Trump Gunman Flew Drone Over Rally Site Hours Before Attempted Assassination
Discovery adds to growing list of stunning security lapses that almost led to former president’s killing

The gunman who tried to kill Donald Trump was able to fly a drone and get aerial footage of the western Pennsylvania fairgrounds shortly before the former president was set to speak there, law-enforcement officials briefed on the matter said, further underscoring the stunning security lapses ahead of Trump’s near assassination.

Thomas Matthew Crooks flew the drone on a programmed flight path earlier in the day on July 13 to scour the Butler Farm Show grounds ahead of Trump’s ill-fated rally, the officials said. The predetermined path, the officials added, suggests Crooks flew the drone more than once as he researched and scoped out the event site.

The 20-year-old would-be assassin fired at least six rounds from the roof of the American Glass Research building roughly 400 feet away from where Trump spoke, killing one spectator, critically injuring two others and leaving Trump with a graze wound to the ear. A Secret Service sniper team shot back, killing Crooks, whose motive remains a mystery.

Multiple investigations are under way into how a gunman was able to climb onto a rooftop with a clear line of sight to Trump and open fire with an AR-15 rifle. Police had become suspicious of Crooks more than an hour earlier, when officers saw him milling about the edges of the rally with a range finder and a backpack.

Secret Service agents respond after the Trump rally shooting on Saturday in Butler, Pa. PHOTO: EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The use of the drone was just one way in which authorities have said Crooks planned his attack. Crooks, described by friends as very smart yet withdrawn, began researching the site shortly after the Trump campaign announced the rally on July 3, and registered for the event on July 7, officials said. He visited the farm show grounds a few days later to scope it out.

On July 13, officials said, he returned with a pair of homemade bombs that appeared to be designed to be set off by remote control, as they were fitted with a receiver like the kind used to set off fireworks remotely. Investigators found the rudimentary explosives in Crooks’ car parked close to the grounds, along with a ballistic carrier, or vest, with three, 30-round magazines in it, an indication that he might have wanted to cause greater carnage.

Crooks in recent months had received several packages to his home marked “hazardous materials,” officials said. He did online searches for dates of Trump rallies, but also searched for information about next month’s Democratic convention and President Biden, providing a mixed bag of clues for investigators to sort through as they try to determine what, if any, ideology he ascribed to.

NRA Trial Reveals Reformers Have More Work to Do

When a slate of reform-minded candidates won election to the NRA’s board of directors earlier this year, there was genuine hope that it would make a turning point for the organization, which has seen both membership and revenue plummet over the past few years. But testimony delivered during this week’s civil trial in New York has revealed that the board’s old guard still holds at least some sway over the direction of the organization, and there is much more work to be done to get the NRA back on track.

Take, for instance, the testimony of new NRA president Bob Barr, who was not the reformer’s pick to serve as the top elected official of the organization. While most of the reform-minded board members were cautiously optimistic that Barr would go along with the necessary changes to renew members’ confidence in the organization, Barr revealed that the NRA hasn’t even tried to collect the millions of dollars that Wayne LaPierre owes the group.

It wasn’t just the misspending on the part of top NRA officials like former executive vice president Wayne LaPierre that have caused many gun owners to let their memberships lapse or refuse to donate, it’s definitely a major factor. So why hasn’t the NRA tried to claw back the money the jury says is owed to the group? It’s not like they couldn’t use the cash.

Barr made another revealing comment; this one about new EVP Doug Hamlin, who was the choice of reformers. As John Richardon of Only Guns and Money relayed, Trace reporter Will Van Sant quoted Barr calling Hamlin a “placeholder” during testimony.

The National Rifle Association’s new chief executive Doug Hamlin is a placeholder, according to the testimony of former NRA president Charles Cotton that points to fault lines in the gun group’s leadership.

In May, board members chose Hamlin, who led the NRA’s publications arm, as Wayne LaPierre’s replacement. Hamlin is allied to a small, self-described reform bloc at the group.

“The intent is to try to get, frankly, some high-powered person to take it over,” testified Cotton, a LaPierre defender whom the reformers consider part of an old guard. Cotton made his remarks in a New York courtroom where the final phase of New York Attorney General Letitia James’s lawsuit against the NRA is underway. —Will Van Sant

When I spoke to Hamlin on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co a few weeks after his election, I asked him about whether he considered himself to essentially be a placeholder, or whether he planned on sticking around. Hamlin replied that he served at the pleasure of the board, but he certainly didn’t sound like someone who took the job on a short-term basis.

Hamlin and Barr have both taken the stand in New York this week, and Hamlin was far more willing to criticize his predecessor for his misuse of NRA funds.

The New York attorney general called each to the witness stand to show how their differences could hold the NRA back from making progress toward financial transparency — part of the state’s broader goal of having a court-appointed monitor oversee the NRA and banning LaPierre from its leadership for life.

For instance, Hamlin was more willing to criticize LaPierre’s reign during his testimony.

“Mr. LaPierre breached the trust of the NRA and its members, correct?” state attorney Monica Connell prodded.

