Illinois Worker Who Opened Fire Inside Factory Had No Permit for Gun

AURORA, Ill. — An angry worker who opened fire inside a suburban Chicago factory where he had worked for years was barred from having the handgun he was carrying, officials said on Saturday.

Gary Martin, 45, who died in an exchange of fire with the police after a rampage on Friday that left five co-workers dead and at least six other people wounded, had already had his state weapons permit revoked because of a felony assault conviction from years earlier, the police in Aurora, Ill., said. Still, they said, his gun was never taken away.

“Some disgruntled person walked in and had access to a firearm that he shouldn’t have had access to,” said Kristen L. Ziman, the chief of police in Aurora, where the shooting took place.

[Read more about the shooting here.]

Ms. Ziman said that the police were trying to determine why Mr. Martin still had a gun.

According to Illinois gun law, a person must be granted a Firearm Owners Identification card, or FOID, to possess a firearm. At least two million people in the state have the cards.

But under the law, the process to keep firearms out of the hands of a person whose card has been revoked is weak, allowing many people to keep their weapons with little threat of enforcement or penalty.

That appears to have been the case with Mr. Martin, who police said received a card in January 2014. In March 2014, he applied for a concealed-carry permit, and during that background check it was discovered that he had a felony conviction for aggravated assault in Mississippi from 1995.

The Illinois State Police then revoked Mr. Martin’s card and mailed him a letter ordering him to relinquish his firearm and card within 48 hours.

It is typical in Illinois, officials said, for local law enforcement to fail to take action at that point and to seize firearms if they are not surrendered voluntarily. In 2016, only about 4,000 of the 11,000 people whose cards were revoked submitted the mandatory reports explaining what they did with their guns, The Chicago Tribune reported in 2017.

Sgt. Bill Rowley, a spokesman for the Aurora Police Department, said the police had no record of being notified by the state police that Mr. Martin had not volunteered his firearm as required in 2014. It was unclear whether Mr. Martin, who lived in Aurora at the time of his death, also lived there in 2014.

A day after the shooting, police gave a fuller account of the deadly events inside the Henry Pratt Company warehouse on Friday afternoon, and identified the five workers — all apparently co-workers of Mr. Martin — who were killed.

The victims included some of the company’s most experienced workers but also its newest: Josh Pinkard, who was the plant manager of the warehouse, perished in the shooting, as did Trevor Wehner, who was a student at Northern Illinois University and an intern in the company’s human resources department. Mr. Wehner was expected to graduate from college in May. Friday, when the shooting occurred, was the first day of his internship, according to officials from Northern Illinois University.

Also killed, the police said, were Vicente Juarez, a stock room attendant and forklift operator; Clayton Parks, the human resources manager; and Russell Beyer, a mold operator. Officials at Northern Illinois said that Mr. Parks had also graduated from the university, in 2014, and said it was offering counseling help to those in need. (The school, in DeKalb, Ill., was the site of another mass shooting 11 years ago.)

Police first received several 911 calls at 1:24 p.m. on Friday, as frantic callers said there was a shooter at the warehouse. Mr. Martin had been summoned to what police described as a “termination meeting” at the warehouse where he had worked for at least 15 years. At least two victims were shot at the scene of that meeting.

Four minutes later, police arrived and were confronted by the gunman. Two of the first four officers to arrive were shot and transported to hospitals with injuries that were not life-threatening.

According to the police, Mr. Martin then retreated into the 29,000-square-foot building, hiding from officers in a machine shop near the back of the facility. It took about 90 minutes for officers to find, shoot and kill him.

Family members of Mr. Martin arrived at the Aurora police station on Friday afternoon, weeping and hugging one another after officers told them that he was dead.

“He was the shooter,” said Tameka Martin, who said she was Mr. Martin’s sister. “He shot officers. If they did shoot him and kill him, they were, I guess, defending themselves.”

Ms. Martin said that her brother had told his family that he had lost his job at Henry Pratt. At dinner a few nights ago at their mother’s home, Mr. Martin would barely speak about it. He was “very depressed,” she said.

Sarah Mervosh, Julia Jacobs and Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributed reporting from New York, and Doris Burke contributed research from New York.

