Two people were injured in a shooting at a medical facility near PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver on Tuesday afternoon.
Both were immediately taken to the nearby PeaceHealth emergency room for treatment, according to a hospital spokesperson.
The victims’ conditions and identities were not released. But there is no longer any danger to the public, said PeaceHealth spokesperson Randy Querin.
Police were called to the shooting just before 1 p.m. at 505 NE 87th Ave. Security officers put the nearby PeaceHealth campus into modified lockdown, with most entrances closed.
“I heard shots,” said Gaye Lynn Cook who was in the building for an eye appointment. “We were told to go down the hall and hide in the rooms.”
Just after 2:30 p.m., Querin said, “The situation is now safely contained, and both the 505 building and PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center are all clear, no longer in lockdown.”
Querin said facilities inside the 505 Building include a vision center, oncology clinic, maternal fetal medicine, family medicine and a sleep disorders clinic.
When a group of friends rebuffed multiple demands to wear masks inside the Sahara Theater in Anaheim, they were kicked out of the strip club in the early-morning hours of Halloween for not following the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
The men returned to the gentleman’s club in their Honda sedan shortly thereafter, but they were not looking to reenter and keep the party going. Instead of masks, they brought with them an AK-47 to shoot at the outside of the establishment, according to authorities, firing 15 rounds from the car and hospitalizing three people with gunshot wounds.
Nearly two months later, the Anaheim residents were arrested in what police described to The Washington Post as the most extreme anti-mask incident in the city to date.
On Monday, Edgar Nava-Ayala, 34, and Daniel Juvenal Ocampo, 22, were charged with three felony counts of attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation, three felony counts of assault with an assault weapon, and one felony count of shooting into an occupied building. A third man, Juan Jose Acosta-Soto, 20, was charged with three felony counts of assault with an assault weapon and one felony count of shooting into an occupied building.
All three men have pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to a news release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
If convicted on all charges, Nava-Ayala and Ocampo face a maximum sentence of life in prison. Acosta-Soto faces a maximum prison sentence of more than 17 years.
Anaheim Police Sgt. Shane Carringer told The Post that the men were arrested Thursday, adding that the city avoided a near-tragedy with the dozens of people inside the club at the time of the Halloween shooting.
“It is nothing short of a miracle that no one was killed,” Carringer said. “There were over 30 people in there and these guys are suspected of indiscriminately firing at innocent bystanders with a high-powered rifle.”
The strip club shooting is just one example in a long line of mask disputes that have led to gunfire since the start of the pandemic. In May, a Family Dollar security guard in Flint, Mich., was killed after telling a customer that her child had to wear a mask to enter the store. That same month, a maskless San Antonio man who was denied entry on a bus proceeded to shoot and critically injure a passenger who had confronted him for not wearing a face covering, authorities said. In August, a Pennsylvania man was charged after allegedly opening fire outside a cigar shop that had asked him to wear a mask.
The district attorney’s office said Nava-Ayala and Ocampo were “escorted out of the club because they refused to wear face coverings.” When the three men came back in their car at about 1:35 a.m. on Oct. 31, police say Nava-Ayala ripped off 15 rounds from an AK-47 into the Sahara Theater.
Three people — two employees and a customer — were hospitalized and suffered minor to moderate injuries to their upper body that were not life-threatening. A fourth person was wounded, but refused medical attention, Carringer said.
In California, gentlemen’s clubs like the Sahara Theater are allowed to operate if they provide food, which would classify them as a restaurant instead of a bar or live entertainment venue.
A manager with the club declined to comment to The Post, saying, “All the info is out there.”
Carringer said Anaheim police had worked “nonstop” for about six weeks as part of the investigation to track down the three men, arresting them in different locations Thursday. None of them had a significant previous record before the shooting, he said.
“In Anaheim, this is as close as we’ve gotten to a mass shooting,” Carringer said.
Nava-Ayala, Ocampo and Acosta-Soto are being held at the Orange County Jail on $5 million bail each. Their attorneys did not immediately return a request for comment early Tuesday.
