Review Category : National News

JetBlue Passenger Arrested After Using Lighter to Ignite Onboard Blankets, FBI Says

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A passenger on board a Puerto Rico-bound JetBlue aircraft was arrested Tuesday after setting fire to two blankets with a lighter, the FBI announced.

According to a statement released Wednesday by the FBI’s field office in San Juan, Puerto Rico, passenger Idializ Gomez “utilized a lighter to ignite and successfully damage two blankets and a portion of the in-flight control panel of the seat next to hers” on JetBlue flight # 745.

Gomez boarded the aircraft — which was bound for Ponce, Puerto Rico — at approximately 12:43 a.m. at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

At approximately 4:31 a.m., the aircraft landed in Ponce, and Gomez was detained by police. She was then placed in FBI custody.

The FBI charged and arrested Gomez for destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities, the federal agency said. It was unknown if Gomez has a lawyer.

“The incident is under investigation and we are cooperating with law enforcement,” JetBlue said in a statement. “Additional inquiries should be directed to the FBI.”

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Kidnapped Murder Victim Called Police From Inside the Trunk of Her Own Car

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A 47-year-old woman who was abducted at a gas station in Montana called police for help while locked inside the trunk of her own car before being found dead early Wednesday more than 300 miles away near Spokane, Washington.

Police say a suspect hit Rita Maze over the head by the side of the road in the town of Wolf Creek, forced her into the trunk and drove her to Spokane, where they believe she was killed, reports ABC Fox Montana, a local affiliate.

Roads closed here as SCSO investigates body of missing MT woman found dead in a car off of Geiger. @KHQLocalNews pic.twitter.com/h9xFa4ghEH

— Liz Burch (@KHQLiz) September 7, 2016

Maze was able to call law enforcement from inside the trunk and describe the details of her abduction, police say. Maze’s husband also notified police after she failed to come home as expected, ABC Fox Montana said.

Police tracked the woman’s whereabouts by using pings from local cell towers and authorities in Spokane identified the car using a license plate scanner.

Authorities believe she was abducted near Wolf Creek in MT traveling from Helena to Great Falls & died in Spokane area @KFBB @WakeUpMontana

— Alyssa Flores (@alyssa_flores) September 7, 2016

The Lewis and Clark County Sheriff in Montana says police in Spokane found Maze’s remains in the trunk of her black Pontiac Grand Prix. Investigators recovered Haze’s car around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. Authorities believe Maze was killed in Spokane, but a cause of death has not yet been released by the Spokane County coroner.

Body found about 12:30 am on 7600 block of Geiger. She was reported missing yesterday in Montana @KHQLocalNews pic.twitter.com/E1joRuFqqS

— Liz Burch (@KHQLiz) September 7, 2016

Deputies say they have identified a person of interest after investigators gathered identifying information from surveillance video, ABC Fox Montana reports. Authorities are currently asking for the community’s help in identifying the suspect. Police say they do not believe the suspect had any connection to Maze.

LCSO says 47 year old Rita Maze from Great Falls is the woman found in the trunk of the vehicle in the Spokane area @KFBB @WakeUpMontana

— Alyssa Flores (@alyssa_flores) September 7, 2016

The Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI are all collaborating on the case.

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Tensions Mount as Native American Tribe Fights to Block Oil Pipeline

ABC News(MORTON COUNTY, N.D.) — A multibillion-dollar pipeline being built through land claimed by Native Americans to be culturally sensitive has sparked outrage, protest and heartbreak among tribe members who say sacred sites are being “bulldozed.”

A judge ordered a temporary halt to construction on part of the 1,172-mile Dakota Access pipeline after tensions between protesters and workers escalated over the weekend. Witnesses say private security workers unleashed pepper spray and pit bulls on a crowd of men, women, and some children who were protesting the pipeline over the weekend. But authorities say the protesters became aggressive, nearly overwhelming the workers and security at the construction site. The Morton County Sheriff’s Office told ABC News that three workers were injured by protesters; tribal officials reported that 30 protesters were hit with by pepper spray and 12 more were bitten by dogs.

It was an escalation following months of demonstrations over the controversial pipeline whose fate will be decided in court later this week.

