A Massachusetts man and his stepfather repeatedly vandalized a home displaying Black Lives Matter signs — spray-painting an obscenity on a tree and pelting eggs and tomatoes at the residence, authorities allege.
Joshua Simpson, 21, and Stephen Smith, 55, were arraigned Tuesday after a month-long investigation into vandalism, property damage and civil rights violations at the home in Lynnfield, Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett announced.
The pair, who also live in Lynnfield, were charged after a resident first reported the vandalism on Aug. 17, saying an obscenity directed toward Black Lives Matter was spray-painted on a driveway, Blodgett said.
The homeowner said a BLM sign at the residence was stolen the night before, but the alleged theft was not reported, authorities said.
Police responded to the Summer Street home over the course of the next month to look into several acts of vandalism and property damage, including several stolen BLM signs, an obscenity spray-painted on a tree and eggs and tomatoes tossed at the residence, Blodgett said.
Officers conducting surveillance on the home early Tuesday then spotted Simpson approaching the residence with a carton of eggs, Blodgett said.
“A short time later, Smith drove by the scene and attempted to run the officers over with his vehicle,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement.
Simpson pleaded not guilty to charges of malicious destruction of property, larceny under $1,200, vandalizing property, resisting arrest, property damage to intimidate and criminal harassment. A judge set his bail at $750 and ordered him to stay away from the victim’s home, as well as to abstain from drinking alcohol, Blodgett said.
Smith pleaded not guilty to operating under the influence, assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, property damage to intimidate and assault to murder. He was ordered held without bail ahead of a dangerousness hearing set for Sept. 21, prosecutors said.
Detectives spent “countless hours” responding to the vandalism reports and working with the homeowners to identify Smith and Simpson, Lynnfield Police Chief David Breen said.
“I am hopeful that these arrests and eventual prosecution of these individuals will help provide some peace of mind to the victims and send a message to others that this type of conduct will not be tolerated in this community,” Breen said in a statement.
Witnesses in Madeleine McCann disappearance ‘terrified’ to speak
International authorities are continuing work to build a case against the man suspected of abducting and murdering Madeleine McCann, but are saying that key witnesses are “terrified” and “too scared to speak out.”
According to The Daily Star, prime suspect Christian Brueckner, 43, “terrified many of the people who he has come across in his life” — and as a result, potential witnesses are unwilling to talk about his alleged involvement in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.
Christian Brueckner’s lawyer has previously said that Brueckner denied any involvement in the 13-year case of the missing British toddler who disappeared while on vacation with her family in Portugal.
He is currently incarcerated in Germany and is scheduled to begin a seven-year sentence after his conviction in the 2005 rape of an American woman.
And now it has been reported that police are encouraging anyone with information that can tie Brueckner to Madeleine’s disappearance to come forward.
Although officials have said they have no “smoking gun” in the case, prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters has expressed confidence that Brueckner is responsible.
“All I can say is this is like a puzzle and there are many pieces that lead us to believe Christian B is responsible,” Wolters said in an interview, according to MEAWW.
“One of the pieces is the signal from the mobile phone he was using at the time Madeleine McCann disappeared and has been shown to have been in the area of the Ocean Club resort where she was staying.”
Wolters has also asserted that Madeleine is dead, though investigators have not yet found her remains.
“We have nothing to indicate she could be alive. Everything we have points to her being dead. We have no margin of maneuver.”
“The result of our investigation does not point in any way to the possibility the suspect might have kept Madeleine alive.”
Despite Wolters’ assertions, Madeleine McCann’s parents reportedly are still holding on to hope that she will be found alive and unharmed.
“Until a body is found and it is proved to be Madeleine’s, Kate and Gerry are not giving up hope,” a source close to the family told The Sun.
“These latest ‘she’s dead but there’s no body’ theories have been repeated over the past three-and-a-half months but in all this time there appears to be no significant new development.”
“Nothing has changed for them. They will continuing hoping until they know for sure.”
If alive, she would now be aged 17.
“We would like to thank the police forces involved for their continued efforts in the search for Madeleine. All we have ever wanted is to find her, uncover the truth and bring those responsible to justice,” the McCanns said in June after authorities said they had identified a suspect, The Mirror reported.
While German investigators assert evidence points to Madeleine McCann no longer being alive, the Metropolitan Police Service in London continues to investigate her disappearance as a missing persons case.
Madeleine was only three years old when she disappeared from Portugal’s Praia da Luz in 2007.
Police have said Brueckner was living in the area at the time and has been linked to a number of sexual assaults at the resort.
