Review Category : National News

Orangutan on the Loose at Busch Gardens in Tampa

iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) — An orangutan is on the loose at Tampa Bay’s Busch Gardens amusement park after apparently escaping its enclosure.

Video posted to Twitter shows a crowd looking on as the orangutan sits atop a tree.

It is unclear if the park has been evacuated as employees attempt to recapture the orangutan.

Orangutan escapes at Busch gardens Florida pic.twitter.com/GnoxZUru9m

— Bryan Clor (@gunners0720) July 1, 2016

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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NYPD: Ready for War with ISIS Terrorists

ABC News(NEW YORK) — In the air, over the water and on the street with hundreds of heavily-armed officers, the New York Police Department says it is ready for war if ISIS or any terror group attacks New York City.

“I think that it’s inevitable that there’ll be another attack in this country,” Chief James Waters, the head of the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Bureau, told ABC News during a tour of his department’s newly formed Critical Response Command. “We are well-prepared to respond to that.”

Some 525 specially trained officers rotate shifts so that at any given time, 24/7, some 100 of them are ready to roll out with high-powered weapons, radiation detectors and bomb-sniffing Labrador Retrievers that can detect the chemicals known to be used by ISIS for its suicide explosives.

Tune in to “World News Tonight With David Muir” for the full Brian Ross report.

The operation is run from a command center in an undisclosed location in lower Manhattan, where the feeds from more than 9,000 surveillance cameras are piped in and displayed – feeds from the Brooklyn Bridge to Times Square to inside the city’s subways.

“It gives us an optic into what goes in New York City on any given day, and it tells us an awful lot with 9,000 cameras and the license plate readers. It gives us a sense to keep our finger on the pulse of what’s happening here in the city,” Waters said.

The Chief said the security operation as a whole has been referred to as a “ring of steel,” an expansion of the concept first used in London. “It’s our way of protecting New York,” he said.

Though officials have said there is no specific threat to New York or any American city this holiday weekend, ISIS has repeatedly called for attacks on the city, and Waters said he always thinks that New York is a prime target.

The NYPD intelligence analysts are working around the clock to get ahead of any potential attackers, looking far beyond the city limits to do so.

“We look at the global threat environment,” said Meghann Teubner, Director of Counterterrorism Intelligence Analysis in the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Bureau. “What’s happening in the world? Are there any new trends that we need to be concerned with? Any new tactics that terrorist groups may be using that have any implication for us here in New York City?”

Capt. Gene McCarthy, executive officer in the NYPD’s Critical Response Command, said the department has analyzed recent major terror attacks from the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris to the shootings in San Bernardino, California and Orlando, Florida.

“We are constantly looking at tactics, techniques and procedures that are used at those events and how we can better prepare ourselves here in New York City,” McCarthy said. Critical Response Command was formed in November 2015, just before the second major attack in Paris.

The 9,000 surveillance cameras are a mix of NYPD-owned cameras and those owned by “stakeholders,” private entities that provide their feeds to the police. License plate readers on roads can capture three million license plates a day, Chief Waters said, and the plate data is kept for five years.

As for fears of Big Brother-style privacy invasion from thousands of lenses, Waters said all the cameras are in public locations.

“So your expectation of privacy is just that – if you’re walking down the street, or if you’re driving your car and your license plate is read,” he said. “This is to protect us.”

Should someone slip through the cracks and attempt an attack, the NYPD’s “last line of defense” is a unit of Labrador Retrievers that are specially trained to detect explosive suicide vests, according to NYPD Lt. Brian Corrigan, who works with the animals.

“Instead of them just going after a static package where the handler directs them to search a package or an item, these dogs will air-scent, and will track any odor that is coming off a person or what the person is carrying,” Corrigan said. “The dogs play a major role. They are pretty much the last line of defense for stopping that potential suicide bomber.”

Waters said the dogs are so good they can “stand and watch an entire subway train pull in and everyone coming up to the street and they can clear a whole train, just by standing in one place.”

If an attacker does manage to start shooting in a public place, Capt. McCarthy said NYPD officers are trained not to hesitate – to go in and “stop the shooting.”

“Whether they’re police officers walking a foot post, CRC officers performing specific, directed missions or a tactical response team, the mission is to stop that shooting,” McCarthy said. “Once the shooting stops, there is a reassessment. If it turns into a barricade or a hostage type situation, we would bring more experienced, trained officers in to deal with. But the initial object is to stop that shooting and remove victims, remove witnesses, remove people that are sheltering in place, get them out of harm’s way.”