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Ex-Boyfriend Arrested in Death of Woman Found in Suitcase

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A former boyfriend of a young bookstore clerk whose body was stuffed into a suitcase and dumped in a wooded lot in Greenwich, Conn., was arrested on Tuesday in connection with her death, the police said.

The man, Javier de Silva, was taken into custody in New York City after he used an A.T.M. card that belonged to the victim, Valerie Reyes, 24, of New Rochelle, law-enforcement officials said.

The Greenwich police said in a statement, “The arrested individual is also believed to be involved in the death of Valerie.”

The arrest in the federal case, being prosecuted by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, followed dozens of interviews with witnesses and the review of hundreds of hours of surveillance footage, the Greenwich police said.

Ms. Reyes was last seen near the New Rochelle train station on Tuesday, Jan. 29. The night before, she had called her mother, Norma Sanchez, in a panic. “She was going on about how frightened she was in that apartment,” Ms. Sanchez said last week. She told her mother: “I feel like somebody’s going to murder me.”

Ms. Sanchez said she was aware that her daughter had recently broken up with a boyfriend, and she specifically asked if she feared him. “No,” her daughter replied. Ms. Reyes lived in the basement apartment of a home that contained several other tenants, including her father, Ms. Sanchez noted.

Ms. Reyes never showed up for work that Tuesday. She was a clerk at a Barnes & Noble store in Scarsdale. The following day, however, she was in New York City. The police in New Rochelle told Ms. Sanchez that her daughter was seen on surveillance video exiting a Chase Bank branch near Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan on Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 6:30 a.m.

Ms. Sanchez said this week that she had taken comfort from this sighting, and believed her daughter was seeking refuge in the safety of city crowds and would come home when she felt ready. “She was planning to stay for a while,” Ms. Sanchez recalled thinking.

The following week, on Feb. 5, highway workers in Greenwich made a grim discovery in a wooded area beside Glenville Road, near Stillman Lane, an area dotted with large estates and “No Trespassing” signs. A suitcase in the woods contained Ms. Reyes’s body, bound at the hands and feet. The area is about 14 miles from Ms. Reyes’s apartment.

Follow Michael Wilson on Twitter: @MWilsonNYT

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Prosecutor Drops Abortion Charge in Queens Murder Case, Stirring Debate

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As Democrats in New York last month celebrated Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s signing of a law expanding abortion rights in the state, anti-abortion campaigners predicted it would eliminate criminal penalties for violence that ends women’s pregnancies.

The debate resurfaced over the weekend after the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, cited the Reproductive Health Act as the reason for dropping an abortion charge against a man who the police say fatally stabbed his former girlfriend when she was 14 weeks pregnant.

The man, Anthony Hobson, 48, was arrested and charged on Friday with second-degree murder for the Feb. 3 attack on Jennifer Irigoyen, 35.

Meris Campbell, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, said prosecutors dropped a second-degree abortion charge after learning that the Reproductive Health Act, which was signed on Jan. 22, had stripped the crime from the state penal code. The New York Post’s article about the decision roused many who are against abortion.

“Thanks to the #RHA, it’s open season on pregnant women in New York,” Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference, wrote on Twitter.

But supporters of the law, which decriminalizes abortion and places it in public health codes with other medical procedures, say such fear is driven by misinformation. The debate reflected a mostly partisan divide over abortion, which may be a key issue in the 2020 election.

In a joint editorial published Friday in The Times Union of Albany, State Senators Liz Krueger, a Democrat from Manhattan and the law’s chief sponsor in the upper chamber, and Anna Kaplan, a Democrat from Long Island, wrote that physical attacks that end pregnancies can be prosecuted as first-degree assault, which carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years, “far more than the previous sentence for ‘unlawful abortion.’”

“Furthermore, judges have discretion to increase the penalty in cases where the crime was particularly violent,” the editorial states. “The R.H.A. does not prevent appropriate charging and sentencing of violent perpetrators.”

Daniel R. Alonso, the former chief assistant prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, said in an interview on Sunday that charging Mr. Hobson with abortion would not have affected his potential sentence for murder, which supersedes an assault charge.

