US – Central Region Archives:

DE SOTO, MISSOURI (BNO NEWS) — Police in eastern Missouri are investigating the discovery of four bodies after a mother apparently shot her three young daughters in the head before killing herself on steps leading to the front door of her ex-boyfriend’s residence, officials said.

The four bodies were discovered on early Thursday morning in front of a residence in an area about 4.3 miles (6.9 kilometers) southwest of De Soto, a city in southern Jefferson County. The discovery was made by police officers after the ex-boyfriend of one of the victims called police.

Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer said three young girls were found dead inside a vehicle which was parked in the front yard of the residence. “A 32-year-old female was discovered a short distance away at the steps leading up to the porch of the front door to the residence,” he said. “All had suffered gunshot wounds to the head.”

Boyer said investigators are treating the incident as a murder-suicide, based on a preliminary investigation. He said the mother, identified as 32-year-old Lisa Cochran, had emailed family members, friends and her ex-boyfriend at 7:54 p.m. local time on Wednesday to say goodbye.

“The header on the email began with ‘Goodbye’ and made several references in the email about not being able to take it no more and the lives of four people,” Boyer told reporters during a news conference. “That information, the purchase of the shotgun, and compiling everything we have so far, leads us to believe that we’re dealing with a murder-suicide and not a homicide.”

It is believed that none of the woman’s family members, friends or the ex-boyfriend read the email before the incident. “We don’t have any indication that the people that received the email received it in time to where they could react to it,” Boyer said. “I mean how many of us check our email after 8 o’clock at night?”

Cochran had purchased the shotgun at a Walmart store in Arnold, Missouri, on August 29. “It was purchased by Lisa Cochran. We have investigators in Arnold now that are trying to recover the receipt and possibly, if it still exists, the in-store video of the purchase,” the sheriff explained.

The ex-boyfriend of the woman made the discovery of the crime scene but did not approach the vehicle or his house because Cochran had a court order against him. “He did not want to violate that court order, that’s the reason he didn’t drive up into that driveway when he saw her van there,” Boyer said.

“He simply backed out, contacted us, we responded back to the residence with him, and the officer went up to the van,” the sheriff added. “Unfortunately expecting to see her in the van, probably wanting to get some clothes which is common in these types of incidents, instead he was met with the three deceased children and located her a short distance away.”

The woman’s ex-boyfriend was interviewed by investigators and later released. “At this point in time we haven’t totally cleared anybody. He was never a suspect, he was a witness,” Boyer said. “I have to say that he was a very outgoing witness, he was very cooperative and gave us no indication that he was involved but we’re still in the middle of this investigation. We have a long way to go.”

The three children were identified as 22-month-old Faith Ehlen, 10-year-old Autumn Cochran, and 11-year-old Alyssa Cochran. The woman was the mother of all three children, but the ex-boyfriend was the father of only one of them. The two older girls are believed to be from a previous marriage.

It was not immediately known why the woman had a court order against her ex-boyfriend, but Boyer said his office was not aware of any incidents between them. “She probably went directly to the prosecutor’s office to obtain this court order,” he said. “There’s a good chance we were not involved at all.”

It was also not immediately known how long the two had been separated and how long they previously lived together. “It is my understanding she was currently living with her parents, and I have no idea how long she had been living together with her estranged boyfriend prior to moving out,” Boyer said.

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CINCINNATI, OHIO (BNO NEWS) — American astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, will be laid to rest during a private service in Ohio on Friday, NASA said on Monday. U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered American flags to be flown at half-staff on that day.

A NASA spokesperson said Armstrong, who is from the city of Wapakoneta in Ohio, will be laid to rest during a private, family memorial service in Cincinnati on Friday. Other details were not immediately released, although a number of officials, including U.S. Senator Rob Portman, are expected to attend.

Also on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama signed a proclamation ordering the flag of the United States to be flown at half-staff on Friday. Ohio Governor John Kasich, meanwhile, ordered flags in the state to be flown at half-staff from Monday through Friday for the Ohio native.

“As a mark of respect for the memory of Neil Armstrong, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that on the day of his interment, the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds,” Obama said in the proclamation. U.S. flags will also be flown at half-staff at military posts, naval stations, U.S. embassies, ships and consular offices.

