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U-Haul driver’s NYC ‘rampage’ leaves 8 hurt, police say

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Police vehicles surround a truck that was stopped and the driver arrested, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023, in New York. Police stopped the U-Haul truck and detained the driver after reports that the vehicle struck multiple pedestrians in New York City on Monday. Authorities say the driver of the truck fled the scene after mounting a sidewalk in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn and injuring several people. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Police vehicles surround a truck that was stopped and the driver arrested, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023, in New York. Police stopped the U-Haul truck and detained the driver after reports that the vehicle struck multiple pedestrians in New York City on Monday. Authorities say the driver of the truck fled the scene after mounting a sidewalk in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn and injuring several people. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

NEW YORK (AP) — A man driving a U-Haul truck swerved onto sidewalks and plowed into scooter riders in New York City on Monday, injuring multiple people before police were able to pin the careening vehicle against a building following a mileslong pursuit through Brooklyn.

At least eight people were hurt, two critically. The driver was arrested. His son identified him as Weng Sor, 62, a troubled man with a history of harmful behavior and stints behind bars.

The mayhem unfolded over a harrowing hour as the truck tore through Brooklyn’s bustling Bay Ridge neighborhood, hitting people at several points along the way before veering on and off a highway as police gave chase.

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell described it as a “violent rampage,” but said there was no evidence of “terrorism involvement.”

The truck, rented by Sor in Florida on Feb. 1, traveled a winding route before police stopped it near the entrance to a tunnel leading from Brooklyn to Manhattan, more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) from where the chase began.

Weng Sor’s son, Stephen Sor, 30, told The Associated Press that his father had a history of mental illness and, until recently, was living in Las Vegas, where records show he’s been convicted and served time for multiple acts of violence, including stabbing his own brother.

“Very frequently he’ll choose to skip out on his medications and do something like this,” Stephen Sor said in an interview outside his Brooklyn home. “This isn’t the first time he’s been arrested. It’s not the first time he’s gone to jail.”

The destruction shattered the late-morning routine and immediately evoked memories of other vehicle assaults on bikers and pedestrians in the crowded city, including a terrorist’s deadly 2017 attack that killed eight people on a Manhattan bike path and a disturbed motorist’s rampage through Times Square the same year that killed one and injured 20.

The first report of a truck crashing into pedestrians and cyclists came in at 10:30 a.m., police said, and other reports followed as the vehicle moved through a busy section of Brooklyn, just north of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge along New York Harbor.

The neighborhood, a melting pot of immigrants from Europe, Asia and the Middle East, is known as the setting of “Saturday Night Fever,” and parts of TV’s “Blue Bloods.” Each fall, it hosts a leg of the New York City Marathon.

Katherine Aronova said she saw the U-Haul run a red light, hit a delivery worker on an e-bike in the middle of the road and drag him a short distance.

“His face was covered with blood. He was unconscious,” and his shoes were scattered on the sidewalk, Aronova said. “The electric bicycle was destroyed completely.”

A security camera captured the truck clipping a scooter, then swerving onto a sidewalk and nearly plowing into a pedestrian, who dived to safety just in time. A police patrol car then followed the truck down the sidewalk at high speed.

“I was in shock and didn’t know what was happening until I saw the police patrol was chasing it,” a witness, Andrea Vasquez, said in Spanish. “Thank God that man saved himself,” she added of the person who narrowly escaped.

A police officer responding to the incident was among the injured.

Aerial video from news helicopters showed the truck on a sidewalk after the chase ended, its path blocked by a police cruiser. Authorities examined the vehicle to make sure it didn’t contain explosives.

Sor rented the truck in West Palm Beach, Florida on Feb. 1 and was due to return it there on March 3, U-Haul spokesperson Jeff Lockridge said. He provided a valid driver’s license and paid for a 30-day rental in advance. U-Haul had no record of Sor previously renting from the company, Lockridge said.

Stephen Sor said he was surprised when Weng Sor showed up in Brooklyn in the middle of the night about a week ago. He said they didn’t speak often and described their relationship as “rocky.”