“These were grave sites and these were these people’s ancestors buried here,” Dallas Goldtooth, who said he witnessed the protest, told ABC News. “What happened on Saturday was that Dakota Access bulldozed right through a sacred site.” Goldtooth added that the conflict escalated quickly when Dakota Access workers plowed through what was believed to be a newly discovered sacred site on private land before state officials could come and survey the area.

The tribe also expressed deep concern in court docs for potential contamination to their drinking water supply.

Construction for the Dakota Access pipeline began about a half mile north of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation in North Dakota earlier this summer. Dakota Access then voluntarily halted some construction after the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit, claiming that the Army Corps of Engineers had not adequately consulted them before granting permits to the builder.

Lawyers for the Army Corp of Engineers and Dakota Access argued in court documents that they complied with a standard review process. A judge will rule in the case by this Friday, but in the meantime members of the tribe have been protesting the construction in other areas they say are also sacred sites, like the one where Saturday’s incident took place. Construction there has now been halted as well after the tribe sought a temporary restraining order following this past weekend’s clash.

Wyn Hornbuckle, a Justice Department spokesperson, told ABC News today that he could not comment on behalf of the Army Corp of Engineers for a case that is still in litigation, but that the Army Corps supported the temporary restraining order that the tribe sought following Saturday’s incident.

“As stated in the filing by the United States, the Army Corps acknowledges that the public interest would be best served by preserving peace near Lake Oahe until the Court can rule on the Tribe’s motion for preliminary injunction, and therefore does not oppose the Tribes’ request for a temporary restraining order,” Hornbuckle said in an email.

Dakota Access says on its website that it expects the pipeline will transport about 470,000 barrels of oil every day from North Dakota’s Bakken and Three Forks production areas through South Dakota, Iowa and into Illinois, while also creating thousands of construction jobs and generating millions in tax revenue for those four states. “The pipeline will enable domestically produced light sweet crude oil from North Dakota to reach major refining markets in a more direct, cost-effective, safer and environmentally responsible manner,” the website says.

But Native American leaders argue they were not adequately consulted regarding the pipeline’s route, and they are concerned for the environmental consequences and the impact on groundwater.

“Native Americans throughout history have been the stewards of the land and we have been warning mainstream America about the destruction that they are doing and that it is not going to last,” Tribal Chairman David Archambault II of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe told ABC News. “We have to protect the water, we have to protect the earth from destruction.

“What we are concerned about is our future generations, our youth, and what we do today is going to impact them,” Archambault, who spoke to ABC News prior to Saturday’s incident, added.

But the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s problem with the pipeline goes beyond environmental concerns, Archambault said, explaining that the pipeline’s route goes through Native American sacred sites.

“Our culture and our spirituality is tied to Mother Earth,” Archambault said. “In order for our kids to have an identity of who they are, our ancestors left significant sites for us,” he added, saying that the construction process so far has shown a complete disregard for these culturally and spiritually significant sites.

“It is time that indigenous lands be recognized by the federal government and the corporate world,” said Archambault, who emphasized prior to this weekend that the demonstrations against the pipeline have been peaceful. Archambault has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment following Saturday’s incident.

But Donnell Preskey, a spokesperson for the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, told ABC News that Saturday’s protest was not peaceful.

“The people involved in the protest have been saying that this is a peaceful event. What we’re saying is that what happened on Saturday is in no way a peaceful event. They trespassed,” Preskey told ABC News. “There were 300 protesters and only 14 private security officers.”

Preskey added that some of the protesters were armed with sticks or flagpoles, and although no arrests have been made, the whole incident is still under investigation.

“Some of the misconceptions that are out there is that the construction is happening on the reservation. It is happening on private landowners’ properties and they have given the right to Dakota Access pipeline,” Preskey said, adding that the protest has put law enforcement in a difficult situation.

“Dakota Access pipeline has every legal right to be doing the work that they are doing. As law enforcement, our job is to make sure that they can do their work safely and that protesters can protest safely. Law enforcement has been caught in the middle.”

Goldtooth said that the protesters were just trying to prevent a sacred site from getting demolished. “They went and tried to stop the bulldozers,” he said. “They went up to the fence with their hands up trying to stop them. … It was kind of chaotic … [but] after a while people backed up.”

