Review Category : National News

Reward for Missing Calif. College Soccer Player Increased to $100,000

KABC-TV(LOS ANGELES) — The family of a missing California college student has increased the reward to $100,000 for information about his whereabouts.

The University of California-Berkeley student, Eloi Vasquez, 19, was visiting friends at the University of Southern California when he was last heard from early Saturday morning.

Vasquez, who plays on his school’s soccer team, went to a party at the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity with friends but told them that he wanted to go for a walk at around 1:30 a.m., ABC News station KABC-TV reports.

According to KABC-TV, he was last heard from less than an hour later, when he reportedly called a friend saying that he was at the beach and having trouble.

“He is a star athlete, a responsible student, and we are a tight-knit family,” his mother Wendy Margolin told ABC News. “This is not normal behavior.”

Efforts to find him have been unsuccessful. Friends tried to call him later Saturday morning and his phone was either dead or had been turned off. The LAPD is investigating the case and was scheduled to give an update Monday afternoon.

The family doubled their reward offering to $100,000 Monday in hopes that it will lead to his discovery.

“Eloi is a wonderful young man who has excelled both academically and athletically here at Cal,” the UC-Berkeley athletics department said in a statement released Sunday. “Our entire Cal Athletics family is very concerned for Eloi’s safety and our first priority is to help in any way we can to locate him.”

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NASCAR Investigating Whether Race Teams Tampered with Tires

File photo. John Harrelson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — NASCAR officials are investigating whether race teams tampered with tires using a technique called “bleeding” to gain an improper advantage.

Officials seized tires from eight teams following the last two races, including tires from Kurt Busch and Joey Logano.

“Bleeding” involves poking miniscule holes in the tires to slowly release air, improving tire durability and helping drivers get an ideal grip on the track. NASCAR officials confiscated the wheels of Logano and Kevin Harvick two weeks ago, and those tires did not show evidence of “bleeding.”

NASCAR is still awaiting results from the latest eight tests. ABC News attempted to contact all of the crews involved in the investigation, but those efforts were unsuccessful. If caught cheating, drivers could face as much as a $125,000 fine and a six-race suspension.

Some drivers, including Denny Hamlin, say those penalties don’t go far enough.

“If it’s out there and they know about it, you should be gone forever,” Hamlin said. “If they find [impropriety] multiple times with somebody, they should have a permanent vacation somewhere.”

NASCAR officials told ABC News that the tire inspections are frequently performed and not unusual, but normally these measures don’t receive such widespread attention. Jeff Gordon is concerned by the recent investigations.

“I’ve heard a lot of things with valve caps and poking holes in tires for years. But I’ve never seen it done. I’ve never had proof that it was done,” Gordon said. “So it’s very interesting to me that NASCAR is investigating this further.”


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Aaron Hernandez’s Fiancee Describes Removing Box from Home

ABC News(FALL RIVER, Mass.) — On the afternoon after Odin Lloyd was killed, Aaron Hernandez told his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, to “remove a box” from the basement of the home they shared near the murder scene, Jenkins told the jury Monday in Fall River, Massachusetts.

Jenkins, on the stand for a second day in Hernandez’s trial for Lloyd’s murder, said Hernandez instructed her to “go downstairs in our storage and remove a box from our home.”

Surveillance video played for the jury Monday showed Jenkins going into the basement. Video previously played for the jury showed Jenkins removing a garbage bag from their home with what appeared to be a box inside. Prosecutors believe the box may have contained the murder weapon, which has never been found.

Hernandez, a former New England Patriots player, is accused of orchestrating Lloyd’s slaying on June 17, 2013. Prosecutors say Hernandez and two other men picked up Lloyd from his house and brought him to an industrial park near the Patriots’ Gillette Stadium. Hernandez, 25, has pleaded not guilty.

Jenkins, 25, was granted immunity in February.

“Did he indicate what was in the box?” prosecutor Patrick Bomberg asked Jenkins on Monday.

“No,” she answered. She added, “His tone, I believe, was normal,” but she recalled him saying moving the box was “important.”

Jenkins said she put the box “in a trash bag” with her baby daughter’s clothing “so nothing was exposed.”

“I wasn’t necessarily hiding it,” she said. “It was just natural instinct.”

Jenkins said Hernandez did not talk about the contents of the box and she did not ask.

Jenkins estimated that the bag with the box in it weighed about 35 or 40 pounds.

Jenkins and Hernandez were high school sweethearts and have a 2-year-old daughter together.

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Yawning, Whistling Might Get You Flagged at Airport Security

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Excessive yawning, whistling and too much laughter could possibly find you detained by airport security agents for further questioning, according to a recently released list.