“I try to just distance, as long as he leaves us alone,” Stephen Sor said.

In 2015, Weng Sor stabbed his brother in Las Vegas and served about 17 months in a Nevada prison, according to court and prison records. In 2020, he stabbed someone in the arm and chest with a knife and was sentenced to 364 days in county jail, with about 10 months of time already served.

Before pleading guilty in that case, Sor underwent several months of evaluations at state psychiatric facilities until he was found competent to face charges, court records show. The records don’t list a possible diagnosis, but note that Sor was placed on medications.

In an earlier Nevada case, Sor was ordered to undergo counseling and perform community service after pleading guilty to misdemeanor battery in 2005. The judge noted at the time that Sor was moving to New York and ordered him to submit to a mental health evaluation once there.

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WHITE HOUSE: SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman to Visit Orlando Monday

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WASHINGTON, DC – The White House announced that on Monday, September 25, SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, the voice in President Biden’s Cabinet for over 33 million small businesses in America, will travel to Orlando to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Latino Prosperity Tour, an ongoing, multi-city tour that engages communities on the micro- and macro-economic issues directly impacting Latinos.

Throughout the day, Administrator Guzman will be joined by Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09), Congressman Maxwell Frost (FL-10), and the Chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Congresswoman Nanette Barragán (CA-44) at visits to local small businesses and at a Biden-Harris Administration Latino Prosperity Tour round table featuring Orlando small business owners to highlight how President Biden’s Investing in America economic agenda has led to a historic small business boom, with 13.1 million new small business applications nationwide since the President took office – including Florida, which leads the nation with over 1.6 million applications in the state.

Administrator Guzman will also join the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce National Conference for a fireside chat, where she will discuss how Bidenomics is supporting Latino entrepreneurs and how the SBA is breaking down barriers to access and growth for minority-owned small businesses. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, the Latino community has seen its fastest rate of small business creation in over a decade.

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President Joe Biden to Establish First-Ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention

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Tomorrow, President Biden will announce the establishment of the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to reduce gun violence, which has ravaged communities across the country, and implement and expand upon key executive and legislative action which has been taken to save lives.

The new Office of Gun Violence Prevention will be overseen by Vice President Harris, who has been a been a key leader in the Biden-Harris Administration’s effort to end our nation’s gun violence epidemic. Stefanie Feldman, a longtime policy advisor to President Biden on gun violence prevention, will serve as Director of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, alongside leading gun violence prevention advocates Greg Jackson and Rob Wilcox, who will join the Administration as Deputy Directors of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

Statement from the President: “Every time I’ve met with families impacted by gun violence as they mourn their loved ones, and I’ve met with so many throughout the country, they all have the same message for their elected officials: ‘do something.’ It’s why, last year, I signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to keep guns out of dangerous hands, and have taken more executive action than any President in history to keep communities safe. But as I’ve said before – while these are important steps, they are just the first steps toward what is needed.

“That’s why I’m announcing additional steps forward, with the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, overseen by Vice President Harris, to build upon these measures and keep Americans safe. The Office will include Stefanie Feldman, who has capably led my Administration’s gun violence prevention efforts and been a trusted aide for more than a decade, alongside leading experts Greg Jackson and Rob Wilcox whose own lives and families have been touched by the tragedy of gun violence. They have turned their pain into purpose and dedicated their careers to being advocates for change – that important work will continue as they join my team in these new roles.”

“I’ll continue to urge Congress to take commonsense actions that the majority of Americans support like enacting universal background checks and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. But in the absence of that sorely-needed action, the Office of Gun Violence Prevention along with the rest of my Administration will continue to do everything it can to combat the epidemic of gun violence that is tearing our families, our communities, and our country apart.”

Statement from the Vice President: “Every person and every child deserves the opportunity to fulfill their dreams and live up to their God-given potential. Every family, in every community, should have the freedom to live and to thrive. We know true freedom is not possible if people are not safe. This epidemic of gun violence requires urgent leadership to end the fear and trauma that Americans experience every day. The new Office of Gun Violence Prevention will play a critical role in implementing President Biden’s and my efforts to reduce violence to the fullest extent under the law, while also engaging and encouraging Congressional leaders, state and local leaders, and advocates to come together to build upon the meaningful progress that we have made to save lives. Our promise to the American people is this: we will not stop working to end the epidemic of gun violence in every community, because we do not have a moment, nor a life to spare.”

