Review Category : National News

Off-Duty Cop Shot and Killed Man During Road Rage Incident, Police Say YORK) — An off-duty police officer shot and killed a 37-year-old man in front of his girlfriend and two children during a recent road rage incident in Brooklyn, according to police and the victim’s family.

The incident happened just after midnight on Monday, when 37-year-old Delrawn Smalls allegedly got into a dispute with an off-duty New York Police Department officer, according to an NYPD spokesperson. Smalls and the off-duty cop, whom the spokesperson declined to identify, were “stopped at a red light” when Smalls then allegedly exited his car, approached the off-duty cop and began to punch the cop “repeatedly in the head through the car window.”

The off-duty officer then “discharged his firearm,” killing Smalls in front of a woman and two children who were in his vehicle at the time of the incident, the NYPD spokesperson told ABC News Tuesday.

Emergency Medical Services responded and pronounced Smalls dead on the scene, police said. The off-duty cop involved in the road rage incident was then transported to a medical center, where he was treated for “contusions to the head.”

Smalls had been on his way to see a fireworks show with his girlfriend and the children when the incident occurred, according to Smalls’ brother, Victor Dempsey.

“We was told my brother struck an officer, [but] he’s not that type of person to strike an officer,” Dempsey told ABC-owned station WABC-TV. “He was with his family in a car with a newborn baby.”

Roger Wareham, the attorney for Smalls’ family, added at a news conference that Smalls was “an unarmed civilian” and the father to “a 5-month-old who was in the car” at the time of the incident.

The NYPD’s Force Investigation Division is looking into the incident and the nature of the original traffic dispute. The Office of the New York State Attorney General is investigating the incident as well, according to the office’s spokesman Eric Soufer.

“Members of the Attorney General’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit are in contact with the NYPD, the victim’s family, and community leaders,” Soufer told ABC News in a statement Tuesday. “SIPU has a search warrant for the officer’s car and is actively reviewing the case.”

Wareham did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for additional comment.

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Police Still Investigating What Caused Explosion in Central Park

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Police are still investigating the explosion in New York City’s Central Park this weekend that seriously injured an 18-year-old college student.

Connor Golden of Fairfax, Virginia, was climbing rocks in the park Sunday morning with two friends when the explosion occurred, severely injuring his foot.

Golden’s family told ABC News that the teen’s left foot has been amputated. He’s in serious but stable condition.

“His life will never be the same,” his grandmother Roberta Golden said.

New York Police Department Lt. Mark Torre said there’s no indication the blast was terrorism-related.

“What seems likely at this point is that we have … an explosive hobbyist or an experimenter,” Torre said. “I believe we have somebody that made this material and then he wanted to test it.”

He added: “If somebody lives in that vicinity, their backyard is Central Park. It’s sort of an ideal location conducive to conducting that kind of experiment.”

Officials stress that Golden and his two friends are not considered suspects.

Besides the motive, the explosive material used in the blast remains a mystery; lab results for the explosive material are due back Wednesday.

While people are “on edge” in the wake of terror attacks around the world, ABC News contributor and former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said that “this was perhaps a chemistry student, something along those lines, trying to make fireworks for the events on July 4.”

Investigators will “do a lot of checking on the Internet — see if there are groupings of people that perhaps talk about making fireworks, that sort of thing,” Kelly said.

According to Steve Ganyard, an ABC News contributor who is also a former deputy assistant secretary of state and a retired colonel in the Marine Corps, the explosion was “concerning” and may not be “as benign I think as the police are making it out to be. It’s something that we need to consider as a domestic terror incident.”

He continued: “We have lots of premeditation. This is somebody who went to lengths to create a dangerous explosive material. So 4th of July, public place, I think we need to keep this as an open question about what the motive and what the intent was.”

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Chicago Police Credit Raids for Decreased Gun Violence over July 4th Weekend

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — Chicago Police believe they are making progress in combating gun violence, despite the dozens of people shot there over the holiday weekend.

According to preliminary figures, 60 people were shot and four are dead after the weekend. That’s a far cry, however, from the more than 80 people shot over Fourth of July weekend in 2014.

“We’re making progress. It’s not success yet. But these are just … this goes a long way I think to letting people know that we are focusing on the right individuals,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said, crediting pre-holiday raids that netted dozens of violent gun offenders.

Police stepped up patrols in Chicago’s busiest and most dangerous neighborhoods over the extended weekend.

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Mega Millions Jackpot Reaches $449M, Seventh Largest in US History

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The multi-state Mega Millions lottery has ballooned to $449 million after a drawing on Friday night produced no winning ticket. Another drawing will take place Tuesday night at 11 p.m. ET.

The staggering jackpot ranks as the seventh largest ever in U.S. history, according to officials. The winner will have the option of taking a cash payout of $313 million, according to the Mega Millions website, or the larger sum to be paid out in yearly installments over 30 years.

The odds of buying a winning ticket with all six matching numbers are one in 259 million.

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Mega Millions Jackpot Swells, Breaks Record Ahead of Drawing

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Tuesday night’s Mega Millions jackpot is now the seventh largest one in U.S. lottery history.

The big prize, which is estimated at $449 million as of Tuesday morning, surpasses the $448 million Powerball jackpot drawing won by a family in New Jersey this past May.

The next drawing will be held Tuesday at 11 p.m. ET. Your chances of winning the jackpot are one in 259 million.

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Central Park Explosion Caused by ‘Explosive Hobbyist,’ Official Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Authorities are now saying an explosion in New York’s Central Park on Sunday that left a Virginia tourist seriously injured was most likely an experiment gone wrong.