“The basic thing is, because the killing of the fetus is the same act as the killing of the mother, even though they were separate charges under the old law, you couldn’t get more than 25 to life,” he said.

Prosecutors said surveillance video inside Ms. Irigoyen’s building in Ridgewood showed Mr. Hobson dragging his former girlfriend out of her third-floor apartment to a stairwell, where he stabbed her several times in the torso, neck and abdomen. She later died at a hospital.

Mr. Hobson surrendered to the 104th Precinct on Friday morning with his defense lawyer, Steven J. Questlore, who said his client is “committed” to facing the murder charge against him. He would not discuss specifics of the case or say whether Mr. Hobson intended to fight the charge or plead guilty.

Regardless of the charges, Mr. Alonso said, it is unlikely that anyone who commits violence against pregnant women will get off easy.

“Prosecutors have never gone easy on guys who killed pregnant women,” he said, “and neither have judges.”

Abortion charges are rare in New York. Last year, only one person was charged with the crime, according to the governor’s office. Prosecutors rarely used the charge because it did not add anything to the prosecution of a case, officials said.

In the case from last year, the police said Oscar Alvarez stabbed his 26-week-pregnant fiancée six times in the abdomen with a kitchen knife on May 22, 2017, after accusing her of infidelity. He then held her hostage for at least 30 minutes.

The victim, Livia Abreu, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, survived. But her fetus did not.

Mr. Alvarez was charged with attempted murder and second-degree abortion. It is not clear whether the Reproductive Health Act will affect his case.

Patrice O’Shaughnessy, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said prosecutors “are continuing to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the case, and evaluating existing law.”

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She Feared for Her Life. Then Her Body Was Found in a Suitcase.

It was late on Jan. 28 when Valerie Reyes, 24, called her mother in a panic from her nearby apartment in New Rochelle, N.Y., where she lived alone.

“She was going on about how frightened she was in that apartment,” her mother, Norma Sanchez, said on Thursday. “She was hearing about all these murders of women. ‘I just can’t get it out of my head.’” There was no one in particular threatening her, Ms. Reyes said, but she could not shake her fear. She told her mother: “I feel like somebody’s going to murder me.”

The next day, she did not show up for work as a clerk at Barnes & Noble in Scarsdale. On Tuesday, eight days after that phone call, her body was found in a suitcase on the side of a quiet, residential road in Greenwich, Conn., about 14 miles from her apartment. She had been bound at the wrists and ankles, the police said.

The Greenwich police, leading an investigation that involves at least three police departments, did not announce any leads or suspects on Thursday. The medical examiner’s office said an autopsy is pending.

The skeletal timeline of Ms. Reyes’s final days offered few apparent clues. Her family last saw her on Sunday, Jan. 27. “We just went about our day, having fun,” Ms. Sanchez said. “She went to work on Monday and she was her normal self, according to co-workers.”

She had worked there for two and a half years, the company said in a statement: “The entire Barnes & Noble community is grieving the loss of our beloved employee Valerie Reyes.”

On Monday, after her frightened call to her mother, she promised to calm down, and said good night with a text message, saying she had gotten something to eat. “She said, ‘I’m feeling better, Momma,’” Ms. Sanchez said.

After she did not report to work on Tuesday morning, Jan. 29, a friend on Twitter said she had last been seen near the Greenwich train station. She did not respond to text messages, and calls to her cellphone went directly to voice mail, suggesting it was turned off, her mother said.

On Wednesday, she was in New York City. Detectives in New Rochelle, working on her disappearance, showed her mother a photo from surveillance video of a woman in a Chase Bank branch near Radio City Music Hall at 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 30, Ms. Sanchez said. The woman was Ms. Reyes.

“We were hoping that maybe she just wanted to isolate herself and be alone,” Ms. Sanchez said.

The New York Police Department’s Midtown North precinct tweeted a picture of Ms. Reyes on Jan. 31, asking if anyone had seen her. “Suffers from anxiety and depression,” the tweet read. Friends and relatives of Ms. Reyes also posted about the missing woman on social media, but no one reported having seen her, Ms. Sanchez said.

