Review Category : National News

Passenger who forced Honolulu emergency landing tells FBI ‘we all have’ terroristic thoughts

iStock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) — The Turkish national who forced the emergency landing of American Airlines flight 31 in Honolulu on Friday allegedly told FBI agents “we all have” terroristic ideas, and pantomimed shooting an agent during his interview, according to a criminal complaint filed in Hawaii on Monday.

En route from Los Angeles to Honolulu, 25-year-old Anil Uskanli alarmed passengers and crewmembers while acting “strange,” forcing the pilot lock down the flight deck and prompting the U.S. Pacific Command to send two F-22 fighter jets to escort the aircraft into Hawaii.

F22’s taking off from Honolulu to escort American Airlines flight 31 #Hawaii pic.twitter.com/8cauepQ7Yt

— Anthony Quintano 🌴 (@AnthonyQuintano) May 19, 2017

“We all have those ideas,” he said when asked if he ever had terroristic thoughts.

According to the complaint, Uskanli boarded the plane without any luggage, carrying only a phone, laptop, charger, and miscellaneous items in his pockets.

Not long after he was arrested for misdemeanor trespassing at LAX after breaching a security door while under the influence, crew escorted him down the jet bridge in a wheelchair.

Once aboard the Airbus 321, he plopped into a seat in first class. At a flight attendant’s repeated urging, Uskanli eventually moved to 35B, his assigned seat.

After the flight took off, Uskanli began repeatedly moving his laptop from the seatback pocket to the space under the seat, “uttering things and talking to himself,” one passenger told FBI agents.

He then got up to use the lavatory, but failed to lock the door, the complaint adds. When another passenger attempted to enter the lavatory, Uskanli allegedly began “yelling and pounding on the walls.”

After flight attendants escorted him back to his seat, they found what appeared to be cigarette pieces around the toilet.

A short time later, Uskanli “wrapped a blanket around his head, picked up his laptop,” and shuffled towards the front of the aircraft.

A flight attendant used a beverage cart to block the aisle, but Uskanli shoved back, then set his laptop on the cart, triggering immediate alarm among the crew. The flight attendant was concerned following reports that terrorists are attempting to target aircraft with explosives concealed inside electronics, the complaint explains.

While an off-duty law enforcement officer steered Uskanli back to his seat, a flight attendant barricaded the laptop in the rear of the aircraft — standard procedure for handling a possible explosive device. To further mitigate the impact of a potential in-flight bomb, the pilot descended to 5,000 feet, according to the complaint.

Uskanli was restrained with duct tape, witnesses say.

Upon landing, Uskanli was escorted off the flight by law enforcement, and bomb technicians and canine units seized the laptop and secured the plane. No explosives were found inside the laptop, authorities say.

Uskanli’s urinalysis came back positive for benzodiazepine. Other field sobriety tests indicated he may have been high on stimulants or cannabis, according to the complaint.

During a post-incident interview with FBI agents, Uskanli “made a gun shape with his fingers and pretended to shoot,”simulated a ‘chopping motion'” at an agent’s neck, and threatened to kill a female agent, according to the complaint.

Asked if he planned to hurt anyone, he told agents, “it depends on the day.”

He was charged with interfering with a flight crew, and was scheduled to appear in court Monday.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Father of 18-year-old killed in Times Square crash writes emotional letter to daughter

Emilie Richardson/ABC News(NEW YORK) — The father of 18-year-old Alyssa Elsman, who was killed when a driver plowed into a crowd in New York’s Times Square last week, wrote an emotional letter to his daughter, saying, “I have a hole in my heart that can never be filled.”

The framed letter was placed at a memorial near the crash site.

“My world changed when you came into it and it is unexplainable with you leaving it,” wrote Thomas Elsman, father of Alyssa Elsman, a tourist from Michigan who was killed last Thursday when a driver sped into a crowd in Times Square. Alyssa Elsman’s 13-year-old sister was among the 20 people injured in the crash.

He wrote that his daughter “loved Times Square.”

