Friday, 29 July 2011

Police investigate possible gang connection after fight

Norristown police responded to a report of several people dragging a man out of the street and toward the entrance to Crawford Park near Main Street Monday, where officers found just two bloodied men who had been fighting.

A 23-year-old Stanbridge Street man, Joel Chatman, was charged with simple assault, public drunkenness, drug charges and disorderly conduct, according to a Norristown police report.

Police are investigating the possibility that the violence was gang related given the suspect’s street address matched that of a residence recently firebombed. It is allegedly local suspects with ties to a “Bloods” gang based in Brooklyn who are responsible. However, no other suspects were found in the vicinity or identified.

When officers arrived at 12:22 a.m. Monday in the vicinity of West Main and Water streets, they saw Chatman exiting a driveway near the park and stopped him to find out what he knew. When an officer asked where the person he had been fighting with had gone, Chatman reportedly said, “I think he went up that way,” gesturing to the back of the 200 block of Pearl Street, according to police.

Chatman had blood on his hands and clothing and was allegedly visibly intoxicated. He was taken into custody. The man claimed he had been “jumped” on Lafayette Street and got into a fight. A shirt police found in the street belonged to the suspect.

Another officer found an injured man there who was treated by medics and flown to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

When searched following his arrest, Chatman was found to be carrying a plastic bag in his pocket labeled, “Cloud 9 Extra Strength,” that officers suspected was either organic or synthetic marijuana.

Medics treated Chatman’s bleeding hand, but he declined further treatment. He also was wanted for several fine and cost warrants.

The defendant, who was violating probation, is currently being held at Montgomery County Correctional Facility on $5,000 bail.


2 arrested after search for gunman near Occidental College

A search by Los Angeles police for a man with a gun near Occidental College led to the arrest Wednesday of two men with gang ties, police said.

Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department's gang enforcement unit saw an alleged gang member carrying a weapon about noon Wednesday near the Eagle Rock campus and alerted colleagues.

Officers blocked off an area at Avenue 45 and Alumni Drive and began searching for the gunman.

Police detained the two men but were still searching for the weapon spotted earlier, said Cmdr. Andy Smith.


Thursday, 7 July 2011

Bulger to be arraigned for 19 murders

Former reputed mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger, who escaped prosecution for 16 years until he was captured last month in California, is set to return to federal court in Boston to enter a plea on 19 murder charges.
Bulger is to be arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler, formally responding to criminal charges for the first time in nearly two decades.

Prosecutors allege that the 81-year-old former head of Boston's notorious Winter Hill Gang was involved in the killings to eliminate rivals, silence potential witnesses and divert investigators' attention from other slayings.

Bulger was caught in Santa Monica, Calif., on June 22.

He was an FBI informant who provided information on his gang's main rivals and fled after an agent leaked to him word of an impending indictment.

Bulger was given a taxpayer-funded attorney Thursday after a judge concluded that he is unable to pay for his own lawyer.

Prosecutors argued that Bulger's family — including his brother William Bulger, the former Massachusetts Senate president — have the means to help pay for Whitey Bulger's defense. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly also suggested that Bulger could have lied about his assets on the financial form he filed with the court.

"This defendant is facing a veritable avalanche of charges," Kelly said. "He could care less" about the truthfulness of his financial disclosure, Kelly said.

But Bulger's provisional attorney, Peter Krupp, said no one in Bulger's family had come forward and offered to help him financially. He also said authorities have seized all of Bulger's assets as the proceeds of illegal activity, leaving him with no way to pay for his defense.

Bowler agreed.

"I find at this time that the defendant is unable to retain counsel privately," Bowler said.

She appointed J.W. Carney Jr., a prominent Boston defense attorney, to represent Bulger.

Carney has represented a long list of high-profile defendants, including John Salvi III, who was convicted of killing two people and wounding five others in a shooting rampage at two Planned Parenthood clinics in Brookline, Mass., in 1994. He also represents Tarek Mehanna, a Sudbury, Mass., man now awaiting trial in an alleged terror plot to shoot shoppers at U.S. malls, assassinate two politicians and kill American troops in Iraq.

Krupp said he believes it will be "profoundly difficult" for Bulger to receive a fair trial, given the pervasive media coverage Bulger received during his years on the run and the recent flood of coverage since his capture last week in Santa Monica, Calif.

Carney said it is too early to say whether he will ask for the trial to be moved out of Boston.

"Our constitution guarantees every defendant the right to a fair trial, and we're going to see that he gets it," he said.

Police were called at 7 a.m. after a body was reported on a pathway in the 3000-block of Spuraway Avenue, leading to Meadowbrook School in Coquitlam

A nature trail in a quaint hillside Coquitlam neighbourhood was a crime scene Wednesday as police investigated what’s believed to be the third “targeted homicide” in the Lower Mainland since April.

The B.C. Ambulance Service called police to a path near the 800-block Ranch Park Way at 3000-block Spuraway Avenue, near the intersection of Lougheed Highway and Dewdney Trunk Road, at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning.

The trail leads down through a small wooded area to a cul-de-sac beside Meadowbrook Elementary School.

The coroner confirmed the victim was a man, and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team later confirmed that he was killed at the spot where his body was discovered.

“The victim was known to police and it is believed that this was consistent with a targeted homicide,” Sgt. Jennifer Pound said in a release, which also stated that neighbours had heard what they thought were gunshots or firecrackers but nobody called police.

Police say it doesn’t appear that the victim is a neighbourhood resident.

One neighbour, who lives a block from the trail on Ranch Park Way, says she was watching TV at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday when she heard “two, maybe three” popping noises.

“We hear trains and other noises around here, but this was different,” said the neighbour, who asked to remain anonymous. “The first thing I thought of was a gun.”

Tuesday night’s homicide is the third of its kind in the space of about a month.

On June 4, 43-year-old Balwinder Uppal died of multiple gunshot wounds in a home in the 7400 block of 140 Street in Surrey.

Three weeks later, 24-year-old Christopher Reddy was shot and killed. His body was found on the side of the road near 111 Avenue and 132 Street in Surrey.

Police said they believed both murders were targeted. Reddy’s death was also believed to be gang-related.


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