About Stefanie Feldman:

Stefanie Feldman has worked for President Biden for more than a decade. She currently serves as Assistant to the President and White House Staff Secretary, and will now add the role of Director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to her responsibilities. Previously, she served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the White House Domestic Policy Advisor, the National Policy Director for the Biden-Harris presidential campaign, the inaugural Policy Director for the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware’s Joseph R. Biden School of Public Policy & Administration. She started her career in various policy roles in the White House Office of the Vice President during the Obama-Biden Administration. After the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in December 2012, she was part of the team that helped then-Vice President Biden develop executive actions and legislation to reduce gun violence. She holds a B.A. from Duke University and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

About Greg Jackson:

Greg Jackson will serve as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention. Greg has been a gun violence prevention leader for over ten years. A survivor of gun violence, Greg has led Community Justice Action Fund, a national, survivor-led gun violence prevention organization focused exclusively on the impact to Black and brown communities. Greg has testified before Congress and has regularly appeared in an array of media outlets including Time, CNN, Vice News, The Problem with Jon Stewart, The Washington Post, MSNBC and “Price of Freedom” HBO Documentary. Greg holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia.

About Rob Wilcox:

Robert Wilcox will also serve as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention. Previously, Rob served as the Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety. His tenure at Everytown has included advising policymakers at all levels of government, leading the organization’s federal advocacy efforts, and testifying before Congress. Previously, Wilcox worked at Brady, served on the Board of Directors of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, and practiced law at a firm in New York City. He holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a J.D. from Northwestern School of Law. His work honors his cousin Laura, who was shot and killed at nineteen, and is inspired by the tireless advocacy efforts of his Aunt Amanda and Uncle Nick.

***

The Office of Gun Violence Prevention builds on historic actions taken by President Biden to end gun violence in our country: including signing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant legislative action in nearly 30 years aimed at doing so, and taking more meaningful executive action than any other president to make our schools, churches, grocery stores, and communities safer.

The Biden-Harris Administration has worked to implement the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant gun violence prevention legislation in nearly 30 years. This legislation is already saving lives by keeping guns out of the hands of individuals under 21 who are prohibited from purchasing firearms, empowering the Justice Department with new authorities to prosecute firearms traffickers, improving access to mental health services in our schools to help young people deal with the trauma and grief resulting from gun violence, and investing in community violence interventions.

The Biden-Harris Administration has announced dozens of executive actions to: keep especially dangerous weapons and repeat shooters off our streets; hold rogue gun dealers and gun traffickers accountable; provide law enforcement with the tools and resources they need to reduce gun violence; and address the root causes of gun violence. Most recently, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – a critical leader in work to reduce gun violence – proposed a rule to reduce the number of guns sold without background checks and keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

President Biden continues to call on Congress to take additional action, including by:

  • Banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines;
  • Requiring safe storage of firearms;
  • Requiring background checks for all gun sales;
  • Eliminating gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability; and
  • Enacting his Safer America Plan, which would put more police officers on our streets for accountable, community policing and invest in gun violence prevention and intervention.

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First Lady Jill Biden spoke at UNICEF Champions for Children Event

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Good evening.

I’ve been an educator for 39 years. This past week I started teaching writing at a community college near the White House. So, I’ve seen how one moment can change the trajectory of a student’s learning – when their eyes light up as an idea clicks into place. Education is the key that unlocks the possibilities of the future. It changes lives.

But, in the United States, as in the rest of the world, COVID and its aftermath have had a devasting impact on children’s learning.

I know we all have been working hard to rebuild the systems that were broken, to bring divided communities back together, to put us on a path to a better, brighter future.

Every leader, and every country, must make the world a better place for children.

Children are the smartest investment we can make in eliminating poverty, boosting economic growth, strengthening democracy, and promoting global peace and prosperity.