“She would appreciate all your kind words but she would also tell us all to get back up and continue,” he added.

Read the full letter here:

“There is no words that can express our gratitude with the outpouring of love and support this city has shown us. Our medical staff, The NYPD and most of all YOU. This impromptu memorial dedicated to our daughter and seeing and talking to many of you has helped me cope with our loss. I have met so many people from different countries, religions, creeds etc……it doesn’t matter..you have shown us that when you remove bias..racism..and ignorance..WE ARE ALL ONE… Your condolences have been sincere and taken to heart. Please also remember there are 20 other families affected by this and please keep them in your thoughts too. Alyssa loved this city…she loved Times Square. She would appreciate all your kind words but she would also tell us all to get back up and continue. That’s how full of life my daughter was This city and our hearts are scarred, cut to the core, but in true New York City fashion..We will heal..We will prevail..and we will never forget. Alyssa Lynn Elsman… my beautiful 18 year old girl. I look at myself and will never understand how I could ever have made such an angel…Im glad you got your mothers looks….. I don’t know anything currently..I always have the answers..but I am blank…I have a hole in my heart that can never be filled. My world changed when you came into it and it is unexplainable with you leaving it. I love you kid. Just no words <3 Love you love you love you…. Dad"

The suspected driver, 26-year-old Richard Rojas, was taken into custody at the scene of the crash after he plowed through pedestrians from 42nd Street to 45th Street. He was arraigned on charges of murder, attempted murder and aggravated vehicular homicide. Rojas was remanded to custody and will next return to court on May 24. He has not yet formally entered a plea. His defense attorney declined to comment.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

FBI is not involved in Seth Rich case, officials say

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — FBI and other law enforcement officials are privately knocking down a conspiracy theory Monday, fueled by conservative commentators on Fox News, that seeks to divert attention from Russia’s involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee last year by suggesting a DNC staffer was murdered to cover up his involvement in passing the information to WikiLeaks.

According to officials with knowledge of the matter, the FBI is not investigating the unsolved murder of Seth Rich last year in what agents have determined was “a possible attempted robbery” gone wrong. Asked about the possible connection between Rich and WikiLeaks, one official told ABC News that “the only place I’ve seen that is through the conspiracy theories online.”

The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., continues to investigate his death as a homicide.

On July 10, 2016, the 27-year-old voter outreach coordinator was shot multiple times near his home in Washington, D.C., a few weeks before WikiLeaks published thousands of hacked emails from several DNC staff members.

Investigators determined that Rich had been the victim of an attempted robbery, but theories to the contrary first took hold when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange suggested Rich might have had a role, and WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information about his murder.

“Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material, and often very significant risk,” Assange said in an interview with the Dutch television program Nieuwsuur. “There’s a 27-year-old who works for the DNC, who was shot in the back, murdered.”

When pressed to explain his suggestion, Assange refused to identify Rich as a source, saying “we don’t comment on who our sources are.”

The theory resurfaced last week when a private investigator named Rod Wheeler who claimed to have been hired by the Rich family told Fox 5 DC that his sources within the FBI had told him that there was evidence suggesting Rich had contacted WikiLeaks before his death. He repeated the story in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity the following day.

“There was a federal investigator that was involved with the inside, a person that is very credible,” Wheeler told Hannity. “Very credible, and he said he laid eyes on that computer and he laid eyes on the case file. And he came across very credible. When you look at that with the totality of everything else that I found in this case, it’s very consistent for a person with my experience to begin to think, ‘Well, perhaps there were some email communications between Seth [Rich] and WikiLeaks.'”

Wheeler’s story changed in subsequent statements to other media outlets, prompting the local station to attach an editor’s note to its original story, acknowledging that Wheeler has “backtracked” on his claim that his information came from FBI sources.

That didn’t stop former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, however, from spreading the conspiracy theory in an appearance on Fox News Sunday a few days later.