Teubner said recently ISIS attacks abroad prompted the NYPD to operate “in a heightened threat environment” and in a broad sense, she said the threat of attack keeps her up at night.

“I think I’ve aged a lot in the past two years, probably have gray hair and wrinkles,” she said, “just to see the shifting threat environment and know the depth and breadth of the threat we face now with a more diverse and diffused kind of threat environment.

“But I think the city should feel safe, the people, the civilians walking on the streets, they should feel safe and they should see the presence of law enforcement officers out there doing their job,” she said.

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‘Vile’ Smelling Algae as Thick as ‘Pea Soup’ Clogs Up Florida’s Waterways

File photo. (iStock/Thinkstock)(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in Martin and St. Lucie Counties due to a thick green algae bloom choking the area’s waterways.

“I live on the water and I can’t even go out by back door. It smells vile,” Chris Palas, who lives in Stuart, Florida, told ABC News Friday. “It is just horrible. It is just horrendous. It looks like pea soup. It is just not at the surface. It is deep.”

“The health department put out signs on the beach saying there is no swimming,” he said. “And clearly from the smell, it has got to be toxic, and who knows how it is going to affect us long-term.”

Palas said the stench makes her whole family feel sick: “The headaches, the sinus pressure is extreme. 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?”

Scott issued an executive order on Wednesday to address the algae problem, saying in a statement, “Florida’s waterways, wildlife and families have been severely impacted by the inaction and negligence of the federal government not making the needed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike and Florida can no longer afford to wait.”

The governor added that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “continues to discharge millions of gallons of water into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries resulting in the growth of blue-green algae,” and blamed the Obama administration’s inaction.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville announced it would reduce the amount of freshwater flowing from Lake Okeechobee starting Friday.

“It has been a challenging year for south Florida,” Col. Jason Kirk, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Commander, said in a statement on Thursday. “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. However, after visiting with local elected officials in Martin County yesterday and viewing the algae first hand, we felt compelled to take action, even though we need to remain vigilant in managing the level of Lake Okeechobee.”

Palas and her husband filmed a manatee, covered in the green muck and struggling to breath, swimming next to the dock in their backyard. The video garnered nearly one million views on Facebook and over 25,000 shares, and depicts the environmental impact of the algae bloom.

Palas said the incident broke her heart: “I was really sad, it was awful.”

“My husband said, ‘Oh my gosh, we have got to get some water and help it,’ so he went to grab his hose and within seconds the manatee just came right up to the hose,” Palas explained. “All this green algae was coming out of his nostrils.”

“My daughter, a 5-year-old, just said, ‘I think he’s going to die,'” Palas said. “My daughter went to bed crying. You can’t help but wonder what is going to happen long-term to these animals.”

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Denver Fighting to Take Back Downtown from ‘Urban Travelers,’ Violence

iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) — Right on the heels of an announcement by Denver officials to increase security downtown, a video has been making the rounds of a disturbing attack on the bustling 16th Street Mall, one of the city’s most popular spots.

In the video posted on social media, a shirtless man can be seen chasing people on the pedestrian mall Wednesday around 6 p.m. as he wildly swings a pole and hits them with it.

On Thursday, Mayor Michael Hancock said that the videotaped alleged assault was indicative of the activity and individuals Denver authorities were battling in the downtown area.

Denver police said Clarence Seeley, 32, had been arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault and second-degree assault. The District’s Attorney’s Office said on Friday that Seeley had not yet been formally charged.

In a news release, police said he’d allegedly threatened and hit random people with a “plastic (PVC-type) pipe.”

One victim, a 35-year-old man, suffered a head laceration from the assault, but refused medical treatment, police said. The first two people assaulted in the video had left the scene and had not yet reached out to police.

Deputy Police Chief David Quinones said Thursday that Seeley was also suspected in multiple incidents within a four- to five-block area that had been reported over a period of 40 minutes before the mall incident. Quinones said that Seeley had been in Denver for about nine days.

On Monday, Denver officials introduced a new security plan for the mall that included more uniformed police officers this summer — to the tune of $650,000 in taxpayer money — as well as the hiring of a private security company.

Hancock blamed the recent trouble on a flood of what he termed “urban travelers,” transients drawn to Colorado for its legalized marijuana.

“These are travelers to our city,” he said Thursday. “[They] come here primarily to engage in the hanging out on our mall and to do other things in the city. … When we asked them why did you come, it was very clear. They were very candid with us. They came here for marijuana.”

