- Created on 13 May 2013
(CNN) -- One minute, a man stands at the outskirts of a packed New Orleans parade route. The next, he charges toward them.
The scene is part of dramatic surveillance camera images of a shooting that turned a festive Mother's Day parade into chaos and renewed concerns about crime in the city.
The images, released by police on Monday, show the panicked crowd scrambling for cover. The man runs the other way, leaving scattered bicycles and bodies on the ground behind him.
It's the third holiday this year when guns have been fired into crowds, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. A January 21 shooting near a Martin Luther King Day parade left five wounded. Four people were hurt in a February Mardi Gras attack, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.
Sunday's shooting, which injured 19 people, sparked worries that despite the number of witnesses, no one will come forward. After years of corruption, a deep-seated distrust of police lingers among some of the city's residents.
Authorities vowed to catch the shooters.
"We're going to be very, very aggressive," Landrieu said Sunday, calling for witnesses to report what they saw to authorities. "There were hundreds of people out there ... so somebody knows who did this."
Remi Braden, a police spokeswoman, described Sunday's shooting as "an extremely unusual occurrence."
"We're confident that we will make swift arrests," she said.
Witnesses were hard to come by on Monday across the neighborhood, dotted with houses with barred or boarded-up windows.
A ripped T-shirt filled with bullet holes hung from a nearby light post.
Abdul Aziz, 33, told CNN's iReport that he saw a gun's muzzle flash but couldn't see who the shooter was.
"I'm sad. I love this city," he said. "We're plagued by crime, and it's just not getting better, no matter what we do."
The shooting took place at one of the city's famed second-line parades about two miles from the heart of the French Quarter. The dancing and brass band processions happen nearly every Sunday, except during the hottest months of summer.
The Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club, which organized Sunday's parade, decried what it called a senseless attack.
"Secondlining is about community and celebration, not trauma and violence," the group said in a statement, describing crime and violence as a "systemic problem" in the city.
"We feel embarrassed that the world is now viewing our city and our community through a lens of violence," the statement said. "We support a thorough investigation of the shooting and pray the perpetrators will be brought to justice."
The violence took place as New Orleans undergoes an expensive and sweeping overhaul of its police department ordered last year by the U.S. Department of Justice.
And the shooting also comes less than a month after federal prosecutors announced the high-profile indictment of five New Orleans gang members on gun and drug charges. The indictment was the first returned as a result of a new multiagency police unit dedicated to rooting out violent gangs in the city, but authorities vowed that it would not be the last.
Asked whether the parade shooting was gang-related, officials said they were still investigating.
"It's too preliminary to tell," Landrieu said, adding that he expected more information later.
"It's a culture of violence that has enveloped this city for a long period of time ... and it's one of the things that we as a community have got to stop," the mayor said.
The attack included shots that were fired from different guns, police said, and officers saw three possible gunmen running from the scene.
On Monday, at least three victims were in critical condition, said Louisiana State University Medical Center spokesman Marvin McGraw. One other victim was in stable condition at the hospital, he said. Seven others had been released. Conditions of other victims were unclear.
Federal investigators say they have no indication that the shooting was an act of terrorism.
"It's strictly an act of street violence in New Orleans," New Orleans FBI spokeswoman Mary Beth Romig said Monday.
CNN's Jason Morris reported from New Orleans. CNN's Dana Ford and Thom Patterson contributed to this report from Atlanta.
- Created on 13 May 2013
(CNN) -- Ariel Castro's brothers no longer refer to him as kin. Instead, they call him "a monster" who should rot in jail after being accused of kidnapping and holding three young women hostage in his home for a decade.
"I had nothing to do with this, and I don't know how my brother got away with it for so many years," Pedro Castro, 54, said when he and brother Onil Castro, 50, sat down for an exclusive interview with CNN's Martin Savidge this weekend.
When the story first broke, the world saw all three brothers as suspects after Cleveland police arrested them last Monday and released their mugshots. It was not until Thursday that Pedro and Onil Castro were freed and investigators said the brothers had no involvement in the kidnappings.
Ariel Castro, a 52-year-old former school bus driver, remains in a Cleveland jail on $8 million bond. He's charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.
