Myspace Doesn't End At Death


Justin 'Sushi' Schwartz

Chris 'Deacon 808' Williamson

Melissa Moore

Jason Travers

SEATTLE (AP) — A gunman opened fire early Saturday in a home, killing six young partygoers and critically injuring at least one other before committing suicide when confronted by police outside.

The heavily armed shooter, dressed in black, fired repeatedly as he made his way into the house, killing four men and two women, police said. He then went upstairs and tried to get into a locked bathroom where a young couple were hiding. Unable to enter, he fired through the door before leaving the pair unharmed.

The victims were found in several places in the rented home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood east of downtown, police said.

One of three other people taken to a hospital died and the third was in stable condition, a nursing supervisor said.

"It's one of the largest crime scenes the city has ever had," said Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske. Police said it appeared to be Seattle's worst mass killing since 1983, when 13 people died in an attack at a gambling club.

As darkness fell, young people gathered near the house — police tape kept them from getting too close — and lit candles for the victims.

Dozens of rounds were fired in the house, where about 20 people ranging from their early and mid teens to mid-20s had gathered after a larger party nearby titled "Better Off Undead." Some of the guests wore makeup "to look as if they were dead," the chief said.

He said the shooter left the home briefly and returned with a handgun and a 12-gauge pistol-grip shotgun, which Kerlikowske described as "a weapon not designed for hunting purposes but for hunting people."

The gunman, identified only as a local man in his late 20s, also wore bandoliers of shells for the shotgun and carrying additional clips for the handgun, the chief said. In his truck, police found an assault rife and multiple "banana clips" carrying 30 bullets each.

As the gunman walked the half block from his truck to the house, he spray painted the word "NOW" in orange twice on the sidewalk and once on the steps of a neighbor's home, police said.

Officers said they were not aware of a possible motive. Police said they did not know whether drugs or alcohol were a factor, though Kerlikowske said marijuana and alcohol were found in the house.

"This kind of gun violence is extremely unusual for Seattle and this neighborhood," said Mayor Greg Nickels in a statement. "We don't know the exact reason, but we do know that it wasn't random."

Kerlikowske said an officer in the neighborhood heard shots fired at just after 7 a.m. When Officer Steve Leonard reached the scene, he found one person staggering out of the house with a gunshot wound.

The officer confronted another man who emerged with a shotgun, telling him to put the weapon down, Kerlikowske said. The man turned the gun on himself and fired a fatal shot, he said.

William Lowe, 59, who lives across the street, said he heard six shots shortly after his alarm went off. He looked out in time to see people scattering from the home, some with faces painted and hair dyed.

Lowe said he saw the man with the shotgun put the barrel in his mouth and fire.

Nancie Thorne told The Seattle Times that her 15-year-old daughter, Suzanne, was in the house when the man opened fire.

She said the girl's boyfriend called her Saturday morning to say that they had gone to the house following an electronic dance party on Friday night — a "zombie rave."

"It's the worst phone call a mom can get," Thorne said, crying. "She shouldn't have gone to the rave. I've never approved of those things. ... I just hope to God she's alive. And if she is, she's grounded for life."

Hospital officials said the girl was not there.

Aaron Hoyle, 25, of Renton, said about five people in or around their 20s lived in the blue, two-story bungalow with white trim, and that some were promoters of warehouse parties. Hoyle hadn't been to the home in about three months, but heard about the shooting on the news and came to see if his friends were all right.


Alarmed by the violence in her Oakland neighborhood, Danita King moved her family 40 miles away to a new subdivision in Oakley, where she believed her daughter would find safety and opportunity in the suburbs.

But her dream of a better life came to an end Wednesday when she came home to find her 14-year-old daughter, Nadawn Brown, strangled to death in their home, killed, police said, by a classmate whom fellow students called a spurned suitor.

"It's terrible that Nadawn's mother worked so hard to move her to a safer place, and now this sweet, beautiful child has died," said the Rev. Joseph Simmons, the family's spokesman and pastor of Greater St. Paul Baptist Church in Oakland. "She moved out there because her mother wanted her to have all the opportunity in the world. A lot of people think that it's just in the inner city that these things can happen, but they can happen anywhere."

Police arrested a 17-year-old boy within hours of Nadawn's death; he remained jailed Thursday night, held on suspicion of murder.

It was the first homicide in Oakley, a growing suburb on the eastern edge of Contra Costa County, since 2002, and it stunned Nadawn's neighbors and classmates -- many of whom also left Oakland and Richmond for what they thought was the safety of the suburbs.