Police said they were also investigating an unrelated video of a man leaving work and being assaulted by aggressive panhandlers.

“This is the type of behavior that we are addressing on the mall,” Quinones said. “This is the type of behavior that we have said repeatedly will not be tolerated on the mall.”

“We’re going to take this very seriously,” Hancock said. “Our job is to protect the citizens of Denver.”

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Fourth of July Travel: What You Need To Know

Kichigin/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — If you’re like most Americans, you’re headed for a weekend full of barbecues and fireworks.

But prior to the fun in the sun kicks off, inevitably, comes the hassle of travel.

Millions of Americans will be taking to the sky this weekend.

Airlines have nearly 11 million seats for the four-day Independence Day weekend travel period (Friday – Monday), according to analysts at Hopper, an airfare prediction app. The most popular destinations are New York, Las Vegas, DC, Chicago, and LA Hopper says.

With so many people, that means those pesky TSA lines could be a bit longer than usual – and according to Hopper, travelers should brace for especially long lines around 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., usually some of the busiest times at the checkpoint.

If you’re driving to your destination, steer clear of Friday afternoon. According to crowdsourcing navigation app Waze, drivers will see a 17 percent increase in traffic between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Friday. Predictably, traffic will also increase by as much as 65 percent or more around 10 p.m. Friday, as tired revelers drive home from fireworks viewings, says Waze.

Your best bet? Waze suggests hitting the road Saturday before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m.

And of course, don’t drink and drive!

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Fourth of July Travel: What You Need To Know

Kichigin/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — If you’re like most Americans, you’re headed for a weekend full of barbecues and fireworks.

But prior to the fun in the sun kicks off, inevitably, comes the hassle of travel.

Millions of Americans will be taking to the sky this weekend.

Airlines have nearly 11 million seats for the four-day Independence Day weekend travel period (Friday – Monday), according to analysts at Hopper, an airfare prediction app. The most popular destinations are New York, Las Vegas, DC, Chicago, and LA Hopper says.

With so many people, that means those pesky TSA lines could be a bit longer than usual – and according to Hopper, travelers should brace for especially long lines around 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., usually some of the busiest times at the checkpoint.

If you’re driving to your destination, steer clear of Friday afternoon. According to crowdsourcing navigation app Waze, drivers will see a 17 percent increase in traffic between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Friday. Predictably, traffic will also increase by as much as 65 percent or more around 10 p.m. Friday, as tired revelers drive home from fireworks viewings, says Waze.

Your best bet? Waze suggests hitting the road Saturday before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m.

And of course, don’t drink and drive!

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Serial Star’s Lawyer: Syed Should Be Released On Bail

tomloel/iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) – The lawyer for “Serial” podcast star Adnan Syed who was granted a new trial on Thursday for his role in allegedly murdering his high school ex-girlfriend says his client is not a flight risk nor is he a danger to the community, saying he should be granted bail.

In an interview with ABC News, Justin Brown said “We are just starting to look into that and I think we have a very compelling case.” He’s not a flight risk and he is not a danger to the community and therefore he should be allowed out on bail.”

But Brown said whether or not they will try to proceed with a bail hearing is yet to be determined.

Syed, now 36, has been incarcerated for more than half his life, sentenced to life in prison in 2000 for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. She was found buried in a shallow grave in Baltimore’s Leakin Park.

On Thursday, a retired Baltimore judge issued a ruling granting Syed a new trial on the grounds that he received ineffective counsel from a defense attorney in 2000, who failed to cross examine an expert witness on key evidence.

This was a ruling issued after new evidence was presented during a second post-conviction relief hearing in February this year, including testimony from alibi witness Asia McClain Chapman who says she spoke with Syed at the exact time the state claims he killed Lee.

When asked whether his client is innocent, “I am. I have full confidence in his innocence,” Brown said Friday.

Brown gave credit to the 2014 hit podcast “Serial” that launched Syed’s case to international stardom.

“But for the podcast Serial, we would not be sitting here today,” Brown said.

Brown also acknowledge the state might try to appeal the judge’s ruling, and that the state has 30 days to decide its next steps. The Maryland Office of the Attorney General said in a written statement that they will continue to be in the pursuit of justice for Lee and her family, saying they will seek for a win in an appellate court.

Lee’s family has not issued a statement of its own since the ruling was announced Thursday.

“We might have to go up through the Maryland Appellate courts and defend the opinion that was issued yesterday but we are pretty confident that the opinion is very solid and it’s based on the facts,” Brown said.

