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FBI raids California home of YouTube star Jake Paul

LOS ANGELES (AP) — FBI agents including a SWAT team served a search warrant at the home of YouTube star Jake Paul on Wednesday.
The FBI executed the search warrant starting at 6 a.m. at the Calabasas, California, mansion in connection with an ongoing investigation, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a statement.
A judge has sealed the search-warrant affidavit and Eimiller said she could not reveal the nature of the investigation or the person it was served on.
Paul’s attorney Richard Schonfeld confirmed the home was his.
“We understand that a search warrant was executed at Jake’s Calabasas home this morning while Jake was out-of-state,” Schonfeld said in an email. “We are still gathering information and will cooperate with the investigation.”
Video from local television news helicopters showed agents gathering several rifles from the sprawling property with a boxing ring and hot tub in the backyard that appears in many of Paul’s recent YouTube videos.
A SWAT team initially entered the property, Eimiller said. No arrests were made.
Police in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Wednesday said they were dismissing charges of criminal trespassing and unlawful assembly there against Paul and two others “so that a federal criminal investigation can be completed,” but that they may be refiled later.
Paul had been charged there when he appeared on video in June inside a Scottsdale mall that a big crowd of people had broken into, looting stores.
Paul said in a subsequent YouTube video that he had only been looking for people protesting the death of George Floyd, and he did not take part in any of the destruction.
Paul, 23, has over 20 million followers on his YouTube channel, which features stunts, pranks, stories from his personal life, and more recently music videos
He rose to fame on the short video app Vine and spent two years as an actor on the Disney Channel show “Bizaardvark.”
His older brother, Logan Paul, has a similar YouTube channel with even more followers.
Neighbors have complained to media outlets for several years about the stunts Jake Paul has pulled on the property for his YouTube channel.
Last month, Calabasas Mayor Alicia Weintraub harshly criticized him after video emerged of dozens of people at a party at his home amid the coronavirus outbreak, with no apparent masks or social distancing.

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Joe Arpaio clings to relevancy in what’s likely his last run

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona has grown more politically moderate in the past five years, but Republican primary voters haven’t entirely abandoned Joe Arpaio, the six-term sheriff of metro Phoenix who lost the job in 2016 amid voter frustration over his legal troubles and headline-grabbing tactics.
The 88-year-old Republican lawman — known for launching immigration crackdowns — was locked in a tight primary race for sheriff as he tries to remain politically relevant in the state that now has a majority-Democratic congressional delegation, its first Democratic U.S senator since the mid-1990s and a growing Latino population.
In what Arpaio acknowledges could be his last political race, he was trailing Jerry Sheridan, his former second-in-command, by 572 votes as the vote count continued Wednesday.
Mike O’Neil, a longtime Arizona pollster who has followed Arpaio’s career, said the lawman remains in contention because he has strong name recognition and is still popular in some Republican circles — even though he was trounced in 2016 and finished third in the 2018 U.S. Senate primary.
“It’s no longer the large swell of people it once was, but there are folks who still get worked up over immigration,” O’Neil said.
Arpaio based much of his campaign around his support of President Donald Trump, who spared Arpaio a possible jail sentence when he pardoned his contempt of court conviction. Arpaio disobeyed a court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.
During his campaign, Arpaio vowed to bring back practices that the courts have either deemed illegal or his successor has ended, including Arpaio’s trademark immigration crackdowns and use of jail tents in the Arizona heat.
Arpaio said he hasn’t been garnering media attention like he used to, and many voters didn’t know he was trying to get his old job back until they saw his name on their ballots. He insists he is good health, even though his critics have made his age an issue in the race. If he were to win and serve a full four-year term, Arpaio would be approaching his 93rd birthday.
Arpaio acknowledged that he’s facing a different type of voter than he did four years ago.
“There is a lot of consternation going on in our nation,” Arpaio said Wednesday. “You know it. I know it. It’s a different ball game in this country and this county. But I still think I will be able to pull this out.”
Sheridan, who served as Arpaio’s top aide during his last six years as sheriff, didn’t expect the primary to be so close. He said his campaign lost some of its momentum when the pandemic forced the end of in-person campaign events. He also pointed out that Arpaio has spent about $1 million in the race, compared to Sheridan’s $90,000.
“It’s so much more, and I’m beating him,” Sheridan said of Arpaio’s fundraising advantage. “And he’s the one with the 100% name recognition, not me.”
Arpaio’s political liabilities have been piling up for years and include $147 million in taxpayer-funded legal costs, a failure to investigate more than 400 sex-crime complaints made to the sheriff’s office and launching criminal investigations against judges, politicians and others who were at odds with him.
The winner of the GOP primary will go on to face Paul Penzone, who crushed Arpaio in 2016 and ran unopposed in this year’s Democratic primary.
O’Neil believes Arpaio and Sheridan would both get “whooped” by the more low-profile Penzone in the November general election.
It’s unclear whether Arpaio’s steadfast support of Trump is a political advantage or liability for the former sheriff, whose political career tanked as Trump’s was taking off.
“Will that hurt? I don’t care,” said Arpaio, who called Trump his hero. “It wouldn’t change my campaign. If he was at 3% in the polls, I would still support him.”