"This isn't supposed to happen out here," said Jeremy DuPree, 18, a senior who moved to Antioch from Oakland three years ago. "I mean, that's what everyone thinks when they move out here. People look at the nice houses and the quiet streets and really feel like this is another world. But it's not. Stuff can happen anywhere."

It was a tough lesson for many of the 3,000 students at Deer Valley High, especially Nadawn's friends and acquaintances.

"This is a total shock to me," said Michael Thompson, a junior who moved to Antioch from Oakland four years ago. "Why anybody would want to kill this girl is just crazy to me. She was totally cool, she was funny, she was quiet, she didn't cause any trouble."

Investigators would not discuss the motive for Nadawn's death, saying only that the suspect is a classmate at Deer Valley. Several students and neighbors said they believe the suspect, who lived several blocks away from Nadawn, had made advances toward Nadawn but was rebuffed.

"We developed information with the assistance of the family that led us to some folks that we needed to talk to," Chris Thorsen, Oakley police chief, said Thursday. Thorsen declined to elaborate, saying further details may be forthcoming after investigators submit their findings to the district attorney's office today.

Nadawn's mother found her daughter unconscious in the hallway of their home just before 6 p.m. Wednesday. She ran from the house yelling for someone to call 911, neighbors said.

Authorities could not revive Nadawn; an autopsy Thursday showed she had died of "asphyxiation by strangulation."

Investigators said they knew from the start that they were dealing with a homicide.

"It quickly became apparent that we were looking at a crime scene," Thorsen said. "There were signs of a struggle in the home."

Investigators immediately began questioning Nadawn's friends, Thorsen said, and that led them to the suspect. After questioning him, police arrested him around 11:30 p.m. and he was booked into juvenile hall on suspicion of murder.

Nadawn's family moved to a ranch-style home on El Lago Drive in September 2004. Nadawn continued attending an accelerated academic program at Martin Luther King Middle School, then transferred to Deer Valley last fall to begin the ninth grade.

Rick French, who lives next door to Nadawn's family, said they were pleasant and neighborly, and never any trouble.

"With a teenager in the house, I actually expected them to be louder," he said. "I can tell you that the young girl was very quiet, very polite and very nice. I would say they are pretty much ideal next-door neighbors."

The family also continued attending Greater St. Paul in downtown Oakland, where Nadawn was active in a youth dance group, sang in the choir, and participated in plays and skits, Simmons said.

"Her entire family, even extended family, is active in the church, and this is a tragedy that affects people in several communities," he said.

Nadawn quickly made many friends at Deer Valley. She was known as a studious young woman who seemed shy at first but opened up once she knew you.

"She was nervous about going to a new school, but she did really well and she was happy," said Briana Henderson, a longtime friend from church. "She is the kind of person you cannot help but to like, and everyone saw that."

Officials at Deer Valley High summoned counselors from schools throughout the district to help students with their grief. A shrine to Nadawn appeared in a hallway, and as part of an exercise to work through their grief, some of her friends made posters describing her.

"It was the saddest day at school I've ever seen," said Dashia Brown, a junior who is not related to Nadawn. "This doesn't happen at Deer Valley."


HOWELL, MI -- Howell High School had a grief support team in place today for students and staff following the unexplained death of a Howell student Tuesday morning.

Alan Earl Bensinger, 16, died at his home, according to information from the school district. He would have been 17 next month.

"All of the members of the high school community mourn the loss of Alan,'' said a statement released from the school district. His funeral was scheduled for Friday.

Interim Howell Police Chief Ed Harwood said an autopsy will be performed. He said he could not speculate on the cause of death but he said that there was no foul play.

"We'll have to wait until the (autopsy) results come back'' to determine a cause of death, Harwood said.

This is at least the second loss of a student faced by the Howell High School community this school year. Sophomore Mackenzie Watts fell ill and died poolside at the school last November.

Bensinger was a Howell native who was active in the high school band program. He attended both Northwest Elementary School and Highlander Way Middle School, the school statement said.

The high school junior played French horn in class and for two years had been one of the school's bagpipers in the marching band, said Jason Smigell, a music teacher and Howell High School director of bands.

Smigell said Bensinger had been in his class for the past three years.

"His loss hurts a great deal,'' he said. "Even the kids who did not know him well are hurting. We're a family. A band group is tight knit. It's just very sad.''

Rehearsals were canceled Tuesday as band students and others talked about their classmate. Smigell said he hopes that when the band plays again it will help the grieving process. "I'm hoping that it will have a cathartic effect,'' he said.

Bensinger was personable and had many friends, Smigell added. "He always had a smile on his face.''

He is survived by his parents, Julie Bensinger of Howell and Russell Bensinger of White Lake Township, and a sister, Heidi Bensinger, a 2005 graduate of Howell High School.