McClain Chapman’s witness testimony was determined to not have compelled the judge in issuing his ruling.

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New Baltimore PD Use of Force Policy Emphasizes ‘Sanctity of Life’

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — The Baltimore Police Department’s updated use of force policy, which emphasizes the “sanctity of life” and the need to “de-escalate,” goes into effect Friday — the first update in more than a decade and coming in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray.

This is the first time the BPD’s use of force policy has been updated since 2003, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced at a press conference on Wednesday. The updated use of force policy announcement comes during the Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation into the department’s patterns and practices.

“Some of the key points in this use of force policy include the emphasis on the sanctity of life, that’s actually in the policy now, and the need to de-escalate when possible,” said Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said at Wednesday’s press conference.

Other updates include clearer terminology and definitions, and the requirement that officers provide, “aid, including EMS or immediate hospital transport, to injured persons and those claiming to be injured,” Davis announced.

Officers are also now required to intercede and notify a supervisor if they see fellow police officers using excessive force.

Last fall Gray, 25, died in Baltimore police custody, sparking nationwide outrage and allegations of police brutality, as well as six officers being charged. Gray had allegedly asked to go to the hospital before he passed away but police officers ignored his requests.

Three of the officers have been acquitted, including one who was charged with murder.

Rawlings-Blake emphasized that the updated police policy does not in any way neglect officer safety.

“Officer safety is paramount and I’ve been assured that the safety of our officer’s is not at risk with the changes that have been made to the use of force policy, in fact our officers are in a better position as a result of these changes,” Rawlings-Blake said at the press conference.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis reiterated the Mayor’s sentiments, adding “I’ve consistently said that we are not doing this to our police officers we are doing this for our police officers.”

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Boy, 8, Medevaced from Royal Carribbean Ship After Pool Accident

Jacob Triplett(NEW YORK) — Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas Cruise ship was forced to turn around off the coast of New York Thursday after a child had an accident in a pool and required medical help, according to the cruise line.

The 8-year-old boy was found Thursday afternoon. The Coast Guard said it was notified just before 7 p.m.
The FDNY met the ship — which had left from Bayonne, NJ, earlier in the day — upon its return. The child was medevaced to Staten Island University Hospital North, according to the Coast Guard. Early Friday morning, the Coast Guard had confirmed the ship returned out to sea after the child was evacuated.

The child’s condition was unknown, the Coast Guard said.

The child’s condition was unknown, the Coast Guard said.

The ship left Bayonne, NJ, Thursday afternoon and was set to embark on a 9-day cruise to Bermuda and the Caribbean.

According to Royal Caribbean, the boy was treated by the ship’s medical team “after an accident in one of the ship’s swimming pools, but required additional medical attention.”

“The ship altered its course and sailed back towards Bayonne, New Jersey for a medical evacuation. Royal Caribbean’s Care Team is providing support to the guest’s family,” Royal Caribbean added in its statement.

The incident comes just months after the ship was forced to turn around in February when it encountered hurricane-force winds and 40-foot waves off the coast of the Carolinas.

That same month the ship turned around again to avoid a major storm.

This is a developing story. Please check back in for updates.

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Family of Montana Man Killed in Grizzly Bear Attack Speaks Out

Courtesy Treat Family(WEST GLACIER, Mont.) — The family of a 38-year-old Montana man who was fatally attacked by a grizzly bear while mountain biking has spoken out, saying the Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer “put his life on the line every day.”

Brad Treat, 38, was mountain biking with a friend on a trail in West Glacier just after 2 p.m. Wednesday when the grizzly attacked, pulling him off his bike. The pair likely surprised the bear as they rode by, said Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry.

Treat’s companion was able to exit the area and summon help and was not injured in the attack, Curry said.

Treat’s sister-in-law, Melissa Treat, told ABC News he was “amazing man, an all around stand up guy, a devoted husband, amazing brother, loving son and loyal friend.”

“He would go above and beyond to help those in need,” Melissa said.

Melissa said her brother-in-law loved the outdoors and enjoyed hiking, kayaking, running and biking.

“It was hard to find him indoors,” she said. “He loved being outside and enjoying nature.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement Thursday, “I am saddened to hear of the passing of Officer Brad Treat…We are grateful for Officer Treat’s selfless service and share in mourning a life that was taken too soon.”

The incident is under investigation by the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks, the U.S. Forest Service and the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office. The area has been closed by the Forest Service for public safety pending the completion of the investigation, Curry said.

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