Deadly shootings dominate headlines in 2012

2012-12-29T00:00:00Z 2012-12-31T00:40:03Z Deadly shootings dominate headlines in 2012Times Staff
December 29, 2012 12:00 am  • 

A look back at the events that shaped the past year:

Newtown and theater shootings: Twenty children and six adults were killed in December in a shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., when 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother at their home, then descended on the school and opened fire before killing himself. In Aurora, Colo., on July 20, a gunman dressed in black and wearing a helmet, body armor and a gas mask stepped through a side door at a movie theater where the new movie "The Dark Knight Rises" played on the screen and opened fire as people screamed and dove for cover. James Holmes stands accused of killing 12 and wounding 58. The incidents raised the debate about high-powered assault weapons.

Barack Obama rolled to re-election Nov. 6, vanquishing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney despite a weak economy that plagued his first term and put a crimp in the middle class dreams of millions. In victory, he confidently promised better days ahead.

National Guard: Six members of the Valparaiso-based 713th Engineer Co. unit were killed in action and a seventh was injured during the unit's deployment in Afghanistan. The company's mission involved patrolling roads and clearing away roadside bombs in Kandahar Province for 10 1/2 months. Eighty-nine unit members returned to Northwest Indiana in September.

Allegiant / Gary Airport: On Feb. 15, the first Allegiant Airlines flight took off from Gary/Chicago International Airport for Orlando/Sanford International Airport. It was the first regularly scheduled commercial airline flight from the airport since 2008, when start-up airline Skybus flew from Gary for just three weeks before the entire airline folded.

Valparaiso standoff: A 48-year-old former Valparaiso resident brought a halt to the busy five-point intersection on Calumet Avenue May 25 when he walked into the nearby Prudential Executive Group building, fired several rounds into the air with a handgun and held employees hostage for much of the day. Police exchanged gunfire with Roy Ferguson briefly and shot him in the chest; the Porter County coroner later determined Ferguson also had shot himself twice in the head.

Schaap: Disgraced former Hammond Pastor Jack Schaap, 54, who once headed one of the largest congregations in the country, admitted to federal charges of having sex with a 16-year-old female parishioner. Church leaders of First Baptist Church of Hammond fired him in July 2012.

Right to work: Indiana became a right-to-work state in March after Republicans muscled the union-limiting measure through the Legislature and Gov. Mitch Daniels signed it into law.

Mourdock-Donnelly: State Treasurer Richard Mourdock defeated U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, 61 percent to 39 percent, in a Tea Party-fueled May Republican primary. But Mourdock lost to Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Granger, in the general election, 50 percent to 44 percent. The race was neck-and-neck throughout the summer and fall until Mourdock said during an Oct. 23 debate that pregnancies caused by rape are “something that God intended to happen.”

Jackson Jr.: After handily winning re-election in November, Jesse Jackson Jr., resigned his congressional seat in December amid reports of a federal investigation. His resignation came after months of absence due to his treatment for bipolar disorder.

Illinois pensions: The state's $96 billion gap in funding its employees' pensions dominated the state's agenda as intense negotiations broke down during the spring legislative session. A later special session called by Gov. Pat Quinn also proved fruitless.

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