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Husband of DA charged with pulling gun on protesters in LA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The husband of Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey has been charged with pointing a gun at Black Lives Matter members who demonstrated outside the couple’s home the day before she faced a primary election in March.
The state attorney general filed three misdemeanor charges Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court against David Lacey for assault with a firearm for the March 2 incident.
Lacey, 66, pointed a gun at demonstrators who protested outside the couple’s home before dawn on March 2 and said “I will shoot you,” according to video of the incident.
Jackie Lacey offered an emotional apology at the time, saying her husband told her he pulled the gun and told protesters to leave.
Lacey’s campaign issued a statement Tuesday saying her husband thought they were in danger and was trying to protect them.
“The events that took place earlier this year have caused my family immense pain,” Lacey said in the statement. “My husband acted in fear for my safety after we were subjected to months of harassment that included a death threat no less than a week earlier.”
Lacey, the first Black person and first woman to run what is the nation’s largest local prosecutor’s office, has been targeted for nearly three years by Black Lives Matter protesters, who have held weekly demonstrations outside her office calling for her ouster. The protests were once small, but have numbered in the hundreds and thousands after the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
Protesters claim she has failed to hold law enforcement accountable in fatal shootings. She has charged one officer in a fatal on-duty killing, but has declined to file charges in more than 340 other fatal shootings.
Melina Abdullah, who is the victim named in count one of the criminal complaint, declined to comment but said she would hold a news conference Wednesday afternoon before Black Lives Matter’s weekly “Jackie Lacey Must Go” protest outside the Hall of Justice.
Lacey faces a runoff in November for her third term. She is being challenged by former San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, a longtime police officer and former chief who vows to reform the office.
David Lacey, who is also Black, was an investigative auditor with the DA’s office until his 2016 retirement. He was seen in video shot by protesters telling them: “I will shoot you. Get off of my porch.”
His attorney issued a statement saying they were disappointed that he was charged with a crime, but they wouldn’t discuss the facts at this time.
“We disagree entirely with their assessment, but we have the utmost faith in the justice system, and we are confident that the correct result will be reached,” attorney Samuel Tyre said. “My client’s human instinct is forever and always to protect his wife and his family and to keep them safe from physical harm.”
The charges were first reported by Politico.

