Weed vaping soars among teenagers, doubling since 2018

The number of teenagers vaping marijuana has risen dramatically within the past two years, increasing at a near record pace, according to an analysis published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In just one year’s time — between 2018 and 2019 — the percentage of high school seniors who reported vaping pot within the past month rose from 7.5 percent to 14 percent.

The analysis looked at data from the Monitoring the Future survey, an annual report on drug use among 42,000 eighth, 10th and 12th grade students in 392 schools across the country.

The doubling of marijuana vaping rates in this year’s report is the second largest single-year jump for any substance since the survey began in 1975. The biggest increase was between 2017 and 2018, when nicotine use — driven by vaping — skyrocketed among teenagers. Researchers released data on 2019 teen nicotine vaping rates from the same survey back in September.

The new numbers illustrate “how rapidly vaping has permeated the culture of teenagers,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funded the survey.

Seven percent of eighth graders reported vaping marijuana in 2019, up from 4.4 percent in 2018. Among 10th and 12th graders, the increases are nearly identical: 19.4 percent of high school sophomores and 20.8 percent of high school seniors said they vaped pot in 2019, up from 12.4 percent and 13.1 percent in 2018 respectively.

Some kids are vaping marijuana just about every day, the survey found: 3.5 percent of 12th graders, and 3 percent of 10th graders. Often, adults around them aren’t aware of the drug use because dab pens and wax pens, as the devices are often called, are easily concealed and don’t emit an odor.

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There was no significant difference in usage among teens living in states that had passed laws legalizing recreational use of marijuana. But substance abuse experts say legalization of a substance can lead to a perceived drop in its risk, especially when it comes to teens.

“There’s an impression that pot isn’t addictive at all,” said Dr. Sharon Levy, director of the adolescent substance use and addiction program at Boston Children’s Hospital. “It’s not uncommon for me to encounter kids, and sometimes even their parents, who haven’t heard that these substances can be addictive.”

What’s more, teenagers’ brains are still developing, making them particularly susceptible to the effects of nicotine and THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Overall, the most commonly used illicit drug was marijuana in any form — a statistic that’s remained steady for years. But since 2018, the number of eighth and 10th graders who said they use marijuana every day has risen significantly.

The health implications of so many young people vaping marijuana so frequently may not be known fully for years. Vaporizing THC and then inhaling it deep into the lungs has an effect on the body that’s more potent than the rolled joints of previous generations.

Vaping devices came along in the early 2000s and “essentially perfected drug delivery,” Levy said.

Vapes “can get the drug all the way down deep into your lungs, where the rich vascular bed absorbs these molecules very quickly, and sends a real shot of this stuff directly to your brain,” Levy told NBC News. And because vape oils are often highly concentrated, a hit delivers a much higher dose than smoking would.

The dramatic rise in vaping comes at a time when other drug use among teenagers is falling. The Monitoring the Future survey found significant declines in abuse of opioids and medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Usage of LSD, cocaine and heroin was low among 12th graders, at 3.6 percent, 2.2 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Though slightly more than half of high school seniors reported some alcohol use within the past year, the percentage is down from previous years. Reports of binge drinking also fell among 10th and 12th graders.

Just 2.4 percent of 12th graders reported smoking regular cigarettes, down from 3.6 percent in 2018.

Vaping, though, has become an epidemic among teenagers. When researchers asked 12th graders why they vaped any substance, most said they wanted to experiment and try the flavors. But a growing number of teens reported vaping “to relax or relieve tension.” And the number of teens reporting they were “hooked” on the devices more than doubled, from 3.6 percent in 2018 to 8.1 percent in 2019.

Vaping has also been linked to more than 2,000 recent cases of severe lung illnesses called EVALI, e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury. Most, but not all, have been linked to illicit THC vapes and weed pens.

“Those acute lung injuries are a reminder that sometimes we embrace technology without properly understanding it,” Volkow said.