This is why children must be at the center of the Sustainable Development Goals.

When children are born, we look into their wide eyes and see every possibility.
Infinite dreams. Limitless bounds. As a mother and a nana, I know that feeling well.

But children don’t grow into adults overnight.

Every parent knows that it’s a process – long and winding and sometimes challenging.
When they’re babies, they cry and we meet their needs: food if they’re hungry, sleep if they’re tired, comfort if they’re scared or hurt.

But as they grow, they need schools and educators who can teach them to read and write and think.

And as teens, they need an even larger village: patient ears to listen, strong shoulders to lean on, steady hands to hold and guide them.

They need an education that prepares them for adulthood and the jobs of the future.

It’s a continuum of care and support to ensure that children can grow into healthy and successful adults, so they can create peaceful and stable societies.

Making sure that every child in every corner of the world has access to the support they need to reach their full potential, to thrive, is what UNICEF does.

Cathy, thank you for your leadership and for what you do for children around the world. UNICEF’s work is absolutely critical to making our world safer and more prosperous.

As Second Lady and now as First Lady, I’ve traveled from Latin America to the Middle East, from Asia to Africa, I have seen children and young people in dire circumstances – families displaced by drought, children living in sprawling, urban informal settlements, and children who have survived unspeakable violence.

Yet, despite these truly heartbreaking challenges, I have seen young people who don’t give up, who are optimistic and hopeful and believe that tomorrow will be a brighter day.

Last year, in Ecuador, I talked with teenagers whose families had fled brutal violence in Venezuela, but who dreamed of returning home to rebuild their country.

They were so strong and smart and confident – they were determined to make a difference. And with our help they will.

More than ten years ago, in Kenya, I met a young woman – Aliyah.

At just 25, she was raising a son in a one-room, tin-roof home in Kibera. There was no electricity – no running water. She spent her day teaching girls about teen pregnancy – about sexual abuse and rape. The topic was taboo – but the conversations were powerful.

I asked her if she wanted to leave Kibera. But she said, “No, this is my home. I want to make a difference here.”

Earlier this year, when I returned to Kibera, I met Aliyah again – and I saw her son, now 18, and a young daughter too. All still living in Kibera, where Aliyah now owns and operates a restaurant.

Aliyah continues to make a difference there.

Young people inspire us to greater heights.

They remind us that hope can always overcome cynicism, and that we can achieve anything if we work together.

I know all of you in this room have worked so hard for children and young people across the globe. I know that you’ve given your time, your voice, and your resources.

And I know that despite this, progress on the Sustainable Development Goals has stalled, and the way forward looks steep.

Yet, I also know that you can do miraculous things. In the wake of the pandemic, you operationalized the fastest and largest immunization effort in history. You have nearly eliminated polio across the globe. And, you’ve helped hundreds of millions of out-of-school children continue their education.

And, I promise you that the United States will continue to be a partner with you every step of the way.

The United States has made unprecedented investments in clean technology and delivered more COVID vaccines internationally than any other nation. We have led the fight against HIV/AIDS through PEPFAR, which, in 20 years has saved more than 25 million lives and ensured that 5.5 million babies have been born HIV-free.

And, last year, we made the single largest contribution ever to address acute malnutrition in children – $200 million – and rallied the world to raise an additional half billion dollars.

Those babies we hold just after being born, their eyes wide like saucers, with the tiniest fingers – grow up in a blink of an eye – and they will be our leaders sooner than we think. They will be the ones to keep us out of war.

They will be the ones to cure cancer. They will be the ones who will have to continue fighting climate change.

But they need us – all of us – right now. Yes, young people are our future, but they are also our present. And when we give them the support they need, when we invest in them from the very beginning and every step along the way, we help them become the people they want to be…and they help us build a more peaceful, stable world.

Thank you, UNICEF, for being heroic partners in this effort. Cathy, the President and I miss you in our day-to-day but we know this is the work of your life and we are so grateful for your service.

And thank you, everyone in this room. You’ve saved untold lives. You’ve helped so many children reach for their dreams. But there is more to do, together. And we can’t stop now.

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