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Los Angeles deputy says colleagues are part of violent gang

COMPTON, Calif. (AP) — A violent gang of Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who call themselves “The Executioners” control a patrol station in Compton through force, threats, work slowdowns and acts of revenge against those who speak out, a deputy alleges in a legal claim.
Austreberto Gonzalez, a former Marine and a sheriff’s deputy since 2007, said in a notice of claim ahead of a planned lawsuit that the gang retaliated against him for months after he anonymously reported a fellow deputy for allegedly assaulting a coworker in February “to further the reputation of the gang.”
Gonzalez later received a text message with a photo of graffiti at the station, he said. The graffiti allegedly said, “ART IS A RAT.”
On Tuesday, Councilwoman Michelle Chambers said she saw the graffiti at the station as recently as last week. It has since been removed, she said.
Chambers said at a news conference that it’s unacceptable Compton residents are still dealing with reports of excessive force in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody last May.
Chambers, as well as Compton Mayor Aja Brown and City Attorney Damon Brown and others, called on the state attorney general’s office and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the sheriff’s station.
Other community members at the news conference told stories of their interactions with deputies, which ranged from disrespectful exchanges to motor vehicle stops to arrests.
Gonzalez’s June 23 claim was first reported by The Los Angeles Times on Thursday.
The allegations against the Compton deputies follow accusations of other gangs in the department — called the Spartans, Regulators, Grim Reapers and Banditos — that also share tattoos and a history of violence, the Times said.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said last week during a Facebook Live event that “there is no gang of any deputies running any station.” But he later issued a statement saying he takes the allegations seriously “and recently published a policy specifically addressing illicit groups, deputy cliques, and subgroups.”
The statement said the issue is being investigated.
Another departmental statement, issued after the Compton news conference on Tuesday, said multiple investigations are underway — including one by the FBI.
Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman, said she could not confirm or deny the existence of a potential investigation into the Compton sheriff’s station.
The state attorney general’s office also said “to protect its integrity, we are unable to comment on a potential or ongoing investigation.”
Compton has contracted with the sheriff’s department since 2000 to provide law enforcement for the city. The $22 million annual contract is in the third year of a five-year agreement, officials said.
Gonzalez estimates that there are 20 “inked” members of the Executioners gang in the station, and another 20 who are prospective members or close associates.
The “inked” members have matching tattoos — “a skull with Nazi imagery, holding an AK-47” — that indicate their affiliation with the gang, Gonzalez alleged in his claim. There are no Black or female members.
The deputy also accused the gang of threatening work slowdowns by disregarding radio calls or responding to them slowly, as well as instituting illegal arrest quotas, if they did not get their desired schedules or assignments.

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Astronauts: SpaceX Dragon capsule ‘came alive’ on descent

