Man who murdered 4 in Oregon home,
trying to kill child shot dead by deputies,
A man who killed four people, including a 9-month-old girl, in an Oregon home and was shot and killed by deputies as he was attempting to murder a child on Saturday, police said.
Mark Leo Gregory Gago, 42, was killed following the quadruple murder inside the home near Woodburn, located about 20 miles south of Portland. Clackamas County deputies said they received a 911 call about 10:15 p.m. Saturday that appeared to be a domestic violence incident that sounded “dramatic, very intense.”
“Deputies knew it was going to be a bad scene,” Clackamas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Brian Jensen said Sunday morning, KOIN reported.
Police arrived at the scene and found four people — identified as 9-month-old Olivia Lynn Rose Gago; Shaina E. Sweitzer, 31; Jerry William Bremer, 66; and Pamela Denise Bremer, 64 — dead inside and Gago attempting to harm another girl. Authorities said all of the victims were related to Gago, but did not release additional information.
“Deputies saved the life of a young girl by using deadly force on the murder suspect as he was attempting to kill her. All deputies were uninjured, suspect is deceased,” the sheriff’s office said in a tweet.
The child and a woman, who were not identified, survived the incident and were taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries that were not life-threatening.
Jensen said the four people were not killed by gunfire. He added that he “cannot explain just how horrific it is inside” the house where the murders occurred.
“We’re not sure what was used at this time. I’ve been told that there were numerous weapons, swords, things of that nature in the residence. The investigators are trying to determine what exactly was used to kill each person,” Jensen said.
It’s unclear what led to the deadly domestic incident.
The deputies involved in the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave as a standard protocol during the investigation.
Father Arrested in Case of Child Abuse Caught on Camera
SAN JOSE, CA – Security camera video that showed a man dropping, throwing and slinging a child outside a Riverside home led to the arrest of the boy’s father, according to police.
In the video captured July 5, a man can be seen arguing with a woman identified as the man’s girlfriend, according to police. He is seen holding the young child — police said the boy is 18 months old — and speaking to the woman before dropping him.
During the confrontation, the man appeared to swing the boy at the woman.
Police were first alerted to the video by someone who posted it to a Facebook group page. Officers searched door-to-door in the neighborhood and located the man in the Montecito Estates subdivision of the Riverwalk neighborhood in Riverside.
The child suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was treated for cuts and bruises at a hospital. He was released to his mother.
The boy’s father, identified by police as 27-year-old Techoak Lim, was arrested on suspicion of felony child endangerment. NBC4 is attempting to confirm whether he has an attorney.
Police said the mother and father are separated and share custody of the child. The woman seen in the video is not the mother of the child.
Spokane Valley man faces Child Abuse charges; Child reportedly records
SPOKANE, WA – A Spokane Valley man is facing serious charges of child abuse after police say his daughter recorded him attacking her at home — an attack that was reportedly so violent, the man broke his hand from hitting her so hard.
The video came to light after Brian Loss was arrested on June 20 for 3rd degree assault-domestic violence against his 16-year-old daughter.
Court documents say Loss went to pick up his daughter in Spokane County to give her a ride. She told police she jumped on the hood of his vehicle to avoid being left behind and he reportedly drove off with her on the hood, swerving in an attempt to knock her off. The child did eventually fall off the hood, according to police.
Loss appeared in court at the end of June and was then released on his own recognizance, but a domestic violence no contact order was issued.
During the investigation, police say they obtained a video of a December 5, 2017, assault by Loss at his residence. It was during that assault that police say Loss broke his hand during the beating. He and his daughter later went to an urgent care to have a cast put on it.
Documents also say that Loss violated the domestic violence no contact order on July 1. He was arrested and appeared in court on Tuesday.
Loss is charged with third degree assault and witness tampering, third degree child rape, third degree child molestation and harassment.
“I don’t know how they think they are serving the public by keeping this stuff under wraps.”
