The NYPD Bomb Squad and the FBI are investigating a Queens home containing suspected “bomb making” materials, police sources said.
Authorities said they were tipped off to the potential explosives after the home across from Astoria Park on 19th Street erupted in flames about 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Police set up a large perimeter around the home after discovering what was described by police sources as three bags of “bomb making” material, possibly ammonium nitrate. Wick cords, used for fuses, were also found, sources said.
“Due to a police emergency please avoid Astoria Park and the surrounding streets,” NYPD’s 114th Precinct tweeted Tuesday night.
One person inside the home was injured during the fire, which started on the first-floor and was extinguished within 30 minutes, the FDNY said.
Minneapolis police probing alleged ballot harvesting claims
A police investigation has been launched into the alleged ballot harvesting plot helping progressive “squad” member Rep. Ilhan Omar.
“ALLEGATIONS OF VOTER FRAUD BEING EVALUATED,” the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) announced on Twitter Monday, hours after President Trump called for an investigation into the “misdeeds.”
“The MPD is aware of the allegations of vote harvesting. We are in the process of looking into the validity of those statements,” the department said.
The force added that “no further information is available at this time,” including whether the Democratic congresswoman would be involved in the initial investigation.
The probe surrounds a video posted by Project Veritas late Sunday, in which Liban Mohamed, the brother of Minneapolis City Council member Jamal Osman, is shown with ballots filling his car’s dashboard.
“I have 300 ballots in my car right now. … Numbers don’t lie. You can see my car is full. All these here are absentee ballots,” Mohamed says in the video posted on July 1, according to the report.
Omar Jamal, a Minneapolis community leader, then implicated Democratic congresswoman Omar in the alleged scheme, saying Mohamed is “one of” her “many people.”
“It’s an open secret. She will do anything that she can do to get elected and she has hundreds of people on the streets doing that,” Jamal told Project Veritas in an interview last week.
Trump raged that it was “totally illegal,” tweeting early Monday, “Hope that the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota has this, and other of her many misdeeds, under serious review??? If not, why not???”
Rep. Omar responded to his attack by deflecting on the president, posting a video of a game show contestant unveiling a card showing $750, a reference to reports over how much federal income tax he paid.
“The amount of truth to this story is equal to the amount Donald Trump paid in taxes of ten out of the last fifteen years: zero,” Omar’s senior communications director, Jeremy Slevin, told Newsweek.
“And amplifying a coordinated right-wing campaign to delegitimize a free and fair election this fall undermines our democracy.”
Kentucky AG will release grand jury recording in Breonna Taylor case
The Kentucky attorney general will release a recording of the grand jury proceedings in the Breonna Taylor case, a spokesman said hours after one of the jurors filed a court motion seeking the action so “the truth may prevail,” according to reports.
The unidentified grand juror — who assailed Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s statements last week – also asked a judge to allow the panel’s members to give up their confidential status if they choose to discuss the explosive Louisville case, the Courier-Journal reported.
Former Detective Brett Hankison has been charged with wanton endangerment for shooting through the 26-year-old EMT’s window during a botched March 13 raid, with the bullets going into an occupied neighboring apartment.
Hankison, Sgt. Jon Mattingly and Detective Miles Cosgrove busted into Taylor’s apartment with a narcotics warrant and exchanged gunfire with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.
She was fatally struck during the raid but none of the officers have been charged in her death.
“The full story and absolute truth of how this matter was handled from beginning to end is now an issue of great public interest and has become a large part of the discussion of public trust throughout the country,” Kevin Glogower, the attorney for the juror, wrote in the Monday afternoon filing, the Courier-Journal reported.
The motion accuses Cameron of using the grand jurors “as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility for those decisions” — and asks the court to allow them to also discuss what didn’t take place during the proceedings, including “any potential charges and defendants presented or not presented,” according to the outlet.
On Monday, Hankison pleaded not guilty to three counts of wanton endangerment at his arraignment in Jefferson Circuit Court, where Judge Ann Bailey Smith also ordered “the recording of the grand jury proceedings shall be filed in the court file by noon of Wednesday this week.”
The AG said in a statement later that he would comply with the judge’s orders, despite misgivings.
“The grand jury is meant to be a secretive body,” he said, the Courier-Journal reported. “It’s apparent that the public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen.”
Cameron said the grand jury agreed the officers fired in self-defense after Walker fired at them and noted that “the only charge recommended (to the grand jury) was wanton endangerment,” according to the paper.
“Our prosecutors presented all of the evidence, even though the evidence supported that Sgt. Mattingly and Detective Cosgrove were justified in their use of force after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker,” Cameron said.
Last week, the attorney general declined to say what charges the grand jury had considered or whom it considered charging – just that homicide charges were not applicable in Taylor’s death.
State GOP introduces bill to strengthen parole board oversight
ALBANY — Outraged over the Cuomo administration’s recent stream of parole approvals for convicted cop-killers Herman Bell and Anthony Bottom and murderer-rapist Samuel Ayala, Republican state lawmakers are introducing a new bill giving the Legislature more oversight of the state parole board.
State Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R-Syracuse) and Assemblyman Joseph Giglio (R-Gowanda) are introducing a bill that would strengthen legislative surveillance over the state Parole Board, slamming recent releases of individuals and arguing they do not take into account the feelings of victims.
“The recent decisions by the parole board granting release to violent offenders such as Samuel Ayala and Herman Bell and Anthony Bottom are textbook examples of what’s wrong with this board. If these heinous actions don’t warrant a full sentence, what does?” Barclay seethed.
“We need to continue to fight for the victims of violent crimes and create laws that help protect them, not make it more difficult for them to get on with their lives.”
“New York state’s pro-criminal mentality has reached a boiling point. Simply put, victims are treated as second class while convicted felons are given priority,” he added.
Ayala, 68, was granted parole earlier this month following 43 years behind bars for raping and murdering two women — as their children heard their screams in the room next door.
Bell, now in his early 70s, was convicted of murdering NYPD officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones in 1971, and was sprung in April 2018.
The former Black Revolutionary Army soldier’s accomplice — 68-year-old Anthony Bottom — is set to be paroled as early as this October.
The new legislation would allow the state Senate and Assembly to remove any one of the state’s 19-member parole board commissioners by a majority vote — right now only state law solely grants the governor removal powers.
It would also require a minimum of three members to interview inmates seeking parole prior to a decision, as current state law only requires the sign off of two officials.
Lastly, the bill would require a unanimous vote of the three members ahead of each determination on parole. Currently only a majority consensus is required.
Family members who lost loved ones at the hands of Bell, Bottom and Ayala backed the proposal.
“I’ve been giving victim impact statements since 2002,” recounted the widow of slain NYPD cop Joseph Piagentini, 76-year-old Diane Piagentini.
“It’s just six months between statements and any changes to the parole hearings are in the hands of the inmates — and the burden is on the victims. We are living the horrendous killings of our families every two years. We don’t even know if the commissioners actually read our statements,” she told The Post, adding each time she appealed to the board against the release of Bell and Bottom she relived the nightmarish pain and hurt associated with her husband’s death, over four decades ago.
“It takes me three days to write a statement. My daughters were 3 years old and 15 months when my husband was killed. What the parole board is basically doing now is they are only taking into consideration what the inmate has done in prison, they are not taking into consideration the heinousness of the crime.”
“You as the victim have to be proactive in finding out what’s going on,” she said, explaining she along with family members waited for weeks before they found about Bell’s parole approval — only after calling the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision on her own.
“I’ve felt that throughout all these years, especially in these later years that Cuomo is our governor and you must be proactive now.”
Jason Minter, 50, was only six years old when Samuel Ayala took his mother Bonnie Minter and friend Shelia Watson into a room in Rockland County before raping and killing both women.
He said the last time he saw his mother’s rapist and murderer, Ayala was laughing and running out the door after committing the twin murders.
“My concern is that he will be frustrated and I’ve been the most vocal in keeping him in — he’s used my name in the past. It’s always “Jason Minter and the Watson family,” The last thing I heard was him laughing that he raped and shot my mother and ran out laughing,” he told The Post, adding he plans to install cameras outside his house.
Ayala was authorized for release on Sept. 3, but has remained in custody as DOCCS has yet to approve his housing assignment.
Minter said in the past he has retold his horrific story to the parole board in person, but this year due to COVID-19 restrictions he was forced to provide his impact statement via phone call.
“They wouldn’t do a Zoom meeting — I was on vacation in the mountains and had to drive to get service and then sit on the phone and tell someone about how my mother was brutally raped and murdered — only to have this very board tell the world and the state that this guy now feels remorseful and wants to be released.”
“It’s dehumanizing it makes you feel almost like you’re the perpetrator, you’re the one who did something wrong. It makes you feel like you did something wrong and the state is making the case that this monster should be able to walk the streets with my 11-year-old.”
The early release of Judith Clark in May 2019 similarly sparked outrage after Gov. Andrew Cuomo commuted the former Weather Underground radical and Brink’s robbery getaway driver’s 75-years-to-life sentence to 35-years-to-life in 2016 — marking another case that sparked outrage among victims’ family members.
The infamous 1981 Brink’s robbery resulted in the death of Nyack Officers Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown of the Nyack Police Department and security guard/driver Peter Paige.
Bob Dennison, who served as the Parole Board chairman under former Gov. George Pataki, marked Clark’s release as a turning point.
“That sent a message to the Parole Board. They’re much more liberal in granting release to convicts who have long sentences,” he said during an interview in May.
Meanwhile, Cuomo has also signed off on the release of thousands of inmates within the past couple months, citing concerns over more compromised, or older individuals contracting COVID-19 while in a congregate setting.
The legislation has yet to receive a sponsor in the state Senate, and is subject to a majority vote by the Democratic-controlled Legislature.
A DOCCS spokesman told The Post the agency does not comment on pending legislation.
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