Review Category : National News

Supporters Withdraw Petition to Help Georgia Dad Who Killed Son

Cobb County Sheriff’s Office(ATLANTA) — Supporters of the Georgia dad accused of leaving his infant son to die in a hot car have backed away from their online petition after police raised doubts about the father’s account of the incident.

“I think that based on recent developments this petition is no longer relevant,” read a note on the Change.org petition originally launched to help Justin Ross Harris.

The father faces murder charges after leaving his 22-month old son in the backseat of his SUV while he was at work on June 25.

“I still pray that this was truly an accident. If that is the case, the DA now knows that the community does not want Justin prosecuted on murder charges,” the statement read.

The petition was closed after reaching more than 11,000 signatures from people who believed Harris had “loved his son immensely” and didn’t deserve to be charged with murder for “a horrible accident.”

But supporters wavered after police revealed that Harris allegedly had returned to his vehicle during his workday, and also drove a short distance after work before supposedly realizing his son was in the car. Police did not say how they know that.

Harris’ story prompted parents to share their own terrifying experiences of accidentally leaving kids in a hot car.

“I was one of those people who only thought it happened to bad parents,” one woman wrote on the petition’s Change.org page. “Until I learned how it happens, how easy it is to forget your child.”

Harris pleaded not guilty last week to felony murder and child cruelty charges. His son’s funeral will be held on Saturday. He is being held without bail.

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Hope Solo Breaks Silence Following Domestic Violence Arrest

Brian Blanco/Getty Images(KIRKLAND, Wash.) — Hope Solo, who was arrested for domestic violence last Saturday, broke her silence on the matter and spoke out on her Facebook page.

“I would like to apologize to my fans, teammates, coaches, marketing partners and the entire U.S. Soccer and Seattle Reign FC communities for my involvement in a highly unfortunate incident this past weekend,” she wrote. “I understand that, as a public figure, I am held to a higher standard of conduct. I take seriously my responsibilities as a role model and sincerely apologize to everyone I have disappointed.”

Solo, 32, was at her sister’s home in suburban Seattle when she was accused of assaulting her sister and her 17-year-old nephew.

Solo pleaded not guilty two days later. She later said, through her lawyer, that she was a victim in the fight.

“I love my family dearly. We, like all families, have our challenges but my sincere hope is that we are able to resolve this situation as a family,” she continued in her statement. “Adversity has always made us stronger and I know this situation will be no different.”

The soccer player, who is due in court on Aug. 11, also thanked her fans who have stood by her during the ordeal.

“I truly appreciate your loyalty, concern and well wishes. Due to pending legal issues, I cannot comment further at this time,” she said. “However, I am confident in the legal process and believe my name will be cleared. I look forward to getting back on the field where I belong with both Seattle Reign FC and the US Women’s National Team.”

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Man Allegedly Steals Chicken Suit, Wears It to Wing Night at Pub Next Door

iStock/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) — Most burglars like to lay low after taking down a score.

But one man in Kansas City, Missouri, was arrested after wearing his spoils in public — a costume that looked like a bird suit — waltzing into a pub next door, on wing night, police said.

The bizarre incident occurred when the man, whose identity has yet to be released, allegedly shattered the window of the Kansas City Costume Co. with a brick on Thursday night, and stole a heavy yellow fur cape and a vintage 1936 feathery hat, a store clerk told ABC News.

“We heard someone breaking into the costume shop next door,” Chad Baber, general manager at the pub, The Cashew, told ABC News.

“The police came in a little bit, but couldn’t find the man,” Baber said.

About 10 minutes later, the man walked into the pub, with the two stolen pieces of costumes on.

“He just sat there and didn’t order any drinks,” Baber said. “Some people went up and took pictures with him.”

The police patrolling in that area got calls from the pub patrons, claiming that there was man in a “chicken suit,” according to Sgt. Kari Thompson at the Kansas City Police Department.

The man was apprehended at the pub and Thompson said he appeared to be under the influence of drugs, though the police couldn’t confirm what type of drug it was.

“He kept screaming ‘I am not resisting arrest’ when police approached him,” Baber said, noting that he was later transported to the police car in a stretcher.

“He was taken to the emergency room for treatment after he was arrested,” Thompson said. “The physicians made sure his blood pressure and everything else was normal.”

The man has not been charged with burglary as the investigation is still ongoing.

Baber said Thursday night is wing night at the pub, but isn’t sure if the man dressed up for the occasion.

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Seventeen Indicted in NY After Drug Ring Takedown

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Seventeen people have been indicted in New York after a takedown of a drug ring that trafficked in the herbal stimulant khat.

Shipments of khat were showing up at UPS stores in New York and were being distributed in several states.

