'Something's stirred them up' – Waikato homicides see 'unusual' number of patched gang members in Hamilton says ex-cop

A former police officer turned Hamilton Council member says the three Waikato homicides have seen an "unusual" number of patched gang members on the streets of Hamilton and the deaths appear to "have stirred them up".

James Casson gave an interview to 1 NEWS' Katie Bradford today, following the violent deaths of three men in the Waikato region in the past month. 

"Something has stirred up the gang members, there has been quite a few patched different gangs in town here that is highly unusual so there is something going on here.

"Obviously these latest three homicides that police are saying are fairly much linked that's what will have done it and brought them out so there are concerns in the gang world as well," Mr Casson said.

The former cop has a warning for the public to be vigilant in the wake of the recent violence.

"They are targeting other gang members but the public can get caught in the crossfire and people can get hurt."

Read more: More than one gang involved in recent spate of Waikato homicides - police

Superintendent Bruce Bird says at this stage police are treating the three murders since June 30 as separate investigations. Source: Breakfast

He suggested a hui between gangs, police and council could help alleviate tensions.

"I encourage gang bosses to put out a truce and get a hui together with other gangs the police and council, I'd attend myself.

Three violent deaths in Waikato linked to gang crime, police say public not at risk. Source: 1 NEWS

"When you have gang meetings it gets things out in the open, gang bosses will know what's going on," Mr Cassson said.

However, speaking at a press conference today, Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said they were "targeted attacks" and the general community isn't in danger.

While Detective Pitkethley refused to name the gangs connected to the homicides, he assured that police have not heard talk of retaliations in the gang community.


James Casson, who is now a Hamilton Council member, says a hui between gangs, police and council could help alleviate tensions. Source: 1 NEWS

Scumbag thieves bash man in wheelchair and take his wallet

A man in an electric wheelchair has been bashed and robbed by two men in Townsville after he refused a request for cigarettes.

The victim was travelling home from the local shops in Kirwan when he was approached by two men on mountain bikes for cigarettes, but when he refused he was bashed and his wallet stolen.

The victim sustained bruising to his face and police are now hunting a two men in their early 20s who were had been chased by two good samaritans after the incident.

Source: 1 NEWS


Texas executes man for 2004 slaying of store owner despite pleas for clemency

A Texas prisoner was executed Tuesday evening (local time) for the fatal shooting of a San Antonio convenience store owner after courts turned down appeals that the state parole board improperly rejected the inmate's clemency request because he's black.

Christopher Young, 34, never denied the slaying, which was recorded on a store surveillance camera, but insisted he was drunk and didn't intend to kill 53-year-old Hasmukh "Hash" Patel during an attempted robbery after drinking nearly two dozen beers and then doing cocaine that Sunday morning, Nov. 21, 2004.

Young and Patel knew each other, and Patel's family members had been vocal about not wanting Young put to death.

In his final statement from the death chamber, Young said he loved his victim's family "like they love me."

"Make sure the kids in the world know I'm being executed and those kids I've been mentoring keep this fight going," he said.

As the lethal dose of the sedative pentobarbital began taking effect, he cursed twice and said the drug burned his throat.

"I taste it in my throat," he said.

Then he slipped into unconsciousness, saying something incomprehensible. He started taking shallow breaths. Within about 30 seconds, he stopped moving and was pronounced dead at 6:38pm CDT.

Twenty-five minutes had passed since he was first given the lethal dose.

Young became the eighth prisoner put to death this year in Texas, one more than all of 2017 in the nation's busiest capital punishment state.

His attorneys sued the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles after the panel last week rejected a clemency plea in which the lawyers argued Young was "no longer the young man he was when he arrived" on death row, that he was "truly remorseful" and that Patel's son was against the execution.

In their federal civil rights lawsuit, Young's lawyers argued that a white Texas inmate, Thomas Whitaker, received a rare commutation earlier this year as his execution was imminent for the slaying of his mother and brother.

Young is black and race improperly "appears to be the driving force in this case," attorney David Dow said in the appeal that sought to delay the punishment.

A federal judge in Houston dismissed the suit and refused to stop the execution, then hours later Tuesday the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals turned down an appeal of that ruling. 

Young and his lawyers argued he no longer was a Bloods street gang member, had matured in prison and hoped to show others "look where you can end up."

"I didn't know about death row," Young told The Associated Press recently from prison. "It needs to be talked about. You've got a whole new generation. You've got to stop this, not just executions but the crimes.

Nobody's talking to these kids. I can't bring Hash back but I can do something to make sure there's no more Hashes."

He said he excelled at chess and violin, cello and bass but "all that stopped" and he joined the Bloods when he was about 8 after his father was shot and killed in a robbery.

According to court documents, Young sexually assaulted a woman in her apartment with her three young children present, then forced her to drive off with him in her car. She managed to escape, and records show he drove one block to the Mini Food Mart where owner Patel was shot.

Young was arrested 90 minutes later after picking up a prostitute and driving to a crack house where the stolen car was parked outside and spotted by San Antonio police.

Young told the AP the shooting stemmed from a dispute he believed involved the mother of one of his three children and the store owner. He said the woman, however, lied to him.

"He was not a bad dude at all," Young said of Patel. "I was drunk. We knew the victim. The whole confrontation went wrong. I thought he was reaching for a gun and I shot."
Patel's family members declined to witness the execution of Young.

In a statement, they said Young forever changed their lives but that when they reflect on "what Hasmukh stood for, and the values that he instilled in his family, we can look for the good in people, including looking at the good in Christopher Young."

They added that their pleas for clemency for Young "sadly" were denied.

At least seven other Texas inmates have execution dates in the coming months.

 near Livingston, Texas. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has refused to stop the scheduled execution of Young, who was convicted of fatally shooting San Antonio convenience store owner Hasmukh "Hash" Patel in November 2004. He is scheduled to die Tuesday, July 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Mike Graczyk)
This June 13, 2018, photo shows death-row inmate Christopher Young outside death row during an interview at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Polunsky Unit. Source: Associated Press