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Hunter Walker

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Hunter

John Allan, the owner of Boston's Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts Center published a statement on his Facebook page Friday to address the gym's association with the deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. A 2010 photo essay in Boston University's graduate school magazine described Tsamaev training for "national Golden Gloves competitions" in an effort to qualify "for the next U.S. Olympic team and become a naturalized American." That article said Tsamaev "works out at the Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts Center." In his statement Allan made clear, Tsamaev was never an official member of Wai Kru.

"It's hard to keep up with all the questions phone calls and messages right now. I'd like to thank everybody for the overwhelming support and confidence," Allan wrote. "Wai Kru MMA would like to first take the time to say our hearts go out to the victims and their families of this horrible tragedy. Tamerlan Sarnayev [sic] was not now, or ever a member of the Wai Kru MMA facilities. He was a local golden gloves boxer who came into the gym to spar from time to time."

Allan added that, "Wai Kru has been working closely with the FBI & Homeland Joint Task Force all morning to provide them with any materials that might be useful to bring these people to justice for their heinous crimes."

Another man, who identified himself as "Mags" and said he was using his wife's account to post on Facebook, wrote a message describing Tsamaev's links to the gym.

"I sparred with this fucking duche bag [sic] many times. Nothing is Wai Kru's fault here. no one had any idea," Mags wrote.

As of this writing, neither Mags or Allan have responded to requests for comment on this story.

Photo of Tsamaev boxing:

Authorities have confirmed a man who remains at large after allegedly participating in a night of violence that ended with a shootout in Watertown, Massachusetts is "consistent" with the description of one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.

"What we're looking for right now is a suspect consistent with the description of suspect number two, the white capped individual who was involved in Monday's bombing of the Boston Marathon," said Colonel Timothy Alben of the Massachusetts State Police in a brief press conference, referencing photos of the bombing suspects released by the FBI Thursday. "You've seen the picture, you all have it. That's the individual that we're looking for at this moment." 

A statement from the Middlesex County District Attorney's office said the situation began with a report of shots fired at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge around 10 PM. An MIT campus police officer was subsequently found dead in his vehicle. Afterward, police received reports two suspects carjacked a man at gunpoint and kept him in the car for about 30 minutes before releasing him at a gas station.

According to the District Attorney's statement, police searched for the vehicle and pursued it into Watertown where they exchanged gunfire with the suspects, who also threw "explosive devices" from the car. A police officer with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority was "seriously injured" during this pursuit. One of the suspects was also injured and, according to the statement, he was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.

Alben said the second suspect in the shootings and carjacking was the one who matched the description of the Boston bomber and "was able to flee from that car."

"There is an active search going on at this time," Alben said. 

 

 

The Boston Globe is reporting one of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing is in custody following a shootout in the nearby town of Watertown, but the FBI would not confirm the Globe's report to TPM.

"I don't have any actual facts. Very fluid situation. We are working with local authorities to determine what happened," an FBI spokesman said.

A witness told the New York Times the shootout involved two men who threw "a large and unwieldy bomb" at police. The shootout was preceded by a shooting at MIT that left one campus police officer dead. It is not yet clear whether the two shootings are related or whether they are tied to Monday's bombing. 

 

On Thursday, a Mississippi man named Paul Kevin Curtis was charged with sending letters tainted with the poison ricin to President Barack Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), and a local judge. Court documents filed by federal prosecutors detailed why investigators focused on Curtis, including previous contact with Wicker's office, troubling allegations of "extremely delusional" behavior from his ex-wife, and disturbing communications with other politicians and on the internet.

Read More →

"George Soros, who died XXX at age XXX, was a predatory and hugely successful financier and investor, who argued paradoxically for years against the same sort of free-wheeling capitalism that made him billions," the obituary said.

Shortly after publishing the story, the news agency described it as an "error" in a brief statement posted on Twitter. 

"Reuters published an obituary of George Soros in error. Reuters withdrew the article as soon as it appeared," the statement said.

The accidental obituary appeared at a particularly chaotic moment for most newsrooms, the immediate aftermath of the press conference where the FBI revealed the photos of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. View a screen grab of the obituary at left. 

An ad released Thursday by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee mocks Mark Sanford for his 2009 mistress scandal. Sanford, the former Republican governor of South Carolina, is currently running for Congress against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert-Busch. They're vying in a special election to fill the seat of former Rep. Tim Scott (R), who was appointed to the Senate earlier this year after Jim DeMint (R) left office to join the Heritage Foundation. 

While governor, Sanford was found to be cheating on his wife after he disappeared from the state without even notifying security staff of his plans. He subsequently admitted he was in Argentina visiting his longtime mistress, with whom he is currently engaged to be married. The ad makes fun of Sanford's initial, false explanation for his absence, which was that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

"Mark Sanford walked out on us, violated our trust, secretly used thousands of taxpayer dollars flying to Argentina and then lied about it," a narrator in the ad says. "Now he wants our trust again? Maybe Mark Sanford should just keep walking."

Watch the ad below.  

UPDATED - 2:19 PM 

An Elvis impersonator named Paul Kevin Curtis who lives in Corinth Mississippi was charged Thursday for allegedly sending ricin-tainted letters to President Barack Obama, Sen. Roger Wiker (R-MS), and a judge in Lee County Mississippi. Court documents released by the Department of Justice show Curtis was charged with one count of sending a letter "containing threats to take the life of or to inflict bodily harm upon the president of the United States" and a count of sending a letter "containing a threat to injure the person of others."

A supporting affidavit made by FBI Special Agent Brandon Grant and Secret Service Special Agent Victor Dickerson details Curtis' alleged crimes, his history of correspondence about various conspiracy theories with Wicker's office and on Facebook.

If convicted, Curtis faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, $500,000 in fines, and three years of supervised release. View the criminal complaint and supporting affidavit below. 

Paul Kevin Curtis Affidavit

Paul Kevin Curtis Criminal Complaint

Reuters has released aerial footage showing the smoldering ruins of a fertilizer plant in West, Texas that was the site of a massive explosion last night. Though the blast occurred around 8 PM Wednesday, there was still visible smoke rising from the site on Thursday.

Multiple people were killed in the blast and over 100 people were reportedly injured. 

Watch the aerial footage below.

President Barack Obama contacted Texas Governor Rick Perry and the mayor of West, Texas while en route to Boston on board Air Force One this morning to discuss the fatal fertilizer plant fire that occurred in that town last night. 

According to press pool reports, Obama told Perry "his prayers are with the people of West, Texas as they respond to the explosion last night" and offered "any federal resources that may be needed to assist in the ongoing response and recovery effort." Though Obama placed a call to the mayor of West, they "have not yet connected."

White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on the flight that Obama was briefed on the fire, which left as many as 15 people dead and 160 injured "very, very early" this morning.

President Barack Obama landed in Boston Thursday morning where he will speak at an interfaith service honoring the victims of Monday's bombing. According to press pool reports, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest gave reporters on Air Force One some details about Obama's speech, which he said the president worked on this morning.

"You can expect that he will, in his remarks, offer his condolences on behalf of the First Lady and his family. But also on behalf of the American people, to the people of Boston," Earnest said. "At the same time he will reiterate his confidence in the resilience in the people of Boston and remind the American people that the way the people of Boston responded to this terror attacks represents who we are as a country."

Earnest also said, while in Boston, Obama will meet with first responders and families affected by the bombings. Obama was joined on his flight to Boston by Senator William "Mo" Cowan (D-MA), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA), Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA), Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), and Vicki Kennedy, the wife of the late Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA). 

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