He's accused of abducting Michelle Knight, now 32, in August 2002 when she was 21; Amanda Berry, now 27, a day before her 17th birthday in April 2003; and Gina DeJesus, now 23, in April 2004, when she was 14. DNA tests revealed a daughter born to Berry six years ago was fathered by Castro.
"The horrific brutality and torture that the victims endured for a decade is beyond comprehension," prosecutor Timothy McGinty said.
Pedro and Onil, who have received death threats since their arrest, spoke to CNN because they "want the world to know" they had no idea their brother was keeping the women captive in his Cleveland home all those years.
'Who did I kidnap?'
The first sign of trouble for Onil came last Monday night as he was riding with his brother after dinner at their mother's home. Ariel suddenly turned into a McDonald's parking lot. A police cruiser pulled his car over.
"I said, 'What did you do, run a stop sign or a red light or something?'" he said. "He says, 'No, no. I don't know.'"
When Onil asked the police officer about why they were pulled over, he said, "All I can tell you is that you're in for some serious allegations."
"Maybe he wanted to get caught," Onil later speculated. "Maybe time was up. Maybe he was inside too much; he wanted to get caught. But if he did it that way, he shouldn't of went to mama's house and picked me up and put me in a car, if he knows that was going to happen."
Pedro was asleep at home when police woke him up.
"I was thinking because I had an open container warrant," he said. "So, I didn't, I didn't know what -- I thought they was taking me in because of that."
The brothers were held in separate cells at the jail. It would be more than 36 hours before Pedro and Onil learned the real reason they had been taken into custody.
After helping a correctional officer interpret for another Spanish-speaking inmate, Pedro asked for more details about his own case. The officer wrote the word kidnapping on a piece of paper.
"I didn't have my reading glasses, I looked and I said, 'Oh, open containers.' She said 'No, read it again.' And I said 'Oh! Kidnapping! What's this? Kidnapping?'" he said. "I'm thinking kidnapping. Who did I kidnap?"
Onil, in a separate cell and still unaware of the gruesome details, was able to see his brother Ariel briefly when Ariel walked by on the way to the toilet, he said.
"When he walked past me, he goes, 'Onil, you're never going to see me again. I love you bro.' And that was it," he said. "And he put his fist up for a bump."
Ariel spoke again as Onil was on his way to be questioned by a detective, he said.
"He goes 'Onil, I'm sorry. You didn't know nothing about this, Onil. I'm sorry, Onil.' And that was it. And then that's when I broke down on my way over there. I said, 'What did my brother do? What did he do?'"
Minutes later in an interrogation room, Onil got his answer from a detective, and it floored him.
"When he showed me the pictures of the girls, he asked me: 'Do you know these girls?'" Onil said.
"He says 'Have you ever seen this girl?' and I said 'No, I've never seen that girl.' And then he showed me the other one. 'Have you ever seen this girl?' and I said 'No, I've never seen that girl.' And he says 'That's Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry,' and my heart fell. I just dropped, not physically, but I just, I just hit the ground."
He was familiar with DeJesus and Berry since their photos were posted throughout his community after their disappearances. "I told him 'They don't look like the girls who have been pinned up and posted up" and he said 'Yeah, that's how malnourished they are.'"
"Oh, it was just heart-dropping," Onil said. "Just terrible when they said that, when he said that, 'It's Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, and they were in your brother's house.' I just couldn't believe it because, you know, there was no signs of anything like that. I've seen no signs."
Pedro's interrogation followed the same course.
"The detective said, 'Well, these three girls are in your brother's house.' And I just, what, say that again. 'These three girls are in your brother's house.' 'What do you mean in my brother's house?' 'He kept them captive.' 'You mean, they're alive and in my brother's house?' 'Yes.'"
Never past the kitchen
They were not allowed past the kitchen of his house in the past 10 years.
"I didn't go to his house very much, but when I did, he would let me in not past the kitchen," Pedro said. "The reason why we would go in the kitchen, because he had alcohol. And he would take me in the kitchen, give me a shot."
His brother would cook for him sometimes, "but I would eat out on the steps," he said.
Curtains blocked the kitchen from the rest of the 1,400-square-foot house. Ariel explained it away as an energy-saving setup, Pedro said.
"He said he wanted to keep the heat in the kitchen because the gas bill," Pedro said.