“We do not know the consequences of chronic delivery of very high temperature vapor into our lungs. After two, three, 10 years, it’s likely to be quite deleterious,” Volkow said, adding that regulation is necessary to control the quality of vape products on the market.

“Decades from now, we really don’t want to be seeing that people in fact are suffering from severe inflammatory diseases of the lung that we have never seen before,” she said.

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Jarrett Allen’s monster Nets outing tees up homecoming

NEW ORLEANS — Jarrett Allen had one of the best games of his NBA career Tuesday. A day later, he not only will enjoy a homecoming, but will have his number retired at his Texas high school.

Allen had 12 points, 14 rebounds and matched a career-high six blocked shots to lead the Nets to a come-from-behind 108-101 overtime win over the Pelicans. The Nets play Thursday at San Antonio, roughly an hour-and-a-half from his Austin home.

“My plan for my day is spend some time with my family. Not everybody gets an opportunity during the season to go home,” Allen said. “Then after that go straight to the high school and say hi to all my old teachers, the coach, my old friends.”

Allen played at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School for his last three high-school seasons and went on to win two SPC championships. The McDonald’s All-American — who stayed locally to play at Texas — will have his jersey retired in a ceremony Wednesday.

“It means a lot,” Allen said. “When I was there I didn’t even think that this was going to be a possibility. But now I’m grateful for them. I owe them a lot more than just having my jersey up there.”

The quiet Allen will have to come out of his comfort zone to give an acceptance speech.

“I’m going to give a little bit of a thank you,” said Allen. “I’m not much of a speech guy, but you’ve got to say thank you.”

Garrett Temple had a homecoming of his own. He was a legacy player at LSU, where his father was the first black player on the basketball team.

Kenny Atkinson praised the defense, physicality and energy David Nwaba has provided, but noted the defensive-minded wing has also been confident shooting the ball.

Nwaba added 12 points off the bench Tuesday, shooting 5-for-7.

After giving up 40 points to Brandon Ingram in their meeting in Brooklyn, the Nets held him to 22 on 7 of 23 shooting. Much of that defense was from Taurean Prince, who shoot horribly himself, scoring three points on 1-of-9 from the floor.

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We Will Make Sure Trump Is Removed from Office

President Donald Trump will be “impeached” and “removed from office,” promised Hollywood director and left-wing activist Rob Reiner at an impeachment rally in Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

The rally, sponsored by the left-wing and partisan Democrat organization MoveOn, was attended by approximately 500 protesters before Wednesday’s scheduled vote in the House of Representatives on articles of impeachment against Trump.

“Fact, he has abused his power by attempting to bribe a foreign country for his own personal political benefit. Fact, he has obstructed Congress in covering up all of his wrongdoing, and fact, tomorrow, he will be the third president in the United States ever to have been impeached,” Reiner Said.

“We all care about the rule of law. We care about our Constitution. We care about our 243 years of self-rule, and we care about it. We will make sure that not only is he impeached, but he will be removed from office. Thank you. I love you all for coming. Thank you,” Reiner said. 

Actress and fellow left-wing activist Alyssa Milano was also a featured speaker at the event. “We will vote them all out,” she promised, while describing herself as “premenopausal” and “angry.” Milano led attendees in a chant of, “THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!”

Breitbart News reported on signs held by the rallygoers, including messages such as: “Impeach and Remove”; “Trump Is Not Above the Law”; Impeach 45″; “Fuck Cheeto Voldemort”; and “Make the Asshole Go Away.”

Breitbart News

A rubber prop depicting Trump’s head was seen on the end of a pike held by a man at the event. He told Breitbart News he wished it were Trump’s actual head.

Breitbart News

Reiner derided Trump as “the most criminally corrupt president in our nation’s history” via Twitter prior to his rally address.