“Yes,” Hamlin replied, adding that he agreed LaPierre’s conduct placed the NRA in a “very difficult decision” and was partly responsible for the group’s declining membership.

Meanwhile, Barr maintained that LaPierre discharged his duties to the NRA in good faith, conceding that LaPierre may have made a few mistakes along the way. He took issue with the attorney general calling LaPierre “corrupt” following the verdict against him in February.

“I believe it was, shall we say, a mischaracterization,” Barr testified Wednesday.

Hamlin and Barr also appeared to be on different pages about the NRA’s potential relocating of its headquarters, a move that Knox and other board members believe should only be done with significant input from the board.

Hamlin, who previously ran the NRA’s in-house publishing arm, testified that he wasn’t even aware of the NRA’s intent to sell its Virginia headquarters until a few weeks ago. He axed plans to sell the Fairfax property when he took the NRA’s reins earlier this year. Barr testified that he thought Hamlin’s decision was “rushed.”

Still, these disputes weren’t an issue for Barr, a former U.S. representative from Georgia, who told the court he could “absolutely” work productively with Hamlin. “It’s similar to working in the Congress,” Barr said. “You have disagreements.”

I’m not sure pointing to Congress as a model of efficiency and comity is a great example, to be honest.

Beyond the trial, Barr has also appointed former NRA president Charles Cotton, who, as Van Sant points out, is considered one of the leaders of the old guard, to serve as chairman of several key BoD committees, including the Ethics and Audit committees. Not only that, as Richardson pointed out, Barr named just one of the Four for Reform candidates to any of these key committees.

I find this disappointing as their election is being used by the NRA in its court filings to assert that things have changed and no special monitor was needed. While Rocky’s appointment is good and proper, why was not Jeff Knox put on Bylaws and Resolutions as he probably knows more about the Bylaws than any member of that committee. Likewise, would not it have been wise to put Judge Phil Journey, the only jurist on the Board, on the Legal Affairs Committee.

With the exception of the Finance Committee which has has four known reformers on it (out of 15 total members), the remaining committees have one and perhaps two known reformers on them. If Barr wanted to signal to the members of the NRA and to Judge Cohen that things had changed at the NRA, this certainly was not the way to do it.

While I don’t have a crystal ball on what will happen in the remedial phase of the New York trial, I think the odds are better than even that a special monitor will now be appointed to oversee the NRA’s finances. It should be noted that this monitor will have nothing to do with functions and programs of the NRA including its political functions.

While this will put me at odds with some friends on the Board who are reformers, I think that the special monitor will be a requirement if the NRA is ever to crawl out of the morass it finds itself in.

I said when Barr was elected that he wasn’t my first choice, but I was hopeful that with reformers elected by the board to every other leadership position he would be a part of the effort to regain the trust of members. After the revelations over the past week, I can’t say I still harbor those hopes.

And honestly, as much as I want to see the NRA succeed, why should any individual or company donate a penny in support so long as the NRA isn’t demanding the return of the millions of dollars LaPierre owes the organization and its dues-paying members? Barr wasn’t asked that question on the stand, but everyone who’s stood by the organization or felt it was time to return to the fold deserve an answer.

Republicans at RNC Don’t Budge In Face of Latest Anti-Gun Onslaught

We’ve spilled a lot of digital ink on all the people pushing for gun control in the wake of the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump. We’ve seen it from celebrities and athletes, to say nothing of politicians, even Biden who only calls for assault weapon bans on days that end in the letter “y.”

A lot of people are shocked that Republicans aren’t tripping over themselves to back gun control.

And let’s be real, if that was going to happen, it would happen at the Republican National Convention. Kicking off just a couple of days after the attempt on Trump’s life, you’d imagine emotions would be high and if they were ever going to do it, it would be here and now.

Only, as the Washington Times notes, it ain’t happening.

Republicans at their party convention said their commitment to gun rights and expanding concealed carry wasn’t diminished by the assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump.

The party, according to delegates and lawmakers at the Republican National Convention, remained steadfastly opposed to sweeping gun control laws such as a ban on so-called assault weapons such as the AR-15-style rifle used by Mr. Trump’s would-be assassin.

Addressing a gathering of Second Amendment activists at the convention, Rep. Wesley Hunt of Texas said the attack Saturday on Mr. Trump only proves that firearms in the hands of law-abiding individuals are necessary.

“There are 400 million guns currently in circulation. Guns aren’t going anywhere,” Mr. Hunt said. “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, and that guy is now dead because a good guy with a gun shot him.”

He added, “Imagine how many moral lives were spared because that sniper acted and took him out immediately.”

I just want to jump in here and point something out for all those anti-gun voices that laugh at the “good guy with a gun” thing: Law enforcement are good guys, too.

Many times, the good guy with a gun is a cop of some stripe, but the issue with counting on that is that cops aren’t always present and able to protect you. Trump had an entire detail charged with protecting him and we see how that went.

Moving on…

Rep. Kat Cammack of Florida assured gun-rights activists at the gathering, which was sponsored by U.S. Concealed Carry, that the platform’s drive-by treatment of the Second Amendment did not mean Republicans were less concerned about the issue.

