Daily News Bulletin: Suspect in 5 killings slipped through deportation net

Suspect in 5 killings slipped through deportation net

An interstate manhunt ended early Wednesday near New Florence, Missouri, when police arrested a suspect wanted in five killings.

Pablo Antonio Serrano-Vitorino, 36, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder after a shooting early Tuesday in Kansas City, Kansas. Serrano-Vitorino is also charged with murder in the death of a fifth man in a separate shooting across the state border in Missouri.

The repercussions of the killing spree will likely extend beyond the local community and the lives lost because the suspect is an undocumented immigrant who had been deported once — and who faced possible deportation a second time were it not for a bureaucratic mistake by the federal immigration agency.

U.S. immigration officials confirmed that they were aware of Serrano-Vitorino’s presence in the country after he had already been deported once but that a paperwork error prevented his detention.

After the two shootings that left five dead, police sought Serrano-Vitorino for hours, releasing his photo to the public and deploying helicopters and about 100 officers in the search. Authorities described him as “armed and dangerous” and possibly carrying an AK-47.

Around 1 a.m. Wednesday, the Missouri State Highway Patrol received a call from a man who said the suspect pulled a gun on him.

When officers arrived on the scene, they found Serrano-Vitorino lying facedown in a ditch, said Sgt. Scott White of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The suspect surrendered without incident.

“He was exhausted,” Sgt. James Hedrick from the highway patrol told The Kansas City Star.

A rifle was taken from him, White said.

Police had sought Serrano-Vitorino after the first shooting in Kansas in which three men died at the scene and a fourth at a hospital. The victims’ identities are being withheld pending notification to their families.

“Anytime you have an individual that’s possibly responsible for five homicides, that’s a very serious incident,” said White of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. “We’re glad that we’re able to take him into custody.”

It’s unclear what prompted the shootings. Serrano-Vitorino lived next door to the home where the first killings took place, CNN affiliate KCTV-TV reported.

Later Tuesday morning, Missouri police responded to a call about a shooting and found the body of Randy J. Nordman, 49, at his rural Montgomery County home. The officers found Serrano-Vitorino’s truck at the residence, said Lt. Paul Reinsch of the highway patrol.

There was no indication vehicles or anything else was stolen from the home or nearby properties, he said.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Serrano-Vitorino was deported to Mexico in 2004. At some point, he re-entered the United States illegally, though ICE said it was unclear when.

But on September 15, Serrano-Vitorino was fingerprinted at the Overland Park Municipal Court in Kansas, and ICE was alerted.

Because Serrano-Vitorino had illegally re-entered the country after a previous deportation, he was subject to deportation once again. ICE filed an immigration detainer — a request to take over custody of Serrano-Vitorino before the local authorities released him.

But ICE mistakenly issued the detainer for him to the wrong sheriff’s office, and as a result of the error, Serrano-Vitorino was not taken into ICE custody then.

Immigration detainers are requests — not orders — and expire after 48 hours if ICE hasn’t taken custody of the individual by then. After 48 hours, if the local agency has no grounds to continue holding a person, he or she must be released. (CNN)

Air travel during spring break is expected to set new record

U.S. air travel for this year’s spring break season is expected to jump 3% over last year’s, setting a new record, according to a trade group for the nation’s airlines.

The expected surge — a rise to 140 million passengers during March and April, up from 136.2 million during the same months last year — was attributed to “accessibility and affordability of air travel” by John Heimlich, chief economist for the trade group Airlines for America.

The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that domestic airfares dropped 6.2% in the three-month period that ended last September. But more recent numbers show airfares may be on the rise.

The nation’s airlines have adopted three fare hikes in the first two months of 2016, the first two for $6 per round trip and the third for $10 per round trip, according to the travel site FareCompare. Also, travel app Hopper said on its blog that airfares jumped nearly 7% in February, and projected an additional 3.5% increase in March.

The rise in air travel, combined with a 40% drop in the price of jet fuel over the last year, is good news for the airline industry, which reported losing a combined $29 billion in the decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

For 2015, the 10 largest U.S. carriers reported pre-tax earnings of $23.2 billion, with a profit margin of 14.6%, up from 6% in 2014, according to Airlines for America.

