reached with the shooter in last November’s mass-shooting at the LGBTQ+ entertainment venue Club Q.
Colorado Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Michael McHenry accepted the plea deal worked out with Allen’s office where Anderson Lee Aldrich, 23, pled guilty to five counts of murder in the first degree, 46 counts of attempted murder in the first degree.
McHenry said that Aldrich will receive five consecutive life sentences without the possibility for parole on the murder charges, and will also receive 46 consecutive 48-year sentences for the attempted murder counts, which totals 2,208 years, followed by mandatory periods of parole. This is a final decision – a trial can not happen at a later date.
Prior to sentencing, the first victim impact statements came from the loved ones of the five murdered victims:
- Daniel Aston
- Kelly Loving
- Derrick Rump
- Ashley Paugh
- Raymond Vance
Which was followed by the statements on behalf of the other victims, survivors and families of survivors.
In addition to Allen, other officials including Colorado Springs Mayor Yemi Mobolade, Police Chief Adrian Vasquez, Deputy Fire Chief of Operations Jayme McConnellogue, former Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers along with representatives of the FBI, sheriff’s office and others spoke to the gathered reporters, witnesses families and victims.
Chief Vasquez noted that while the families of those killed will never get their loved ones back and survivors will never will forget their experience, Vasquez vowed “that we will never forget.” He then listed the five victims by name pivoting the highlight and praise the heroic acts that happened in the moments during and directly after the gunman was tackled and held down by other two other club goers, one of whom had been shot and seriously wounded.
The Chief thanked the LGBTQ+ community for “their patience,” and he then introduced Colorado Springs Mayor Yemi Mobolade.
Mayor Yemi Mobolade, a Nigerian-American businessman and politician and the City’s first Black mayor, opened his remarks by addressing the victim’s families and survivors. “We see you, we remember you- and we will be here for you, that’s my pledge” he said.
Colorado Springs Deputy Fire Chief of Operations Jayme McConnellogue, told those assembled that as the mother of a gay son, the impact of the shooting was felt throughout the entire community of Colorado Springs. The Chief ended her emotional statement quoting by name slain San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk saying: “Hope is never silent.”
Engaged LA lesbian couple killed at Washington music festival
According to a Grant County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, the alleged gunman was shot by responding law enforcement and survived
GEORGE, Washington – A lesbian couple were shot to death during a mass-shooting incident near the Gorge Amphitheater at the Beyond Wonderland EDM electronic dance music festival on June 17.
The two deceased victims, Josilyn Ruiz, 26, and Brandy Escamilla, 29, both of whom were from the Los Angeles area and were living in Seattle as traveling nurses, were engaged to be married family members have said speaking to media outlets.
According to the Grant County Washington Sheriff’s Office, a third victim, 31-year-old Andrew J. Caudra AKA “August Morningstar” of Eugene, OR, was shot one time in the left shoulder and received medical treatment at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, WA. He is in stable condition but it is unknown if he has been released.
A fourth victim, 61-year-old Lori Williams, who was working with Crowd Management Services, responded to the area of the shots fired in a Polaris Ranger UTV. During her response she encountered the suspect who shot in her direction multiple times. Williams was struck by a single bullet that penetrated the windshield and struck her in the right side of her face shattering her glasses and causing bruising and lacerations. Williams was treated and later released at the scene.
A fifth victim, 20-year-old Lily A. Luksich of Millcreek, WA., attended the concert with Kelly. Luksich sustained two gunshot wounds to her lower extremities. Luksich was treated and has been released from Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake.
The family of Brandy Escamilla in a GoFundMe post wrote:
My name is Alex Escamilla, our beloved Brandy Escamilla attended the music festival Beyond Wonderland EDM at the Gorge on June 17, 2023 where she was shot and killed alongside her fiancée Josilyn Summer Ruiz.
We cannot put into words the pain our family is enduring. Brandy was kind, caring, the kind of person that would light up a room with her energy and her beautiful smile. Brandy was a daughter, niece, cousin, godmother, aunt, and fiancée. She was a huge light in our lives with a lot of goals and ambitions to look forward to.
She and her fiancée enjoyed going on endless adventures alongside their cat, Otis, and their friends.
Brandy earned her nursing degree at Mount St. Marys. As she was dedicated and passionate to helping others and making a difference in the world.
The family noted that the funds raised will go towards funeral expenses, bringing her personal belongings home to Los Angeles from Washington State, and any other needed services.
The family of Leilani Ruiz wrote in a separate GoFundMe post:
My name is Leilani Ruiz, I am the sister-in-law of Josilyn Ruiz. Josilyn Ruiz attended Beyond Wonderland Music Festival at the Gorge alongside her fiance Brandy June 17, 2023. That night the world lost two incredible people. Josilyn Ruiz and her Fiance Brandy were shot and killed at the event.