“Everyone has always and will forever associate the conservative movement as right in line with the principle of 2A — ’shall not be infringed,’” she said. “Just because we don’t explicitly talk about it in a political platform for a single cycle doesn’t mean that we are not absolutely adherent to the belief that Americans have the right to defend themselves.”

Ms. Cammack said Republicans in Congress are working on passing national reciprocity legislation that would enable legal gun owners to carry concealed firearms across state lines, similar to how a driver’s license works.

That’s great.

Of course, it should have passed nearly eight years ago when Republicans controlled every branch of government, but better late than never, I suppose.

Regardless, it seems Republicans at the RNC aren’t remotely interested in buckling to the anti-gun agenda, especially in the wake of the attempt on Trump’s life. No one is taking it lightly or think it’s not a big deal, either. We just all seem to understand that nothing we said before Saturday’s attack has fundamentally changed. Gun control wouldn’t have prevented that attack and claiming otherwise is ridiculous.

That hasn’t stopped the usual suspects, mind you, but they’re so fanatical about pushing an anti-gun agenda, rationality isn’t really in their wheelhouse.

I’m just heartened to see gun rights remain respected at the RNC under the current circumstances.

Bob Newhart, Dean of the Deadpan Delivery, Dies at 94

Bob Newhart, the beloved stand-up performer whose droll, deadpan humor showcased on two critically acclaimed CBS sitcoms vaulted him into the ranks of history’s greatest comedians, died Thursday morning. He was 94.

The Chicago legend, who won Grammy Awards for album of the year and best new artist for his 1960 breakthrough record, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, died at his Los Angeles home after a series of short illnesses, his longtime publicist, Jerry Digney, announced.

The former accountant famously went without an Emmy Award until 2013, when he finally was given one for guest-starring as Arthur Jeffries (alias Professor Proton, former host of a children’s science show) on CBS’ The Big Bang Theory…..

UPDATE: Known Wolf

Trump shooter Thomas Crooks threatened to ‘shoot up’ his high school and ‘put bombs in the bathrooms’ years before his failed assassination attempt on the former president.

Thomas Crooks threatened to ‘shoot up’ his high school when he was just 15-years-old in an incident that wasn’t taken seriously at the time but is now being probed by the FBI, can reveal.

Federal officers on Thursday visited Crooks’s former classmate Vincent Taormina, 20, to quiz him about the shooter’s ‘hatred’ of politicians and the threats he made as a freshman at Bethel Park High School.

Speaking exclusively to Taormina said, ‘We had like this anonymous place you could post things or tell on someone on our computers at school and he posted something like ‘Don’t come to school tomorrow,’ and something else that made it sound like he’d put bombs in the cafeteria bathrooms.

‘Half of us just didn’t come to school the next day – I didn’t. But it wasn’t taken seriously.

‘We all texted one another and it came out pretty quickly that it was Thomas and his friend group who’d made the threats to shoot [the school] up.’

The threat came during Crooks’s freshman year at Bethel Park High and saw both it and the local middle school shut down

According to Taormina investigators were keen to hear more about the threats made by the younger Crooks in 2019 which were not, he said, taken seriously at the time.

Continue reading “”

Man fatally shot after breaking into Orion Township house to attack ex-girlfriend

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. (FOX 2) – A 67-year-old suspect was fatally shot after breaking into a residence to attack his ex-girlfriend in Orion Township Wednesday morning.

The suspect was fatally wounded by the ex-girlfriend’s stepson inside the house, on Elkhorn Lake Road around 10 a.m. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.

The woman and her stepson retreated to an upstairs bedroom after Galen Gavitt broke into the residence using an ax. Once inside, the stepson – who had his own gun – barricaded the door and the woman hid in the attached bathroom.

Gavitt fired a shot through the door, causing the man, 36, to duck for cover on the floor. Gavitt came into the room, pointed a gun at the woman’s stepson and told him ‘I’m here for her’ Bouchard said.

“(Gavitt) moved towards the bathroom door, and at that point, the stepson fired one round from his weapon, which struck the assaulting suspect, who is down, deceased. So it kind of played out very quickly,” Bouchard said.

Gavitt had previously threatened to kill the woman, and already had a personal protection order and extreme risk protection order filed against him.

His ex-girlfriend had lived with him for 17 years in Tuscola County before she sought refuge in her stepdaughter’s house in Orion Township.

Gavitt broke into the home using the ax to break a basement window. Both the woman and her stepson were not injured.

Bouchard said that it appears Gavitt got his ex-wife’s weapon and took that to the Orion Township house to shoot his former live-in girlfriend. Gavitt’s own two firearms had already been confiscated from the state’s so-called Red Flag law by police in Tuscola County.

Although the investigation is ongoing, the sheriff said that the stepson’s actions appeared justified as Gavitt was going after his ex-girlfriend with a gun that he had already fired before forcing his way into the bedroom.

Bouchard said he didn’t know how the man bracing against the door was missed by the blind gunshot fired from Gavitt.

“By the grace of God,” he said. “It depends on where in the door it went through.”

Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?
— Patrick Henry