The SPOT Referral Report, which stands for “Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques,” was obtained a week ago by The Intercept, which claims the unclassified report is a “closely held” Transportation Security Administration (TSA) document detailing what Behavior Detection Officers look for when observing suspicious travelers and possible terrorists at the nation’s airports.

Actions appearing on the 92-point checklist featured on The Intercept were divided into categories such as “stress factors,” “fear factors” and “signs of deception,” and ranged from “appears to be in disguise” and “face pale from recent shaving of beard” to “excessive yawning,” “excessive throat clearing” and “gazing down.”

TSA would neither confirm or deny to ABC News whether the specific indicators listed in the leaked report are used by officials or other parts of the administration. But a spokesperson did acknowledge that it does use behavior detection and analysis.

“Behavior detection, which is just one element of the TSA’s efforts to mitigate threats against the traveling public, is vital to TSA’s layered approach to deter, detect and disrupt individuals who pose a threat to aviation,” said a TSA spokesperson.

Detractors of the SPOT practice contend that many of the behaviors listed on the report are no different from how regular travelers appear when passing through airport security.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently sued the TSA for not releasing SPOT documents, saying the program encourages racial-profiling.

“What we know about SPOT suggests it wastes taxpayer money, leads to racial profiling, and should be scrapped,” Hugh Handeyside, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “The TSA has insisted on keeping documents about SPOT secret, but the agency can’t hide the fact that there’s no evidence the program works. The discriminatory racial profiling that SPOT has apparently led to only reinforces that the public needs to know more about how this program is used and with what consequences for Americans’ rights.”

But the TSA defended its program in a statement to ABC News.

“Terrorists have used a variety of items and ways to attempt to inflict harm to aircraft — everything from shoes to liquids but consistent across all methods of attack is the malicious intent of the actor,” said a TSA spokesperson. “Looking for suspicious behavior is a common sense approach used by law enforcement and security personnel across the country and the world, that focuses on those behavioral indicators, rather than items, and when used in combination with other security layers helps mitigate a variety of threats.”

But normal individuals with “strong body odor,” “trembling hands,” “protruding neck arteries” or exhibiting other factors noted on the report shouldn’t have cause for immediate worry, cautioned the administration.

“No single behavior alone will cause a traveler to be referred to additional screening or will result in a call to a law enforcement officer,” the TSA spokesperson said, adding, “Officers are trained and audited to ensure referrals for additional screening are based only on observable behaviors and not race or ethnicity.”

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Prosecution Rests in Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

FBI(BOSTON) — The government on Monday rested its case against accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after teary-eyed jurors heard grueling, heartbreaking testimony about the bombing’s youngest victim, 8-year-old Martin Richard.

Richard was 4 ft. 5 in. tall and just under 70 lbs. when he was killed in the Boston Marathon attacks on April 15, 2013, Chief Medical Examiner Henry Nields testified. The entire length of his small body was blasted with small nails, tiny pieces of black plastic, round metal pellets, small fragments of wood, segments of black plastic, and metal pieces of the bomb allegedly detonated by Tsarnaev in front of the Forum restaurant, Nields said.

Jurors saw the damage done to his clothing: a charred long-sleeve Boston Celtics jersey, its sleeves tattered, large holes throughout and stained stiff with blood. Under that, Richard wore a short-sleeve New England Patriots t-shirt, which was ripped apart and bloody. Nields said he recovered a shred of metal under that shirt — lodged there as it exited his body. His black hooded jacket was stained and ripped.

Nields could not determine whether he was wearing pants or shorts because the fabric had completely melted.

Along with the clothing held up in court was a belt, which had been used as a tourniquet around Richard’s left arm, and his Nike sneakers.

Richard’s small intestine was eviscerated, part of his liver and pancreas were cut off. He suffered a “near complete transection of the abdominal aorta,” Nields testified. In addition, “he had shredding on his left adrenal gland.” He had third degree burns on his body, which was ruined with debris packed into the pressure cooker bomb.

Six small nails were pulled from his body. Jurors saw a photo of those terrorist tools, along with evidence of the cloth, Styrofoam, plastic and other items removed during the autopsy.

Was the child’s death painful? “Yes,” Dr. Nields testified.

If any juror tried to block out what they were listening to, it became impossible when they were forced to look at the autopsy photos. At least six female jurors cried during the testimony and two male jurors had shocked looks on their face. Other jurors simply glanced down at their monitors where the images were published then quickly looked away.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev rested his face on his left fist and looked down for most of the testimony.

On the other side of court, Bill Richard, Martin’s father, sat holding his wife with his eyes closed.