- The American Hospital Association on Monday condemned what they called the “senseless killing of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis,” referring to George Floyd, who died more than a week ago after a police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. AHA said the group’s vision is a “society of healthy communities, where ALL individuals reach their highest potential for health.”
- Medical societies, providers and other healthcare organizations weighed in to support peaceful protests, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic shines a light on racial inequities in access to healthcare and job security in America.
- Health officials also expressed worry that the protest gatherings could further spread of the novel coronavirus. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said hospitals in the state could be overwhelmed. And some COVID-19 testing sites have been shut down for safety reasons, further exacerbating concerns.
Since protests and occasionally violent police confrontations in recent days were sparked by Floyd’s death, providers have taken to social media with notes of support and pictures of themselves taking a knee in their scrubs under the hashtag #WhiteCoatsForBlackLives.
The American Medical Association responded to ongoing unrest Friday, saying the harm of police violence is “elevated amidst the remarkable stress people are facing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Board Chair Jesse Ehrenfeld and Patrice Harris, AMA’s first African American woman to be president, continued: “This violence not only contributes to the distrust of law enforcement by marginalized communities but distrust in the larger structure of government including for our critically important public health infrastructure. The disparate racial impact of police violence against Black and Brown people and their communities is insidiously viral-like in its frequency, and also deeply demoralizing, irrespective of race/ethnicity, age, LGBTQ or gender.”
The nascent research and data from the pandemic in the U.S. have shown people of color are more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people. The reasons behind that are myriad and complex, but many can be traced back to systemic inequality in social services and the healthcare system.
Payers, providers and other healthcare organizations have attempted to address these issues through programs targeting social determinants of health like stable housing, food security and access to transportation.
But despite these efforts over several years to recognize and document the disparities, they have persisted and in some cases widened, Samantha Artiga, director of the Disparities Policy Project at the Kaiser Family Foundation, noted in a blog post Monday.
“Health disparities, including disparities related to COVID-19, are symptoms of broader underlying social and economic inequities that reflect structural and systemic barriers and biases across sectors,” she wrote.
Providers have waded into political issues affecting them before, including gun violence. Several organizations also objected to the Trump administration’s decision to cut ties with the World Health Organization in the midst of the pandemic.
The American Public Health Association in late 2018 called law enforcement violence a public health issue.
WHY WE WROTE THIS
Bringing assault weapons to the Michigan Legislature for a protest against coronavirus restrictions? To one group, it’s why the Second Amendment exists. To many others, it’s unfathomable.
It was a first for Michigan state Sen. Sylvia Santana. Before heading to the statehouse in Lansing last Thursday, she slipped into a bulletproof vest.
Ms. Santana’s husband, a sheriff’s deputy, warned her about potential trouble at a rally to protest the decision to extend a coronavirus lockdown.
A group of armed white men entered the Capitol and shouted at lawmakers. To Ms. Santana, some were dressed like they were “going to war.” Several Confederate flags, a swastika, and a misogynistic sign aimed at Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could be seen outside.
“I thought that was very scary,” says Ms. Santana, an African American who represents parts of Detroit and all of neighboring Dearborn. “We’re there to do a job, and it’s not to dodge bullets as we try to do our jobs in a bipartisan fashion to make sure we’re keeping all Michiganders safe.”
Four days on from the protest, her concern lingers. The pandemic has intensified many societal fault lines – from health care inequities to political polarization – and gun control is no exception. Feeling that state officials are overreaching, a tiny minority of protesters are flexing their Second Amendment rights in Michigan and beyond.
But at a time of crisis, their crusade against the perceived tyranny of government is seen by many as tyrannical in its own right – recklessly using their liberties to intimidate others.
The core question is: Where should the line be drawn? For protesters, guns in statehouses is one of the purest expressions of the power the Second Amendment invests in citizens. But no constitutional right is absolute.