“At the same time we have this very strange story now of this young man who worked for the Democratic National Committee who apparently was assassinated at 4:00 in the morning having given WikiLeaks something like 23,000, I’m sorry, 53,000 emails and 17,000 attachments,” Gingrich said. “Nobody is investigating that, and what does that tell you about what was going on, because it turns out it wasn’t the Russians, it was this young guy who I suspect was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee. He’s been killed and apparently nothing serious has been done to investigate his murder.”

The family, meanwhile, has sent Wheeler a cease and desist letter, and Brad Bauman, a family spokesperson, told ABC News that this latest report is just further proof of what the family already knows.

“So much of the conspiracy theory has been dependent on the allegation of federal investigators being involved, and the fact that the FBI has not and never had been involved with this investigation is critical to understanding just how false these conspiracy theories are,” Bauman said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

St. Louis 6-year-old calls for an end to violence in viral Facebook post

Courtesy Leanndra Cheatham(ST. LOUIS) — A poignant Facebook video is racking up views with its message of peace.

The messenger is “Lil J,” a 6-year-old boy who asks people to “stop killing each other” in the video that was posted by his mother, Leanndra Cheatham, one week ago.

Since that time, the video, which Cheatham told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was her son Jeffrey’s reaction to the drive-by-shooting death of her cousin, has received 80,000 views.

“I’m really serious,” the boy says before mentioning the drive-by-shooting. “Because I’m really scared to die. And, I’m really scared for my family to die.”

Cheatham calls the video a “PSA” in her post, and its message is in part a request for older people to pay attention to the impact violence has on children.

“I’m a kid,” the boy says at one point. “I’m not supposed to be knowing about all this stuff. I’m not supposed to be knowing about all these guns.”

Jeffery also passes along a message of faith in the video.

“God is my weapon,” he says to the camera.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

University of Maryland stabbing suspect held without bond

iStock/Thinkstock(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) — A white University of Maryland student accused of fatally stabbing a black man on campus was held without bond after he made his first appearance in court Monday via closed-circuit TV.

The FBI is investigating the fatal assault of Richard Collins III, a student at Bowie State University, as a possible hate crime.

The suspect, Sean Christopher Urbanski, has been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree assault.

Before the early Saturday morning attack on the University of Maryland campus, officials said Urbanski allegedly said to Collins, “Step left, step left, if you know what’s good for you.” The victim looked “puzzled” and “said no,” officials said. Urbanski then allegedly stabbed the victim in the chest, officials said.

Officials said Urbanski was a member of a Facebook group named “Alt-Reich.” The Associated Press said that in the group “members post disparaging material about African-Americans and others.”

Urbanski wore an orange jumpsuit Monday when he appeared via closed-circuit video from the Prince George’s County Correctional Facility. Urbanski’s attorney, William Brennan, said his client was intoxicated and incoherent and said he has no criminal record. Both of Urbanski’s parents were in court.

Brennan asked for a combination bond of money and an ankle GPS monitor. Brennan asked to restrict travel to Urbanski’s parents’ home and said his client would undergo alcohol and substance abuse treatment as well as a mental health evaluation.

The judge said she will allow Urbanski’s lawyers to research and evaluate the option of GPS monitoring, and in the meantime, he will be held without bond.

His preliminary hearing was scheduled for June 15.

Collins, who was recently commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army, was set to graduate this Tuesday from Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland, about 11 miles from the University of Maryland in College Park.

A candlelight vigil will be held at Bowie State University tonight for Collins and a moment of silence will be held during Tuesday’s graduation ceremony.

“Richie wouldn’t hurt a fly,” said Reverend Darryl Godlock of Calvert County Baptist Church, who is serving as a spokesperson for the Collins family. He called this a “random act of violence that has taken a young man as he’s about to start his career.”

Collins’ younger sister attends the University of Maryland, according to Godlock.

Bowie State University President Mickey Burnim said in a statement, “Our first thoughts of condolence go to the family for this tremendous loss of a son, who had the promise of a bright future. Our prayers of concern also extend to those within the Bowie State University community as we try to cope with this tragic loss of life.