Dakota Access did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Last week, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe received support from the United Nations Chair of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Alvaro Pop Ac, and Dalee Dorough and Chief Edward John, members of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, who said that the tribe’s actions may be “misunderstood.”

“Thousands of indigenous peoples from different nations have gathered in the Sacred Stone Spirit camp, in North Dakota, to block construction of the pipeline. Actions such as these tend to occur in different parts of the world and are often misunderstood and described as rebellious, backward thinking and unilateral opposition to development,” the statement said.

“For indigenous peoples, the environment is a living entity that contains our life sources as well as our sacred sites and heritage. The environment is an important part of our lives and any threats to it impacts our families, ancestors and future generations. It is therefore imperative that the United States respects and recognizes the intrinsic, inter-related rights of Sioux and their spiritual traditions, history, philosophy, and especially their rights to their lands and territories,” the U.N. group continued. “The world is watching what is happening in North Dakota.”

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Mystery Couple Captured in Stunning Yosemite Sunset Photograph Identified

Mike Karas (@mike.karas)(NEW YORK) — The mystery couple captured in a stunning photograph during sunset at Yosemite National Park in California has been identified.

Michael Karas, a 31-year-old amateur photographer from Honolulu, Hawaii, snapped the gorgeous shot of the two people in a tuxedo and a wedding dress last Thursday while touring the park on vacation.

At the time, he had no idea who they were.

“I was shooting that area for sunset already when they walked out on the ledge,” Karas explained on Instagram. “As someone who enjoys tying to capture life’s amazing moments and landscapes I didn’t hesitate to snap away. It was a surreal moment.”

After taking the photos of the couple, Karas told ABC News he tried to “make it over to where they were” to share his photos, but by the time he got there, “they were already gone.”

So he posted one of photos he took to his Instagram account the following day, in the hopes that social media users could connect him with the couple.

The photo quickly went viral, garnering thousands of likes. On Wednesday evening, the romantic mystery was finally solved.

“I had been back in Honolulu at my regular day job as an Allstate adjuster, and I was going about my day,” Karas told ABC News today. “At the same time, I was trying to sift through all the comments I was getting on the photo to see if there was any word on the couple.”

Later in the day, he said he confirmed that the couple in his photograph were Catherine Mack and Rick Donald, both actors who were once series regulars on the Australian TV series “Home and Away.”

Karas was tagged by someone in the comments section of his photo that Mack re-posted to her Instagram account.

“This special moment was caught by Mike Karas who we don’t know (at all),” Mack wrote in the caption. “[H]e was just taking a sunset shot and we happened to wander into it. Thanks for looking for us far and wide, you certainly caught our attention.”

Karas said he was “so relieved and stoked” that Mack and her husband were “happy and excited about the photo.” He added that he got in touch with Mack over the phone shortly after seeing her post.

Mack told ABC News today she “thought the whole situation was quite hilarious” and that she and Donald were “so happy to get his amazing photo.”

“It was a really special day and special time in our lives,” she said, adding that the photo captured a moment after their wedding, which was that day.

Both the couple and photographer are now gearing up for new adventures.

Mack said she and her husband were flying to Paris today and Karas said he had a trip scheduled to Moraine Lake in Canada in two weeks.

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Two Single-Engine Planes Collide Midair in Georgia

ABC News(CARROLTON, Ga.) — Two single-engine aircraft collided in midair at the West Georgia Regional Airport in Carrollton, Georgia, today, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“The FAA will investigate and the NTSB will determine the cause of the accident,” the aviation authority said in a statement.

The crash took place near the end of the airport runway.

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Excavation Underway at Cal Poly for Student Kristin Smart, Who Disappeared in 1996

ABC News(SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.) — It has been 20 years since 19-year-old Kristin Smart, a freshman at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, disappeared after a party near school. Now, an excavation project is underway on campus in the hopes of finding her remains.

Smart was last seen early in the morning on May 25, 1996, returning home toward her dorm after a party near the San Luis Obispo campus, according to reports.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson told reporters Tuesday that he hopes the new search, officially beginning Wednesday morning, leads to her body or evidence of it.