On Tuesday morning, highway workers in Greenwich found a suitcase off the shoulder of Glenville Road, near Stillman Lane, and called the police. One worker, with the town’s Department of Public Works, was caught taking photos of the body and the crime scene and was placed on paid administrative leave.

“The victim was a daughter, a sister and a cousin of a family who is suffering a tremendous loss at this time,” First Selectman Peter J. Tesei said Thursday in a statement, criticizing the worker who took pictures. “This thoughtless and insensitive behavior by an employee is inexcusable.”

On Wednesday night, the body was identified as Ms. Reyes.

“Amazing, amazing human being, amazing girl,” Ms. Sanchez said. “No matter how close we think we are to our kids, we really need to look further in. We were very close as a family. She was really loved.”

Ms. Reyes did not look for trouble, her mother said. “She was not a club-type of person at all. She just ended up in evil hands.” She broke down sobbing. “Whoever did this needs to pay. My baby is gone. They found her in the luggage. Such a nightmare.”

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Florida Bank Shooting: Victims Are Identified as Police Search for a Motive

The police in Florida on Thursday identified some of the five people killed inside a SunTrust Bank the day before, as the authorities said they had not yet found a motive for the gunman’s attack.

The victims — four female bank employees and one female customer — were the only people inside the bank branch in Sebring, Fla., when the suspect, Zephen A. Xaver, walked in around 12:30 p.m. and opened fire, said the city’s police chief. The chief, Karl Hoglund, identified the customer as Cynthia Watson and one of the employees as Marisol Lopez.

Relatives of the other three victims asked for their names to be withheld from the public, Chief Hoglund said, adding that he would honor those requests under a new crime victims’ law in Florida known as Marsy’s Law. Chief Hoglund said that Mr. Xaver, who has been charged with five counts of first-degree premeditated murder, did not know any of the victims and had no known connection to the SunTrust branch in Sebring, a small city about 80 miles south of Orlando.

“Our sisters, our mothers, our daughters and our co-workers,” Chief Hoglund said at a news conference on Thursday morning, choking back tears. “Perhaps most unfortunate is that now we refer to them as victims of a senseless crime.”

After they were shot on Wednesday, the gunman, wearing a T-shirt with an image of four scythe-wielding Grim Reapers on horseback, confessed, the police said. He called 911 and said that he had shot five people, and that all of them were dead.

When the authorities arrived, about two minutes after the 911 call, the gunman had barricaded himself inside. He refused to allow the police inside to check on the victims, Chief Hoglund said, and refused to compromise with negotiators. After a tense standoff, an armored police vehicle rammed into the bank doors, shattering their glass, shortly before 2 p.m. in order to reach the victims.

Mr. Xaver, 21, surrendered to the police, who soon emerged with him in handcuffs. By the time officers forced their way into the bank, all of the victims had died, Chief Hoglund said. So far in the investigation, there are no signs that the gunman intended to rob the SunTrust branch or do anything at the bank other than shoot people, he said.

“We have no information at this time what his true motive may have been,” Chief Hoglund said. “We believe it was a random act. We are still trying to establish what has occurred, the gravity and nature of why it occurred, and try to put it in a perspective that we can understand.”

The authorities on Thursday did not identify the type of firearm used in the attack, and they did not address whether Mr. Xaver had legally obtained it.

The shooting on Wednesday was the latest of several high-profile deadly attacks in Florida. The state has traditionally had loose restrictions on firearms, but after a shooting in Parkland, Fla., last February left 17 dead, Rick Scott, who was then the governor, signed an array of gun limits into law that included raising the minimum age to buy a firearm to 21 and creating a three-day waiting period.

At a court hearing on Thursday morning, Mr. Xaver, wearing a black-and-white jumpsuit, stood before Judge Anthony Ritenour and responded, “Yes, sir,” when asked whether he had no income or assets. The judge granted a public defender to represent Mr. Xaver, who was being held at Highlands County Jail in Sebring, and ordered him held without bond.

