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News Wrap: Armed with shotgun and explosives, man opens fire at FedEx near Atlanta

April 29, 2014 at 6:02 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: For the third day in a row, violent weather is threatening the Southern United States. Tornadoes have killed at least 35 people since Sunday, including a dozen or more yesterday in Mississippi.

MAN: It’s moving to the right!

JUDY WOODRUFF: It was late Monday afternoon in Mississippi when the funnel clouds formed. Weather radar showed the ferocious storm system cutting a wide swathe across the state.

MAN: This is bad.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Tornadoes tossed and tumbled cars across an open field in the town of Louisville.

Robbie Anderson huddled in her closet in Edwards, as a twister tore through.

ROBBIE ANDERSON: That’s the tin roof, the metal roof that has come off of the house. And, of course, it’s raining all in the house and all of this, but that’s OK too. I’m still here.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A tornado in Tupelo uprooted massive old trees, pulled down power lines, and knocked semi-trailer trucks on their sides.

KEITH RUFF: To see trees twisted and snapped like what they are now, it’s nothing I have ever seen in my life, and it’s nothing I ever want to see again.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Vanelli’s Restaurant in downtown Tupelo, in business since 1975, was destroyed in the storm. Workers sheltered in the restaurant’s walk-in cooler.

A South Carolina man vacationing in Tupelo described his close call.

WILLIAM WALKER: We were on the fourth floor of the Comfort Suite Hotel, trying to get out, when it hit, and we got almost to the stairway, and at that time we heard a sound, and the building shook. And my wife reached for the door. The window blew in. The stairway door slammed back on us and it blew us down the hall.

JUDY WOODRUFF: From Tupelo, the storm system snaked its way northeast to Athens, Alabama, where dazed residents surveyed the damage to their community.

Meanwhile, back in Mayflower and Vilonia, Arkansas, devastated by Sunday’s tornadoes, people have returned to what’s left of their homes, hoping to salvage what they can.

TERRY LEE: My great-grandma gave this to my grandma when she was 12. My grandma gave it to my mama when she was 12. My mama gave it to me when I was 12. And I have my first granddaughter. I was going to give it to her. And it’s not even cracked, and it still has the jewelry in it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Other small signs of survival emerged as well, including a baby chick, found unharmed, in the wreckage of a home.

Three people are in critical condition this evening after a package handler opened fire at a FedEx sorting center outside Atlanta. He wounded six people before taking his own life. Police swarmed the building after reports of gunfire came in before 6:00 this morning. They said the man used a shotgun and had explosive devices, but didn’t use them.

In Syria, more than 50 people died today in a series of attacks. Scores more were wounded. The worst was in the central city of Homs, where two car bombs exploded in a pro-government neighborhood, killing at least 40. And, in Damascus, state TV broadcast images of a school complex hit by mortar strikes. It came a day after President Bashar al-Assad announced his reelection bid.

In Iraq, twin bombs exploded in an outdoor market 90 miles northeast of Baghdad. At least 24 people were killed and more than 40 injured. Meanwhile, an al-Qaida faction claimed responsibility for Monday’s bombings that killed nearly 50 people.

The European Union has slapped sanctions on 15 more top Russian officials today for fomenting trouble in Ukraine. Meanwhile, in Ukraine, separatists stormed the regional administration building in the eastern city of Luhansk. They’re demanding a referendum to give regions more authority.

Back in Kiev, the U.S. ambassador urged Ukrainian officials to respond carefully.

GEOFFREY PYATT, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine: Our advice would be to encourage the government to continue on the course that it has been pursuing of seeking a strategy to cordon these cities, to use their security forces, and the army if necessary, to ensure that weapons, money, instability are not trafficked in and out of these cities.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Russia still has thousands of its own troops massed near Ukraine’s eastern border.

The State Department defended Secretary John Kerry today over comments that Israel could become an apartheid state, unless there’s peace with the Palestinians. He said it Friday, warning that Israel could wind up with two classes of citizens.

In a statement last night, Kerry conceded, “If I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word.”

A spokeswoman said today that any suggestion that Kerry is anti-Israel is — quote — “completely absurd.”

The Supreme Court has upheld federal efforts to stop power plant emissions from blowing across state lines. By 6-2 today, the justices reinstated a rule that was adopted in 2011. It requires plants in 27 Midwestern and Appalachian states to limit pollution that blows downwind to other states. A lower court had blocked the rule from taking effect.

House Speaker John Boehner tried today to smooth ruffled Republican feathers over immigration reform. The dustup began last week when Boehner addressed the immigration issue during an appearance in his home district in Ohio.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R, Ohio, Speaker of the House: The appetite amongst my colleagues for doing this is not real good.

And this guy’s back here with a camera, but here’s the attitude.

Oh, don’t make me do this.

(LAUGHTER)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER: Oh, this is too hard.

You should hear them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that drew fire from some conservatives, who said the blame lies with President Obama, not with Republicans.

Today, Boehner took a step back to explain himself.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER: You tease the ones you love, right? But some people misunderstood what I had to say. And I wanted to make sure the members understood that the biggest impediment we have in moving immigration reform is that the American people don’t trust the president to enforce or implement the law that we may or may not pass.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The speaker said the immigration system is broken, and he said Republicans are still discussing how to fix it.

A federal judge struck down Wisconsin’s voter I.D. law today. The judge ruled the mandate to show a state-issued photo I.D. is an unfair burden on poor and minority voters. State officials said they plan to appeal. For now, though, the ruling could set a precedent for similar challenges in Texas, North Carolina, and other states.

The head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is rejecting claims that high-speed trading gives some people an unfair advantage. Mary Jo White told a congressional hearing today the markets are not rigged, despite allegations in a new book.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 86 points to close at 16,535. The Nasdaq rose 29 points to close at 4,103. And the S&P 500 added nearly nine to finish at 1,878.