Our lives will never be the same. Josilyn is a daughter, sister, godmother, aunt, niece, cousin, friend, nurse, and fiancée. Words cannot describe the pain our family and friends are grieving from our precious loss of a wonderful angel.
Josilyn came into this world on July 13, 1996, hence why she received her middle name Summer, our ray of sunshine. As soon as you saw her she would brighten up the room with her big beautiful eyes, beautiful smile, and contagious laugh. Not only did our family and friends lose a special human being, but so did the world.
Josilyn became a Registered Nurse and had an immense passion for helping others. She loved to take on adventures with her fiancée Brandy, family, friends, and cat Otis. She absolutely loved dancing, singing, attending music festivals, outdoor adventures, acting, snowboarding, and traveling. She had a kind soul and was willing to go out of her way to help anyone in need.
She was a go-getter, and always went after what she wanted with a brave heart. Her personality was bubbly and full of joy, you would tend to find her doing something goofy to get a good laugh. Josilyn was a beautiful girl who is the definition of work hard- play hard. There are not enough words to describe the wonderful person she is and the wonderful life she lived. She is loved by many and will be truly missed.
Any donations would be greatly appreciated to go towards the efforts of retrieving Josilyn’s belongings in Seattle, WA, funeral services, and other unexpected costs.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for loving our Josilyn.
According to a Grant County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, the alleged gunman, identified as James M. Kelly, 26, was shot by responding law enforcement and survived.
In a press release, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office noted that Kelly, an Army Ranger, is a joint fire support specialist assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment, based out of Joint Base Lewis McCord.
“First, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command extends our condolences to the victims and families of those affected by this act of violence. The command is aware of the allegations against Spc. James Kelly,” Lt. Col. Michael Burns, a spokesman for the command, wrote in an email statement. “We take all allegations seriously and are fully cooperating with the appropriate authorities.”
Grant County Sheriff Joe Kriete noted that Kelly “was hospitalized for a gunshot wound and was returned to Grant County today where he is lodged in the Grant County Jail. He is held for investigation of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, and one count of first-degree assault domestic violence.”
Kansas man faces Federal charges: Threatened Nashville Pride
On April 26, 2023, he posted comments to Facebook for Nashville Pride- threatened to “make shrapnel pressure cooker bombs for this event”
NASHVILLE – A Kansas man has been indicted for making online threats to commit acts of violence at an upcoming Nashville Pride event, said United States Attorney Henry C. Leventis.
An indictment unsealed this week charges Joshua Hensley, aka Josh Echo, 25, of Hoisington, Kansas, with two counts of transmitting an interstate threat related to the upcoming Nashville Pride event, scheduled for June 24-25, 2023.
Hensley was arrested by FBI agents on Thursday at his home in Kansas and appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. A detention hearing is scheduled for Friday in the District of Kansas.
According to the indictment, on April 26, 2023, Hensley posted comments to a Facebook post for Nashville Pride and threatened to “make shrapnel pressure cooker bombs for this event.” In another comment posted the same day, Hensley threatened to “commit a mass shooting.”
“We will not tolerate hate-based, threats of violence designed to intimidate Tennesseans,” said U.S. Attorney Leventis. “We will continue to work with our partners at the FBI to ensure that the civil rights of all persons are protected.”
If convicted, Hensley faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.
This case is being investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nani M. Gilkerson of the Middle District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Kyle Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case.
Dozens of Pride flags vandalized at Stonewall National Monument
“We have so much hatred and anger in the air right now- We really need to reverse that and replace it with love compassion and acceptance”
WEST GREENWICH VILLAGE, NY – During Pride month every June, Stonewall National Monument volunteers put up 250 LGBTQ+ Pride Flags on the Black iron decorative picket fence that rings the Christopher Street park.
On Sunday, the volunteers found at least 70 of those flags torn down and damaged in what the New York Police Department‘s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating as a hate crime.
The Stonewall National Monument, the first U.S. national monument dedicated to LGBTQ+ history, was dedicated in 2016. It encompasses a park across the street from the Stonewall Inn, a bar where patrons fought back against a police raid on June 28, 1969, and helped spark the contemporary LGBTQ+ rights movement.
According to Park volunteer Steven Menendez, speaking with WNYW FOX 5 New York, flags are often pulled off the railing by partygoers late at night. But when Menendez woke Sunday morning and arrived he found 68 flags damaged– including 33 broken in one section– he said he was alarmed.
“We have so much hatred and anger in the air right now,” Menendez told FOX 5. “We really need to reverse that and replace it with love compassion and acceptance.”
Pride flags ripped down at Stonewall National Monument:
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