The digging effort is on part of a hillside on campus, near the Cal Poly “P” landmark, the San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s office said, a result of a lead that “was developed over the past two years that strongly suggested” her remains might be buried there.

Human remains detection dogs from the FBI searched the area in January of this year and alerted “locations of interest” in that area of campus, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Authorities are also looking at several other locations that have not been disclosed, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Parkinson said the operation will last a few days.

The excavation is happening now so it won’t interfere with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s fall quarter, which begins Sept. 22. The city of San Luis Obispo, with a population of about 47,000, is along the Central California coast, about 200 miles north of Los Angeles.

The sheriff said he spoke to the Smart family Tuesday and the Sheriff’s Office said her family “has been kept apprised and is supportive of this new development.”

Parkinson said, “Until it’s done, we want to continue to manage our expectations. We’re hoping that we find something and we’re committed to not stopping until we’re able to bring this to a closure.”

“It is our hope and desire this leads to some of the answers,” Parkinson said. “We’ll not give up.”

The sheriff said authorities are not any closer to making an arrest than they were in the past.

Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier told ABC News: “Our hearts continue to go out to the family of Kristin Smart. We cannot imagine the pain they have endured over the years and hope this investigation leads to answers.”

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29-Year-Old Protest Leader Found Dead in Burning Car in St. Louis

Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) — A 29-year-old man who was found dead in a burning car in St. Louis, Missouri, early Tuesday was identified on social media as a protest leader.

Police responded to a 911 call of a car on fire just before 2 a.m., according to the St. Louis Police Department. Once the fire was extinguished, police identified the driver as St. Louis resident Darren Seals. According to police, Seals’ body had a gunshot wound.

After the news of Seals’ death broke, people took to social media to post tributes to his life, with several calling him a “leader” who “fought hard for what he believed in.”

Seals was active in the 2014 protests in Ferguson following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. He wrote an essay for MTV News detailing what it was like to hold Brown’s mother as she cried in his arms after a grand jury announced that Wilson would not be indicted in Brown’s death.

“We already knew what the decision would be, but at the same time it still hurt to hear it,” he wrote. “That was the ultimate slap in the face.”

Seals’ last tweet Monday afternoon touched on the controversy surrounding San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to stand during the national anthem in a protest against police brutality.

Police could not confirm that Seals was a Black Lives Matter organizer, according to St. Louis County Police Public Information Coordinator Sergeant Shawn McGuire. Police are investigating his death as a homicide, McGuire said.

Representatives for Black Lives Matter did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Editor’s Note: St. Louis police spelled Seals’ first name as “Daren” in the police report. Seals’ social media accounts spell his first name as “Darren.”

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Bear Caught on Video Dangling From Homeowner’s Deck

DigitalVision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A Colorado homeowner captured on camera the moment a bear was able to pull itself onto her elevated deck by using its mouth.

The bear can be seen in the video dangling from the deck with only its front two paws. After trying unsuccessfully to get a better grasp on the deck, the bear finally pushed himself up enough to be able to clasp its jaw onto one of the railings.

The bear then scooted himself up to stand on his hind legs and looked around the deck, and down below, before jumping over the railing and onto the deck.

The video shot by the homeowner, who was not identified, was shared by San Francisco ABC station KGO-TV.

The homeowner told KGO-TV she occasionally sees bears in the area but never up close on her deck. The bear eventually wandered off the property.

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Woman Rescues Swimmers Caught in Rip Current in Lake Michigan

Jont Muni(NEW YORK) — A former lifeguard rescued two swimmers who were pulled out by a strong rip current while swimming in Lake Michigan this Labor Day.

Sherri Talcott, 51, told ABC News that she was walking along Pere Marquette Beach near Muskogen, Michigan when she noticed a young boy far out in the water. She then saw another individual, who she believed was his father, swimming out after him.

Talcott, who grew up in Muskogen, said she could tell they were in distress and too far from shore.

“I threw my daughter my phone and I said ‘Call 911, find a life jacket,'” Talcott said, before swimming out after them. They were at least the length of “a football field, maybe two,” out in the water, she said.