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The astronauts on SpaceX’s first crew flight said Tuesday that their Dragon capsule “came alive” and sounded like a beast as it descended through the atmosphere to a smooth splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico.
Two days after returning from the International Space Station, NASA’s Bob Behnken described in vivid detail their wild ride home. SpaceX had provided Behnken and Doug Hurley video and audio of previous splashdowns, so they wouldn’t be startled during the test flight.
“Once we descended a little bit into the atmosphere, the Dragon really, it came alive,” Behnken said from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The thrusters that keep the capsule on track were firing almost continuously, he said.
“It doesn’t sound like a machine, it sounds like an animal coming through the atmosphere, with all the puffs that are happening from the thrusters and the atmospheric noise,” Behnken said.
When the trunk of the capsule fell away as planned and again when the parachutes jerked open, Behnken said it felt like “getting hit in the back of a chair with a baseball bat, just a crack.”
The astronauts encountered 4.2 Gs — or 4.2 times the force of Earth’s gravity — as they descended.
Hurley said he’s “almost kind of speechless” at how well the capsule performed and how well the two-month mission went.
SpaceX became the first private company to send astronauts into orbit with the May 30 liftoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, ending a nine-year launch drought from home soil for NASA astronauts. NASA had been relying solely on Russia to ferry astronauts to the space station since the retirement of the shuttles in 2011.
“One of the things that we’re most proud of is bringing launch capability back to the Florida coast, back to America, and of course, landing safely at the end of all of that,” Behnken said.
It was the first splashdown for NASA astronauts in 45 years. Russian capsules launch from Kazakhstan and return there, too — on land.
The biggest surprise came right after Sunday afternoon’s splashdown, when close to two dozen pleasure boats rushed toward the capsule, bobbing not quite 40 miles (64 kilometers) off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.
Two Coast Guard vessels stayed the required 10 miles (16 kilometers) away, but their requests for the public to stay away were ignored, putting themselves, the astronauts and the recovery team at risk, officials noted.
Hurley said the capsule’s windows were scorched from reentry and so neither he nor Behnken could see “the other flotilla that was out there.”
“We certainly appreciate the folks wanting to participate in the event, but there are some safety aspects … we’ll have to take a look at because it just can’t happen (again) like it did before,” Hurley said.
The opening of the hatch was delayed because of traces of escaping rocket fuel fumes — toxic to breathe — around the capsule.
“Just a word to the wise for folks who have ideas of coming that close again in the future,” Behnken said. “We take extreme precautions to make sure it is safe and we do that for a reason.”
As they waited for the hatch to open, the astronauts tested the on-board satellite phone, putting in a call to SpaceX’s control center, which promptly said “standby” and left them hanging. So then they called the NASA flight director as well as their wives in Houston. NASA requested the test after an astronaut whose Russian launch was aborted in 2018 ended up with incorrect or missing numbers on the crew’s sat phone, according to Hurley.
Behnken said it’s his turn now to support his wife, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, who will fly on the same Dragon next spring once it’s refurbished.
They had promised their 6-year-old son, Theo, a dog once this test flight ended. The puppy will be arriving in about two weeks, he said, once Theo understands how much work is required.
“Otherwise, it will be my dog instead of his.”

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Images of student crowds raise questions in Georgia schools