“Where do people who see no problem with guns downtown or near a hospital or in the legislature, where do they draw the line?” Sanford Levinson, co-author of “Fault Lines in the Constitution.” “That’s an interesting question both politically and legally, because courts are really receptive to line drawing. I don’t think you’d find any judge who says, ‘Yeah, I welcome guns in my courtroom.’”
In that way, the struggle over whether to allow firearms in legislatures “is part of the culture war,” he adds.
Are hard-line tactics effective?
Today, 21 state capitols allow guns in some form, according to a Wall Street Journal report. But only a few, including Michigan, allow citizens to openly carry under the rotunda. Many Republican-led states balk at open carry in the people’s hall for personal safety reasons, and courts have upheld bans in places like legislatures and polling places, holding that guns can chill other people’s rights.
Elements of race have long played a role. The modern gun control movement is linked to the signing of the Mulford Act in 1967, which banned open carry in California. The bill gained momentum after two dozen Black Panthers legally brought firearms to the state capitol to protest against it. The National Rifle Association backed the bill.
Incidents like the one in Michigan, however, could do more to damage gun rights than advance them. “It’s really now an open question to what extent hard-line pro-gun policies are politically advantageous,” says Mr. Levinson, also a visiting professor at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Ms. Santana was certainly not persuaded. “I, as a state lawmaker, want to hear your concerns and your position on the issue. But I don’t feel that bringing assault weapons to the capitol and using symbols of hatred will make me understand your issue better.”
The scenes in Michigan, which has been hit hard by COVID-19, only make it harder to have already difficult conversations, others say. Part of self-defense is respecting the preferences other people have for their own security, which might mean leaving guns at home when overtones of intimidation are possible.
“When your eyes look at these pictures of groups of people … in a public building that is supposed to be a center of democratic exchange and debate, and you see a group of people carrying military weapons, that is not a vision of democracy,” says Hannah Friedman, a staff attorney at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco. “That’s a vision of intimidation by a minority of people.”
Such concerns were heightened further this weekend, when employees at businesses in Stillwater, Oklahoma, faced a threat of violence with a gun while trying to force customers to wear masks, as mandated by the local government.
“I think we were heard”
But Ashley Phibbs has a different view.
Ms. Phibbs, a project manager and mother who helped organize the Michigan rally, acknowledged with regret that many in attendance didn’t abide by social distancing rules. She also confirmed the display of hate symbols. But she insisted those were agitators and not part of her group, Michigan United for Liberty, which has sprung up to oppose what members see as repressive COVID-19 restrictions.
“I know how it can seem to people who aren’t active in rallies and who are looking at it from the outside in, and I try to be very understanding of that,” says Ms. Phibbs. “But … I don’t think that anyone was there to really make anyone fearful. I didn’t see anything that would have really caused fear, aside from loud noises from the people yelling. But a lot of people are also sometimes afraid of guns in general.”
In the end, she says, “I think we were heard. I think overall [the rally] was positive.”
Knowing your audience
Other gun-rights advocates saw problems with the optics.
As he watched news from Michigan Thursday, Caleb Q. Dyer saw some familiar faces. The New Hampshire barista and former state legislator had been a keynote speaker at a Michigan Libertarian Party event last year.
But he worried that his friends in Michigan were sending “mixed messages” by failing to abide by public health rules.
In fact, he usually brings witty protest gear – such as a sign that says “arm the homeless” – to disarm fear. It’s a fine line, he says, between free speech and armed intimidation.
“People aren’t ready to have the discussion that a lot of these gun-carrying protesters want to have, which is that none of these laws are even remotely effective or just,” says Mr. Dyer. “But they’re not going to have that discussion if they cannot carry themselves in such a way that the opposition won’t think … that they’re murderous and violent.”
The online activity helps cement the impression that opposition to the restrictions is more widespread than polling suggests. Nearly 70 percent of Republicans said they supported a national stay-at-home order, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. Ninety-five percent of Democrats backed such a measure in the survey.