During March and April, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is expected to be the nation’s busiest, followed by O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport, the trade group predicted.(LA Times)

Police: Big Bear Man Posed As Cop To Rape At Least 3 Women

A man accused of impersonating a police officer in order to rape at least three women has been arrested, and police believe he may have more victims.

William Hernandez, 51, of Big Bear, was arrested Monday during a traffic stop and his home was searched by detectives, who found evidence linking him to sexual assaults in Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville, police officials said.

The first sexual assault was reported on Feb. 18 at the New Kansan Motel, where Hernandez allegedly identified himself as a police officer and threatened a woman with a handgun before raping her for several hours, according to Rancho Cucamonga police.

During the Rancho Cucamonga investigation, Victorville police received a similar report of sexual assault in which the suspect was identified as William Hernandez. As in the Rancho Cucamonga crime, Hernandez allegedly identified himself as a police officer and threatened a woman with a handgun before raping her, Victorville police officials said.

But in a departure from the Rancho Cucamonga crime, Hernandez allegedly ordered the woman to call a third woman to come to their location. When she arrived, Hernandez threatened and raped her as well, authorities said.

According to Rancho Cucamonga police, Hernandez threatened to arrest the second and third victims if they did not stay in contact with him.

Hernandez is being held on $1 million bail on and is scheduled to make his first court appearance Wednesday.

Anyone with information about these crimes or who have had similar contact with Hernandez can call the Rancho Cucamonga Police Department at (909) 477-2800 or the Victorville Police Department at (760) 241-2275. (CBS)

SEATTLE EXPLOSION LEVELS BUILDINGS, INJURES 9 FIREFIGHTERS

A natural gas explosion rocked a Seattle neighborhood early Wednesday, destroying several businesses and sending nine firefighters to a hospital.

Crews were responding to reports of a natural gas leak when the explosion occurred along a main thoroughfare north of downtown, Seattle Fire Department spokeswoman Corey Orvold said.

The cause was under investigation. There were no reports of any other injuries or anyone missing. Dogs were being used to go through the rubble just in case.

Video surveillance from the Olive and Grape Mediterranean Restaurant showed a bright flash at 1:43 a.m. and then the room shakes as debris falls from the ceiling. A large garage door covering the restaurant’s front windows protected it from extensive damage.

“The Olive and Grape was lucky,” owner Paola Kossack told The Associated Press in an email.

Bike shop owner Davey Oil said he arrived soon after the fire trucks.

“There were tons of flames leaping over what was already the rubble of Neptune coffee, which as you can see now totaled, gone,” he said.

Crews were still dousing an active flame with foam as the Greenwood neighborhood awakened.

Residents were checking out the damage along with the rubble and glass that littered the streets. Workers from one cafe damaged in the blast poured coffee for firefighters.

Among the businesses damaged or destroyed were Neptune Coffee, Mr. Gyro and the bike shop G&O Family Cyclery. An apartment building and another nearby residential structure were evacuated.

“Our block is a pretty close-knit block and this is pretty terrible,” Oil said.

Chocolati Cafe manager Darla Weidman said she was relieved the blast occurred overnight instead of 11 a.m. when the shop sometimes is packed with people.

“I know neighbors will do everything they can to support these businesses as they begin the long and challenging task to recover and repair from this incident,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement. “The city will also be there to do what we can.”

Puget Sound Energy spokeswoman Akiko Oda said gas service for the impacted buildings was shut off about an hour after the blast and the shutdown was later expanded.

The utility said it completed leak surveys for the block around the area and no leaks were found.

Oda says it will take time to determine what caused the explosion and the utility will be working with the Seattle Fire Department in the investigation.

Pipeline safety investigators from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission were also on site.

Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg said eight firefighters and a battalion chief were treated at the facility. None of the eight men and one woman was admitted to the hospital.

“We didn’t have anybody with burns, nothing life-threatening, nothing major” said Gregg, adding that some firefighters were checked out because the blast was so powerful that it pushed them back. (ABC)

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