Chewing the plant’s leaves induces a euphoric high, like with amphetamines, and it’s popular in the Mideast and Africa.

In this case, authorities say it was cultivated in Kenya and Ethiopia, shipped through Europe and stored in the U.S. — among other places, in a mosque in Brooklyn — before it was delivered to customers in New York, Massachusetts and Ohio.

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Mexican Law Enforcement Chopper Fires Shots into Arizona

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A Mexican law enforcement helicopter fired shots into the Arizona desert on Thursday, according to U.S. officials.

In a statement Friday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the helicopter was taking part in an operation near the border when it crossed about 100 yards north into Arizona — in a rural area southwest of Tucson.

“Two shots were fired from the helicopter but no injuries or damage to U.S. property were reported,” CBP said.

The agency said the incident is now under investigation.

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Seventeen Indicted in NY After Drug Ring Takedown

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Seventeen people have been indicted in New York after a takedown of a drug ring that trafficked in the herbal stimulant khat.

Shipments of khat were showing up at UPS stores in New York and were being distributed in several states.

Chewing the plant’s leaves induces a euphoric high, like with amphetamines, and it’s popular in the Mideast and Africa.

In this case, authorities say it was cultivated in Kenya and Ethiopia, shipped through Europe and stored in the U.S. — among other places, in a mosque in Brooklyn — before it was delivered to customers in New York, Massachusetts and Ohio.

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World War II Marine, 90, Fights to Correct AWOL Record

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — A World War II veteran who has tried for two years to correct a record that claims he went AWOL during the Pacific campaign has appealed to President Obama for help in erasing the allegation before he dies.

Thomas Smith, Jr., who is 90, said he was being treated for a back wound at the time he was allegedly AWOL, and the records have confused him with another soldier with a similar name.

Smith was drafted on Nov. 28, 1942 and served as a Marine scout and a rifleman in some of the war’s fiercest fighting on the battlefields of Tinian Island, the Marshall Islands, Saipan and Iwo Jima. He has two Purple Hearts and was wounded in the arm, leg and back.

He discovered that he was listed as having gone AWOL for a month when he requested his military records in 2006 in preparation for writing a memoir. He was shocked to discover a document containing the allegation.

“The file had my name on it,” Smith said. “But the signature read Thomas Jefferson Smith Jr. My [middle] name is Joseph.”

His month-long desertion allegedly took place during his unit’s deployment on Marshall Island.

“That was when I was wounded in the back on Marshall Island,” Smith said.

The island hopping that his unit did through the Pacific had been grueling and bloody.

“My company had 229 men and when we came out of the Pacific, there were only 29 of us. So we took a heck of a beating,” Smith said.

Although Smith received the records in 2006, he didn’t begin his effort to correct the record until two years ago because he was busy taking care of his late wife. Efforts he thought would be simple have turned out to be frustrating.

Smith first sent a letter to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2012, the office that had initially sent him his military records. He was referred to the Board for Correction of Naval Records. From there he was sent to the Marine Corps, and the Marine Corps asked him to contact the National Archive. He was last sent to the National Personnel Records Center, the office where his original letter was sent.

“It is a very simple thing. What is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong,” Smith said. “A 6-year-old child can distinguish between Joseph and Jefferson.”

He is now bucking the chain of command.

“I sent a letter to President Barack Obama about two weeks ago. I didn’t want it to be a joke, but I did it for self-satisfaction because this is the highest I could go,” he said.

“It really just shows how bureaucratic Washington is,” Smith said.

Smith hasn’t heard back from the Obama administration, but said he won’t give up.

ABC News contacted the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Board for Correction of Naval Records, the Marine Corps, and the National Personnel Records Center. None of the agencies could provide a comment on Smith’s attempt to clear his name.

The National Archive sent ABC News an email with a web page on how to correct military records with a note that said, “I hope this is helpful.”

After the war, Smith went back to school and obtained a bachelor’s degree from University of Miami and a doctoral degree from Indiana University. He later served as the principal at Rockway Junior High School in Florida. He retired in 1988 after 42 years as an educator.

In recent years he moved to Glenville, New York, and he likes to meet up with seven other veterans who survived Iwo Jima at the Home Front Café in Altamont, N.Y. But he has one last fight in him: to correct his record.

“I am an old man,” Smith said. “If nothing changes before I die, I would be disappointed.”

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New Mexico Climber Hospitalized After Mountain Tumble

Photos.com/Thinkstock(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) — An Albuquerque, New Mexico woman is in serious condition after falling off a cliff and landing flat on her back near the Sandia Crest early Thursday morning, authorities say.

The experienced climber was rappelling down a steep rock formation when she fell nearly 30 feet onto her back after a rock she grabbed broke off the mountain. Although in extreme pain, she was conscious and managed to call friend and experienced mountain guide Marc Beverly, who informed rescuers before arriving.