Reiner regularly frames Trump and Republicans as agents of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Every elected Republican knows that this President is guilty of countless Impeachable offenses. But they, along with many White Evangelicals & White Supremacists have made a pact with Putin,” Reiner said in November. “But unlike a pact with the Devil, this one can be unsigned.”

Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.

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Man dies after setting fire to keep warm in Cudahy, authorities say

A man died Monday night in Cudahy after apparently starting a fire in an enclosed dumpster area in an attempt to keep warm, authorities said.

Firefighters responded to a report of a fire behind a store in the 4500 block of Santa Ana Street about 10:30 p.m. and found two dumpsters burning. They put out the flames and discovered the man’s body.

Preliminary investigation indicates that the man climbed into a walled-in and gated enclosure where dumpsters are stored and set a fire beside them to heat himself, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Derrick Alfred said. He then caught fire, suffering significant burns and probable smoke inhalation, Alfred said.

The man is believed to have been homeless. His name was not immediately released.

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Archaeologists Discover Ancient Greek Royal Tombs Dating Back 3,500 Years : NPR

An aerial view of a 3,500-year-old tomb discovered near the southwestern Greek town of Pylos. Recovered grave goods included a golden seal ring and a golden Egyptian amulet.


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An aerial view of a 3,500-year-old tomb discovered near the southwestern Greek town of Pylos. Recovered grave goods included a golden seal ring and a golden Egyptian amulet.


A team of American archaeologists has discovered two large ancient Greek royal tombs dating back some 3,500 years near the site of the ancient city of Pylos in southern Greece. The findings cast a new light on the role of the ancient city — mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey — in Mediterranean trade patterns of the Late Bronze Age.

Each of the two tombs — one about 39 feet in diameter and the other about 28 feet — was built in a dome-shape structure known as a tholos.

This golden pendant of the Egyptian goddess Hathor was found in one of two 3,500-year-old tombs.

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This golden pendant of the Egyptian goddess Hathor was found in one of two 3,500-year-old tombs.

Greek Culture Ministry/AP

Among the findings inside the tombs were evidence of gold-lined floors, a golden seal ring and a gold pendant with the image of the ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor. The amulet suggests that Pylos traded with Egypt during Greece’s Mycenaean civilization, which lasted roughly between 1650 and 1100 B.C. Homer’s epics are set in the latter stages of this period.

The discovery was made by Jack L. Davis and Sharon R. Stocker, an archaeological team from the University of Cincinnati. They had previously uncovered another burial site nearby in 2015 known as the Griffin Warrior grave. That site yielded significant findings including gold and silver treasure, jewelry and a long bronze sword believed to have possibly belonged to one of the early kings of Pylos.

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Gun violence research could be funded by Congress for first time in 20 years

Demonstrators hold up placards representing the number of the people who have died because of gun violence on Capitol Hill on June 20, 2019, during an event with gun violence prevention advocates.
Demonstrators hold up placards representing the number of the people who have died because of gun violence on Capitol Hill on June 20, 2019, during an event with gun violence prevention advocates.

For the first time in more than 20 years, Congress could approve federal funding to study gun violence, which kills nearly 40,000 Americans each year.

A House bill approved Tuesday includes $25 million for research, split evenly between the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts say the new allocation will allow researchers to conduct large-scale studies that get at the root causes of gun violence while ensuring that firearm regulation does not infringe on Second Amendment rights.

“It’s discovering what science can do for a problem like this. If you look at what science can do for heart disease, for cancer. It’s saved tens of thousands of lives,” said Mark Rosenberg, former director of CDC research on firearm violence. “This is going to unlock a vein of pure gold that people on both sides of the aisle will appreciate.”

The House vote comes just days after the seventh anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 children. It also comes amid a year that has seen nearly 400 mass shootings (defined as four or more people shot or killed, not counting the shooter), according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, including high-profile shootings in El Paso, Texas;  and Dayton, Ohio.