His brother's home was also always filled with background noise whenever he visited, he said. He couldn't hear what was happening in other rooms because "the radio was playing all of the time," he said. "If not the radio, the TV. Something had to be on at all time in the kitchen. So, I couldn't hear nothing else, but the radio or the TV."
When asked whether that ever raised any questions for him, Pedro explained that his brother often did "strange" things.
"No, because Ariel, to me, he was a strange dude," he said. "I mean, it didn't faze me none because when he said keep the heat because he gets cold real quickly. He's always wearing a lot of coats and stuff, so I figured well, he wants to keep the heat in."
Onil said he saw "absolutely nothing" unusual in his brother's backyard, and he hadn't been inside the house in years. "The last time that I was in that house, it was in the kitchen."
Ariel was "a little apart" from the rest of the family and "strange to me all through our lives," he said.
"He always stayed to himself with his music," he said. "And like I said, there would be times when we wouldn't see him for a month, two weeks. Mama use to say 'Check your brother, check on your brother. He lives alone in that house. He's a loner. You don't know if he's OK or what's going on.' So I would text him and he would text me back. 'What are you doing?' 'I'm fine.'"
One of Ariel's daughters gave CNN a similar description, saying when she visited her father "he would take forever to come to the door." He would not let her in through the front of the house, Angie Gregg said.
The secret daughter
The child who investigators say Ariel Castro fathered with Berry was allowed to venture outside of the house at times, while the women stayed locked in the house. "I seen Ariel with a little girl at McDonald's and I asked him who's that," Pedro said. "And he said 'This is a girlfriend's of mine.'"
He saw the child again with his brother weeks later at a Burger King, he said.
"And then I questioned him, where's the mother" 'Oh, she had to do something.' So, I just let it go."
"I had no idea that, that little girl was his or Amanda's" he said. "I had no clue. That I learned this as the days go by, you know, after we got caught."
Gregg said her father showed her a photo of the girl in his cell phone about two months ago, telling her it was his girlfriend's child by somebody else.
"I figured at the most he had an illegitimate child out there, you know, and I would find out eventually," Gregg said.
Hostage's dad was a friend
Pedro and Onil now wonder how their brother could have interacted with the family of one of his hostages. They all knew Felix DeJesus, the father of the 14-year-old kidnapped on the way home from school nine years ago.
"I would ask him, 'Felix, no sign of her yet, no sign of her yet? -- not knowing that this monster had these young women in his house," Onil said.
"I would shake his hand and tell him 'Man, I'm sorry. Have you heard anything?' and 'Let's just hang in there, brother,'" Pedro said.
Ariel attended a vigil for the teen after she went missing and gave her "mama a hug," he said.
"I don't know how he did it," Onil said. "I'm sure he would talk to Felix, too, while his daughter was missing and played it off so good."
"Felix, I know that you are out there listening, and you know that I was concerned about your daughter and I had not even the slightest idea that this would be going on with," he said.
Brothers: If we had known ...
The brothers agreed on what they would've done if they had discovered the captives.
"I would have went straight to the police if I seen anything," Onil said. "If I seen a curtain move or if I heard anything because there's nobody there inside that house. Why do, why am I seeing this? Who is that? I would have said something."
"If I knew, I would have reported it," Pedro said. "Brother or no brother." He would've "grabbed him by the neck" and asked "What's up with this man?" he said.
"Yes, I would have grabbed him by my neck myself," Onil said.
Onil considers Ariel to be a "monster," not a brother. "The monster is a goner," he said.
"I hope he rots in that jail," he said. "I don't even want them to take his life like that. I want him to suffer in that jail to the last extent. I don't care if they even feed him. What he has done to my life and my family's."
"I feel the same way," Pedro said. "I loved him so much. I loved him so much. As a matter of fact, the second time I seen him going in to use the toilet, when he finished, I was by the rails and he said 'I love you' and we, you know, we touched fists."
'I am a walking corpse'
Onil's and Pedro's bitterness is intensified by the embarrassment of having their mugshots released to the world as suspects in the horrifying crime.
"I haven't realized what is going on and why, why this happened," Onil said. "And my life is now, I feel I'm free, I'm out here now, but I'm not free. I'm still locked in somewhere."
He's haunted by nightmare each night, he said. "This has torn my heart apart. This has killed me. I am a walking corpse right now."
Pedro said that he, too, "is still locked up."