Armstrong served as commander during the Apollo 11 mission, the first manned lunar landing mission, in July 1969. He immediately rose to fame around the world for being the first man to land a craft on the moon and then the first man to step on its surface, after which he and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin explored it for over two hours.

People from around the world gathered around their television sets to watch coverage of the moon landing and to hear Armstrong’s famous words as he stepped onto the moon’s surface. “That is one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong said on July 20, 1969, as he became a part of history.

Armstrong died at a hospital in Ohio on Saturday afternoon as a result of complications from cardiovascular procedures. He had underwent surgery due to blocked coronary arteries earlier this month, just days after celebrating his 82nd birthday. It is not yet known if a national memorial service will be held for Armstrong, who often shunned publicity.

On Saturday, the family made a simple request for those who want to honor Armstrong. “Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink,” a family statement said.

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COLUMBUS, OHIO (BNO NEWS) — American astronaut Neil Armstrong, who made history when he stepped onto the moon’s surface as commander of the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969, died at a hospital in Ohio on Saturday, his family said. He was 82.

Armstrong, from Wapakoneta, Ohio, had celebrated his birthday earlier this month just days before he underwent surgery due to blocked coronary arteries. Complications from the cardiovascular procedures ultimately caused his death at a hospital in Ohio on Saturday, according to his family.

“We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend,” his family said in a written statement released on Armstrong’s website.

It added: “While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.”

Armstrong served as commander during the Apollo 11 mission, the first manned lunar landing mission, in July 1969. He immediately rose to fame around the world for being the first man to land a craft on the moon and then the first man to step on its surface, after which he and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin explored it for over two hours.

People from around the world gathered around their television sets to watch coverage of the moon landing and to hear Armstrong’s famous words as he stepped onto the moon’s surface. “That is one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong said on July 20, 1969, as he became a part of history.

“Neil Armstrong was a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job,” Armstrong’s family said on Saturday. “He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits.”

The family also made a simple request for those who want to honor Armstrong. “Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink,” the statement said.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden expressed his condolences on behalf of the organization. “As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind’s first small step on a world beyond our own,” he said. “Besides being one of America’s greatest explorers, Neil carried himself with a grace and humility that was an example to us all. When President Kennedy challenged the nation to send a human to the moon, Neil Armstrong accepted without reservation.”

U.S. President Barack Obama said he and his wife Michelle were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Armstrong. “Neil was among the greatest of American heroes – not just of his time, but of all time,” he said. “When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation.”

Obama added: “They set out to show the world that the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable – that with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible. And when Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time, he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten.”

“Today, Neil’s spirit of discovery lives on in all the men and women who have devoted their lives to exploring the unknown – including those who are ensuring that we reach higher and go further in space. That legacy will endure – sparked by a man who taught us the enormous power of one small step,” Obama concluded.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hailed Armstrong as one of America’s greatest heroes and Naval aviators. “We are bidding farewell to one of our own. As a decorated Korean War veteran, as an astronaut for NASA, and as the first man to walk on the moon, Neil inspired generations of Americans to believe that as a nation we are capable of achieving greatness that only comes with determination, perseverance, and hard work,” he said.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also expressed his sadness over Armstrong’s death. “Neil Armstrong today takes his place in the hall of heroes,” he said. “With courage unmeasured and unbounded love for his country, he walked where man had never walked before. The moon will miss its first son of earth.”

Armstrong is survived by his wife, two sons, a stepson, a stepdaughter, 10 grandchildren, and a brother and sister.

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (BNO NEWS) — An F-16 fighter jet intercepted two small planes Saturday after they entered airspace which has been temporarily closed for a visit by President Barack Obama, officials said on Sunday, less than a week after a similar incident in the New York area.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said the two separate incidents happened in the Chicago area at approximately 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT), just a few hours after Air Force One landed at O’Hare International Airport. Details such as the type of aircraft or the number of people on board were not released by authorities.

An F-16 fighter jet intercepted both aircraft and followed it until it landed without incident, NORAD said in a brief statement. Both pilots were met by law enforcement and questioned why they strayed into the restricted airspace. Other details were not immediately released, but both incidents are believed to have been accidental.

Obama had no public events on Saturday but arrived in Chicago to attend five separate campaign events on Sunday.

