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Maine police kill armed man after a night of gunfire and burned homes

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Maine police kill armed man after a night of gunfire and burned homes
News

News

Maine police kill armed man after a night of gunfire and burned homes

2024-06-16 17:24 Last Updated At:17:30

AUBURN, Maine (AP) — A Maine State Police tactical team fatally shot a man on a rooftop early Saturday after an hourslong standoff in which authorities said he opened fire at officers, two homes burned down and a person who fought with him apparently died.

Police issued a shelter-in-place order, evacuated homes and closed a section of the street in Auburn, trigging memories of the mass shooting in neighboring Lewiston less than eight months ago, when a gunman killed 18 people and injured 13 others in the deadliest shooting in Maine's history.

“It’s been an intense and tragic morning here in Auburn,” said Timothy Cougle, the city's deputy chief of police, “especially in light of the events that took place this past October.”

Fire investigators later Saturday said human remains were found in the charred wreckage of the home and had yet to be identified.

Police said Leein Hinkley, 43, had been released on bail days earlier on a probation violation. He tried to break into a home just before 1 a.m. Saturday, and got into a fight with a man inside. A woman called 911 and fled through a window when she heard gunshots.

Auburn police officers found the woman hiding down the street about 10 minutes later, and she identified the person who broke in as Hinkley. Officers heard yelling inside the house and saw flames coming from the windows and engulfing the building.

The deputy chief said Hinkley fired shots at officers several times and was heard yelling at them from inside, and Auburn police called for the tactical team.

Shortly before 1:30 a.m. another house on the street was reported on fire. Hinkley fled, briefly hiding in a neighboring garage, then fled to a flat rooftop of a home down the street, where he began “yelling and screaming” while brandishing a firearm, police said.

Photos of scene show several vehicles parked beside the homes also burned, including a yellow school bus.

Col. William Ross of the Maine State Police said a tactical team located Hinkley on the rooftop with a handgun just after 5:30 a.m., and two troopers shot and killed him moments later. Ross did not provide details about what happened during the four-hour standoff.

Capt. Chris Moretto of the Auburn Fire Department said there were three explosions around 2:15 a.m. that were believed to be related to the fire, the Lewiston Sun-Journal reported. Another explosion was heard shortly before 3 a.m., the newspaper reported.

Ross said Hinkley had been in custody on a probation violation related to his conviction in 2011 of domestic violence and elevated aggravated assault, as well as a recent domestic violence arrest. However, he was released Wednesday after a court lowered his bail to $1,500 with conditions, including house arrest at a Lewiston residence.

The Lewiston Sun Journal reported in 2012 that Hinkley, of Sabattus, was sentenced to 20 years in the double stabbing of his former girlfriend and a person who attempted to intervene.

A state police major crimes unit will investigate the criminal conduct and the attorney general’s office will investigate the police shooting. The two troopers involved will be on leave pending the outcome of that investigation, Ross said.

Auburn firefighters hose down the remains of home in Auburn, Maine, early Saturday, June 15, 2024. Police have canceled a shelter-in-place order in the city after reporting that an armed person was in an area where a series of explosions and a house fire erupted early Saturday. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal via AP)

Auburn firefighters hose down the remains of home in Auburn, Maine, early Saturday, June 15, 2024. Police have canceled a shelter-in-place order in the city after reporting that an armed person was in an area where a series of explosions and a house fire erupted early Saturday. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal via AP)

Police evidence markers are placed next to shell casings in front of home in Auburn, Maine, early Saturday, June 15, 2024. Police have canceled a shelter-in-place order in the city after reporting that an armed person was in an area where a series of explosions and a house fire erupted early Saturday. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal via AP)

Police evidence markers are placed next to shell casings in front of home in Auburn, Maine, early Saturday, June 15, 2024. Police have canceled a shelter-in-place order in the city after reporting that an armed person was in an area where a series of explosions and a house fire erupted early Saturday. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal via AP)

Auburn firefighters hose down the remains of home in Auburn, Maine, early Saturday, June 15, 2024. Police have canceled a shelter-in-place order in the city after reporting that an armed person was in an area where a series of explosions and a house fire erupted early Saturday. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal via AP)

Auburn firefighters hose down the remains of home in Auburn, Maine, early Saturday, June 15, 2024. Police have canceled a shelter-in-place order in the city after reporting that an armed person was in an area where a series of explosions and a house fire erupted early Saturday. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal via AP)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The top U.N. court says Israel's presence in the Palestinian occupied territories is “unlawful” and called on it to end.

The International Court of Justice said in its non-binding opinion issued Friday that Israel has abused its status as the occupying power in the West Bank and east Jerusalem by carrying out policies of annexing territory, imposing permanent control and building settlements.

