EDM Friday Briefing: Freddie Gray Case, Oil Train Crash, Red Flag Conditions, Theater Attack, Tornadoes
Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 24, 2016: A Baltimore judge acquits another officer in the Freddie Gray case, Union Pacific is found to be at fault in the oil train derailment in Oregon, weather conditions look to be ripe for wildfire activity in Southern California this weekend, a gunman takes hostages in a German movie theater, and tornadoes touch down across the globe.
- Baltimore police officer Caesar Goodson Jr. was found not guilty on all charges yesterday as part of the series of cases associated with the death of Freddie Gray. Goodson, who was driving the transport van in which Gray allegedly sustained fatal injuries, was facing perhaps the most series charges of all officers involved. Circuit Judge Barry Williams found Goodson not guilty of second-degree murder, three counts of manslaughter, and other charges, stating that the case lacked evidence.
- The Federal Railroad Administration released a report yesterday that places the blame solely on Union Pacific for the oil train derailment that occurred in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon earlier in June. According to the report, Union Pacific failed to maintain the track, which led to the crash. Broken lag bolts resulted in a widened track that caused the 16-car derailment.
- Red flag conditions persist in Southern California as several wildfires continue to burn. Temperatures in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties could climb into the 100s again this weekend, while humidity is expected to drop and winds are expect to pick up -- a recipe for worsening wildfires. A red flag warning is issued when weather conditions are ideal for wildfires to spread.
- A gunman in Germany carrying a rifle or "long gun" took hostages at a movie theater in the western region of the country yesterday. Police stormed the theater and shot the gunman dead before anyone was harmed. Police have not identified the man or established any possible motives as of last night, but terrorism is not thought to be involved.
- The National Weather Service says determined that at least eight tornadoes touched down in Illinois Wednesday night and into Thursday as severe storms swept across the Upper Midwest. Wind speeds reached as high as 115-125 mph but major injuries were reported. Severe weather watches were issued from Kansas all the way to North Carolina, including watches in Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee.
- A tornado touched down the city of Yancheng in Jiangsu province in eastern China yesterday, resulting in at least 98 deaths and nearly 800 injuries to others. The tornado struck in a densely populated area of farms and factories; the storm destroyed buildings, smashed trees and flipped vehicles. Continued severe storms complicated rescue efforts yesterday, officials said.
- The Tennessee National Guard and Military Department conducted one of the largest statewide disaster preparedness exercises in history this week. The exercises involved more than 50 Army and Air National Guard units training alongside fire departments, law enforcement agencies, paramedics, and other emergency organizations. Exercises, which involved responding to various disaster scenarios, took place Monday through Thursday.
- West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin expanded his state of emergency declaration from a day earlier to now include 44 counties. Tomblin declared the state of emergency after a full day of heavy rain caused rockslides, mudslides and flooding and damaged homes, businesses, roads and bridges. The 44 counties will now have access to state resources for response efforts.
- Florida Governor Rick Scott is reportedly planning to appeal his denied request for emergency funds to help recover from the mass shooting as a nightclub in Orlando earlier this month. FEMA denied the emergency declaration request on Monday; Scott requested a declaration to help the state recover from what turned out to be the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
- In the wake of the Orlando mass shooting at a gay nightclub that resulted in 49 deaths, San Francisco has decided to tightens security for the upcoming Gay Pride Parade. The annual parade will take place both Saturday and Sunday. San Francisco authorities are planning to utilize entry points for added security, and many entry points will employ the use of metal detectors.