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Newtown draws focus, but U.S. sees 85 gun deaths per day



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At 11 a.m., 450 miles away, a police shoot-out ended differently after officers stopped a car at a Dallas apartment complex. Amid a struggle, the driver brandished a weapon and police shot him, according to a statement. Lenny Ellis, 30, died at the scene.

At 12:14 p.m., as the enormity of the Newtown massacre was becoming known, police in Cornwall, N.Y., a town of 12,600 by the Hudson River, were dispatched to Joseph Oliva’s home on Mine Hill Road.

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Oliva, 58, had sent a text to his sister in Virginia: "Goodbye. Take care of my daughter."

Then he killed himself with a Glock pistol. His wife, Sandra, 54, was in her bed, with a single shot to the head.

Police Chief Todd Hazard said there was no note or explanation. "He’s probably the only one who knows," he said.

In Marshall, N.C., with a population of about 900, James Lagrua, 61, spent part of the day watching coverage of the Sandy Hook shooting at his home off the Appalachian Trail. He had a shotgun and two handguns.

Lagrua recently came out of retirement to work as a home health-care nurse, according to Michael Garrison, chief deputy of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office.

At 9 p.m., his wife’s daughter called 911 and barricaded herself in the basement of the three-story home with her two teenage daughters. Upstairs, police say, Lagrua shot his wife, Stephanie, 58, in the kitchen. He then shot his wife’s 86-year- old bedridden mother, Hilma Barnett, in the head. He shot the family dog, too.

Lagrua was arrested and charged with two counts of murder and animal cruelty.

"It shocks everyone that someone could be that heartless and brutal and cold," said Mayor Lawrence Ponder, 74.


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"When you hear these things, you have to accept it and say move on and hope it doesn’t happen to you," he said. "It’s everywhere."

Forty-five minutes after Marshall police took the call from Lagrua’s house, officers in Jacksonville, North Carolina, near the Atlantic coast, arrived at the Liberty Crossing Apartments. The complex is about seven miles from Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base, and authorities had been called about a disturbance, according to a news release.

They found Lance Corporal Randall Buford, 21, dead from a bullet to the head. He had come back in June from six months in Afghanistan.

Officers arrested Lance Corporal Marcus Bo Hunt, 19, and charged him with one count of murder, according to the release.

That evening in Las Vegas, Jessica Kenny went to work at the Excalibur, a medieval-themed casino on the Strip. She had come from Illinois to start a new life, said Vondran, her uncle. Edward Brandt was a former boyfriend from home, he said.

About 8:30 p.m., Brandt, 31, walked into the casino. Not far from the entrance, he fired several shots from a handgun. Patrons fled in terror.

Brandt committed suicide at the scene. An hour later, Kenny was pronounced dead at University Medical Center from wounds to her chest and head.

"Everyone who ever met her loved her and immediately recognized what a wonderful person she was," said Vondran. "It’s beyond terrible. She meant so much to us, and this crazy bastard came and took her away."

At the White House on Dec. 19, President Barack Obama referred to the killings of Lang, the Memphis officer, and Kenny, though neither by name.

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