Things That Matter

A Country Is On Edge As White Men Threaten To “Shoot Up” Walmart’s From Texas To Florida

In the wake of a deadly mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, threats of copycat attacks are emerging across the United States, causing patrons, particularly Latinos, fear to even shop at the low-cost retail corporation.

On the morning of August 3, a white supremacist terrorist walked into the Walmart Supercenter in east El Paso with a semi-automatic, opening fire at a sea of shoppers. Twenty people were killed and 24 others were injured, most of them Latinos. The shooting is the second-deadliest attack directed at Latinos in recent history, following the 2016 mass killing at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, which claimed the lives of 49 people, 90 percent of them gay Latinos.

Many fear that copycat gunmen are emboldened after the El Paso attack.

The gunman, a pro-Trump white man who was arrested and is facing capital murder charges, has a documented history of being a far-right white nationalist, with multiple anti-Latinx and anti-immigrant posts on his social networks. In one, he says he was inspired by the Christchurch mosque shooting, was concerned about a “Hispanic invasion” and was “defending his country.”

Since the El Paso Massacre, at least eight Walmart’s have faced threats across the country.

In the days that have followed the El Paso attack, the deadliest mass assault in 2019, officers have arrested several white supremacist men inspired by Crusius who have made threats about carrying out killings at Walmarts near them.

Walmart shoppers in Texas were threatened at least two times since El Paso.

In Texas, two more warnings of attacks at the retail store have shaken the state. On Wednesday, a 13-year-old boy was arrested for making terroristic threatening remarks that led to the evacuation of a Walmart. Also, over the weekend, a man was arrested for posting an “imminent threat” on a social media site that was supposed to occur at a store in Harlington at a planned date. He was placed under arrest for a “terroristic threat.”

In Missouri, 20-year-old Dmitriy Andreychenko walked into a Walmart store on Thursday wearing body armor and carrying a rifle and a handgun.

The man didn’t fire his weapons, but his menacing presence still sent shoppers to flee. Andreychenko, who recorded the entire incident, said he was testing if “Walmart honored the second amendment.” The state does not require a permit to openly or conceal carry a firearm for people who are 19 years or older. Andreychenkom, who was arrested by an off-duty firefighter, faces up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted of the felony charge of making a terrorist threat in the second degree.

A Florida Walmart was evacuated after a man called in threatening to “shoot up” the place.

A day after the shooting in El Paso, a Florida man called and threatened to “shoot up” a Tampa-area Walmart where his mother is employed. Shortly after the call, officers directed shoppers out of the store and into the parking lot. While law enforcement later determined the threat was not credible and soon reopened the store, the man, 31-year-old Wayne Lee Padgett, was arrested and charged for making a false report of using a firearm in a violent manner, which is a felony offense in the state.

Also in the Sunshine State, a man in Central Florida warned on Facebook that his followers shouldn’t go to Walmart this week.

Apparently, the man was expecting to receive his semi-automatic. According to law enforcement, the 26-year-old subscribes to white supremacist ideology and has a history of creating fake accounts to make menacing posts. He has been charged with writing threats to kill or do bodily harm.

The growing violence directed at Latinos, including a massive immigration raid in Mississippi that rounded up 680 mostly Latino workers, has many fearful of running errands or speaking Spanish outside of their homes. For them, being brown, speaking accented English or conversing in Spanish marks them for death in the current political and social climate.

On Twitter, many Latinos are voicing their concern.

“I, a Latino and immigrant who works at Walmart, fear for my life every time I go in to put produce on shelf because I could be shot,” tweeted one user on Tuesday.

Others have made the decision to stop shopping at the retail store altogether.

“Dear @Walmart, my exchange student from Colombia arrives next week. No way in hell will I take this young Latino woman school shopping in one of your stores. I fear for her safety and mine,” wrote another Twitter user on Wednesday. 

For those living in areas with vast populations of Latinos like Los Angeles, New York, Texas, Chicago and Florida as well as in locales where they are a minority, the fear is all the same. In a country where 18 percent of the population is Latino and so much of the national history, language, culture and economy is shaped by Latinos, we, and all we encompass, have become targets of violence by a growing group of homicidal white supremacist men.

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The Colombian City Where Body Parts Wash Up On The Shore So Often It’s Become Normal

Things That Matter

The Colombian City Where Body Parts Wash Up On The Shore So Often It’s Become Normal

Colombia has made incredible progress since the 1990’s when the country was a hotbed for international drug trafficking and guerrilla warfare. Today, modern bustling cities are home to shopping centers, museums, and hordes of international visitors.

However, despite the advancements, the country is still in a delicate peace deal with the main guerrilla oppossition – Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) – and there are many other paramilitary groups that still operate across the country, including in the main port city of Buenavista.

The city of Buenavista is seeing an uptick in body parts washing up along its shores.