Thomas Clay, Kentucky lawyer
Louisville, KY – Grabbing the teenage girl from behind, Kevin Watson, a security monitor for Jefferson County Public Schools, slammed her head to the table, opening a gash that splashed blood on the girl’s clothes, the table and the floor, according to accounts of witnesses at Breckinridge Metropolitan High School.
As he forced the girl’s head back to the table, Watson was overheard taunting her.
Yet, despite a state Child Protective Services investigation that substantiated the incident as child abuse, Watson has a clean record with the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, whose social workers issue findings in cases of alleged child abuse or neglect.
Using a secret process that not even victims may know about, Watson, exercising his right to a confidential appeal, was able to overturn the cabinet’s child abuse finding against him. That kept his name from being added to an official list — also confidential — known as the state Child Abuse and Neglect Registry that can restrict adults from some occupations or activities, such as child care, working or volunteering with youths or serving as foster parents.
And data obtained from the cabinet by the CJ show Watson’s case is not unique.
Of the hundreds of people who file such appeals each year, more than half are successful in overturning adverse findings through the same cabinet whose workers substantiated the abuse or neglect, according to the records. Appeals between 2012 and 2015 ranged from several hundred to nearly 1,000 a year, with anywhere from 56 percent to 66 percent being reversed or otherwise changed in favor of the person filing the appeal.
Because all proceedings are shielded by secrecy under Kentucky’s strict confidentiality laws regarding child abuse and neglect, it can’t be determined how the cabinet makes such decisions or who the cabinet notifies when someone appeals a case, including the alleged victims. Watson, who still works at Breckinridge, did not respond to requests for comment.
JCPS officials say they can find no record they were ever notified of Watson’s appeal or offered a chance to submit the school system’s investigation, which also substantiated witness accounts. Amari Walker, the injured student, never knew of the appeal or got a chance to participate, said her lawyer, Thomas Clay.
On July 6, 2016, the cabinet issued a single-page order with no explanation, reversing the abuse finding against Watson, according to records from his JCPS personnel file.
The cabinet rejected the Courier-Journal’s request for further records of Watson’s appeal, saying confidentiality laws protect its records of such proceedings.
Steve Davis, chief of staff at the cabinet, said the cabinet by federal law is required to offer people a chance to appeal findings of child abuse or neglect and state law requires that the records be kept confidential.
And while the law requires the cabinet to notify parties of an appeal, that generally applies to the person filing the appeal and the cabinet officials defending the findings, he said. Davis said he knows of no requirement in the law that victims or others with an interest in the case be notified.
Julie Locke, a Louisville mother, was shocked to discover that her ex-husband successfully overturned a substantiation of child abuse or neglect related to their two daughters. The substantiation stemmed from a 2014 finding by the cabinet that he had put the girls at risk during an incident in which he accosted Locke in front of them at a birthday party, grabbing, threatening and cursing her, according to a domestic violence petition.
“I never knew he filed an appeal,” Locke said. “I never knew they were even entertaining an appeal. For me not to have been notified is bizarre.”
Locke said that based on the cabinet’s reversal of its finding, a judge — over her objections — granted her ex-husband additional visits with their daughters.
Clay, who also represents Locke, said he thinks it’s time for such secrecy to end, that the state needs to revamp the laws and regulations that govern such proceedings.
“I don’t get it,” Clay said. “They’re concealing information about the very people they are trying to protect. I don’t know how they think they are serving the public by keeping this stuff under wraps.”
Walker, now 19, recently filed a lawsuit against JCPS and Watson. She said she still is in disbelief over the incident that left her with blood pouring down her face and required stitches.
“It was crazy,” said Walker, who now attends Doss High. “It happened so fast.”
Davis said he can’t comment on individual cases because of the confidentiality provisions of the law.
In Kentucky, when someone appeals a substantiation of abuse or neglect, the case is assigned to a cabinet lawyer who serves as a hearing officer and typically holds a hearing, takes testimony and makes a written recommendation to the cabinet secretary on whether to uphold or reverse the finding. The secretary makes the final call.