"I can't go nowhere because they think I'm a monster, too, and I'm not," he said. "And it just keeps going over and over in my head that people are just thinking that I did this."
The men are in hiding in an undisclosed location. They say rocks have been thrown through their windows, and they have been receiving death threats online.
"I don't want to be hunted down like a dog for a crime that I did not commit," Pedro Castro said. "I don't want to be locked up in my house because somebody out there is going to do harm to me. I want to be free like I was."
"Now, I feel trapped for what somebody else did, and it's a family member. ... They should not take it out on the family. Threats of burning up the houses, killing Pedro, that's not right. You already got your monster. Please give us our freedom. I want the world to know this."
CNN Producer John Murgatroyd contributed to this report.
- Created on 13 May 2013
On Friday Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed HB 1303 into law. The law expands voting opportunities by extending same-day registration and online registration through Election Day, and adding mail-in ballots. The law also modernizes elections by improving roll and record changes and removing the "inactive-failed to vote" category.
As part of the bill's coalition, the state conference and Colorado local branches mobilized the community and members to encourage their representatives to pass the legislation. In response to the bill signing, the NAACP and Colorado NAACP State Conference released the following statement regarding the new laws.
Rosemary Harris Lytle, President, Colorado/Montana/Wyoming NAACP State Conference:
"This new law beats back the efforts at voter suppression that have for so long threatened voter integrity in our state," Lytle said. "Our state conference leaders, local branch leadership and coalition partners should all be applauded. Together we helped ensure that democracy will work in Colorado."
Jotaka Eaddy, Senior Director, NAACP Voting Rights Initiative:
"This is becoming a banner year for laws designed to improve elections and expand voting rights," said Eaddy. "Despite this growing momentum to expand voting rights, there is still an aggressive attack on voting rights in our nation.
"It is vital that we continue the important work of fighting voter suppression and working to expand access to the ballot box for all citizens."
Colorado joins eleven states and the District of Columbia in passing same-day registration laws. It is the second state to pass it this year. In all, more than 200 bills have been introduced to expand and protect the vote in 2013. Approximately eight of those bills have been passed.
- Created on 13 May 2013
Fulton County kicked off Older Americans Month along with the rest of the nation to celebrate the value of older Americans on May 1.
Fulton County Commissioners issued a proclamation that recognized seniors for their value as continuing economic and social contributors to society.
Every year since 1963, May has been a month to appreciate and celebrate the vitality and aspirations of older adults and their
contributions to our communities. The theme for Older Americans Month 2013 is "Unleash the Power of Age." Older Americans are
productive, active, and influential members of society, sharing essential talents, wisdom, and life experience with their families, friends, and neighbors.
The Fulton County celebration continued on Friday, May 3 at noon in the Helene S. Mills Senior Multipurpose Facility. Senior volunteers were honored for their contributions to programs and services provided by the Mills Facility. Mills is located at 515 John Wesley Dobbs Avenue in Atlanta.
Mills was the first of four Senior Multipurpose Facility Volunteer Appreciation Luncheons that acknowledge senior participants for their generous sharing of their time to assist with senior programs and activities in the multipurpose facilities. The H.J.C. Bowden Senior Multipurpose Facility honors a top volunteer on Thursday, May 9, for serving 2,500 hours during 2012.
The third Volunteer Recognition Luncheon will be held on Tuesday, May 14, at 11 a.m. at the Harriett G. Darnell Senior Multipurpose Facility at 677 Fairburn Road in Atlanta. The final Volunteer Recognition Luncheon will be held on Friday, May 24, at noon in the Dorothy C. Benson Senior Multipurpose Complex at 6500 Vernon Woods Drive in Sandy Springs.
All of the luncheons are for senior multipurpose facility volunteers, and they are by invitation only. To find the full calendar of events with dates, times and locations for all four facilities, citizens should visit www.fultoncountyga.gov or call the Fulton County STARline at 404-613-6000.
- Created on 13 May 2013
Gunmen opened fire on dozens of people marching in a neighborhood Mother’s Day parade in New Orleans on Sunday, wounding at least 19 people, police said.
The FBI said the shooting appeared to be “street violence” and wasn’t linked to terrorism.
Many of the victims were grazed and most of the wounds weren’t life-threatening, according t...