Kate and Gerry will not give up hope until a body is found, a family friend said.
Six shot in NYC despite NYPD’s claims that gunplay is down
Six people were shot as gunplay continued across the city Monday and early Tuesday, cops said.
The latest incident came around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, when a 29-year-old man was blasted in the torso on West 117th Street near Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd in Harlem, police said.
He was taken to Mount Sinai Morningside hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Late Monday night, a 26-year-old man was shot in the hip around 10 p.m. on Fulton Street near Carlton Avenue in Clinton Hill. He was taken to Methodist Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The suspect took off, heading west on Fulton Street, cops said.
About a half-hour earlier, a 55-year-old man was shot in both legs as he attended a barbecue on East 51st Street near Tilden Avenue in East Flatbush around 9:30 p.m.
A white van pulled up, and someone inside opened fire before taking off, cops said.
Additionally, a man who was gunned down in Hollis, Queens Saturday night died on Monday, cops said Tuesday morning.
Rahiem Williams, 37, was blasted in the head on 191st Street near Jamaica Avenue just after 9 p.m., cops said.
He was rushed to NYC Health & Hospitals/Queens, where he succumbed to his injuries, police said.
No arrests have been made.
In total on Monday, five people were shot in five separate incidents, according to preliminary numbers released by the NYPD. One person was fatally shot — a 27-year-old man in East New York.
Four people were shot in two separate incidents on that day last year, which was a Saturday.
In a Monday morning NY1 interview, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said the city — recently battling surging shooting numbers — is beginning to see a turnaround.
“When you look at June, July we had weeks approaching 70 shooting incidents,” the top cop said. “We came in with 28 [last] week. We still have a long way to go. But in terms of getting individuals off the streets that are carrying guns, that’s our total focus right now.”
Joe Biden calls demand for SCOTUS nominees ‘inappropriate’
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is standing firm on his refusal to discuss his plans for the Supreme Court should he win in November.
In a series of interviews while in Wisconsin on Monday, the former vice president was hounded about divulging who he would appoint to the nation’s highest bench following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Speaking to local station TMJ4, Biden acknowledged having a list of potential nominees but argued that voters did not yet need to know more.
“Should voters know? Should voters know who you’re going to appoint?” the reporter asked the 2020 hopeful.
“No, they don’t, but they will if I’m elected. They’ll have plenty of time,” Biden answered.
The Democratic presidential hopeful argued that it was “inappropriate” for him to name the individuals on that list for three reasons.
The first, he argued, was that any current cases being overseen by those judges would come under enormous scrutiny, saying it was a “constitutional matter.”
Second, Biden said, it would make those judges subject to considerable vitriol from the public “without any way to defend themselves” until they were formally nominated in January under a Biden administration.
Third, he closed, was that he was not going to engage in what he argued were President Trump’s efforts to “change the subject.”
In a remote interview Monday with Action 2 News, where Biden wore a mask despite the exchange not being in person, he argued again that the president was trying to shift the conversation away from scrutiny on his own administration by focusing on court-packing.
As the country mourned Ginsburg’s death on Friday, Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they would move forward on a vote for her replacement.
The idea sparked fury in the Democratic party, leading numerous prominent figures to voice their support for court “packing,” or appointing more than the original nine judges to the nation’s highest bench.
Asked what he would do in a scenario where he won the November election but President Trump had already pushed his Supreme Court pick through, Biden said he would not be able to answer.
“It’s a legitimate question, but let me tell you why I’m not going to answer that question: because it will shift the focus. That’s what he wants. He never wants to talk about the issue at hand. He always tries to change the subject. Let’s say I answer that question, then the whole debate’s going to be, what Biden said or didn’t say,” the 2020 Democrat told the local TV station.
Instead, the former vice president said, “the discussion should be about why [Trump] is moving in a direction that’s totally inconsistent with what the founders wanted.”
“We’re in the middle of the election right now, remember, you know people are voting now. By the time this Supreme Court hearing would be held, if they hold one… it’s estimated 30 to 40% of the American people will already have voted,” he added.
During last year’s Democratic primary, however, Biden appeared to reveal some of his views on the subject.
The former vice president said multiple times on the campaign trail that he did not support packing the court, vowing in an interview with Iowa Starting Line that Democrats would “live to rue that day.”
During a primary debate, the 2020 Democrat warned that adding more justices to the nation’s highest bench was capable of backfiring.
“I would not get into court packing. We add three justices. Next time around, we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the court has at all,” he argued.
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