Still, the Facebook groups have become digital hubs for the same sort of misinformation spouted in recent days at state capitol buildings — from comparing the virus to the flu to questioning the intentions of scientists working on a vaccine.
Public-health experts say stay-at-home orders are necessary to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, which has already killed more than 40,000 in the United States. The Trump administration last week outlined three phases for states to reopen safely — guidelines contradicted by the president when he urged citizens to rise up against the rules that heed the recommendations of his own public-health advisers.
“If people feel that way, you’re allowed to protest,” Trump said Sunday. “Some governors have gone too far, some of the things that happened are maybe not so appropriate.”
Facebook said Sunday it did not plan to take action to remove the groups or events, partly because states have not outlawed them. Organizers also have called for “drive-in” protests, in keeping with recommendations that people keep a short distance between each other. In other cases, involving protests planned for states like New Jersey and California, the company has removed that content, Facebook said.
“Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook. For this same reason, events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook,” said Andy Stone, a spokesman for the company.
None of the Dorr brothers responded to calls and emails on Sunday.
“Wisconsinites Against Excessive Quarantine” was created on Wednesday by Ben Dorr. His brother Christopher is the creator of “Pennsylvanians Against Excessive Quarantine,” as well as “Ohioans Against Excessive Quarantine.” A third brother, Aaron, is the creator of “New Yorkers Against Excessive Quarantine.”
The online coordination offered additional clues about how the protest activity is spreading nationwide, capturing the imagination of the president and of Fox News even though it represents the views of a small minority of Americans. Trump himself tied the protests to gun rights — a primary cause for the Dorr brothers — in telling Virginians that the Second Amendment was “under siege” as he urged them to liberate the state.
On the ground, pro-Trump figures — including some who act as surrogates for his campaign — as well as groups affiliated with prominent conservative donors have helped organize and promote the demonstrations.
Some of the most vehement protest activity, in Michigan, has been organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition. Its founders are a Republican state lawmaker and his wife, Meshawn Maddock, who sits on the Trump campaign’s advisory board and is a prominent figure in the “Women for Trump” coalition. Jeanine Pirro, a Fox News host and avid Trump supporter, interviewed Maddock on her show Saturday, telling her, “Keep going. Thank you.”
Also promoting the demonstrations — including spending several hundred dollars to advertise the event on Facebook — was the Michigan Freedom Fund, which is headed by Greg McNeilly, a longtime adviser to the DeVos family. He served as campaign manager for Dick DeVos, the husband of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, when he ran unsuccessfully for governor of Michigan in 2006.
The state’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, who has become a target for Trump and his conservative allies, last week criticized the nonprofit, noting that it was “funded in large part by the DeVos family,” and saying it was “really inappropriate for a sitting member of the United States president’s cabinet to be waging political attacks on any governor, but obviously, on me here at home.”
McNeilly said the funds used to promote the event were “not dedicated program funds” but instead came from “our grassroots fundraising efforts,” and so had “nothing to do with any DeVos work.”
The Dorr brothers manage a slew of pro-gun groups across a wide range of states, from Iowa to Minnesota to New York, and seek primarily to discredit organizations like the National Rifle Association as being too compromising on gun safety. Minnesota Gun Rights, for which Ben Dorr serves as political director, describes itself as the state’s “no-compromise gun rights organization.”
In numerous states, they have bypassed rules requiring them to register as lobbyists by arguing that they are instead involved in “pro-gun grassroots mobilization,” as “Ohio Gun Owners,” whose board Chris Dorr directs, describes its work.
A now-retired state legislator in Iowa, who in 2017 sought to close a loophole allowing the brothers to skirt lobbying rules, said he was not surprised the Dorr brothers were involved in fomenting resistance to the public-health precautions.
“The brothers will do anything to fan the flames of a controversial issue, and maybe make a quick nickel,” said the former state legislator, Republican Clel Baudler.