Mr. Xaver lived in Sebring but had spent most of his life in Plymouth, Ind., a town about 23 miles south of South Bend, Ind., according to a friend of his, Nathaniel Heitkamp. Mr. Xaver had recently trained to be a correctional officer at Avon Park Correctional Institution, a prison about 20 miles north of Sebring, said Patrick Manderfield, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Corrections.

Mr. Heitkamp said he met Mr. Xaver about five years ago, when they were both teenagers and patients at Michiana Behavioral Health in Plymouth. A representative at Universal Health Services, the company that operates the center, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Over the years, Mr. Xaver complained about being bullied at school and disliked by his family, said Mr. Heitkamp, who now works in the service industry.

When Mr. Xaver got upset, Mr. Heitkamp said, he openly talked about a desire to hurt people and how he had access to guns.

“This man did not hide it,” Mr. Heitkamp said in an interview on Thursday. “He had an obsession with violence.”

An earlier version of this article transposed the identities of two of the people killed at a Suntrust Bank branch. Cynthia Watson was a customer and Marisol Lopez an employee.

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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Cyntoia Brown Inspires a Push for Juvenile Criminal Justice Reform in Tennessee

After Tennessee’s governor granted clemency last week to Cyntoia Brown, a 30-year-old woman serving a life sentence for killing a man when she was a teenage trafficking victim, her supporters applauded the decision, calling her the face of hope for others serving long sentences for crimes they committed as children.

Then they got to work.

This week, state lawmakers and others inspired by Ms. Brown’s case are harnessing the state and national attention it drew by writing legislation that would give others like her a quicker road to a second chance.

The key proposal in their draft bill goes to the heart of the Brown case. It would make it possible for people found guilty of committing serious crimes like murder when they were under the age of 18 to be evaluated for parole if they have served at least 20 years of their sentence.

Ms. Brown had been serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, which in Tennessee meant she would have had to wait 51 years before she could appear before a parole board.

“I just thought, this is crazy that a juvenile, especially one with a mitigating circumstance, will be sentenced to 51 years before they even had a chance to get out,” said State Senator Raumesh Akbari, who is leading the effort on the bill. “I believe in second chances, particularly when we are talking about children.”

The draft also proposes that a life sentence without the possibility of parole should not be given to people who were under 18 when they committed the crime. It suggests that a parole board should consider factors related to their youth, like the role of peer pressure or the effects of trauma.

Ms. Akbari plans to introduce the bill early in the legislative session at the end of February, she said.

At least 148 inmates in Tennessee are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for 51 years for crimes they committed as juveniles, according to figures from the state’s Department of Correction. Some were as young as 14 when they committed their offenses.

They include a woman who was sexually abused as a child who is serving a life sentence for a murder she committed at 17 and will be eligible for parole in 2022, and a man who is serving a life sentence for killing his abusive stepfather at 16 and will be eligible for parole in 2052.

Those cases were among the examples provided to legislators last year by Tennesseans for Reasonable Parole Review, an informal collective including a juvenile court judge, a juvenile court administrator, researchers, people who were incarcerated as youths, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee.

“The bottom line is most of these kids who end up doing very horrific crimes or tragic crimes have all in some ways been victimized,” said Judge Sheila Calloway, the juvenile court judge, who has been pushing for reform. “When we lock them up for life, we discount their ability to rehabilitate and become better citizens.”

A previous attempt to pass legislation that would make juveniles eligible for parole after serving 30 years instead of 51 years expired in committee last year. Part of the opposition to the bill cited the murder of a family in eastern Tennessee’s Greene County in 1997 by six youths, two of whom were 14 and 17 and were tried as adults. If passed, the bill would have retroactively applied to the Greene County killers.

Dan Armstrong, the elected district attorney in the county, lobbied legislators last year when the bill for juvenile sentencing changes was being considered. He said such legislation would make a “mockery” of the judicial system, particularly in cases involving the murder of multiple people.

“I understand the focus on juvenile justice reform,” he said. “I am not necessarily opposed to the idea. But the community has lived with this for over 20 years. How come we still have to fight this battle to keep these people in jail?”

In Ms. Brown’s case, she had run away from home at 16 and lived with a pimp who raped and abused her while forcing her to become a prostitute, according to court documents. In 2004, a 43-year-old man picked her up in Nashville for sex and drove her to his home, the documents say.

