Things That Matter

Hiker Ronald Sanchez Jr. Identified As Victim In Fatal Machete Attack On Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail stretches 2,190 miles from the red Georgia clay trail through the wooded trails of Maine. The people who quit their jobs and carry everything they need to sleep and survive outside for four to six months are called “thru-hikers” and they meet and create trail families along the way.

So when news broke that on Friday, May 10, one thru-hiker was murdered and another critically injured from an attack by a man wielding a machete, the community was rocked. Authorities just released the name of the victim as Ronald Sanchez Jr.

Ronald “Stronghold” Sanchez, Jr., 43, survived several deployments in Iraq and was using the Appalachian Trail as a form of outdoor therapy.

@SummitCreekShop / Twitter

Sanchez returned from war with depression and PTSD. He was in a cycling group, a boat racing team and showed horses–all as a means of trying to get out of his comfort zone and treat his depression.

A Veteran Affairs’ doctor planned to track and report on Sanchez’ recovery along the AT.

@themailboxes / Instagram

Sanchez’s sister, Brenda Sanchez Loera, told CNN in a phone interview that “He was adventurous and he got out of his shell and we were so proud of that because for a while he was in darkness.”

Massachusetts man James L. Jordan, 30, was arrested for murder and assault with intent to commit murder.

@ArrestsMugshots / Twitter

The court documents include witness reports from three surviving hikers who said Jordan was “disturbed and unstable, and was playing his guitar and singing.” Jordan began threatening the hikers, including Sanchez, telling them he would pour gasoline on their tents and burn them to death. The group decided to relocate for fear of their lives and started packing up.

Jordan started threatening them with a knife and two of the hikers ran north to escape.

@cnnbrk / Twitter

After Jordan gave up the chase, he returned to the campsite and started yelling at Sanchez and an unidentified female hiker. Sanchez and Jordan entered into a verbal altercation, at which point Sanchez made an emergency call from his cell phone.

That’s when Jordan started stabbing Sanchez repeatedly in the chest.

@boston_informer / Twitter

According to the unidentified female hiker’s witness testimony, when she saw Sanchez collapse to the ground, she started running. Jordan caught up to her and she raised her arms “as if to surrender,” and Jordan began stabbing her.

The second victim had to play dead to survive the attack.

@dc4visitors1 / Twitter

After Jordan presumed her dead, he went back to the campsite, and the female hiker continued running down the trail where she met two hikers off the trail who had just set up camp. They escorted her six miles to a trailhead where they called 911. The hiker is recovering from her injuries at a medical center in Bristol, Tennessee.

Jordan gave himself the trail nickname “Sovereign.”

Sheriff Mike Hensley had the suspect in custody weeks before the murder.

@cbcasithappens / Instagram

In a CBC interview, Hensley reveals that, “On April the 21st of this year, we started receiving calls that there was an individual on the Appalachian Trail threatening people with a machete.” Deputies had been deployed to find him but with no warrants, they let him go. He was later arrested after giving a fake ID to police and for possession of drugs. The hikers that had encountered and reported him refused to press charges against him and he was released on probation.

As hikers discover that the person they hiked with for a day, an afternoon, or a meal, they’re posting tributes.

@julieleavesatrace / Instagram

“Today I found out who was attacked and killed on the AT in Virginia and I’m completely shaken. When we hiked with him right before Hampton, TN I thought he was a badass cause he had two knee braces and it was hard for even baskets to keep up with him,” julieleavesatrace wrote on Instagram. “He said he was doing shorter miles because he was easing into recovery with his knees. But he did those shorter miles so fast! We ate with him at the shelter before Hampton where he decided to stay for the night. There was a graffiti board there and I remember Drawing a huge heart on it. RIP Stronghold. I know for sure if you were still here you would’ve made it to Katahdin. ❤️”

Hikers are now searching for ways to honor his memory.

@tlbrown2012 / Instagram

One user wanted to carry something of his to the end of the trail in his honor. Another wants to build a shelter in his memory. The annual celebratory “Trail Days” taking place in Damascus, Virginia–where Sanchez would likely be celebrating the halfway point of the trail–is holding a ceremony in his memory.

Jordan has been seen before a judge and is being held in jail pending psychiatric evaluation and trial.