“As we struggle to deal with our emotions, let’s find appropriate ways to express our sorrow and hope for justice,” Burnim added. “Let’s remember our words and actions have the power to heal and the power to hurt. Let’s strive to use our actions to bring comfort and peace.”

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh Statement said in a statement, “The horrific assault that took the life of a young man on our campus on Saturday morning has shocked, saddened, and angered our community and beyond.

“As we search for answers to this senseless crime, please continue to keep the family and friends of Lt. Collins, and the BSU community, in your thoughts and prayers,” Loh continued.

Loh added, “The safety of our campus community remains a top priority. UMPD has increased substantially its visible patrols, on and off campus. The Prince George’s County Police has also increased its patrols in the College Park community. UMPD is monitoring 24/7 the hundreds of video security cameras throughout the campus. The Department of Transportation Services has initiated NITE Ride, a curb-to-curb bus service that runs from dusk to 6 a.m.”

“However, increased police security is not sufficient,” Loh added. “We must all do more to nurture a climate — on campus and beyond — where we stand against hate, we fight against hate crimes, and we reaffirm the values that define us a university and as a democracy.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

University of Maryland stabbing suspect expected in court Monday

iStock/Thinkstock(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) — A bond hearing is scheduled for Monday for a white University of Maryland student accused of fatally stabbing a black man on campus.

The FBI is investigating the fatal assault of Richard Collins III, a student at Bowie State University, as a possible hate crime.

The suspect, Sean Christopher Urbanski, has been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree assault. Urbanski is scheduled to appear at the bond hearing Monday via closed circuit video from the Prince George’s County Correctional Facility.

Before the early Saturday morning attack on the University of Maryland campus, officials said Urbanski allegedly said to Collins, “Step left, step left, if you know what’s good for you.” The victim looked “puzzled” and “said no,” officials said. Urbanski then allegedly stabbed the victim in the chest, officials said.

Collins, who was recently commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army, was set to graduate this Tuesday from Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland, about 11 miles from the University of Maryland in College Park.

A candlelight vigil will be held at Bowie State University tonight for Collins and a moment of silence will be held during Tuesday’s graduation ceremony.

“Richie wouldn’t hurt a fly,” said Reverend Darryl Godlock of Calvert County Baptist Church, who is serving as a spokesperson for the Collins family. He called this a “random act of violence that has taken a young man as he’s about to start his career.”

Collins’ younger sister attends the University of Maryland, according to Godlock.

Bowie State University President Mickey Burnim said in a statement, “Our first thoughts of condolence go to the family for this tremendous loss of a son, who had the promise of a bright future. Our prayers of concern also extend to those within the Bowie State University community as we try to cope with this tragic loss of life.”

“As we struggle to deal with our emotions, let’s find appropriate ways to express our sorrow and hope for justice,” Burnim added. “Let’s remember our words and actions have the power to heal and the power to hurt. Let’s strive to use our actions to bring comfort and peace.”

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh Statement said in a statement, “The horrific assault that took the life of a young man on our campus on Saturday morning has shocked, saddened, and angered our community and beyond.”

“As we search for answers to this senseless crime, please continue to keep the family and friends of Lt. Collins, and the BSU community, in your thoughts and prayers,” Loh continued.

Loh added, “The safety of our campus community remains a top priority. UMPD has increased substantially its visible patrols, on and off campus. The Prince George’s County Police has also increased its patrols in the College Park community. UMPD is monitoring 24/7 the hundreds of video security cameras throughout the campus. The Department of Transportation Services has initiated NITE Ride, a curb-to-curb bus service that runs from dusk to 6 a.m.”

“However, increased police security is not sufficient,” Loh added. “We must all do more to nurture a climate — on campus and beyond — where we stand against hate, we fight against hate crimes, and we reaffirm the values that define us a university and as a democracy.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

FBI investigating whether UMD stabbing was ‘hate-based’

University of Maryland Police Department(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) — Federal investigators are trying to determine whether the weekend stabbing of a black college student in Maryland was racially motivated, authorities said Sunday.