ATLANTA (AP) — Two suburban Atlanta school districts that began in-person classes Monday with mask-optional policies face more questions about COVID-19 safety protocols after on-campus pictures showed students packed shoulder-to-shoulder.
In Cherokee County, dozens of seniors gathered at two of the district’s six high schools to take traditional first-day-of-school senior photos, with students squeezing together in black outfits. No one in pictures at Sequoyah High School in Hickory Flat or Etowah High School in Woodstock wore a mask.
In Paulding County, student pictures taken Monday and Tuesday show crowded hallways at North Paulding High School in Dallas. Fewer than half of the students shown are wearing masks.
Critics widely derided the pictures on social media, although some residents of the counties voiced support.
Georgia’s largest school district, Gwinnett County, said Tuesday it hopes to make a phased return to face-to-face instruction after an all-remote start to classes. All students seeking in-person classes could be welcome by Sept. 8, in what Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks wrote is a “best case” scenario.
Georgia hit a new weekly high for COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, having averaged 51 confirmed deaths from the respiratory illness over the last seven days. Few die from the illness, and only a relatively small fraction become ill enough to be hospitalized.
Newly confirmed cases remain high, but have trended down over the last week, as has the share of positive tests. Both could indicate the current outbreak in Georgia has peaked. The number of people with COVID-19 in Georgia hospitals hit all time highs last week, but have fallen slightly.
Paulding County Superintendent Brian Ottot, in an email sent Tuesday, said pictures were accurate, but said the district is following state guidelines and that students need longer than a few minutes in the hall to catch the virus from others.
Ottot wrote that class changes are “a challenge” and that “it is an area where we are continuing to work on in this new environment to find practicable ways to further limit students from congregating,” He added that “There is no question that the photo does not look good.”
Ottot defended the district’s decision not to require masks, writing that “Wearing a mask is a personal choice and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them.”
At least one North Paulding football player tested positive for coronavirus in recent days, among hundreds of Georgia athletes confirmed with infections.
Cherokee County school district spokesperson Barbara Jacoby said the pictures weren’t a sanctioned activity and officials only became aware when the photos were posted on social media. She didn’t say why staff members weren’t present or didn’t break up groups. An Instagram account associated with Sequoyah High School shared the picture, writing “Welcome Back!!!” but the picture was later removed.
“As with every first day of school, students and parents took ‘first day’ photos before school started outside of the schools — some of the photos were of students with masks on, and some were of students not wearing masks,” Jacoby wrote in an email.
Jacoby wrote that the district continues to “strongly encourage and recommend that all students social distance and, when they cannot, that they wear masks inside the school and on buses.”
Cherokee County officials later announced a student at Sixes Elementary School near Canton tested positive for the virus. The child’s teacher and 20 other students were sent home to quarantine and learn online for 14 days.
Superintendent Brian Hightower had already provoked ire among some teachers with a Friday email that some interpreted as suggesting they resign if they had COVID-19 concerns.
“For those of you who are unhappy with various facets of our reopening plan, I ask you to reflect on the best direction for you in your role with CCSD,” Hightower wrote.
On Saturday, Hightower wrote another email saying he heard from “several” employees and he “should have done a much better job of sharing my appreciation for both your efforts and concerns as it relates to our school reopening.”
Cherokee and Paulding were the largest Georgia districts to resume full five-day-a-week instruction on Monday. Both are giving parents the option of five-day-a-week classes or online learning. In Paulding, 30% of students chose online learning, while 22% chose it in Cherokee.
Gwinnett County announced it would start instruction all-virtual on Aug. 12. Gwinnett and Cobb County, which also announced virtual instruction, have faced protests from parents demanding in-person classes.
The 180,000-student Gwinnett district announced Tuesday that it could seek to bring kindergartners, first graders, sixth graders, high school freshmen and certain special education students back to school as early as Aug. 26. More grades would follow in phases for students not taking classes online.
“Student and staff safety will be the paramount factor in determining the pace at which we will move,” Wilbanks wrote, adding that changes might be needed “based on the still-fluid COVID-19 situation.”
The 111,000-student Cobb County district and the 94,000-student Fulton County district are also discussing phased returns. Both say decisions will be based on COVID-19 case levels and proposed no dates.
“We continue to believe the face-to-face classroom is the best classroom environment for most students and we remain committed to providing parents with a face-to-face and remote classroom choice,” Cobb wrote in a Tuesday announcement.

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Lawyers to argue about psychologist in newspaper attack case

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Lawyers are scheduled to argue about whether a psychologist’s observations about a man who killed five people at a Maryland newspaper should be heard by jurors who will decide whether he’s criminally responsible because of his mental health.
A pretrial hearing set for Wednesday relates to the second part of the case against Jarrod Ramos, who already has pleaded guilty to killing five at the Capital Gazette newspaper in 2018.
Dr. Gregory Saathoff, who was retained by prosecutors, interviewed employees at a detention center. He also looked into Ramos’ cell. His observations were used to support his conclusions that Ramos is criminally responsible.
Defense attorneys contend Saathoff’s testimony shouldn’t be heard by jurors. They say peering into the cell amounted to an illegal search.
Prosecutors say simply looking through the window of a jail cell isn’t a search.
The sanity phase was postponed until December because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Girl Scouts sex-abuse claim included in NY civil case flurry