Due to windy conditions, nearly 30 rescuers could not perform a hoist rescue as expected, and had to rappel down the steep and rocky terrain to retrieve the woman, Sgt. Aaron Williamson of Bernalillo County Sheriff Department Rescuers told ABC News.

A rescue helicopter was waiting at the top of the mountain to airlift the climber to University of New Mexico Hospital.

When Beverly received the call, he could tell his friend was in serious pain.

“I almost thought she wasn’t going to make it,” Beverly told ABC News affiliate KOAT, “like she wasn’t going to be okay by the time I got to her.”

Beverly is a medic at the Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council (AMRC), a non-profit volunteer service specializing in technical rescues in the New Mexico mountains.

AMRC President Lance Johnson told ABC news that the woman was a highly experienced climber. Though wearing a helmet and harness, she sustained severe injuries, which left her unable to move.

“This is pretty uncommon,” Johnson added. “We may see one to three hiking rescues a year that actually require a rope access rescue.”

While the woman’s condition is described as critical, the extent of her injuries was unknown by the Sheriff’s Department and because authorities have not released her name, the hospital was unable to provide any information.

The woman was described as being in her early 50s and was accompanied by a climbing partner who aided her while waiting for rescuers.

Hiking and climbing injuries are not uncommon in the Sandias. The national park’s large granite peaks attract thousands of experienced climbers each year.

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Hawaii Cracks Down on Homelessness in Tourist Areas

iStock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) — The Aloha State is tackling homeless in an effort to clean up tourist areas and assist individuals and families below the poverty line.

The Honolulu City Council held a special hearing Thursday, passing bills to prohibit people from lying, sitting, and relieving themselves on streets. The legislation is set to go before the full city council on July 9.

The meeting comes after business owners and residents complained of a growing homelessness problem in the Chinatown and Downtown areas, according to ABC affiliate KITV.

“Not a day goes by where we aren’t directly faced with a new challenge,” said business owner Jeff Mull.

Others, like Dan Purcell, offered alternative solutions to the council.

“We need restrooms. It’s…not medieval times. It’s just a basic human need. People have to go to the restroom,” Purcell said.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced a homeless action plan on June 15 to address to issue, saying that combating the problem is a “top priority.”

Starting July 1, $3 million will go toward rental assistance, supportive services, and other expenses to place homeless individuals and families in Waikiki, Chinatown, and Leeward O’ahu. Additional funds will be used to partner with private developments for approximately 300 housing units in the neighborhoods.

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Santa Barbara Shooter’s Father’s Open Letter: ‘We Have to Stop This’

ABC/RICK ROWELL(NEW YORK) — Peter Rodger, whose son Elliot shot and killed six people in Santa Barbara, California, last month, wrote the following open letter exclusively for ABC News.

The letter reads:

It has been one month and three days since my son, Elliot, did the unthinkable. There has not been one conscious second that I haven’t been thinking about the pain and suffering he caused for so many. The ripple affect of his actions has spread to countless thousands. I mourn for the loss of the young women and young men whose lives he ended. I feel for the victims and their families more than for the loss of my own son.

I do mourn for the lonely boy Elliot was, who disappeared because of a monster of an illness in him that none of us knew was so severe. I wish I could turn the clock back. There are so many “If only’s.”

I tried my best to do my duty as a father, but obviously my best was not enough. My duty now is to do as much as I can to try and stop this from happening again. Too many lives are being lost. Law enforcement professionals, teachers and health workers on the frontlines of the mental health crisis bear too much of a burden. And countless families struggle in silence with the consequences of mental illness each day.

We have to try and stop this. It will be a long journey involving the personal choices of individuals and families, public discussions, mental health reforms, a change in the culture – you name it. My sincere hope is that I can help by telling my story.

None of us understood what was in Elliot’s head – he hid it from not only his family, but also from mental health professionals and law enforcement. Looking back now through a tragic hindsight, I have begun to understand that there are traits, markers if you will, that family members can look out for in loved ones.

It’s important to note that the vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent. I am only speaking from my perspective and in the hope that families may be informed, vigilant and more able to take action. I am painfully and honestly trying to both reflect and learn more about what markers matter most. I am sharing my story and my initial reflections in an effort to save others from the kind of pain and suffering that Elliot caused.

To help families, I’ve created a small website with resources on mental illness and a place to share stories called AskForHelp.org. I hope you find the resources on that site useful. It is just a start and by no means comprehensive. I am just doing what I can under the circumstances with the help of family and friends. My simple message is, if in doubt about a family member, please ask for help.

Sincerely,

Peter Rodger

Rodger sat down with Barbara Walters for an interview that will air Friday at 10 p.m.

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