2020 candidates: A voter’s guide to where they stand on health care, gun control, more

Felipe Avila mourns outside a Walmart in El Paso after a mass shooting on Aug. 4, 2019.
Felipe Avila mourns outside a Walmart in El Paso after a mass shooting on Aug. 4, 2019.

Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said he and his team of researchers have long relied on meager public funding and private grants that limit the scope of their research by forcing them to draw correlations between available data sets rather than conduct more in-depth studies that collect data on firearm access.

“Very, very rarely are we able to say, ‘Are the people … who are the target of a law, can you document that their misuse of firearms is targeted by this law?’ That’s a far more compelling piece of causal evidence than a correlation with population-level data,” Webster said.

“And on the other side of that, for studies that look at law-abiding gun owners, how did these laws affect your capacity to get a gun? These are basic, fundamental questions that we have very little data on that this new funding could open up,” he said.

Gun control advocates applauded the move to include funding for research.

“Make no mistake, the passage of this bill marks an important victory for the gun safety movement – for the first time in more than 20 years, Congress will be appropriating funding specifically for research on gun violence, which now kills more Americans than car accidents,” John Feinblatt, president of the anti-gun-violence nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a news release.

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of the eponymous gun violence prevention organization, said in a news release that the bill demonstrates a “change” in the country’s approach to gun violence.

“For far too long, the United States Congress put the political agenda of the gun lobby over our nation’s public health and safety. But today, with outraged Americans demanding solutions to gun violence and a new gun safety majority elected to the House of Representatives, change is happening,” Giffords said.

The National Rifle Association, however, cautioned the CDC against exploiting public funding.

“Everyone knows the NRA supports properly conducted research into the causes of violence. What we don’t support are taxpayer-funded efforts to weaponize the CDC for political ‘research’ favoring gun control. Fortunately, this legislation retains the Dickey Amendment, which prohibits the use of tax-payer funds to promote gun control,” spokesperson Amy Hunter said.

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who co-founded a gun violence prevention organization.
Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who co-founded a gun violence prevention organization.

If approved, the bill would be the first to include funding explicitly for gun safety research since 1996. That year, Congress – under pressure from the NRA – approved the Dickey Amendment, which stated that the CDC could not “advocate or promote gun control.” Congress also slashed CDC funding by $2.6 million, the same amount that the center had spent on firearm violence research the previous year.

While the Dickey Amendment did not specifically ban research on gun violence, it had a “chilling effect” on the field, Webster said. It spurred the CDC to avoid research on firearms regulation and discouraged young researchers from pursuing the field.

“The true chilling effect was the pull-back of funds and the strong signal from Congress that, if you fund research that the gun lobby isn’t happy with, expect funding cuts,” Webster said.

Rosenberg, who directed CDC research on firearm violence at the time, said the Dickey Amendment reduced gun violence research to “a trickle.” From 1998 to 2012, the number of publications about gun violence declined 64%, according to a 2017 study by medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The amendment “was a warning, a shot across the bow,” Rosenberg said. “It told researchers that, if you want to research gun violence, we can make your life miserable.”

‘The loneliest club’: For survivors caught in endless loop of mass shootings, time doesn’t always heal

Then-representative Jay Dickey, R-Ark., who sponsored the amendment, later reversed his position and penned an op-ed in The Washington Post with Rosenberg, explaining the need for gun safety research and noting that there had been “almost no publicly funded research on firearm injuries” since 1996. In the op-ed, the authors admitted that “one of us served as the NRA’s point person in Congress.”

Last year, lawmakers clarified the language of the Dickey Amendment, making clear that it does not prevent research into gun violence.

The new funding is baked into a $1.37 trillion spending package that also includes money for President Donald Trump’s border wall and increases the age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21.

The package was released Monday and passed the House on Tuesday. It must pass the Senate and be signed by Trump by Friday to avert a government shutdown.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gun violence research funding included in bipartisan spending bill

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Schumer weaponizes impeachment trial debate

Schumer is engaged in an aggressive campaign to change the narrative of what for weeks has appeared an utterly partisan vote of Trump by McConnell and Senate Republicans. He’s seeking to drive a witness wedge among Republicans and disrupt their own party unity, first in a letter to McConnell Sunday night that served as an opening offer for the trial, then in TV hits and a news conference on Monday and finally in a series of interviews with print reporters.

“Even if McConnell doesn’t want it, I expect at least four Republicans will be for witnesses,” Schumer declared.

Republican leaders jeered this idea. They say Schumer is merely playing a part to satisfy the party’s liberal base and demonstrate Democrats won’t roll over to McConnell.

“He’s a pretty good actor,” scoffed Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is close to McConnell and works out with Schumer in the Senate gym. “He thinks this is what’s required of him to be the Democratic leader: Fight the good fight, put on a good show. I think he knows what the outcome is going to be.”

Still, there’s no question that Schumer’s letter to McConnell has disrupted the Republican leaders’ “nothing-to-see-here” impeachment narrative and the party strategy to ignore witnesses at the outset — and call them in later if there are 51 votes for it. Republicans are now back to debating witnesses, though many say Schumer will end up with Hunter Biden testifying before the Senate if he’s not careful.

But those aren’t the votes Schumer and McConnell are worried about. The two political combatants are really scrapping for a handful of Senate Republicans who may feel compelled to request new documents and witness testimony that the House did not receive. And one of those pivotal senators, Susan Collins of Maine, is clearly annoyed by Schumer.

While Collins said she would never echo McConnell’s sentiment of “total coordination” with the White House on the trial, she said Schumer’s behavior is “not a promising sign.”

“I would not have done that,” Collins said of McConnell’s vow to acquit Trump and work with the White House. “But Sen. Schumer’s move is such a typical, inappropriate approach that it indicates that he’s not really sincerely interested in negotiation.”

In addition to Collins, Democrats believe Republican senators like Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee could potentially support Schumer’s proposal. But none have explicitly backed bringing in acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney or Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton or demanding documents like administration emails sent after the Ukraine whistleblower came forward.

Clad in duckling-pattern socks and at one point raiding an office holiday chocolate pack for a cappuccino treat, Schumer is relaxed in the interview but cautious about leaning too hard publicly on his Republican colleagues. At this stage for the voluble Schumer, saying too much could backfire.

He won’t comment on the politics of impeachment for incumbent Republicans like Collins but is acutely aware of the polling showing voters want impeachment trials. He says he’s discussed impeachment with Republicans, though he won’t disclose their names.

Clearly his strategy is multifaceted. He wants to win a majority of senators to subpoena documents and witnesses. But he also is putting Republicans in a bind by forcing them to either break with Trump or essentially dismiss hearing any new information about Trump’s decision to delay aid to Ukraine and request investigations into Joe Biden – the basis of the House’s two articles of impeachment.

The “bottom line is that our Republican friends have a choice, not just Mitch McConnell but all of them,” Schumer said. “Do they want the facts to come out, or do they want to cover up the truth?”

While Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin said that the Democrats didn’t sign off on every detail of Schumer’s strategy, the party is sticking with him.

“He didn’t preclear it, although he told us he was thinking about the whole issue,” the Illinois senator said. “And so far it’s been a totally positive response.”

Democratic senators say Schumer has focused his messaging to the caucus more on the historical context and weight of impeachment, as opposed to discussing the politics of the impeachment trial. At a caucus lunch this month, Schumer gave a presentation on impeachment that included video clips from President Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial. He’s sternly reminded them they will be sitting for hours unable to talk, tweet or do much other than listen.

Jones, who faces a tough re-election bid for his Alabama Senate seat, said he’s only spoken to Schumer about the impeachment process and that his reelection “has never come up” in those talks.

“There’s not a single message about ‘we need to stick together to do x’ or ‘we need this outcome,’” Jones said. “It’s just not that discussion. Not on our side, I think it’s different on the other side.”

Manchin, who broke with his party last year to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and could be a wildcard on impeachment, said Schumer hasn’t been working to win him over one way or the other: “No, no, no and hell no.”

Sinema’s office did not comment on her view of Schumer’s strategy and she rarely goes to party lunches, anyway. But Schumer allies said they could corroborate the lack of dissent among Democrats and his light touch.

“One of the reasons that Leader Schumer has been able to keep us together is that he rarely hammers anybody,” said Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii. “The best way to keep the caucus together is to just make the best possible argument and allow people to be attracted to that argument as opposed to old fashioned arm-twisting.”

In putting forth his argument, Schumer talks about how he will be remembered in history books and his legacy as Democratic leader. It’s an indication he’s aware of the scrutiny he’s getting now as a party leader renowned for his messaging and political acumen — and that despite his determination, the next few weeks are fraught with uncertainty.

“I don’t know how it’s going to end,” he said. “But I am confident of the path we are on.”

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U.S. judge blasts FBI over handling of wiretap applications of ex-Trump campaign adviser

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge blasted the FBI on Tuesday for repeatedly submitting applications to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page that were riddled with errors and omissions, and ordered the government to inform the court on how it plans to reform the process.

FILE PHOTO: One-time advisor of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump Carter Page addresses the audience during a presentation in Moscow, Russia, December 12, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

The scathing order here from Rosemary Collyer, the presiding judge over the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, marks the first time the court has responded to the controversy, which became public last week with the release of a report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

Horowitz’s probe scrutinized the FBI’s actions in the early stages of its investigation into contacts between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, known as Operation Crossfire Hurricane. The investigation was later handed off to Special Counsel Robert Muller, who was appointed in May 2017.

Horowitz concluded that while there was no evidence of political bias, the FBI’s original application to wiretap Page and its three subsequent renewal requests contained errors and omissions, including failing to inform the court that Page had served as a source for another U.S. intelligence agency.

Horowitz found that a former low-level FBI attorney also doctored an email that claimed the opposite – saying that Page in fact was not a source for the other agency, which Reuters has since identified as the CIA.

“The FBI’s handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor,” Collyer wrote in her Dec. 17 order.

“The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable,” she wrote.

The judge gave the government until Jan. 10 to file a submission outlining “what it has done, and plans to do, to ensure that the statement of facts in each FBI application accurately and completely reflects information possessed by the FBI that is material to any issue presented by the application.”

The FBI, in a statement, said that Director Chris Wray feels the conduct of certain FBI employees described in Horowitz’s report is “unacceptable and unrepresentative of the FBI as an institution.”

“The director has ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the report’s recommendations,” the bureau said, adding that the FBI is committed to working with the court and the Justice Department “to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) process.”

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Montana casino shooting kills 3; police kill suspected gunman

Three people died during a shooting in a Montana casino early Tuesday and the suspected gunman was killed by police hours later, officials said.

The shooting occurred at 2 a.m. in the Emerald City Casino in Great Falls, the Great Falls Police Department said in a statement.

Police responders found the three victims inside the casino upon arrival. The gunman was killed by police just before 6 a.m. in a residential neighborhood a mile away from the casino, according to police.


A shooting at the Emerald City Casino in Great Falls, Mont., left three people dead early Tuesday.

A shooting at the Emerald City Casino in Great Falls, Mont., left three people dead early Tuesday.
(Google Maps)

“The response from the Great Falls Police Department was almost immediate,” Great Falls Police Superintendent Tom Moore told the Great Falls Tribune.

The identity of the suspect and a motive for the shooting were not released. An elementary school near where the suspect was killed canceled classes and rescheduled a holiday concert.


A fourth person injured in the shooting was recovering at the Benefits Hospital from his injuries, police said.

A hospital spokesperson told The Associated Press the victim was in stable condition. The shooting is being investigated by local and federal officials.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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