In mid-January, an arm washed up on the city’s shore. It was quickly assumed, by local media reports, that the arm belonged to one of three local fisherman who had most likely been rounded up, killed, and dismembered. The arm had a tattoo on it, connecting it to one of the missing men, Armando Valencia.

And it wasn’t the first time this has happened. According to residents, body parts washing up on beaches is a tragically familiar occurrence. “There were some reports of body parts washing up at La Bocana [a nearby tourist spot]. A head, a leg, an arm,” said María Miyela Riascos, a social leader from Buenaventura, in a statement to VICE News. “Also, they found a man and a woman dismembered in the rural area of Bajo Calima.”

Violence has been rampant in Buenaventura for decades. The city has some of the highest rates of forced displacement and homicide in the country. But seldom has it been confronted by the levels of brutality experienced in the past year.

Criminal groups have long terrorized the city but things seem to be out of control.

So many different criminal groups have terrorized the slums of Colombia’s main Pacific port that residents rarely bother to learn the name of the latest clan in control. They simply call the warring gangs los malos or the bad guys.

Three people have been killed or disappeared daily, and conflict between organized crime has displaced as many as 6,000 people. Videos on Twitter show people fleeing their homes and young men and women patrolling with assault weapons. #SOSbuenaventura has been trending.

Community leaders see darker interests behind the violence, saying the areas where most crimes occur are the same where plans have been laid for a waterfront project, an airport and seaport terminals. “I see the violence as a means of pressure to get us off this area so they can build their projects,” Armando Valencia told The Guardian.

Criminals use “chop houses” to dismember their victims.

Colombian navy special forces on patrol among stilted waterfront shacks in Buenaventura
Credit: Fernando Vergara / Getty Images

The criminals recruit children, extort businesses, force people from their homes and dismember live victims, scattering their remains in the bay or surrounding jungle. Dozens of wooden huts balanced precariously on stilts over the bay have been abandoned by terrorized citizens and taken over by the gangs for use as casas de pique, or chop houses, where they torture and murder their victims.

The chop houses are the most gruesome consequence of a deeply flawed attempt to dismantle rightwing militias, which originally emerged to combat leftwing guerrillas in collusion with state security forces and drug traffickers.

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More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

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More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Photo via bella_joy_gardens/Instagram

On June 10th, 2020, a senseless crime was committed. 21-year-old Isabella Thallas was shot and killed while she was out walking her dog with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Darian Simon. Simon, who was shot as well, survived.

Almost immediately after Thallas lost her life, the police were informed of the murderer: 36-year-old Michael Close, who lived in the same building as the couple.

Michael Close had shot the couple from his window with an AK-47. Thallas died almost instantly.

Close was quickly arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and possession of a high-capacity magazine during a crime.

But questions piled up as to why Close committed this crime in the first place. Why did he target the couple? Was the murder pre-meditated? How did this unstable man get his hands on an AK-47?

As the police put the pieces together, the motive was shocking. According to Close, he shot and killed Thallas because her dog defecated in the alley behind his unit.

The story he gave police lined up with Darian Simon’s version of events as well. Simon says that he and Thallas were walking their dog together behind their building. Simon commanded the dog to “poop” when he heard Close yelling at him from the window above them.

“Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?” Close allegedly yelled out the window at them. When Simon bent down to pick up the dog’s feces, that’s when Close open-fired out the window. Simon was able to run away with wounds to his lower body. Thallas lost her life.

According to Close’s girlfriend, the man had been mentally unwell for a long time.

He had been diagnosed with depression as well as a personality disorder but refused to seek help. He frequently abused drugs and alcohol after being sober for three years.

The murder of Thallas was a culmination of a tumultuous night where he had been drinking and arguing with his girlfriend for hours. Thallas just happened to be the person who was at the receiving-end of his outburst. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And recently, some more disturbing information has come to light about Thallas’s murder.

According to Denver Police, the gun that Close used to murder Thallas was taken from his friend, police officer Sgt. Dan Politica.

The close friendship between a police officer and an unhinged murder is, understandably, drawing questions from the Denver community.

The Denver Police Department confirmed that Close and Politica were “close friends”. Thalla’s mother, Anna Thallas, appears to have even more information on the friendship.

“They’re best friends. Life-long best friends for over 20 years. They grew up together,” she told 9News Denver.

Anna Thallas is angry and frustrated that the Denver police aren’t conducting an internal investigation.

The DPD argues that Sgt. Politica did nothing wrong. Thallas points to his failure to report the rifle missing until after her daughter was missing as a massive red flag. It is also worth noting that Politica has a history of violence and disciplinary actions by the DPD.

According to phone records, Close texted Sgt. Politica before the murder complaining about a dog in his neighborhood. After he murdered Thallas, he left Politica a voicemail saying he “really f—-d up bad.”

“That man should be stripped of his uniform,” Anna Thallas said. “Had that officer acted in his capacity and the oath that he took to serve and protect and was a responsible gun owner, Isabella might still be alive. My daughter might still be here.”

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