At one point, Ms. Brown said she thought he was reaching for a gun to kill her. She later shot him in his sleep and fled, taking money and guns, the documents say. In 2006, a jury found her guilty of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery.

Over the years, her case has inspired debate in Tennessee about juvenile criminal justice reform, victims’ rights, and the potential for rehabilitation for traumatized teenagers who have committed crimes.

Voices on both sides of the debate have been amplified this year. Nashville lawmakers passed a resolution backing Ms. Brown’s clemency, citing the “horrors of her childhood and the repeated sexual abuse she endured.” The detective who investigated the case wrote a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam, published by NewsChannel5, arguing that she should not be given clemency, saying her motive was robbery.

Ms. Brown’s case was elevated into the national discourse after celebrities picked it up as an example of injustice in a system that often punishes children and teenagers who are trafficked into prostitution.

Mr. Haslam, who is considering more clemency appeals before his term ends this week, bridged both sides when he announced Ms. Brown’s clemency, under which she will be released in August after serving 15 years.

He cited the “horrific crime” she committed but said that the life sentence imposed on her, with its 51 years before parole eligibility, was “too harsh.” He also noted the “extraordinary steps” she had taken to rebuild her life while in prison.

“Transformation should be accompanied by hope,” he said.

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Mayor of Gdansk Dies After Being Stabbed at Polish Charity Event

WARSAW — The mayor of the port city of Gdansk in northern Poland, an advocate of gay and lesbian rights and a leading critic of the right-wing government’s anti-migrant rhetoric, died on Monday after being stabbed at a public charity concert Sunday night, the minister of health told reporters.

Mayor Pawel Adamowicz, 53, who was elected mayor in 1998, died from numerous wounds, according to medical officials.

“It was impossible to win against everything that had happened to him. God rest his soul,” said Lukasz Szumowski, the health minister.

While police officials said the assailant, who had been arrested at the scene, was a disturbed individual with a history of violence and no clear political motive, the attack stunned the increasingly divided nation.

Thousands planned to join rallies scheduled for Monday night to condemn violence and hate speech.

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California Governor Commutes 131 Sentences and Orders DNA Testing in Death Row Case

SAN FRANCISCO — Gov. Jerry Brown of California on Monday ordered a limited retesting of evidence in a highly contested murder conviction.

Lawyers for Kevin Cooper, who was convicted in 1985 of murdering Douglas and Peggy Ryen and two of their children in an affluent suburb of Los Angeles, had petitioned the governor for clemency.

Mr. Brown had previously declined to allow advanced DNA testing in the case, but on Monday he ordered the retesting of a shirt, towel, hatchet handle and hatchet sheath.

In his order the governor said that the purpose of the testing, which will be carried out under the supervision of Daniel Pratt, a retired judge, was to see whether DNA from any another person in the F.B.I.’s database is present on the items.

Mr. Cooper, who has been sentenced to death, has exhausted all his appeals. His case had been championed by, among others, Senator Kamala Harris and the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

The request for retesting was fiercely contested by the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office, which in a 94-page filing urged the governor to “consider the overwhelming evidence of Cooper’s guilt” and to allow his “clearly deserved death sentence to remain in place.”

The filing quoted extensively from Josh Ryen, the only surviving family member, who was 8 years old at the time of the killings.

Mr. Brown granted Christmas Eve clemencies that included 143 pardons and 131 commutations. Among them was one for Sear Un, an immigrant from Cambodia who avoided deportation because of the governor’s pardon. Mr. Brown will leave office at the end of his term next month.

Given a commuted sentence was Richard Richardson, the editor in chief of San Quentin News. After serving more than 20 years for robbery, Mr. Richardson will be given the opportunity to appear before the Parole Board and make his case for earlier release.

The governor rejected a request by the mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, to have the sentence of her brother commuted. The mayor’s brother, Napoleon Brown, has spent 18 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and armed robbery.

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U.S. Murder Rate for 2018 Is on Track for a Big Drop

The murder rate in the United States in 2018 is on track for the largest one-year drop in five years.

