Nation/world briefs - April 9

Youths fire fireworks at the PSNI on the Springfield Road, during further unrest in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Thursday. Police and politicians in Northern Ireland have appealed for calm after a third night of violence that saw Protestant youths start fires and pelt officers with bricks and gasoline bombs. The flareups come amid rising tensions over post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland and worsening relations between the parties in the Protestant-Catholic power-sharing Belfast government.

Northern Ireland leaders seek calm after violence escalates

BELFAST, Northern Ireland — Authorities in Northern Ireland sought to restore calm Thursday after Protestant and Catholic youths in Belfast hurled bricks, fireworks and gasoline bombs at police and each other. It was the worst mayhem in a week of street violence in the region, where Britain’s exit from the European Union has unsettled an uneasy political balance.

Crowds including children as young as 12 or 13 clashed across a concrete “peace wall” in west Belfast that separates a British loyalist Protestant neighborhood from an Irish nationalist Catholic area. Police fired rubber bullets at the crowd, and nearby a city bus was hijacked and set on fire.

Northern Ireland has seen sporadic outbreaks of street violence since the 1998 Good Friday peace accord ended “the Troubles” — decades of Catholic-Protestant bloodshed over the status of the region in which more than 3,000 people died.

Authorities: NFL player Phillip Adams killed 5, then himself

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Former NFL player Phillip Adams fatally shot five people including a prominent doctor, his wife and their two grandchildren before later killing himself, authorities said Thursday.

York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson told a news conference that investigators had not yet determined a motive in the mass shooting Wednesday.

“There’s nothing right now that makes sense to any of us,” Tolson said.

Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara, 69, were pronounced dead at the scene Wednesday along with grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, the York County coroner’s office said.

A man who had been working at the Lesslie home, James Lewis, 38, from Gaston, was found shot to death outside, and a sixth person, who was not identified, was hospitalized with “serious gunshot wounds,” authorities said.

At Thursday’s news conference, Tolson played audio of two 911 calls related to the shooting, the first from an HVAC company that employed Lewis and the other person doing work at the Lesslie home. One of them, the caller said, had called him “screaming” and saying that he had been shot, and that his coworker was shot and “unresponsive.”

Seventh man arrested in sex abuse case at youth detention center

CONCORD, N.H. — A former youth detention center worker accused of responding to a bruised and crying teenager’s rape allegations by saying, “Look little fella, that just doesn’t happen,” was arrested Thursday in the latest development in a broad investigation into the New Hampshire facility.

Gordon Thomas Searles, 65, of Brooksville, Florida, was charged with one count of rape a day after the arrest of six other former workers at the Sununu Youth Services Center. He was being held without bail in Florida, and it was unclear whether he has an attorney to speak on his behalf.

The Manchester facility, formerly known as the Youth Development Center, has been under investigation since July 2019, when two former counselors were charged with raping a teenage boy 82 times in the 1990s.

Those charges were dropped last year in order to strengthen the expanded investigation, but both men were arrested again Wednesday, along with four others based on allegations from 11 victims from 1994 to 2005.

Gaetz associate working toward plea deal with prosecutors

ORLANDO, Fla. — An associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz’s is working toward a plea deal with federal prosecutors investigating a sex trafficking operation, potentially escalating the legal and political jeopardy facing the Florida congressman.

The revelation that a political ally of Gaetz’s, Joel Greenberg, is seeking to strike a plea deal with investigators came during a hearing Thursday at federal court in Orlando. It’s a significant step in the case and signals that Greenberg could potentially serve as a witness in the Justice Department’s investigation into Gaetz.

“I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today,” Fritz Scheller, a lawyer for Greenberg, said after the hearing.

Federal prosecutors are examining whether Gaetz and Greenberg paid underage girls or offered them gifts in exchange for sex, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because they could not discuss details publicly. Gaetz has denied the allegations and insists he will not resign his seat in Congress.

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