It said such acts render "Israel’s presence in the occupied Palestinian territory unlawful.” It says its continued presence was ”illegal" and should be ended as “rapidly as possible.”

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

The top United Nations court said Israel's settlement policy in the West Bank and east Jerusalem violates international law, as it delivered a non-binding advisory opinion on the legality of Israel’s 57-year occupation of lands sought for a Palestinian state, a ruling that could have more effect on international opinion than it will on Israeli policies.

International Court of Justice President Nawaf Salam was expected to take about an hour to read out the full opinion of the panel, which is made up of 15 judges from around the world.

In part of the opinion, he said the panel had found that "the transfer by Israel of settlers to the West Bank and Jerusalem as well as Israel’s maintenance of their presence, is contrary to article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” The court also noted with “grave concern” that Israel’s settlement policy has been expanding.

The court also found that Israel's use of natural resources was “inconsistent” with its obligations under international law as an occupying power.

Friday’s hearing comes against the backdrop of Israel’s devastating 10-month military assault on Gaza, which was triggered by the Hamas-led attacks in southern Israel. In a separate case, the International Court of Justice is considering a South African claim that Israel’s campaign in Gaza amounts to genocide, a claim that Israel vehemently denies.

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek all three areas for an independent state.

Israel considers the West Bank to be disputed territory, whose future should be decided in negotiations, while it has moved population there in settlements to solidify its hold. It has annexed east Jerusalem in a move that is not internationally recognized, while it withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but maintained a blockade of the territory after Hamas took power in 2007. The international community generally considers all three areas to be occupied territory.

At hearings in February, then-Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki accused Israel of apartheid and urged the United Nations’ top court to declare that Israel’s occupation of lands sought by the Palestinians is illegal and must end immediately and unconditionally for any hope for a two-state future to survive.

Israel, which normally considers the United Nations and international tribunals as unfair and biased, did not send a legal team to the hearings. But it submitted written comments, saying that the questions put to the court are prejudiced and “fail to recognize Israel’s right and duty to protect its citizens,” address Israeli security concerns or acknowledge Israel-Palestinian agreements to negotiate issues, including “the permanent status of the territory, security arrangements, settlements, and borders.”

The Palestinians presented arguments in February along with 49 other nations and three international organizations.

Erwin van Veen, a senior research fellow at the Clingendael think tank in The Hague, said that if the court rules that Israel’s policies in the West Bank and east Jerusalem breach international law, that is unlikely to change Israeli policies but it would “isolate Israel further internationally, at least from a legal point of view.”

He said such a ruling would “worsen the case for occupation. It removes any kind of legal, political, philosophical underpinning of the Israeli expansion project.”

It would also strengthen the hand of “those who seek to advocate against it” — such as the grassroots Palestinian-led movement advocating boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

He said it also could increase the number of countries that recognize the state of Palestine, in particular in the Western world, following the recent example of Spain and Norway and Ireland.”

It is not the first time the ICJ has been asked to give its legal opinion on Israeli policies. Two decades ago, the court ruled that Israel’s West Bank separation barrier was “contrary to international law.” Israel boycotted those proceedings, saying they were politically motivated.

Israel says the barrier is a security measure. Palestinians say the structure amounts to a massive land grab because it frequently dips into the West Bank.

The U.N. General Assembly voted by a wide margin in December 2022 to ask the world court for the advisory opinion. Israel vehemently opposed the request that was promoted by the Palestinians. Fifty countries abstained from voting.

Israel has built well over 100 settlements, according to the anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now. The West Bank settler population has grown by more than 15% in the past five years to more than 500,000 Israelis, according to a pro-settler group.

Israel also has annexed east Jerusalem and considers the entire city to be its capital. An additional 200,000 Israelis live in settlements built in east Jerusalem that Israel considers to be neighborhoods of its capital. Palestinian residents of the city face systematic discrimination, making it difficult for them to build new homes or expand existing ones.

The international community considers all settlements to be illegal or obstacles to peace since they are built on lands sought by the Palestinians for their state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line government is dominated by settlers and their political supporters. Netanyahu has given his finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, a former settler leader, unprecedented authority over settlement policy. Smotrich has used this position to cement Israel’s control over the West Bank by pushing forward plans to build more settlement homes and to legalize outposts.

Authorities recently approved the appropriation of 12.7 square kilometers (nearly 5 square miles) of land in the Jordan Valley, a strategic piece of land deep inside the West Bank, according to a copy of the order obtained by The Associated Press. Data from Peace Now, the tracking group, indicate it was the largest single appropriation approved since the 1993 Oslo accords at the start of the peace process.

FILE - A view of the Peace Palace, which houses the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, on Jan. 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Patrick Post, File)

FILE - A view of the Peace Palace, which houses the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, on Jan. 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Patrick Post, File)

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