Sean Urbanski, a 22-year-old University of Maryland student, has been charged with first and second-degree assault in the stabbing death of 23-year-old Richard Collins III, authorities said.

Police called the attack random and “totally unprovoked.”

The university’s police department said it asked the FBI to assist in the investigation after it discovered that Urbanski, who is white, belonged to a racist Facebook group called “Alt-Reich.”

“New information obtained today from witnesses and other sources has led law enforcement officials to consider a hate-bias motive in this case,” University of Maryland President Wallace Loh said in a statement Sunday. “To ensure a comprehensive investigation, UMPD today asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to provide technical and forensic expertise, which it agreed to do.“

Urbanski is being held without bond, according to police. He is due in court next month.

Collins, a student at Bowie State University, was visiting the UMD campus when he was stabbed in the chest by a man who he apparently did not know, according to police.

Collins was set to graduate on Tuesday and he had recently commissioned in the U.S. Army as second lieutenant, officials said.

Collins was waiting for an Uber with friends at around 3 a.m. when Urbanski allegedly approached him, screaming, according to officials.

Urbanski reportedly told the victim to “step left if you know what’s best for you,” according to police. Collins replied with “no” before Urbanski stabbed allegedly him once in the chest, authorities said.

College Park Police Chief David Mitchell said the attack has caused some students, particularly “students of color,” to fear for their safety on the campus.

“We’re seeing tension here. We’re doing our best to combat that,” said Mitchell while speaking at a press conference on Sunday. “We love our freedom and we are not giving it up.”

When asked if the university had previous knowledge of the hate group’s existence on campus, Mitchell stated that there is “a fine line here between criminal misconduct and first amendment free speech.” He said the university is looking into other students who may be involved with the Facebook group and their involvement on campus.

Officials said that they do not know yet if any drugs were in the suspect’s system but said they would seek to find out.

University of Maryland President Loh said the school has substantially increased visible patrols, on and off campus, but he said that is not enough.

“We must all do more to nurture a climate — on campus and beyond — where we stand against hate, we fight against hate crimes, and we reaffirm the values that define us a university and as a democracy,” he said. “We all grieve together for a promising life ended far too early.”

A vigil is scheduled for Collins on Monday evening at Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland.

“It is a tragic loss to see our national treasure, in the form of Lt. Collins, taken away from us in this manner,” FBI spokesman Gordon Johnson said at a press conference Sunday.

People who knew Collins described him as a “good young man” who was excited about his future.

Collins’ pastor, Darryl Godlock, said the victim’s family is taking the loss hard.

“The family is just devastated,” Godlock told ABC’s Washington, D.C. affiliate WJLA-TV on Sunday. “[T]his young man’s career was ready to excel.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

FBI investigating if deadly stabbing on campus was a hate crime

University of Maryland Police Department(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) — The FBI is now involved in the investigation of an “unprovoked” college campus killing.

Early Saturday morning, a black student from Bowie State University was stabbed to death on the University of Maryland campus near a bus stop outside Montgomery Hall at Regents Drive. The University of Maryland Police Department arrested Sean Christopher Urbanski, a 22-year-old white student at the school, in connection with the murder.

The victim has been identified as Richard Collins III, an ROTC student who was commissioned into the U.S. Army as a 2nd Lieutenant and set to graduate on Tuesday, according to ABC affiliate WJLA-TV.

Collins was waiting for an Uber with two friends, according to police, when Urbanski allegedly approached and stabbed him in the chest.

Urbanski faces three charges including murder and assault, police said in a news release.

Police said Saturday night that the attack was random and “totally unprovoked,” with the suspect and victim having “no prior relationship.”

At a press conference Sunday night, University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell said Urbanski was a member of an offensive Facebook group, named by the Washington Post as the ‘Alt-Reich: Nation’ group.”