ANAHEIM – Dancing and Denny's was a beloved tradition for Armand Jones and his buddies, friends said.

But the young man known for his fashionable clothes and flashy chains died early Friday in a gunbattle between two groups in the parking lot of a Denny's restaurant.

Jones, 18, staggered into the crowded eatery and fell dead in the foyer.

A second man lay wounded in the parking lot of the Denny's at 2005 E. Katella Ave. but he was expected to live after being taken to UCI Medical Center.

The fight began earlier in the evening at the Boogie, an Anaheim club for those under 21 years old, said Anaheim police Sgt. Rick Martinez. The fight rekindled in the men's room of the Denny's at about 2:30 a.m. when several members of one group attempted to rob a man involved in the earlier argument.

Martinez said the attempted holdup grew into a hostile face-off between the two groups, who numbered about 20. At least 20 shots were fired in the fatal gunfight.

They spilled into the parking lot, where witness Joseph Rail, 50, was sitting in has car after finishing his meal.

"I heard the shots and I thought they were fireworks," he said later. "Then I heard commotion and I turned to see people running." He stayed in his car until ordered into the restaurant by police.

At least one car in the parking lot had bullet holes.

Martinez said the restaurant is known as a popular place to stop after the bars and nightclubs close.

Police are still looking for suspects.

Armand Jones of Long Beach attended Cerritos Junior College, friends said.

Jones' friend, Kiddo Jones, 21, of Long Beach, said he'd often joined his friend at the Boogie.

"He'd dance like crazy. He loved the Boogie. It was his favorite spot on Thursday and Saturday hip-hop nights and then everyone goes to Denny's," said Kiddo Jones, who opted out Thursday night.

Jones said his friend had a way with people – either spitting out jokes or acting goofy.

"This is a guy you can't hate," Jones said. "Everyone loved Armand."

Armand Jones was an aspiring rap artist who went by "Young Prozpect" because he believed he was the next generation of music, said song partner Shehana Dalpathado, 16.

"He lived and breathed rap music," Dalpathado said. "He believed he was the next best thing and, honestly, he was. He had the looks and the talent."

Dalpathado said Jones spent much of his time in the recording studio and working on lyrics.

Manuel Olague, 24, said he had worked at the Denny's for six years before quitting last week. He said the restaurant had rarely been the scene of trouble and that it was usually protected by two guards.

It was unclear if the guards were on duty at the time of the shooting.

Investigators found a handgun and about 20 expended shells in the parking lot. It was not known whether the handgun had been fired in the shootout, Martinez said.

Martinez said there were other shootings this week at Denny's restaurants, in Pismo Beach and in Ontario, but there was no known connection between those shootings and the one in Anaheim.

Denny's issued a statement on the shootings from its headquarters in Spartanburg, S.C.

"These unrelated events are most unfortunate and tragic. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families," read the statement.

Jones' friend, Dwayne Campbell, 19, of Long Beach, came to the restaurant later in the day and said Jones was just a kid trying to make it.

"I've known him for over 10 years and he absolutely wasn't involved in gangs. He was trying to be a rapper, actor and comedian. He was just a really cool person."


CULVER CITY, California (AP) -- The driver of a vehicle that barreled onto a sidewalk, killing a teacher and injuring eight young students, was arrested Wednesday, police said.

Laura Samayoa, 20, of Los Angeles, was booked for investigation of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and hit-and-run collision involving a fatality, authorities said.

She told police the crash was caused when her boyfriend grabbed the steering wheel during an argument, police Sgt. Brian Fitzpatrick said. (Watch how a witness caught her, see the tiny shoes under wheels -- 1:29)

An attorney for the passenger, 19-year-old Reynaldo Cruz, said his client told him he didn't grab the car's steering wheel.

"He flatly denies that," attorney Peter Navarro told The Associated Press.

Samayoa and Cruz were being held on $400,000 bail. Cruz, who turned himself in late Wednesday, was booked on the same charges, said police Lt. Chris Maddox.

The injured students, whose ages ranged from 10 to 13, had just left a nearby school when the car barreled onto the sidewalk about 3 p.m., Maddox said.

Three children were in good condition at UCLA Medical Center and two were in fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Two other children were in stable condition at Brotman Medical Center, and one who had been admitted there in stable condition was later transferred to another facility, a spokeswoman said.

A witness said he was leaving work in the suburb just southwest of Los Angeles when he heard screeching tires. He said a woman he believed to be the driver tried to leave the scene but he stopped her.

"I looked across the street and I saw bodies flying, and the car literally pivoted around and came to a stop," Tennyson Collins told KCAL-TV.

