Vanessa Guillen murder suspect makes first court appearance
Cecily Aguilar has been charged with conspiracy to tamper with evidence.
A woman accused of helping to hide the body of murdered Fort Hood Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen made her first court appearance Monday to face conspiracy charges.Cecily Aguilar, 22, appeared via closed-circuit television in the Waco, Texas, courtroom to face conspiracy to tamper with evidence for her alleged role in the death of the 20-year-old soldier. The U.S. Attorney’s office of the Western District of Texas said 20-year-old U.S. Army Specialist Aaron Robinson told Aguilar, who was his girlfriend, that he killed Guillen with a hammer on April 22 and transferred her body off the Army base, according to the criminal complaint. Aguilar is currently cooperating with the F.B.I.
Fort Hood Sr. Commander to Address Spc. Vanessa Guillen Death Investigation Monday Afternoon
Live video from two news conferences planned for Monday afternoon will appear in the player above. The first news conference has ended, the second is expected to begin at about 6 p.m.
Two news conferences will be held Monday regarding the investigation into the death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen.
POMPANO BEACH — A Black transgender woman was shot dead in the middle of a crowded Pompano Beach street on Friday night, and authorities need an eyewitness to come forward with details on the slaying.
Bree “Nuk” Black, 27, was already dead from multiple gunshot wounds when first responders arrived at 244 NW 12th St., said Sgt. Bryan Tutler, a detective with Broward Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit. Investigators on the case believe the shooting occurred about 10:18 p.m., and first responders declared Black dead just before 10:30 p.m.
Broward Sheriff’s Office partnered with Transinclusive Group for the investigation into Black’s murder. Transinclusive Group’s executive director, Tatiana Williams, said that based on conversations with Black’s family, Black used they/them pronouns. They went mostly by the first name Nuk, but also used the name Bree, Williams said.
Hundreds of spectators were standing nearby after the killing, which was a short walking distance from Black’s home, Tutler said.
Because the street was crowded with people celebrating the July 4th holiday, investigators are confident someone had to have seen the shooting, Tutler said. Investigators are also seeking out surveillance footage from the scene that would show whether the shooter was in a car or on foot, he said.
Investigators are seeking a motive in the killing.
“As of this moment, we have nothing to indicate that [Black] was targeted for any specific reason,” Tutler said. “There’s nothing indicating an exact motive, but there’s also nothing indicating that [Black] was targeted specifically for being transgender.”
Investigators don’t yet know the circumstances that led to the shooting and aren’t in a position to label it as a hate crime, Tutler said. They haven’t ruled out that some kind of argument may have occurred, he said.
“We have reason to believe that there were eyewitnesses who saw what happened, who for whatever reason have not come forward at this time,” Tutler said. “We do believe there are people out there who could help us with this case who we haven’t been able to speak with yet.”
House Climate Plan Takes Aim at Flooding and Sea Level Rise
People and communities continue to be vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events as sea levels rise causes more flooding—and that’s a trend that will continue. The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis just released an important report recognizing this challenge and it’s a demonstration of the type of leadership we desperately need now.
Among the 538 pages of recommendations included in the Committee Report, “Solving the Climate Crisis,” are recommendations that can make the nation safer from the floods, hurricanes, and related disasters that continue to grow in frequency or magnitude. Many of those recommendations focus on insurance (both from private insurers and the National Flood Insurance Program) and improved building codes and development standards.
While the financial toll of these events is staggering, the disruption to people’s lives is far more serious. In the Carolinas and Texas people have suffered through multiple flood disasters in recent years.
Improving Building Codes and Standards. The codes and standards that guide where and how we build do not account for the potential for flooding that happens more frequently or is more severe, so we are essentially codifying that practice of putting people and property in harm’s way.
Insurance—an essential tool for dealing with growing risk. Insurance can’t stop a disaster from happening, but it provides a safety net that help with rebuilding and rebuilding smarter. Too few people insure their homes, and too few communities insure their infrastructure and facilities.
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reform. So many reforms are needed and the program is so essential to our future climate resilience efforts that the NFIP deserves its own section in the Committee Report and in this blog.
Improving Building Codes and Standards
Remarkably, building codes typically fail to account for escalating flood risks, which explains, in part, why communities continue to build homes, hospitals, nursing homes, and major infrastructure assets without recognizing the risks. The result is that they’re making development decisions that they’ll later regret. This needs to change.
Among the recommendations that the Committee’s Report makes include:
Inventory all federal buildings and facilities that are located in floodplains so the federal government knows how many of its own assets are at risk. If you don’t know what’s at risk, you can’t take action to protect them or relocate them to higher ground. (p. 421)
Require communities to adopt stronger construction standards and risk management practices as a prerequisite for debt repayment relief under FEMA’s Community Disaster Loan Program. (p. 423-424)
Communities should adopt better standards and practices to minimize damage from wildfires and windstorms (like broader use of fire-safe shingles or storm shutters) (p. 415-418)
Require Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to only take on government-backed loans that meet stronger standards for flood and wildfire resilience. A recent New York Times investigative story indicates that banks may already be offloading at-risk properties to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. (p. 399)
Insurance—an essential tool for dealing with growing risk
I know…insurance. Who likes thinking about insurance? But it’s essential, considering the growing risk of natural disasters and commensurate rise in potential damage to one’s home and the things that make your community function (roads, schools, water treatment plants, etc.)
Far too few communities insure their own assets (e.g. sewage treatment plans, bridges or public buildings). And far too few people secure coverage against floods (in particular) but also other types of risks that may not be covered by a typical renter’s or homeowner’s policy.
The Committee Report includes several excellent recommendations.
Allowing communities to use FEMA disaster mitigation grants to pay for insurance policies when payouts would support community-based buyouts, relocation, and resettlement projects. (p. 404)
Direct FEMA to find ways to incentivize communities to purchase insurance, catastrophe bonds, or other means of coverage for public buildings and infrastructure, so federal disaster aid is not needed after each disaster to support rebuilding. (p. 405)
FEMA and private insurers should collaborate on how an “all-hazards” insurance policy can be made available from private insurers to homeowners. Because so many people under-insure their properties, they find themselves in a tough spot after a disaster occurs. A more comprehensive all-hazards policy would cover a wide range of risks and if purchased widely, could theoretically be financially sound. (p. 405)
National Flood Insurance Program Reform (as promised!)
Reforming this troubled program is a priority for NRDC and we’re pleased that it’s singled out in the Committee Report as a priority area for climate resilience and adaptation efforts. Given the millions of Americans who will be placed in peril by sea level rise and escalating inland flood risks, the NFIP should be a lynchpin in the nation’s climate adaptation plans. In its current form it’s a liability.
Recognizing this, the Committee Report recommends several critical and overdue reforms, many of which have been NFIP priorities for NRDC.
Ensure that FEMA is factoring future sea-level rise and extreme storm events into their flood maps. (p. 409)
Direct FEMA to publish flood risk data in a format that is publicly available and useful for decisions about home-buying, choosing where to live, or siting major infrastructure assets. Ensure this information is disclosed to all homebuyers prior to closing. (p. 410)
Congress should require that owners of properties disclose personal knowledge of past flood damages, prior flood damage claims, and known incidents of flooding to renters or prospective buyers. Shamefully, the majority of states fail to require disclosure of this information, so Congress needs to fix the problem. (note: NRDC gets a nice citation in the report for our research with Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center) (p. 413)
Require all federal agencies that provide home financing (HUD, FHA, Veteran’s Administration), as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to secure all federal loans and loan guarantees with flood insurance coverage. Too many people (including renters) who live in housing backed by federal financial assistance live in homes that are not insured. (p. 410)
Direct FEMA to assess risk-based rates for NFIP coverage and ensure that coverage remains affordable for lower-income people, so they are not forced to choose between leaving their home or being without coverage. (p. 410)