Nearly 97,000 people had joined “Wisconsinites Against Excessive Quarantine” by Sunday afternoon, a Facebook group whose posts are visible only to members that asserted Gov. Tony Evers has been on a “power trip, controlling our lives, destroying our businesses” and “forcing us to hand over our freedoms and our livelihood!” In the group, some members speculated that Evers closed most state businesses and shuttered schools to appease pharmaceutical giants — not because of data showing the novel coronavirus is highly contagious and deadly, infecting more than 4,300 in the state and killing 220.
The group, along with Ben Dorr, created an event on Facebook for a “drive-in rally” at the capital next Friday that has attracted hundreds of pledged participants. They also seek to steer visitors to a website for the “Wisconsin Firearms Coalition,” where people can enter their names, email addresses and other contact information and share their views with the state’s governor. In doing so, they encourage visitors who are not “already a member of the Wisconsin Firearms Coalition” to “join us.” A page asking users to join the Minnesota group offered several rates for membership, from $35 to $1,000.
Another private Facebook group focused on Pennsylvania, gaining more than 63,000 members by Sunday. Many questioned the wisdom of wearing masks publicly, contrary to recommendations by state and federal officials, and linked to a similar website catering to Pennsylvania gun owners. Still another targeting New York had become a forum for roughly 23,000 members to question whether the coronavirus is really that bad — despite the fact New York City has become the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak.
“While seizing power at a breathtaking pace,” the group’s description began, “Andrew Cuomo is sending NY’s economy into a death spiral!”
The U.S. presidential campaign is ultimately a connection between candidates and the people of the country, but the development of the candidates’ policies and positions is largely asymmetric. Candidates develop and announce “plans” and policy positions that reflect their (the candidates’) philosophical underpinnings and (presumably) deep thinking. The people then get to react and make their views known through polling and, ultimately, through voting.
Candidates by definition assume they have unique wisdom and are unusually qualified to determine what the government should do if they are elected (otherwise, they wouldn’t be running). That may be so, but the people of the country also have collective wisdom and on-the-ground qualifications to figure out what government should be doing. That makes it useful to focus on what the people are telling us, rather than focusing exclusively on the candidates’ pronouncements. I’m biased, because I spend most of my time studying the public’s opinions rather than what the candidates are saying. But hopefully most of us would agree that it is worthwhile to get the public’s views of what they want from their government squarely into the mix of our election-year discourse.
So here are four areas where my review of public opinion indicates the American public has clear direction for its elected officials.
1. Fixing Government Itself.
I’ve written about this more than any other topic this year. The data are clear that the American people are in general disgusted (even more than usual) with the way their government is working and perceive that government and elected leaders constitute the most important problem facing the nation today.
The people themselves may be faulted here because they are the ones who give cable news channels high ratings for hyperpartisan programming, keep ideological radio talk shows alive, click on emotionally charged partisan blogs, and vote in primaries for hyperpartisan candidates. But regardless of the people’s own complicity in the problem, there isn’t much doubt that the government’s legitimacy in the eyes of the people is now at a critically negative stage.
“Fixing government” is a big, complex proposition, of course, but we do have some direction from the people. While Americans may agree that debate and differences are part of our political system, there has historically been widespread agreement on the need for elected representatives to do more compromising. Additionally, Americans favor term limits, restricting the amount of money candidates can spend in campaigns and shifting to a 100% federally funded campaign system. (Pew Research polling shows that most Americans say big donors have inordinate influence based on their contributions, and a January Gallup poll found that only 20% of Americans were satisfied with the nation’s campaign finance laws.) Americans say a third major party is needed to help remedy the inadequate job that the two major parties are doing of representing the people of the country. Available polling shows that Americans favor the Supreme Court’s putting limits on partisan gerrymandering.
Additionally, a majority of Americans favor abolishing the Electoral College by amending the Constitution to dictate that the candidate who gets the most popular votes be declared the winner of the presidential election (even though Americans who identify as Republicans have become less interested in this proposition in recent years because the Republican candidate has lost the popular vote but has won in the Electoral College in two of the past five elections).