NEW YORK (AP) — As a Girl Scout growing up in upstate New York, Alice Weiss-Russell says she lived with a dark secret: The husband of her troop leader was sexually abusing her in the bathroom of a church basement where scout meetings were held in the 1980s.
Weiss-Russell has detailed her alleged ordeal in a new lawsuit filed against Girl Scouts of the USA, part of a flurry of child sex-abuse cases in New York using a “look back window” for making civil claims against abusers.
“For me, it gives me a chance to be heard because I didn’t have that chance when I was young and hold the Girl Scouts accountable for what happened to me,” Weiss-Russell told The Associated Press in a phone interview on Tuesday. The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sex crimes unless they grant permission.
Another lawsuit, also filed Wednesday, accuses a Manhattan research center of similarly looking the other way as a prominent physician abused dozens of children he was studying and treating for being small for their age.
The two lawsuits come after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a bill earlier this week granting a one-year extension to the state’s Child Victims Act. The law temporarily lifts the usual time limits on filing lawsuits for anyone suing over childhood sexual abuse.
The window to file had been due to close this month. But advocates for sex-abuse survivors pushed for the extension, in part by arguing that the coronavirus pandemic made it difficult to put cases together in time to meet the deadline.
Hundreds of lawsuits have already been filed statewide under the act that name defendants including disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, the Roman Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America.
The lawsuit against The Rockefeller University centers on allegations against a researcher at its hospital, Dr. Reginald Archibald, that began surfacing a decade after his 2007 death.
The abuse consisted of Archibald “photographing his child patients in sexually suggestive and lewd positions … and masturbating his male and female child patients,” says the suit filed by attorneys with the Marsh Law Firm. It alleges he once took a patient to his cabin in Canada, where he “where he drugged and penetrated the child.”
A message was left Thursday with The Rockefeller University and its hospital.
Weiss-Russell’s suit, also filed by The Marsh Law Firm along with Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, stands out because it appears to be one of the first of its kind against the Girl Scouts, said her lawyer, Jennifer Freeman.
Weiss-Russell, 48, of Syracuse, is accusing the organization of failing to protect her from a man described as a volunteer “co-troop leader” when she became a scout at age 11 in the mid-1980s. Freeman said the Girl Scouts organization violated its own policies at the time by allowing the man, whose wife co-led the troop, to be involved with her troop.
At the time, Weiss-Russell grew motivated to be a top-seller of cookies so she could earn the right to attend Girl Scout camps and get away from her abuser, she said in the interview.
But once back in the church basement, the man would make her touch him sexually, according to the lawsuit, which also accuses him of raping her. The abuse continued even after the abuser’s wife was alerted to her husband’s misconduct, Weiss-Russell’s lawyers say.
“I feared him,” she said. He threatened to harm her and her family if she reported him and “he was always telling me that no one would believe me anyway,” she said.
Around the time she was 18 and a few years removed from the scouts, Weiss-Russell finally revealed to her mother what had happened, she said. She later tried to report the man to prosecutors, but was informed the statute of limitations had run out. More recently, a counselor encouraged her to take advantage of the Child Victims Act as a way to get closure.
“Girl Scouts of the USA is aware of a complaint that was filed in New York alleging that a Girl Scout was harmed in the 1980s during Girl Scout activities,” the organization said in a statement. “At Girl Scouts, there is nothing we take more seriously than the safety and wellbeing of our girls, and we maintain rigorous safety protocols. We are looking into this complaint and will address the matter with the utmost care and concern.”
Weiss-Russell said she still runs into her alleged abuser, who lives near her in Syracuse. She recalled how he once approached her at a gas station and put his hand on her shoulder while saying hello.
“I froze up like the child, like the child I was when he was victimizing me, like I had no power,” she said. “He still to this day has power over me and I’m hoping through all this he won’t have power over me.”

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5 found dead in suspected arson fire at Denver home