Collins said the woman climbed out the driver's side window and began to run. He said he chased her.

"At first she said, 'I wasn't the driver.' And I said, 'You were in the car. You need to come back as a witness,"' Collins said.

The woman told Collins she couldn't go back.

"She said she had a 2-year-old child, and she was going to jail and was really scared," Collins said.

Los Angeles County coroner's Lt. John Kades identified the teacher as Carrie Philips but declined to release her age or other information.

Police said the teacher worked at Turning Point School, a private school that enrolls students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

A distraught woman who answered the phone at the school declined to identify the teacher or discuss the accident.


Deaf beauty contest winner Tara McAvoy was walking along the railroad tracks from her Austin, Texas, home to her mother's workplace, text-messaging family and friends, when a train struck her and killed her, according to the Austin Police Department.

A Massachusetts-born Texan, who liked to quote "Don't mess with Texas," the 18-year-old was going to represent the Lone Star State at the Miss Deaf America Pageant in Palm Desert, California, this July.

It was one of many pageants McAvoy had entered, "both in the hearing community and in the deaf community," said Claire Bugen, superintendent of the Texas School for the Deaf, on Wednesday. McAvoy was a 2005 graduate of the school, where she played sports and acted in theater.

"She was a beautiful, bright, young deaf woman," said Bugen.

The Austin Police Department received a 911 call from Union-Pacific, which owns the train, at 2:18 p.m. Monday, said Laura Albrecht, spokesperson for the Austin Police Department. (Watch as witnesses describe accident -- 1:33)

"Our understanding is that she text-messaged the family, and yes, the family members were going to pick her up," Albrecht added.

McAvoy was walking northbound along the railroad ties, with her back to the train as it approached, said Austin Police Department detective David Fugitt. "We have information that she was text-messaging family and friends" at the time, he added.

A horn sounded, but "they weren't able to get a response" from her, Fugitt said.

"At that point, they activated their emergency braking system, but they weren't able to stop in time."

A snowplow -- commonly referred to as "cattle-guards" for pushing items away from the tracks to avoid train damage -- was what struck McAvoy, who was estimated to be "no more than a foot" from the tracks, Fugitt said.

"The snowplow extends approximately 16 inches on each side from the train," he said, and was mounted to the front engine of the train.

McAvoy died at the scene from "multiple traumatic injuries," Fugitt said.

Fugitt said there were witnesses who had heard the horn sound and that the police department was actively seeking anyone who had seen the accident occur.

An investigation is under way with Union Pacific and the Travis County Medical Examiner's Office, Fugitt said. He said the Austin Police Department was awaiting information from Union Pacific on how fast the train, with its 24 cars and two engines, was going.

McAvoy's funeral is set for Saturday morning in Austin.

In addition to her schooling at the Texas School for the Deaf, McAvoy briefly attended the Model Secondary School for the Deaf, which is affiliated with Gallaudet University, in Washington. A profile on its Web site said McAvoy was class president, a cheerleader, on the prom committee and played basketball.

"She will be sorely missed," said Laura Loeb-Hill, director of the Miss Deaf Texas Pageant, in an e-mail Wednesday. "Tara represented Texas with dignity and pride."


BRANDON - A bizarre accident claimed the life of a Hillsborough County teenager Monday night and left friends and family mourning the popular football star.

Investigators say Joshua Hershberger was killed when a decorative sword fell off his bedroom wall and stabbed the 15-year-old. The grim news made for a somber day at Brandon High School, where Joshua was a sophomore.

Tuesday was an FCAT testing day at the school, so keeping students focused was a top priority.

"We're trying to keep it as normal a day as possible," schools spokesman Steve Hegarty said. "I've talked to a number of teachers today and the principal, and they said that he had excellent grades and he took very challenging courses. So he was a bright kid with his future ahead of him."

Josh's death was described as an unusual accident. He was bouncing a kickball in his room with his younger brother and sister when a 29-inch sword got knocked off the wall, hitting him in the neck and shoulder as it fell.

He was taken to Brandon Regional Hospital, where he died.

"I specifically asked the detective last night, and he said the best way to describe [the sword] is 'gothic,' like you would hang on the wall for decoration," offered sheriff's office spokeswoman Debbie Carter.

Tuesday, art students had made an impromptu memorial for Josh, a 6-foot-tall star football player said to be the heart of the team.

"I just talked to him yesterday at school and then the next day, all of the sudden, this happens. I was just shocked," friend Kenneth Stoneburg offered.

"You don't want to think about it, but being in school you can't stop because everybody's running around. So I just had to go home," Robert Crews added.

Josh's mother told Action News off-camera that the swords were merely decorative. She had bought them for her son as Christmas presents.


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