READ: Venezuelan Charged With Murdering 24-Year-Old Valerie Reyes Who Was Found Dead In A Suitcase

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The Cop Who Killed Daunte Wright Says She Meant To Tase Him Instead Of Firing Her Gun

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The Cop Who Killed Daunte Wright Says She Meant To Tase Him Instead Of Firing Her Gun

Another Black man is dead, killed by the police.

Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man from Minnesota was murdered on Sunday after a police officer pulled him over for a traffic violation. In an attempt to take in Wright after realizing he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest, it is being said that the officer meant to use her Taser but accidentally fired her gun.

Police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota are saying that Wright’s attempt to reenter his car prompted the police fire.

Body camera footage of the Sunday incident was released for the first time on Monday during a news conference. Footage of the killing shows Wright outside of his car when authorities were attempting to place him under arrest. At one point, in the footage he can be seen attempting to reenter his vehicle, prompting a struggle with officers.

“I’ll tase ya,” a woman officer told Wright in the video after he attempted to kick her. “Taser, Taser, Taser!” the officer is heard yelling in the video before saying “Oh shit! I just shot him.”

According to Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, the officer meant to reach for her Taser.

Instead, she grabbed her gun.

“This appears to me, from what I viewed and the officer’s reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright,” Gannon claimed.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has identified the officer in the incident as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the police department. Potter is now on administrative leave.

Speaking about her standing, Gannon said “I think we can watch the video and ascertain whether she will be returning.”

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott publicly supported Potter’s termination.

“My position is that we cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life of other people in our profession, so I do fully support releasing the officer of her duties,” he explained before revealing that the officers initiated the traffic stop after clocking an expired registration tag on the car’s vehicle. When they ran Wright’s name they learned that he had a warrant out for his arrest. “That’s why they were moving from the car and they were making custodial arrest.”

Gannon went onto explain that the only information he had about the arrest warrant was that it was attached to a “gross misdemeanor warrant.”

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Street Vendor By The Name Of Lorenzo Pérez Murdered Execution Style — “The person who killed my dad took away a part of me”

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Street Vendor By The Name Of Lorenzo Pérez Murdered Execution Style — “The person who killed my dad took away a part of me”

Like many street vendors, 45-year-old Lorenzo Pérez sold food to support his family.

Married and the father of four children ages 15, 13, 9, and 1, Perez is described by friends and family as being well known amongst neighborhood residents. He was often seen working alongside his daughter who helped him on occasion. Now, the community and family who knew Perez well are in mourning, after he was shot in broad daylight while doing his job.

Perez died after he being shot in the head in southeast Fresno on Sunday afternoon.

Fresno Police were called to the scene of a possible robbery at Alta and Pierce Avenues, near Kings Canyon and Willow around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. On the way to the scene, the police officers learned that a street vendor had been shot once in the head.

According to reports, Perez was rushed to Community Regional Medical Center where he ultimately died.

Witnesses of the murder told officers that a man had beckoned Perez to come over to him in a way that suggested he was going to purchase something from him.

According to police reports, when Perez walked up to the suspect, the man pulled out a gun and shot the vendor. He then stole a few items, which have not been identified, and flew the scene. Witnesses told police officers that they’d seen the man loitering around the area before the shooting.

A local news station reported that “Officers are now looking into surveillance footage from the area to try and identify the shooter… Through a statement, Fresno City Council President Luis Chavez announced that he will be offering a $5000 reward for information leading to the shooter’s arrest.”

“The coward that murdered our food vendor, turn yourself in and face the consequences. You’ve brought tremendous pain to a family and our city,” Chavez exclaimed in the statement.

To help the Perez family, Councilmember Esmeralda Soria set up a GoFundMe account which has already raised $141,780 out of its $125,000 goal.

Perez’s son, Isai, described his father in a recent interview as a “great man.”

“My father was a great man. He was a great father, a great husband, a great friend,” he said in an interview. “He spread love and kindness. He was about fairness, he wanted to share his happiness. He meant no harm. He didn’t deserve to go like this. The person who killed my dad took away a part of me. My dad went through everything for us. He took away my father. He took away the opportunity of me being with him in his last moments and it’s heartbreaking. I hope they find the murderer soon.”

If you have any information on the shooting please call Valley Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-STOP.

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