Earlier this week, on August 6, two F-15 fighter jets also intercepted two small airplanes when they entered restricted airspace during a visit by Obama to Connecticut and New York. The first incident happened over Long Island where some airspace was closed because Air Force One was stationed at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The second incident happened about half an hour later when a small aircraft flew into temporary restricted airspace near New Haven in Connecticut. It happened when Obama was delivering remarks for his re-election campaign at the Stamford Marriott Hotel in Stamford, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of New Haven.

NORAD is tasked to prevent air attacks against North America and safeguard the sovereign airspaces of both the United States and Canada by responding to unauthorized air activity in or near these airspace. The organization is allowed to monitor, shadow, divert from flight path, direct to land and even destroy targets which are deemed to be a security threat to North America.

Last month, two Canadian CF-18 fighter jets intercepted a Sunwing Airlines Boeing 767-300 near Quebec City after the plane failed to respond to radio communications. The fighter jets were able to assist the aircraft in re-establishing radio communications with air traffic control, and the airliner then proceeded to its destination without incident. It was on a flight from Paris to Toronto.

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DETROIT, MICHIGAN (BNO NEWS) — A federal report released on Thursday has harshly criticized the handling of an improvised explosive device (IED) that was discovered at a federal building in Detroit in March 2011 but had already gone unnoticed for almost three weeks.

The incident began on February 26, 2011, when an employee with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found a black Husky tool bag at the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building in Detroit. He reported the abandoned bag to Federal Protective Service (FPS) officer Ralph Smith, who seized it and stowed it under a desk.

The bag, which contained a metal rectangular cash box, went unnoticed for three weeks until FPS officer McManus ran the bag through an x-ray machine on March 18 and discovered the cash box appeared to contain wires and other suspicious material. He then called the Detroit Police Department Bomb Squad, which took the bag to Detroit’s Belle Isle Park where the bomb went off as experts were attempting to render it safe.

The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general reviewed the incident and harshly criticized the handling of the suspicious bag at the McNamara building, which is home to many federal agencies, including the United States Secret Service (USSS), the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations Bureau.

“Although the IED did not explode, it represented a serious risk to the safety and security of the building and its occupants,” the 37-page report said. It also criticized the training, hiring practices and oversight of security guards at the building, where an FPS inspector failed to identify the suspicious bag during four inspections.

As a result of the mishandling of the suspicious bag, three guards were fired, including the one who brought the bag inside, and a fourth guard resigned before being fired. Five other guards at the building were given suspensions ranging from one to five days, according to the report.

Days after the incident, 42-year-old Gary John Mikulich of Kingsford, Michigan, was arrested on one count of maliciously attempting to damage or destroy, by means of an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other personal or property in whole or in part owned or possessed by the United States government.

Mikulich had a long history of threatening and complaining about the FBI, including an October 1996 incident during which he told Secret Service agents he “felt like” shooting a couple of FBI agents. And in a number of fax messages sent to the Iron Mountain Police Department in early 2011, Mikulich accused the FBI of murdering his father, three specifically named individuals, and “about a thousand people in town here.” He also believed the FBI wanted to kill him.

Mikulich, who repeatedly called himself “President Mikulich” and claimed to be a “nominated president of the United States of America,” remains in custody but has been deemed incompetent to face trial. If he will ever face trial, Mikulich faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday said the government should examine additional ways to reduce violence after a mass shooting at a Sikh temple in southeastern Wisconsin, but he stopped short of calling for further gun control measures.

Obama said there are “a lot of elements involved” in mass shooting incidents, but did not give a direct answer when asked if he would push for further gun control measures after a lone gunman killed six people and injured three others at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, a suburb of Milwaukee.

“I think all of us recognize that these kinds of terrible, tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul-searching and to examine additional ways that we can reduce violence,” Obama said after a bill signing ceremony. “I think there are a lot of elements involved in it, and what I want to do is to bring together law enforcement, community leaders, faith leaders, elected officials of every level to see how we can make continued progress.”

Obama said he is heartbroken by Sunday’s mass shooting but said he is still awaiting the outcome of a full investigation. “If it turns out, as some early reports indicate, that it may have been motivated in some way by the ethnicity of those who were attending the temple, I think the American people immediately recoil against those kinds of attitudes, and I think it will be very important for us to reaffirm once again that, in this country, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, who we worship, we are all one people, and we look after one another and we respect one another,” he said.