The FBI said at the press conference it is trying to determine if Collins’ murder was a hate crime.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

University of Maryland student charged in deadly stabbing on campus

University of Maryland Police Department(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) — The FBI is now involved in the investigation of an “unprovoked” college campus killing.

Early Saturday morning, a black student from Bowie State University was stabbed to death on the University of Maryland campus near a bus stop outside Montgomery Hall at Regents Drive. The University of Maryland Police Department arrested Sean Christopher Urbanski, a 22-year-old white student at the school, in connection with the murder.

The victim has been identified as Richard Collins III, an ROTC student who was commissioned into the U.S. Army as a 2nd Lieutenant and set to graduate on Tuesday, according to ABC affiliate WJLA-TV.

Collins was waiting for an Uber with two friends, according to police, when Urbanski allegedly approached and stabbed him in the chest.

Urbanski faces three charges including murder and assault, police said in a news release.

Police said Saturday night that the attack was random and “totally unprovoked,” with the suspect and victim having “no prior relationship.”

Police were expected to be joined by the FBI at a press conference Sunday night due to “new information” in the investigation.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Notre Dame students walk out on Mike Pence during commencement speech

ABCNews.com(NOTRE DAME, Ind.) — A group of graduating seniors from the University of Notre Dame turned their backs on their own graduation ceremony in protest of Vice President Mike Pence, who gave their commencement address there on Sunday.

The protests, which were organized by a student activist group at Notre Dame called We Stand For, were staged in response to “marginalized people affected by Pence’s politics,” according to a Facebook post published by the group last week, which urged students to join them in the walk out.

“We invite all students, faculty, and families who will be attending the Commencement ceremony to walk out with us as we take back our graduation and show our dissatisfaction with the University’s selection of Mike Pence as honored speaker,” the group wrote. “We also will walk out in dignity and solidarity with all marginalized people affected by Pence’s politics, both on this campus and throughout our nation.”

Video of the protest shows students leaving the facility without any signs of disruption. Many of them were wearing rainbow colored accessories in solidarity with LGBTQ politics.

Walkout begins. @ABC57News pic.twitter.com/AEyz3bkcaB

— Hayley Fixler (@HayleyABC57) May 21, 2017

The speech marked a homecoming of sorts for Pence, who served as the governor of Indiana while many of the students who graduated Sunday were attending school there.

Aside from those who walked out on him, Pence was greeted warmly by the students, some of whom booed the protesters.

The vice president used the opportunity of the speech to advocate for free speech on college campuses, and criticize what he called “administration-sanctioned political correctness.”

“While this institution has maintained an atmosphere of civility and open debate, far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness — all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech,” he said in the address.

He called the atmosphere of policing speech “destructive of learning and the pursuit of knowledge.”

The vice president has received harsh criticism from LGBTQ activists, who view him as an opponent of their agenda. Pence is seen by some as a proponent of so-called gay conversion therapy, a highly controversial process of attempting to alter a person’s sexual preference, sometimes through physical abuse, that has been banned in multiple states.

As a candidate for Congress in the 1990s, Pence’s campaign website included a statement that fueled the belief that he was in support of conversion therapies for gay youths.

“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior,” the website said, under a header reading, “The Pence agenda.”

Asked about the campaign language, a spokesman for Pence told ABC News that Pence was calling for federal funds to “be directed to groups that promoted safe sexual practices” and said “any assertion that Vice President-elect Pence supported or advocated for conversion therapy is patently false and is a mischaracterization of language from a 16-year old campaign website.”

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump let stand an Obama-era order protecting the rights of some LGBT workers, and was widely regarded as being more accepting of LGBTQ issues than his running mate.

Pence told ABC News in the wake of that decision that he sided with Trump.

“I think throughout the campaign, President Trump made it clear that discrimination would have no place in our administration,” Pence told ABC News in a “This Week” interview that aired in February, responding to the potential for misalignment on issues of sexuality in the administration. “He was the very first Republican nominee to mention the LGBTQ community at our Republican National Convention and was applauded for it. And I was there applauding with him.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →