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The first bullet hit 21-year-old Riley Howell in the torso.

He kept going. So the gunman shot him again.

Riley continued to rush toward him, and wrestled him to the ground. Before or after they hit the floor, the gunman shot Riley in the head.

Riley’s father, Thomas Howell, is a trauma nurse. He saw his son’s body and the evidence.

Think about that for a moment.

He described for The New York Times how he thought Riley died on that last day in April. “This was burned,” he said, pointing to his jawbone near his right ear. “That bullet went up into his brain and killed him.”

The shooter had already killed one student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Four others were injured. Because of his courage, Riley was the last person to die

Seven days later, 18-year-old Kendrick Ray Castillo was sitting in English class at his school in suburban Denver when a gunman burst through the door and ordered students not to move.

Kendrick rushed the shooter.

Nui Giascolli told NBC’s The Today Show what happened next.

“And (the gunman) shot Kendrick, giving all of us enough time to get underneath our desks, to get ourselves safe, and to run across the room to escape.” Kendrick’s bravery, she said, gave several other boys a chance to tackle the shooter to the floor. More heroes.

Eight students were injured at STEM School Highlands Ranch. Kendrick was the only one who died.

His father, John Castillo, described his only child for the Denver Post: “He cared enough about people that he would do something like that… I wish he had gone and hid, but that’s not his character. His character is about protecting people, helping people.”

Please note his shift to present tense. That’s not his character. His character is…

Let’s review.

CNN reports that, so far this year, there have been 15 school shootings in which someone was killed or injured. Last year at this time, CNN reported that since 2009, there had been 288 school shootings, which is 57 times more than the combined total of Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom.

How often do we see news of yet another school shooting and tell ourselves there is nothing we can do? These random massacres. The NRA and its Republican sycophants in Congress and state legislatures, in governors’ offices and in the White House. All this “partisan bickering” over gun law reform. It’s all too much.

We share posts of anger and despair on Facebook and Twitter. “I am just one person, the mantra goes. There is only so much I could do.”

And so the children see us do nothing.

Here in Ohio, nearly half of the Republican house majority is supporting another stunt of a bill that would make us the 17th state to allow people to buy and carry concealed guns without a permit, and eliminate the minimum eight hours of training. The law would also expand concealed carry to include rifles and shotguns, and no longer require motorists stopped by police to reveal they are carrying concealed weapons.

They are mocking us. Poll after poll shows the majority of Americans support tougher gun laws. But Republicans refuse to stand up to the gun lobby because they do not fear the consequences of a silent and passive majority.

The day after the Colorado school shooting, two images showed up, one after another, in my timeline on Twitter. The first was a photo of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry introducing their newborn son to the world. The looks on their faces. I hope never to tire of new parents beholding their miracle.

The other image was KDVR reporter Ashley Michels’ photo of terrorized young children huddled together after the shooting at the STEM school. A little girl in pink, one side of her eyeglasses obscured by a ringlet of her hair, appears to be crying. Next to her, two boys cling to each other. Another girl stands close to them, visibly frightened.

What if each of us — parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles — could recall that moment when we first laid eyes on that new miracle in our lives. Might that remind us of our promises to those babies? Might we remember who we thought we would be?

If we aren’t doing everything we can to prevent more gun violence in this country, we aren’t doing enough. Look at the faces of those little ones huddled together in terror. Long before they have the words for it, children tell us our legacy.

If we continue to do nothing, this will be our story.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz ( and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at


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Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

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