Live Coverage

Today's News: April 18, 2017

The U.K. election, a blocked execution in Arkansas, and more from the United States and around the world.

Toby Melville / Reuters

—U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May calls for fresh elections on June 8.

—Arkansas officials bid to carry out the state’s first execution in more than a decade fails.

—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4).


This live blog has concluded

3 Killed in Fresno Shooting

Police block off a road after a shooting incident in downtown Fresno, California on April 18, 2017. (Fresno County Sheriff / Reuters)

A suspect was apprehended after killing three people and injuring one other Tuesday in downtown Fresno, California, in what authorities are calling “a random act of violence.” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said at a news conference the suspect, who was identified as 39-year-old Kori Ali Muhammad, allegedly shot and killed three people in the city’s downtown area, including a Pacific Gas & Electric employee and two others outside a Catholic Charities facility. Muhammad, who police say yelled “God is great” in Arabic before he was apprehended, was wanted by police on suspicion of fatally shooting a security guard outside a Fresno hotel last week. Dyer added the suspect’s Facebook page indicated “he does not like white people,” and also included “anti-government sentiments.” Authorities did not label the incident a hate crime, and said it is too soon to determine if it was an act of terrorism. Muhammad is believed to have acted alone and faces four counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder.

This story is developing and we will update it as we learn more.

Pedro Hernandez Sentenced to 25 Years to Life in Etan Patz Murder Case

Louis Lanzano / Reuters

Pedro Hernandez was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison Tuesday for the kidnapping and murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz, marking an end to the infamous case that began nearly four decades ago. Hernandez was convicted by a New York jury in February at the end of the case’s second trial. The first, which took place in 2015, ended in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked. Hernandez confessed in 2012 that he lured Patz into the basement of the grocery store where he worked in 1979 and strangled him; Hernadez’s lawyers argued the confession was a product of police manipulation and that Hernandez is mentally ill. Patz, whose body was never found, was one of the first missing children to ever be pictured on a milk carton. The anniversary of his disappearance has since been commemorated as National Missing Children’s Day.   

United Airlines CEO: No One Will Be Fired Over Dragging Incident

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said Tuesday no one would be fired from the airline over last week’s incident in which a passenger was dragged off what was thought to be an overbooked flight. The airlines’s executives added it was too soon to tell how the incident has affected ticket sales. Video of the incident, which showed police forcibly drag the 69-year-old passenger, Dr. David Dao, off his seat and down the plane’s aisle, generated global backlash against the airline and wiped nearly $1 billion off United Continental Holdings Inc’s value. Munoz condemned the event as a “system failure” and vowed the airline would no longer use law enforcement to remove passengers who are “booked, paid, seated.” The controversy prompted other airlines to revisit their policies, as well. Delta Airlines announced Friday it would increase its compensation to passengers removed from overbooked flights from $1,350 to $9,950, and American Airlines said it would no longer permit the removal of passengers who have already boarded the plane.

Police Say Facebook-Murder Suspect Steve Stephens Found Dead


Updated at 1:23 p.m.

Pennsylvania State Police announced Tuesday that Steve Stephens, the man authorities in Cleveland say shot and killed a 74-year-old man and uploaded video of the slaying to Facebook, killed himself in Erie County.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams thanked the public for their help in finding Stephens, noting authorities had 400 tips on his whereabouts. He also warned of using social media to post videos of violence. “We can’t do this in this country,” Williams said in a news conference. “I think the people on social media kind of know the power and the harm it can do.” The video remained on Facebook for more than two hours before it was removed by the social-networking site. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said: “We will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”

As J. Weston Phippen reported yesterday:

Stephens made several Facebook posts before the shooting, saying he’d lost all his money gambling and that he was upset with his girlfriend. He also claimed to have committed a dozen other murders, though police have not verified if that is true. The killing happened Sunday afternoon, and the video, as described byThe Washington Post, shows Stephens approach a man, then ask him to repeat the name of his girlfriend. The man does so, then Stephens says, “She’s the reason why this is about to happen to you.” Stephens then raises the gun and fires, according to the Post. The victim was identified as Robert Godwin Sr., and police said there was no indication the men knew each other. Authorities say they believe Stephens left the state, and they cautioned residents in Pennsylvania and New York that he is armed and dangerous. Stephens was last seen in a white Ford Fusion.

Following the killing, Facebook said it needed to respond to such videos more quickly. “We know we need to do better,” Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice president of global operations, said Monday in a blog post. As early as this morning, Stephens’s whereabouts were unknown. Rumors that Stephens had been spotted in other cities and as far afield as Texas were dismissed by authorities in those places. This is not the first time a crime has been committed and video of it found on Facebook.

U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Arkansas Executions

Protesters demonstrate against Arkansas’s scheduled executions outside the Capitol building in Little Rock on April 14, 2017. (Kelly P. Kissel / AP)

The U.S. Supreme Court declined early Tuesday to vacate the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling halting a scheduled execution from taking place. The high court’s ruling, which came just minutes before the death warrant of 54-year-old inmate Don Davis expired, prevented the state of Arkansas from conducting the first of eight lethal injections scheduled to take place this month, as well as the first execution to take place in the state since 2005. The court provided no explanation for the denial, and no dissents were recorded. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said he was “disappointed” by the decision, but added the state “will continue to fight back on last minute appeals and efforts to block justice for the victims’ families.” As Garrett Epps noted, the state’s decision to schedule eight executions over the span of just 11 days—a rate the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors executions in the U.S., called “unprecedented”—correlates with the state’s supply of execution-drug midazolam that is set to expire at the end of the month.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May Calls for New Elections on June 8

(Toby Melville / Reuters)

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has called for early general election on June 8, a date that marks almost one year since the country voted to leave the European Union. “The country is coming together but Westminster is not,” May said, referring to the U.K.’s Parliament. Lawmakers will vote tomorrow on May’s call, and they are expected to approve early elections; elections were previously scheduled for 2020. While political opposition to Brexit remains high, polls still narrowly support the vote; more good news for May is that her Conservative party is comfortably ahead of most of its rivals.