“The waves were getting over my head,” Talcott said, describing the conditions where she found the boy.

“He was in a panic, but he calmed down really quickly when I gave him the life jacket,” Talcott said about the boy. “As we tried to swim out of the rip current the young boy said, ‘I don’t know how to swim very well, I only know how to tread water. And the father was just in shock.'”

“I am local of the area, so I am pretty familiar with lake Michigan and the water,” Talcott added. “That is the most important thing to me, that it gets out there the dangers of the rip current near the piers.”

A boater arrived shortly after, lifting the three onto the boat and taking them to shore.

Talcott said she could not emphasize enough how dangerous the rip currents are in Lake Michigan. “My grandfather was a marine and he taught us all how to swim in lake Michigan, so I am extremely aware of the currents,” Talcott said.

She said besides some sore biceps she emerged from the incident unscathed. She said local authorities assured her that the boy and father, who she did not know, were also doing well.

Jonathan Mooney was walking along the beach on Monday and caught the entire rescue on film. “I’d been out taking photographs, I had a camera in my hands so I just turned it on,” Mooney told ABC News.

“I was just walking back from the pier and noticed a young man swimming, he was trying to swim to shore but he was obviously getting swept out. Sherri and her family were walking towards me and asked if he was in trouble and I was like, ‘I am not sure, but it kind of looks like it,'” Mooney said, “She grabbed a life jacket and went out there with no hesitation, she just took off.”

Mooney, who also grew up in Muskogen, also emphasized the dangers of the lake, that many tourists are not aware of, “Lake Michigan is no different from the ocean, people don’t understand that when they come for vacation.”

“They were very lucky. I’m glad she took off after them. I don’t think they would have made it. I was happy for her. I just thought it was amazing she didn’t hesitate,” Mooney added.

The U.S. Coast Guard Station in Muskogen said they had responded to a call from dispatch reporting that there were two people in the water off of Pere Marquette Beach. One of their boat crews responded, but a civilian boat had already had the people on board.

“They were brought on the civilian boat to our station and we contacted EMS. Two of our crew members rendered basic first aid,” Petty Officer First Class Deandre Burks of the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Muskogen told ABC News.

“Our thoughts on the case are what that woman did was very brave, she’s a good Samaritan, it’s a good person that’ll go out there and put her life in harm’s way for two individuals,” Burks added, “It was a matter of life and death for those individuals, really.”

Burks said the two who were rescued did not report any serious injuries or require hospitalization.

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Excavation Underway at Cal Poly for Student Kristin Smart, Who Disappeared in 1996

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — It has been 20 years since 19-year-old Kristin Smart, a freshman at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, disappeared after a party near school. Now, an excavation project is underway on campus in the hopes of finding her remains.

Smart was last seen early in the morning on May 25, 1996, returning home toward her dorm after a party near the San Luis Obispo campus, according to The Associated Press.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson told reporters Tuesday that he hopes the new search, officially beginning this morning, leads to her body or evidence of it.

The digging effort is on part of a hillside on campus, near the Cal Poly “P” landmark, the San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s office said, a result of a lead that “was developed over the past two years that strongly suggested” her remains might be buried there.

Human remains detection dogs from the FBI searched the area in January of this year and alerted “locations of interest” in that area of campus, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Authorities are also looking at several other locations that have not been disclosed, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Parkinson said the operation will last a few days.

The excavation is happening now so it won’t interfere with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s fall quarter, which begins Sept. 22. The city of San Luis Obispo, with a population of about 47,000, is along the Central California coast, about 200 miles north of Los Angeles.

The sheriff said he spoke to the Smart family Tuesday and the Sheriff’s Office said her family “has been kept apprised and is supportive of this new development.”

Parkinson said, “Until it’s done, we want to continue to manage our expectations. We’re hoping that we find something and we’re committed to not stopping until we’re able to bring this to a closure.”

“It is our hope and desire this leads to some of the answers,” Parkinson said. “We’ll not give up.”

The sheriff said authorities are not any closer to making an arrest than they were in the past.

Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier told ABC News: “Our hearts continue to go out to the family of Kristin Smart. We cannot imagine the pain they have endured over the years and hope this investigation leads to answers.”

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