Davis said the cabinet relies on the judgment of the hearing officers and that cabinet officials don’t like to “tinker” with a case because people filing appeals are entitled to an impartial hearing.
“We expect them to issue sound decisions,” he said.
Some cases are settled through agreement of the parties or dismissed for various reasons without a hearing, according to the cabinet.
Dr. Melissa Currie, a pediatric forensic expert at the University of Louisville who occasionally is called as a witness at such hearings, said they tend to be informal, with participants seated around a table and the hearing officer in charge. She said she doesn’t know how the state reaches a decision.
“I don’t know how the system works,” she said. “There doesn’t seem to be any transparency.”
Currie said she has testified at hearings that involved what seemed to be obvious child abuse or neglect, only to find out later that the substantiation was overturned.
“There are cases that seem very clear-cut and they are overturned and we don’t know why,” Currie said.
Often, a lawyer represents the person filing the appeal. Currie said she’s heard lawyers make arguments that don’t address whether abuse or neglect actually occurred but rather, appear to seek sympathy for the client.
” ‘This is going to ruin this guy’s life, he won’t be employed,’ ” Currie recalled one lawyer arguing. “Of course, that should have no bearing whatsoever.”
State law says that the hearing officer should allow only “the evidence on the record” and exclude anything that is irrelevant or immaterial.
Acena Beck, a lawyer with the Children’s Law Center in Covington, said she had represented people at such hearings when she worked as a legal aid lawyer in Northern Kentucky. Generally, the hearings are held in the county of the person filing the appeal, she said, and how they are run depends on who’s in charge.
“It can vary greatly depending on which hearing officer you get,” Beck said. “There’s no consistency.”
Currie said she worries about the effect on social workers tasked with investigating difficult, complicated cases and reaching conclusions, only to have them overturned by the same cabinet that employs them.
“When a finding gets reversed, it undermines the investigation,” Currie said. “It’s demoralizing. They do all this work, they try to protect the kids.”
Locke said she’s still trying to find out how her ex-husband was able to reverse a finding against him.
His lawyer, Elizabeth Pepa, declined to comment, citing the confidentiality of the process.
“My client respectfully wishes for it to remain that way,” she said.
Locke provided the CJ with a copy of the Nov. 19, 2014, letter from the cabinet substantiating abuse or neglect, along with the 2014 domestic violence order she obtained against her ex-husband.
Locke said she was astonished when his lawyer in mid-2015 announced the finding had been reversed following an appeal she knew nothing about.
“How does anyone get a fair hearing if both sides are not represented?” Locke asked.
Even more disturbing to Locke is the lack of any records of the appeal or an official explanation.
As a parent, Locke is entitled to confidential records involving her children of any hearing but when she and her lawyer asked for them, they found there were none. A cabinet lawyer told her the case “was settled outside a hearing,” she said.
When they asked for records of the settlement, they received nothing, Locke said.
Seeking an explanation, Locke and Clay, her lawyer, said they met in December with cabinet officials who said they would look into it.
They are still waiting for an explanation, Locke and Clay said.
Some argue that at a minimum, the state’s confidential registry of people who have substantiated findings of abuse or neglect against them should be open to the public.
Among those arguing that case is state Rep. Dennis Keene, who is sponsoring a bill this year on behalf of a constituent whose infant daughter was injured by a babysitter in 2014.
Keene, a Democrat from Campbell County, said his House Bill 47 would require the cabinet to publish the registry on its website.
“It should be more transparent and accessible to the public,” Keene said.
Jennifer Diaz, the Northern Kentucky mother pushing for the law, said the babysitter was convicted of injuring her daughter and another child she cared for and sentenced to three months in jail.
Diaz said her daughter, now 2, recovered from the injuries that included bruises and head trauma. But Diaz said she believes there should be a way for parents seeking child care to check out individual sitters or other adults around their children.
“It’s very important to us to get this passed,” she said. “I want that registry to be accessible to the public so that everyone can see it.”