2. Fix the Backbone of the Nation by Initiating a Massive Government Infrastructure Program.
I have written about this at some length. The public wants its government to initiate massive programs to fix the nation’s infrastructure. Leaders of both parties agree, but nothing gets done. The failure of the Congress and the president to agree on infrastructure legislation is a major indictment of the efficacy of our current system of representative government.
3. Pass More Legislation Relating Directly to Jobs.
Jobs are the key to economic wellbeing for most pre-retirement-age Americans. Unemployment is now at or near record lows, to be sure, but there are changes afoot. Most Americans say artificial intelligence will eliminate more jobs than it creates. The sustainability of jobs with reasonably high pay in an era when unionized jobs are declining and contract “gig” jobs are increasing is problematic. Our Gallup data over the years show clear majority approval for a number of ideas focused on jobs: providing tax incentives for companies to teach workers to acquire new skills; initiating new federal programs to increase U.S. manufacturing jobs; creating new tax incentives for small businesses and entrepreneurs who start new businesses; providing $5.5 billion in federal monies for job training programs that would create 1 million jobs for disadvantaged young Americans; and providing tax credits and incentives for companies that hire the long-term unemployed.
My read of the data is that the public generally will support almost any government effort to increase the availability of high-paying, permanent jobs.
4. Pass Legislation Dealing With All Aspects of Immigration.
Americans rate immigration as one of the top problems facing the nation today. The majority of Americans favor their elected representatives taking action that deals with all aspects of the situation — the regulation of who gets to come into the country in the first place and the issue of dealing with individuals who are already in the country illegally. As I summarized in a review of the data earlier this year: “Americans overwhelmingly favor protecting the border, although with skepticism about the need for new border walls. Americans also overwhelmingly favor approaches for allowing undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S. to stay here.”
Recent surveys by Pew Research also reinforce the view that Americans have multiple goals for their elected representatives when it comes to immigration: border security, dealing with immigrants already in the country, and taking in refugees affected by war and violence.
More Direction From the People
What else do the people want their elected representatives to do? The answer can be extremely involved (and complex), but there are several additional areas I can highlight where the data show clear majority support for government policy actions.
- Significant majorities of Americans want stricter gun control laws and, for some proposals such as universal background checks, support reaches the 90% level.
- Americans want government to support the development of alternative sources of energy with a dramatic decrease in use of traditional fossil fuels. Americans want government to maintain and enhance pollution and emission standards.
- Americans strongly favor protecting the environment even at the risk of curbing economic growth.
- Americans favor legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.
- A significant majority of Americans favor keeping abortion legal under at least some circumstances and do not want Roe v. Wade to be overturned.
- A majority of Americans favor higher taxes on the rich and on corporations.
- Americans put high priority on the president and Congress dealing with basic ongoing functions such as combating terrorism and maintaining Social Security and Medicare.
- Americans want the government to keep products safe and prevent discrimination.
Americans See Healthcare and Education as Important but Don’t Have a Clear Mandate
There are two areas of life to which the public attaches high importance, but about which there is no clear agreement on what the government should be doing. One is healthcare, an issue that consistently appears near the top of the list of most important problems facing the nation, and obviously an issue of great concern to presidential candidates. But, as I recently summarized, “Healthcare is clearly a complex and often mysterious part of most Americans’ lives, and public opinion on the issue reflects this underlying messiness and complexity. Americans have mixed views about almost all aspects of the healthcare system and clearly have not yet come to a firm collective judgment on suggested reforms.”
Education is another high priority for Americans, but one where the federal government’s role in the eyes of the public isn’t totally clear. Both the American people and school superintendents agree on the critical importance of teachers, so I presume the public would welcome efforts by the federal government to make the teaching profession more attractive and more rewarding. Americans also most likely recognize that education is a key to the future of the job market in a time of growing transition from manual labor to knowledge work. But the failure of the federal government’s massive effort to get involved in education with the No Child Left Behind legislation underscores the complexities of exactly what the federal government should or should not be doing in education, historically a locally controlled part of our American society.