DENVER (AP) — Five people were found dead Wednesday after an early morning fire destroyed a suburban Denver home — a blaze that authorities said they suspect was intentionally set. Three people escaped the fire by jumping from the home’s second floor.
Investigators believe the victims were a toddler, an older child and three adults, said Denver Fire Department Capt. Greg Pixley. Their bodies were discovered after firefighters extinguished the fire, which was first reported by a Denver police officer at 2:40 a.m., Pixley said.
The three survivors were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, said Denver police spokesman Jay Casillas.
Pixley spoke outside the charred house in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood, a relatively new suburban development of tightly packed homes near Denver International Airport.
A police officer attempting to rescue people on the first floor was pushed back by the fire’s heat and it appears that those who died were all on the first floor, he said.
Police are investigating the fire along with firefighters because there are indications that it was arson, said Joe Montoya, division chief of investigations for Denver police. He would not elaborate on the evidence because he said he did not want to compromise the investigation.
Several personnel with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrived at the home about mid-day. Telephone calls to the agency’s Denver office for comment went unanswered. The ATF frequently assists agencies in arson investigations.
“This is a devastating time for Denver and this community. Our heart and our prayers go out to this community,” Pixley said.
Abou Djibril, who said he was a relative of the victims, told The Denver Post the people who died were members of a family that had immigrated from Senegal. Another friend, Ousmane Ndiaye, told the newspaper that the father was an engineer with Kiewit, a construction and engineering firm. An email sent to Kiewit for comment wasn’t immediately returned.
Neighbor Maria Mendoza said she was awakened by noise and someone screaming, “Get the baby out! Get the baby out!” at 2:40 a.m. She ran to a window and saw flames and plumes of smoke rising from the home just down the street.
“I awoke my husband and he ran outside to see if he could help but there was nothing he could do. The fire was too big,” Mendoza said. Firefighters arrived moments later.
“It all happened so fast, less than 10 minutes. These are big houses but they’re all made of wood,” Mendoza said, holding back tears. “May God and the community help this family.”
Mendoza said she didn’t know the family but would wave or say “Hi” whenever she saw the children. She said the neighborhood was built about two years ago.
Investigators erected a white tent outside the nearly destroyed home, its frame blackened in stark contrast to neighboring beige houses with neatly manicured lawns.

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Trump fires TVA chair, cites hiring of foreign workers

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Monday that he had fired the chair of the Tennessee Valley Authority, criticizing the federal-owned corporation for hiring foreign workers.
Trump told reporters at the White House that he was formally removing chair Skip Thompson and another member of the board, and he threatened to remove other board members if they continued to hire foreign labor.
The TVA is a federally owned corporation created in 1933 to provide flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing and economic development to the Tennessee Valley, a region that was hard hit by the Great Depression. The region covers most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky as well as small sections of Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
He also said the TVA board must immediately hire a new chief executive officer who “puts the interests of Americans first.” According to Trump, the CEO, Jeff Lyash, earns $8 million a year.
“The new CEO must be paid no more than $500,000 a year,” Trump said. “We want the TVA to take action on this immediately. … Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: ‘You’re fired.'”
Trump said the authority was replacing many of its in-house technology workers with contractors who rely heavily on foreign workers under the H1-B visa program for highly skilled workers.
As Trump was meeting with workers who would shortly be laid off by the authority, Trump was passed a note from chief of staff Mark Meadows that said Lyash had called the White House and was promising to address the labor concerns. Some of the attendees, who are set to see their last paycheck at the end of the month, teared up as Trump read the message.
Trump acknowledged that he was made aware of the issue after seeing a television ad produced by U.S. Tech Workers, a nonprofit that wants to limit visas given to foreign technology workers, that aired in prime time on Fox News.
The group, led by Kevin Lynn, criticized the TVA for furloughing its own workers and replacing them with contractors using foreign workers with H-1B visas. The ad, Lynn said, had an “audience of one,” aiming to persuade Trump to stop the TVA from outsourcing much of its information technology division.
Trump made the announcement as he signed an executive order to require all federal agencies to complete an internal audit to prove they are not replacing qualified American workers with people from other countries. The White House said the order will help prevent federal agencies from unfairly replacing American workers with lower cost foreign labor.
The order followed the TVA’s announcement that it would outsource 20% of its technology jobs to companies based in foreign countries. TVA’s action could cause more than 200 highly skilled American tech workers in Tennessee to lose their jobs to foreign workers hired on temporary work visas, according to the White House.
But Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said the TVA doesn’t get any taxpayer money. Commenting on the issue in April, Alexander said the White House was spreading misinformation. He said that TVA chief executive officers’ pay is lower than other large utilities and that TVA energy rates are among the lowest in the nation.