The numbers obviously aren’t final, and the F.B.I. won’t formally report 2018’s murder figures until September 2019.

But based on a comparison of 2017 data and 2018 data for 66 large American cities (population over 250,000), we can observe the trend as it is occurring and offer a reasonable forecast. (The 2018 data I’ve collected is available here).

Murder rose 23 percent nationally between 2014 and 2016 before leveling off in 2017. Major increases in murder in Chicago and Baltimore received much of the national attention, but the increase occurred throughout the country.

In the cities in which data is available, murder has been down about 7 percent on average this year relative to the same point in 2017.

Estimating national trends from a sample of cities can be tricky because big cities tend to overstate national trends. If murder is up substantially in big cities, you can typically expect that the national murder rate is also up, but a little less so. And if murder is substantially down in big cities, you can usually expect a smaller drop nationally.

The Brennan Center in 2017, for example, found a 4.4 percent decline in 29 large cities for which data was available. Yet the F.B.I.’s national murder count was essentially unchanged in 2017 relative to 2016. (It was officially down 0.7 percent, but that was because the F.B.I. revised 2016’s murder total upward, to 17,284 from 17,250.)

The sample of cities we’re using in this article accurately predicted the movement of the national murder change every year but 2002, when murder was down 1.4 percent in the big cities but up 1.1 percent nationally. On average, the sample of cities overstated the national trend by 2.4 percentage points.

If these big cities end the year down about 7 percent from 2017, and if big cities tend to overstate the national trend by about 2.4 percentage points on average, murder should be down by around 4 percent to 5 percent nationally this year.

So far this year, murder in Chicago is down 17 percent in 2018 relative to 2017, accounting for about a third of the drop in the sample. Murder is also down substantially in cities like Baltimore; Charlotte, N.C.; Louisville, Ky.; and Memphis, which all experienced large rises in murder from 2014 to 2016/2017.

The murder rate in Las Vegas is roughly even this year, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, although this does not count the mass shooting outside Mandalay Bay in 2017 that left nearly 60 people dead. Including those numbers — as the F.B.I. did in 2017 — would increase the drop in murder in the sample of cities by about a percentage point.

It’s usually better to take a longer view in assessing murder trends. Far fewer people are murdered each year in the United States relative to the 1980s and 1990s. But murder remains up relative to just a few years ago.

If murder falls about 4.5 percent nationally this year, the murder rate of about 5 per 100,000 will roughly be in line with 2009’s rate and half of what it was in 1980, the highest U.S. murder rate on record. The accompanying chart shows what the national murder rate since 1960 would look like with a 4.5 percent drop in 2018.

Tracking the change in murder nationally is far easier than explaining why it’s happening. There is still no consensus on why murder rose nationally in 2015 and 2016, though various theories have been proposed, including simple randomness. Similarly, a projected drop in murder in 2018 would not have an obvious cause. Employment of smarter technologies, expanded community intervention programs, and even colder weather could help explain year-to-year local changes.

What’s more clear is that the country is moving toward the largest national drop in murder since a 3.6 percent decline in 2013.

Note: Data was available through at least October for 48 cities, through September for 58 cities and through at least June for 64 cities. Murder counts came from official sources in 62 of the cities; media sources provided data for three cities; and I maintain a running tally of New Orleans murders.

Jeff Asher is a crime analyst based in New Orleans. You can follow him on Twitter at @Crimealytics.

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Doctor Killed in Chicago Was Committed to ‘Serving the Underserved’

Before she was shot and killed outside the Chicago hospital where she worked, Dr. Tamara O’Neal was an endlessly persistent physician who was devoted to making sure her patients felt cared for, her colleagues said.

Dr. O’Neal, an emergency room physician at Mercy Hospital, south of Chicago’s downtown, sometimes had trouble disconnecting herself from work when she was off duty, said Dr. Adele Cobbs, the hospital’s assistant director for the Emergency Department. Dr. O’Neal would often call during her free time just to check that her patients were healthy, she said.

“She felt very strongly about serving the underserved,” Dr. Cobbs said. “Being an emergency room physician was a way to reach the masses.”