According to Lt. Mike Torre of the New York Bomb Squad on Monday, the blast was not caused by an explosive device but a mix of chemicals in a plastic bag. He also said the bag was “absolutely not” placed in the park with the intention of someone to step on it or touch it.

Instead, Torre thinks it was the work of a hobbyist.

“I’d refer to them as an explosive hobbyist or an experimenter,” he said Monday. “There are people who are fascinated by this kind of things. The fascination grows around the Fourth of July, for obvious reasons.”

And while many of hobbyists experiment in their backyards, for those in New York, their backyard is Central Park.

“It’s sort of an ideal location conducive to conducting that kind of experiment or test,” Torre said.

Doctors are now working to save the 18-year-old victim’s foot while authorities continue to investigate.

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City Apologizes to Man Falsely Accused of ISIS Allegiance

iStock/Thinkstock(AVON, Ohio) — The city of Avon, Ohio, has apologized to an Emirati man who was falsely accused of pledging allegiance to ISIS by a hotel employee.

On Wednesday, June 29, the Avon Police Department received a 911 call from the sister of a woman who was working as a desk clerk at the Fairfield Inn and Suites. In an audio recording of the 911 call, which was posted by ABC affiliate WEWS-TV in Cleveland, the clerk’s sister can be heard saying that a man was “pledging his allegiance or something to ISIS.”

Police then received a second call from the father of the clerk, who asked for help with the matter on behalf of his daughter.

Ahmad Al-Menhali, 41, was detained Wednesday while wearing a traditional white kandura, or ankle-length robe, and headscarf. Police camera footage showed officers detaining and searching al-Menhali before determining he was not a threat.

Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen told ABC News that al-Menhali was “never arrested” as a result of the accusation, but that he was handcuffed and “briefly held” in a local police department.

“When you hear someone say he pledged allegiance to ISIS, that changes it. Then you find out that statement was never made and it just kind of angers us,” he said.

On Sunday, the city and and the city’s police department issued a statement of apology to al-Menhali for the incident.

Charges, Jensen said, would likely be issued Tuesday in response to the false accusation against al-Menhali, and that the incident was being investigated.

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Joey Chestnut Regains Title at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

iStock/Thinkstock(CONEY ISLAND, N.Y.) — Joey “Jaws” Chestnut has set a new record at the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

He regained his championship title by eating 70 hot dogs in 10 minutes at Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island.

Chestnut beat Matt Stonie by 17 dogs in an upset; Stonie took the Mustard Yellow International Belt from him last year after Chestnut had won eight straight competitions.

“It was a great event… Great weather,” Chestnut said after his win. “The audience is amazing, and I’m just– I’m just happy.”

The 70 hot dogs are the most eaten at any competition, and contest officials said 32-year-old Chestnut ate 73.5 hot dogs and buns for a qualifying event.

“No excuses. You know, Joey came out… He brought his A-game — did an amazing job. So I can’t take that away from him,” Stonie said.

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Toxic Algae Keeping Some Florida Residents from Beach Water on 4th of July

iStock/Thinkstock(JENSEN BEACH, Fla.) — What officials have called “unprecedented” toxic algae blooms in some of southern Florida’s beaches and waterways is creating a messy 4th of July holiday for those in the area.

Thousands of residents and tourists have had to cancel plans to celebrate on the area’s usually packed beaches — keeping the majority of celebrations inland.

The algae, which has been described as “vile”-smelling and “guacamole-thick,” still remained in the waterways of Martin County Monday morning — more than two weeks after the first reports of algae blooms came in.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in four counties.

Numerous beaches along Florida’s Treasure Coast were closed last week, and though most have since reopened, officials told ABC News that they still do not recommend that people go in the water and that the beaches could be closed at any point.

Bathtub Beach in Martin County remained closed to swimmers this morning due to the presence of blue-green algae.

The toxic algae bloom invasions started more than two weeks ago after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville, Florida dumped polluted water out of Lake Okeechobee to prevent flooding, according to officials.

“It has been a challenging year for south Florida,” the Corps’ district commander, Col. Jason Kirk, explained in a statement. “Our water managers have dealt with such large quantities of rain and runoff entering the lake that it would cover the entire state of Delaware in two feet of water.”

But after seeing the algae first-hand and getting numerous complaints from residents, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced on Thursday it would start reducing the amount of freshwater flowing from Lake Okeechobee.

Meanwhile, officials said they are now investigating if the toxic algae-infested waters are to blame for some reported infection. Some residents complained of headaches, respiratory issues and even rashes since the algae arrived.

People have been seen wearing masks and others told ABC News they bought air purifiers for their homes and businesses.

“I live on the water and I can’t even go out my back door. It smells vile,” said Chris Palas, a mother who lives in Stuart, Florida — one of the towns most affected by the algae.

Palas told ABC News that the stench has been making her whole family feel sick.

“The headaches, the sinus pressure is extreme,” she said. “It is just an awful feeling. As a mom, I have a 5-year-old daughter and you just worry, how is this going to affect her long-term?”

Officials told ABC News that a clean-up plan has not been established yet, adding that they wish they had a quick solution but there isn’t one.

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United Airlines Plane Makes Emergency Landing After Bird Strike

anama images/Thinkstock(LONDON) — A United Airlines plane bound for Los Angeles was forced to make an emergency landing after striking a bird, an airline official said.

United Airlines flight 840 departed from Sydney, Australia but returned to the airport after hitting a bird shortly after takeoff, a United spokesman said.

No passengers or crew were injured but emergency crews attended the scene.

The plane was temporarily taken out of service for maintenance, though the extent of the damage was not immediately known, a United spokesman said.

Passengers will be re-booked on a flight leaving Sydney on Tuesday, according to United Airlines.

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