‘Horrific massacre’

Four people are dead, including a 9-year-old boy, in a mass shooting in Southern California. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is more than 90% effective against COVID-19. And a lawsuit levies new accusations of rape against Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein.

👋 Hey y’all, it’s Laura. Here’s Thursday’s news, just for you.

But first, we’re changing our name to the Long List! 🥳 Just kidding. It’s April Fools’ Day, and I’m terrible at jokes. Here’s something that isn’t a prank: It’s National Burrito Day. Go forth, get free burritos.

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Police barred from shooting by locked gates 

Police in Orange, California, are searching for answers after a gunman killed four people at an office building Wednesday evening. Police say Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, 44, locked gated entries, hindering police from accessing the site. When officials made their way through the gates, they found a 9-year-old boy among the four dead. “It appears that a little boy died in his mother’s arms as she was trying to save him during this horrific massacre,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said. The suspect and a woman were injured by gunshots and are hospitalized. Police say the suspect had a business and personal relationship with each victim.

  • “Why does this keep happening?” Mass shootings in Boulder and Atlanta expose loopholes, weaknesses in gun laws.

Police officers had trouble getting into a building where four people, including a child, were killed in a shooting in Orange, Calif. (Photo: Patrick T. Fallon, AFP via Getty Images)

💉 90% effective 

You know that Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine you keep hearing about? It works pretty well. According to a clinical trial, volunteers remained more than 90% protected against symptomatic COVID-19 and even better protected against severe disease six months after getting a second dose. There were no serious safety concerns among the volunteers who are at least six months past their second dose, but many had typical, short-term side effects such as fatigue and sore arms. The study showed the vaccine is also effective against a virus variant first identified in South Africa. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been administered nearly 77 million times in the USA, and the new data should help it meet the criteria set by the FDA for full approval. 

Garry Garff receives his Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination March 10 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP)

What everyone’s talking about

  • Hunter Biden says he was “smoking crack every 15 minutes,” more jaw-dropping moments from memoir “Beautiful Things.”
  • Wondering where the money would be spent in Joe Biden’s $2T infrastructure and jobs plan? We got you.
  • Suez Canal saga continues:Cost of crisis rises to more than $1B – and Ever Given’s captain isn’t talking.
  • After 33 years in Division I, UNC men’s basketball coach Roy Williams announces his retirement. 
  • First Jim Crow. Now SB 2020. In Georgia, voter suppression has always been a concern for Black voters.
  • Smuggler recorded “viciously” dropping girls off a border wall, leaving them alone in the desert, officials say.
  • Fallout continues at LSU: Staffer who was lenient with rapists, stalkers is under investigation.

Chauvin trial continues

After sitting through hours of police body camera videos Wednesday, jurors in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin listened to testimony from two paramedics who said George Floyd appeared to be in medical distress or dead when they arrived at the scene. Courteney Ross, who dated Floyd, recounted how she met him. On the witness stand Thursday: 

  • Sgt. David Pleoger, a recently retired Minneapolis police officer, testified about his experience the day Floyd died.
  • Jeremy Norton, a Minneapolis Fire Department captain, told witnesses what he saw when he responded to the scene.
  • Derek Smith, a paramedic with Hennepin County EMS, said, “I thought he was dead. I told my partner, I think he’s dead, and I want to move this out of here.”
  • Seth Bravinder, Smith’s partner paramedic, told jurors he “assumed there was potentially some struggle still since they were still on top of him.” 
  • Ross gave a glimpse of Floyd’s personal life, including times good and bad.

Jurors have heard from 15 witnesses to the death of George Floyd, and several have cried on the stand, describing their attempts to intervene on his behalf. Floyd, a Black man, died in police custody May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pinned his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

  • Derek Chauvin used force against suspects before Floyd. The jury won’t hear about 6 of those incidents. 

Courteney Ross, who was in a relationship with George Floyd for about three years, became emotional when discussing their relationship. (Photo: USA TODAY)

🎶 Take me out to the ball game

The crack of the bat in your ears, the smell of peanuts and Cracker Jack in your nose, the sense of promise in your heart that comes with every new season: It’s the most wonderful day of the year. Opening day 2021 for Major League Baseball. Two of Thursday’s games were postponed: one because of weather and the other over COVID-19 concerns. But after the first pitch of the Yankees-Blue Jays game in the Bronx, the 2021 MLB season is officially underway in ballparks that will actually hold (some) fans during the regular season, a departure from the 60-game campaign MLB played last year. Catch up on scores updates and highlights from opening day with our live coverage. Play ball!

  • Why 2021 is MLB’s “most anticipated opening day ever.”
  • 2021 MLB expert predictions: Can the Dodgers win another World Series?

Real quick 

  • Unfounded election fraud claims promoted by the founder of a firm hired to conduct Arizona election audit.
  • “Like the festival but without the people”:Glastonbury Festival will livestream shows, including Haim and Coldplay. 
  • A 28-year ban on yoga in Alabama’s public schools is still in place, for now.
  • Over 55,000 animals are believed to be deadafter fire breaks out at a pig farm in Germany.
  • How did wealthy people cut in line for vaccines? VIP pop-up clinics.
  • As we head back to work and school, what will happen to our pets?

Lawsuit: Epstein, Maxwell raped woman

According to a lawsuit filed last week, a South Florida woman was hired to go to Jeffrey Epstein’s Palm Beach home in January 2008 to cut his hair, but when she arrived, he was naked and raped her with assistance from Ghislaine Maxwell. The woman, who is identified only as “Jane Doe,” was repeatedly raped and assaulted in front of her young son by Epstein and Maxwell at a hotel in Naples, Florida, according to the suit. “(Epstein) told her in explicit detail that, as had happened to other women in the past, she would end up in this body of water and be devoured by alligators should she ever reveal what Epstein had done to her,’’ it says. Maxwell pleaded not guilty to charges brought a year after Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges. He killed himself at a Manhattan federal lockup in August 2019.

  • Ghislaine Maxwell charged with sex traffickingas federal prosecutors expand indictment.
  • “Gone, but justice still must be served”:Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers say they feel robbed.

A break from the news

  • 🤪 From Velveeta skin care to Bud Light pizza seltzer, ridiculous April Fools’ pranks have been embraced by companies this year.
  • 💰 Retirement savers in their 40s have this median balance. How do you compare?
    🐣 Don’t stop with the egg hunt:How to plan an egg-cellent outdoor Easter gathering!
  • 👀 Google sees a lot.Here’s how to see the secrets it knows about you – and erase them.
  • 🍃 April is Stress Awareness Month. Your body might be trying to tell you something. Here’s how to listen.

This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Want this news roundup in your inbox every night? Sign up for The Short List newsletter here.

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