Also on Monday, the Oak Creek Police Department identified the six fatal victims as five men and one woman who were aged between 39 and 84. The gunman, who was shot dead by an Oak Creek police officer who was fired upon, was identified as 40-year-old Wade Michael Page.

Southern Poverty Law Center, a group which tracks extremism, described Page as a “frustrated neo-Nazi” and a “white supremacist skinhead” who was previously the leader of racist white-power band ‘End Apathy.’ The group said Page was also a member of ‘Definite Hate’, a band whose album “Violent Victory” features a drawing of a disembodied white arm punching a black man in the face.

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OAK CREEK, WISCONSIN (BNO NEWS) — A lone gunman opened fire Sunday at a Sikh temple in southeast Wisconsin, killing six people before being shot dead by a police officer, officials said. Authorities are treating the incident as a possible act of domestic terrorism.

The incident began at around 10:25 a.m. local time when a gunman, armed with a 9 mm semi-automatic gun, walked into a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, a suburb of Milwaukee, and opened fire at worshippers just before Sunday services were to begin. Dozens of people were inside, including children.

Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin said the first 911 call came in at 10:26 a.m. local time, after which local police officers and a SWAT team responded.

“Our officers responded to the scene, did find a victim and were dealing with that individual when our officer, a 20-year veteran, was ambushed [and] shot multiple times,” said Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards. “Another officer who was on scene was [also] engaged by the suspect [and] our officer did engage that individual, and that individual is deceased from the action that our officer took.”

Edwards said seven people were killed, including the gunman, four victims who were found inside the temple and two victims whose bodies were found outside the building. Three people were also critically injured, including the Oak Creek police officer who was shot by the gunman.

The injured victims were rushed to Froedtert Hospital, where they remained in a critical condition on late Sunday. “They are all victims of gunshot wounds,” said Lee Biblo, chief medical officer at the hospital. “One suffered injuries to the abdomen and chest. One suffered injuries to the extremities and face. One suffered injures to the neck.”

Biblo said two of the patients have undergone surgery and one patient was undergoing a ‘complex procedure’ on late Sunday. He gave no other details about the nature of their injuries or if any were in a life-threatening condition, but Edwards said the injured police officer is expected to recover.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) described the gunman as a white male in his 40s, but gave no other details. A witness told CNN the gunman had a tattoo marking the September 11 terrorist attacks, but authorities were unable to confirm those claims. The identity of the suspect was not immediately released.

“The FBI is working closely with the Oak Creek Police Department and other local and federal agencies to investigate today’s shooting incident,” said Teresa Carlson, Special Agent in Charge at the FBI’s Milwaukee Division. “This remains an active investigation in its early stages. While the FBI is investigating whether this matter might be an act of domestic terrorism, no motive has been determined at this time.”

Edwards also said the attack is being treated as a domestic terrorist-type incident, but gave no other details. “Domestic terrorism is somebody who is doing some active terrorism within the confines of the United States,” he said. “It is not from another country or anything like that, it is within the United States.”

A White House official said President Barack Obama was notified of the shooting shortly before 1 p.m. EDT by Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan. He later convened a conference call with FBI Director Bob Mueller, Chief of Staff Jack Lew, and Brennan to receive an update on the incident.

“Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin,” Obama said in a statement. “At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded.”

He added: “My Administration will provide whatever support is necessary to the officials who are responding to this tragic shooting and moving forward with an investigation. As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family.”

Following the conference call, Obama also called Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi and Sikh Temple trustee Charanjeet Singh to express his condolences for the lives lost and his concern for those who were injured. “The President said that he wanted to make sure that as we denounce this senseless act of violence we also underscore how much our country has been enriched by our Sikh Community, who are an integral part of our broader American family,” the White House said.

Scaffidi, speaking at a news conference, expressed his shock about the mass shooting. “The City of Oak Creek is outraged by the senseless act of violence that happened in our city today, and our thoughts and prayers go out to those victims,” he said. “We are grateful for the heroic actions of two of our officers who made a very dangerous situation a little bit better, and probably saved lives. So we are thankful for that and we hope that they have a speedy recovery.”

In Washington, D.C., the Indian Embassy said it has sent an official to Oak Creek to get more details about the situation. “The Embassy is seized of the situation and has been in touch with the National Security Council in Washington, D.C.,” the Embassy said in a statement. “Our Consulate General in Chicago too has been in close touch with the local authorities to monitor the situation.”