In a still image from just before the blasts, Martin Richard is seen standing on a metal barrier watching the race. Prosecutors say Tsarnaev can be seen in the same image, just feet away, dropping a backpack containing the explosives.

Earlier in the trial, Bill Richard took the stand and described what he saw after the blasts.

“I saw a little boy who had his body severely damaged by an explosion,” Bill Richard told the jury flatly. “I just knew from what I saw there was no chance.”

In addition to Martin Richard, two other people — 29-year-old Krystle Campbell and 23-year-old Lingzi Lu — were killed in the attack and some 260 others injured.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts related to the bombing. His defense has admitted to his role in it, however, and has argued he only took part because he was under the influence of his older brother and alleged co-conspirator Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed in a police shootout three days after the blasts.

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Men Dressed as Women Shot Outside NSA Gate, Officials Say

@TPratt_Capital/Twitter(FORT MEADE, Md.) — One man is dead and another severely injured after a shootout Monday at one of the main gates of the National Security Agency located at Fort Meade, Maryland.

Two men dressed as women attempted to “penetrate” the entry point with their vehicle when a shootout occurred, officials said.

“There are indications they were dressed as females,” an official said.

At least one officer suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Aerial images from news helicopters on the scene appear two show two damaged SUVs.

One perpetrator was confirmed dead on the scene. The other is “severely injured” and is not likely to survive, according to one official.

The FBI said they do not believe the incident is related to terrorism. Law enforcement sources say there are initial indications that the vehicle used by the suspects was stolen.

The FBI evidence response team is on the scene investigating and testing for the possible presence of drugs.

The incident is being investigated by FBI, NSA Police and Army Criminal Investigation Command. Anne Arundel Police and Maryland State Police are also on the scene assisting.

Meanwhile, President Obama has been briefed on the incident, according to White House spokesman Eric Schultz.

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Men Disguised as Women Shot Outside NSA Gate, Officials Say

@TPratt_Capital/Twitter(FORT MEADE, Md.) — One man is dead and another severely injured after a shootout at one of the main gates of the National Security Agency located at Fort Meade, Maryland.

U.S. officials tell ABC News two men disguised as women attempted to “penetrate” the entry point with their vehicle when a shootout occurred. At least one officer suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

One perpetrator is confirmed dead on the scene. The other is “severely injured” and probably won’t survive, according to one official.

Aerial images from news helicopters on the scene appear to show two damaged SUVs. A white police SUV is facing the unmarked black SUV and there appears to be a body covered by a sheet next to the driver side of the black SUV.
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Caught on Video: California Firefighter Falls Through Roof of Burning Home

iStock/Thinkstock(FRESNO, Calif.) — A 25-year firefighting veteran is in critical condition after falling Sunday through the roof of a California home consumed by fire.

The firefighter, who has not been named, was responding to a fire that broke out around 1:30 p.m. in the garage of a Fresno, California, home.

The heart-stopping moment the firefighter fell was captured on camera by an eyewitness, Sooji Lee.

“I honestly didn’t think he was going to make it,” Lee told ABC News affiliate KFSN.

The victim’s fellow firefighters tore down the garage door and rescued him within minutes, according to KFSN.

“I believe his burns were on his hands, around his face,” Fresno Fire Chief Kerri Donis told reporters. “He did have his mask intact. There were some other burns on his back, around his legs, so they’re pretty much in all areas of his body.”

The firefighter was rushed to a local hospital, where he underwent surgery, officials said. He is now in critical condition.

No one else was injured in the fire. Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire.

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JetBlue System Outage Leads to Long Lines, Delays

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A nationwide system outage was reported by JetBlue Monday morning, with long lines and delays reported at several airports as passengers were manually checked in.

No flight cancellations have been reported.

Representatives with the budget airline addressed the situation on social media, individually responding to concerned passengers.

“We apologize. The cause of the systemwide outage has been (resolved). We should have you on your way shortly,” the company wrote on Twitter.

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Eight Dead, 10 Injured After Van Crashes into Florida Canal

iStock/Thinkstock(MOORE HAVEN, Fla.) — At least eight people died and 10 others were injured after the van they were riding in crashed into a Florida canal, authorities said.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the accident happened at 12:31 a.m. Monday at State Road 78 and U.S. Highway 27 in Moore Haven, Glades County, in the southern part of the state. The van was traveling eastbound on State Road 78 when it passed through a stop sign and traveled across U.S. Highway 27, crashing into the partially-filled canal, according to a statement released by Public Affairs Division Lieutenant Gregory S. Bueno.

The van was carrying 18 people. The driver was killed in the crash, according to the statement.

Authorities expect to release more details about the accident as information emerges.

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