On Monday afternoon, when Dr. O’Neal left the hospital, she encountered a man who family and colleagues identified as her former fiancé, and the two got into an argument. When someone in the hospital parking lot intervened, the man lifted his shirt and showed a handgun, the police said. Then he opened fire, they said, killing Dr. O’Neal.

As he exchanged gunfire with police officers, he ran into the building, prompting a frenzy of hospital workers and visitors running for cover. In addition to shooting Dr. O’Neal, the gunman killed Samuel Jimenez, a father of three who had joined the Chicago Police Department last year, and Dayna Less, 25, a first-year pharmacy resident, the police said.

The gunman also died, but officials were uncertain whether the fatal shot had come from the police or by his own gun.

Jennifer O’Neal, Dr. O’Neal’s sister-in-law, said she was a deeply Christian woman who was adored by her nieces and nephews. Dr. O’Neal would plan elaborate outings for the kids, she said, getting them off their parents’ hands by taking them to museums, plays and movies.

Their family is tight-knit, Ms. O’Neal said, so any outsider who started dating a family member would be properly introduced. Dr. O’Neal’s family knew her fiancé, whom they identified as Juan Lopez. Police would not release his name to the public.

The couple had planned to marry in October, Ms. O’Neal said. But she said that before the wedding, Dr. O’Neal decided he was not right for her.

“She looked at what she wanted for her lifetime,” she said. “Making a covenant with God for marriage, she had to look at the whole picture. The whole picture wasn’t for her.”

Dr. O’Neal had worked at Mercy for about a year and a half, colleagues said. Before that, she received residency training at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago.

During their residency training, Dr. John Purakal, who now works at University of Chicago Medical Center, said Dr. O’Neal had a bright, joyful personality that would often help cheer up the other residents. But when a critical patient rolled in, Dr. O’Neal would flip a mental switch and start operating as a sharply focused physician, he said.

On Monday, Dr. Purakal was on duty when Dr. O’Neal entered the emergency room, having been transported from her own hospital. “After I recognized her it was really difficult to actually do my job effectively,” he said, so another doctor took over.

During Dr. O’Neal’s undergraduate education at Purdue University, she studied psychology, volunteering as a mentor for at-risk teenagers.

In an interview with The Chicago Sun-Times, her father, Tom O’Neal, remembered his daughter telling him that a professor at Purdue said she would not be able to become a doctor.

“That drove her,” Mr. O’Neal said. “She proved him wrong.”

Dr. O’Neal’s father, who lives in northwest Indiana, called his daughter a “stronghold” in their family.

She had worked out a deal with her supervisors to make sure she did not work on Sundays so she could attend church with her family, said Dr. Patrick Connor, the director of the hospital’s Emergency Department. Dr. Connor said Dr. O’Neal loved her church community and directed its choir. Every week, she would drive from Chicago to La Porte, Ind., where her family and church reside.

She was also close with her team members at the hospital, Dr. Cobbs said. Once, when Dr. Cobbs’s father was a patient at Mercy, Dr. O’Neal visited him, sitting at his bedside and holding his hands while comforting her colleague.

The team was so close that they would go on weekend outings — often organized by Dr. O’Neal, Dr. Cobbs said. She often brought along her fiancé, colleagues said.

To many, Dr. O’Neal’s killing was a stark reminder of the mortal danger that intimate partners can pose. Several notorious shootings — including the one in Sutherland Springs, Tex. — have been rooted in domestic disputes.

A group of doctors, including Dr. Purakal, set up an online fund-raiser to raise money for Dr. O’Neal’s funeral expenses; the rest of the money will be directed toward researching gun violence relating to interpersonal conflict.

Dr. Connor said none of Dr. O’Neal’s colleagues had seen any red flags in their relationship, but after the shooting, they found themselves wishing they had asked more questions.

On the day Dr. O’Neal was shot, hospital employees recalled that she was in good spirits, Dr. Cobbs said.

“It was comforting to know that on her last day of service as a physician, people described her as extremely happy,” she said. “Though it comforts us, it saddens us that someone could take that away from her.”

Follow Julia Jacobs on Twitter: @juliarebeccaj.

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