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LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS (BNO NEWS) — Aircraft manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft on Thursday said it plans to cut 170 jobs at its completion center in Arkansas, coming just weeks after the company entered into negotiations to sell its business jet and general aviation operations to a Chinese firm.

CEO Steve Miller and Chairman Bill Boisture announced the layoffs in a letter sent to employees on Thursday, calling it an “unprecedented time” for the aircraft manufacturer. They said the layoffs will impact approximately 170 employees across multiple levels and functions, both hourly and salaried workers, throughout its facilities in Little Rock.

“As we have communicated with you previously, the company continues to evaluate and balance production rates throughout a difficult and changing environment,” the letter said. “Over the last several months, we have worked to appropriately size our business, primarily in Wichita. Today, we are faced with additional challenging decisions that involve further re-sizing our work force.”

The completion center in Little Rock, which performs repairs and maintenance but also puts the final touch on planes before they are delivered to customers, currently employs about 450 people. Thursday’s letter said the 170 affected workers have been given a 60-day Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN), as is required by federal law.

Hawker Beechcraft, which has suffered from a decline in the demand for business jets due to the global financial crisis, voluntary filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early May. Its senior secured lenders and bondholders also agreed to a financial restructuring plan which aims to eliminate approximately $2.5 billion in debt and approximately $125 million of annual cash interest expense.

The aircraft manufacturer also entered talks last month to sell its business jet and general aviation operations to Chinese firm Superior Aviation Beijing for approximately $1.8 billion. Such a sale would give Hawker Beechcraft greater access to the Chinese aviation marketplace, which is expected to grow considerably during the next few decades.

Hawker Beechcraft Defense Company (HBDC) would be excluded from any deal with the Chinese firm and remain a separate entity. But any definitive agreement reached during the exclusive negotiations, which are expected to last until the end of this month, would have to be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and other regulatory agencies.

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (BNO NEWS) — One person was killed Thursday when a large double-decker Megabus crashed into a pillar on Interstate 55 in southern Illinois, state police said. Nearly 40 others were injured, some of them critically.

The accident happened at approximately 1:22 p.m. local time when the charter bus, which is owned by transportation company Megabus, went off the roadway and struck a bridge abutment on I-55 southbound at mile point 57, located between Chicago, Illinois and Kansas City, Missouri.

Illinois State Police Trooper Doug Francis said one person was killed in the crash while 38 others were injured, including 33 people who were transported by ambulance to local area hospitals and five people who were airlifted. Some of the injured were said to be in a critical condition.

Illinois State Police officials said approximately 64 passengers were listed on the manifest of the bus, but it was not immediately known if all of them were on board. “The total number of passengers is expected to remain fluid until confirmed,” another state police spokesperson said.

In total, 30 ambulances, five helicopters and seven fire departments were dispatched to the scene of the accident. The uninjured occupants of the bus were transported by another bus to the Litchfield Community Center, and then onto St. Louis and Columbia, Missouri. It was not immediately known where the bus was originally headed or coming from.

State police said the accident was possibly caused by a tire blowout, although an investigation is still underway.

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MUSCAT, OMAN (BNO NEWS) — Two American service members who were missing since a helicopter belonging to the U.S. Navy crashed in northern Oman earlier this week have been declared deceased, the U.S. Department of Defense said on Saturday. The identities of the sailors have been released.

The accident happened on Thursday when the MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter crashed 58 miles (93 kilometers) southwest of Muscat, the capital of Oman, while conducting heavy lift support operations. The aircraft was assigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasure Squadron (HM) 15 which is based at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.

The aircraft was carrying five crew members, of whom three were recovered shortly after the accident and taken to a local hospital for unspecified injuries. The two other crew members remained missing and were pronounced deceased on Saturday following an extensive search of the wreckage and the surroundings of the crash site.

A spokesman for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command was unable to say whether any remains were recovered, or what caused the accident. The command previously said the cause of the crash remains under investigation, although it ruled out hostile activity as a possible cause.

The two fatalities were identified as 40-year-old Senior Chief Aviation Warfare Systems Operator Sean P. Sullivan, of St. Louis, Missouri, and 31-year-old Naval Aircrewman Second Class Joseph P. Fitzmorris, of West Monroe, Louisiana. Other details about the victims were not immediately released.

The Sultanate of Oman, with a population of more than 2.7 million people, is located in southwest Asia on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.

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