In Brief: August 4, 2021

Officer dead, suspect killed in violence outside Pentagon

WASHINGTON — A Pentagon police officer died after being stabbed Tuesday during a burst of violence at a transit center outside the building, and a suspect was shot by law enforcement and died at the scene, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

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The Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. military, was temporarily placed on lockdown after someone attacked the officer on a bus platform shortly after 10:30 a.m. The ensuing violence, which included a volley of gunshots, resulted in “several casualties,” said Woodrow Kusse, the chief of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, which is responsible for security in the facility.

The deaths of the officer and the suspect were first confirmed by officials who were not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The Fairfax County Police Department also tweeted condolences about the officer’s death. Officials said they believe two bystanders were injured.

The suspect was identified by multiple law enforcement officials as Austin William Lanz, 27, of Georgia.

The officer was ambushed by Lanz, who ran at him and stabbed him in the neck, according to two of the law enforcement officials. Responding officers then shot and killed Lanz. Investigators were still trying to determine a motive for the attack and were digging into Lanz’s background, including any potential history of mental illness or any reason he might want to target the Pentagon or police officers.

Gun-waving St. Louis lawyer couple pardoned by Governor

O’FALLON, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday that he made good on his promise to pardon a couple who gained notoriety for pointing guns at social justice demonstrators as they marched past the couple’s home in a luxury St. Louis enclave last year.

Parson, a Republican, on Friday pardoned Mark McCloskey, who pleaded guilty in June to misdemeanor fourth-degree assault and was fined $750, and Patricia McCloskey, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment and was fined $2,000.

“Mark McCloskey has publicly stated that if he were involved in the same situation, he would have the exact same conduct,” the McCloskeys’ lawyer Joel Schwartz said Tuesday. “He believes that the pardon vindicates that conduct.”

From wire sources

The McCloskeys, both lawyers in their 60s, said they felt threatened by the protesters, who were passing their home in June 2020 on their way to demonstrate in front of the mayor’s house nearby in one of hundreds of similar demonstrations around the country after George Floyd’s death. The couple also said the group was trespassing on a private street.

Mark McCloskey emerged from his home with an AR-15-style rifle, and Patricia McCloskey waved a semiautomatic pistol, according to the indictment. Photos and cellphone video captured the confrontation, which drew widespread attention and made the couple heroes to some and villains to others. No shots were fired, and no one was hurt.

Judge blocks Texas troopers from stopping migrant transports

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge Tuesday blocked Texas from allowing state troopers to stop vehicles carrying migrants on the grounds that they may spread COVID-19 as worries and new cases are rising along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The temporary order by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone of El Paso is at least a short-term victory for the Biden administration, which had warned that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan would create more problems amid high levels of summer border crossings in Texas —- particularly in the Rio Grande Valley, which one U.S. official called the “epicenter of the current surge.”

In a sign of the growing strain, local officials there who have rebuffed Abbott’s hardline immigration actions to jail border crossers and build new barrier declared a local state of disaster this week as COVID-19 cases climb and capacity at migrant shelters is stretched.

Cardone said Abbott’s directive would have the effect of “exacerbating the spread of COVID-19.” She scheduled another hearing for next week.

Abbott’s office did not immediately comment on the ruling.

Thousands flee homes outside Athens as heat fuels wildfires

TATOI, Greece — More than 500 firefighters struggled through the night to contain a large forest blaze on the outskirts of Athens, which raced into residential areas Tuesday, forcing thousands to flee. It was the worst of 81 wildfires that broke out in Greece over the past 24 hours, amid one of the country’s most intense heatwaves in decades.

Civil Protection chief Nikos Hardalias said the fire north of Athens was “very dangerous,” and had been exacerbated by strong winds and tinder-dry conditions due to the heat that reached 45 Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) in the area.

No severe injuries were reported, and authorities said several buildings had been damaged but no detailed breakdown was available. The cause of the blaze was unclear.

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“We continue to fight hour by hour, with our top priority being to save human lives,” Hardalias said. “We will do so all night.”

“These are crucial hours,” Hardalias said. “Our country is undergoing one of the worst heatwaves of the past 40 years.”

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