Review Category : National News

Suspect in Fresno shooting rampage charged with previous murder of motel security guard

jinga80/iStock/Thinkstock(FRESNO, Ca.) — The suspect behind a shooting rampage that killed three people in just minutes in Fresno, California Tuesday has been charged with murder from a previous killing.

The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office charged Kori Ali Muhammad in last week’s murder of 25-year-old Carl Williams, a security guard at a local Motel 6. Muhammad told investigators that he shot Williams because he disrespected him, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Wednesday. He is also charged with attempted murder for shooting at a second security guard.

Muhammad — born Kori McDonald — will be arraigned Friday morning on that murder charge. The district attorney has not yet submitted its case on this week’s shooting spree.

Police said Muhammad was inspired to carry out the “hate crime” shooting after learning on a local news report that he was the suspect of the Motel 6 murder.

Muhammad told police that he is Muslim but had’t been to a mosque in 20 years and prays to numerous gods and practices voodoo rituals.

On Tuesday morning, he had gone to buy items to practice voodoo but stopped at a Starbucks instead, where he used the wi-fi to watch a news broadcast from ABC Fresno station KFSN, which identified him as the suspect in Williams’ murder.

He then decided to kill as many white males as possible, Dyer said, adding that he Muhammad told investigators that he does not like white men. Muhammad has also written anti-government sentiments on social media as well as posts saying that he does not like white people, the police chief said.

Muhammad fired 17 shots in about three minutes, killing three people. He also fired at two women inside of a car and at a group of men at a bus stop.

Muhammad was arrested shortly after the shooting and has since given detectives several hours of interviews describing his actions, laughing while he made the descriptions, Dyer said.

Dyer said that officers witnessed Muhammad yell “Allahu akbar” at the scene of the shooting. Dyer described Muhammad as a “racist” rather than a terrorist.

The shooting was labeled by police as a hate crime. It is unclear if Muhammad has retained an attorney.

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How the controversial DACA deportation case landed with Judge Curiel

moodboard/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Juan Manuel Montes, 23, was deported to Mexico in February in what has become a controversial case, pitting his advocates against Trump administration officials.

Attorneys for Montes allege that he was arrested, detained and deported in the middle of the night in mid-February. Then a couple days later, after being attacked and mugged in Mexico, he crossed back into the U.S. – turning himself into to U.S. authorities.

However, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the first incident never happened.

“There are no records or evidence to support Montes’ claim that he was detained or taken to the Calexico Port of Entry on February 18, 2017,” said a DHS statement.

Attorneys are now suing the government for more information and in a twist of fate, the lawsuit was assigned to the same judge Trump berated on the campaign trail.

Where the case stands now

Montes’ attorneys claim that this is first known case of a DACA recipient, or so-called “DREAMer” being deported under the administration of President Donald Trump and they want answers.

Lawyers for the 23-year-old brought a lawsuit in federal court, calling on the government to provide information about his case.

“The reason we filed the lawsuit on Manuel is first and foremost, we want the truth,” said attorney Karen Tumlin in an interview with ABC News.

Montes’ DACA status grants him permission to live and work in the U.S., according to court documents.

According to the government, he gave up that status when he left the U.S. without first getting permission — a requirement to keep DACA authorization. And they said he further violated his status, when he illegally re-entered the U.S.

“He once was covered by DACA but because of his behavior, his illegal behavior, he messed up that status and now he is been removed to his country of origin,” said DHS Sec. John Kelly when asked about the case during a border tour in El Paso, Texas on Thursday.

DHS produced a “few pages” of documents to attorneys this morning, detailing only the second deportation of Montes, said Tumlin.

This came after numerous requests for information that went unanswered — resulting in the lawsuit, said his attorney.

Attorneys for Montes said they will be responding immediately to what has been produced today, because they “believe it’s willfully insufficient,” said Tumlin.

We “will be moving as fast as possible to get answers for Juan Manuel,” she added.

The case is now before U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who presided over two of the three lawsuits involving the now-defunct Trump University. Trump has attacked Curiel multiple times over the last year, questioning whether the judge’s heritage would influence his judicial decisions.

How the case landed with Judge Curiel

It’s a twist of fate, that the lawsuit landed before the same judge Trump berated on the campaign trail.

The case landed at the U.S. District Court for Southern California, where it was randomly assigned to Curiel, who serves as one of 17 federal district court judges, according to the clerk’s’ office.

The alleged incident took place in Calexico, California, giving the district court geographic authority. Montes’ attorneys are suing the federal government, so it went straight to federal court.

Judicial ethics rules prevent Curiel from commenting on any case that is before his court.

Montes’ attorney said that Trump’s past comments about Curiel are “absolutely irrelevant” to their case.

“As a litigator, as someone who appears before judges all over the country, I rely on anyone who rules the vote to be fair and impartial, and that’s what i expect of Judge Curiel, she said.

Join us in telling DHS Sec. Kelly: Bring DACA-recipient Juan back from Mexico! Sign the petition: https://t.co/yRvdPB77sS #JusticeForJuan pic.twitter.com/SO7OQKK8wq

— Nat’l Imm Law Center (@NILC_org) April 20, 2017

What’s next

Homeland Security officials maintain that Montes was justly arrested and deported.

Customs and Border Protection always keeps records of encounters and deportations, according to Customs and Border Protection.

“If it’s not in the system, then we didn’t encounter the person,” said a CBP official.

In addition, during his detention and arrest by Border Patrol on February 19, he admitted to agents that he had illegally entered the U.S., said DHS, which oversees CBP and Border Patrol.

He never mentioned that he had received DACA status during his arrest interview, according to DHS.

But his attorneys and advocates are standing by Montes’ account of the events and are continuing to press the lawsuit.

“Juan Manuel has been completely clear about at least two things since we’ve been talking to him: one, he’s been on DACA the whole time, which is true. And two, he knew that there were flashing red lights in his mind about leaving the United States, the country he considers home,” said Tumlin.

Montes is currently staying with extended family in Mexico. He doesn’t want his location revealed, according to Tumlin.

He misses his family and is sad about not being able to complete his education, according to his lawyer.

“I think the best outcome is first and foremost that Juan Manuel knows what happens to him, and that his story is corroborated and then we will swiftly seek his return home.

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How authorities found missing Tenn. student Elizabeth Thomas and former teacher Tad Cummins

artolympic/iStock/Thinkstock(CECILVILLE, Ca.) — The missing Tennessee teen who was allegedly kidnapped by her former teacher was found in an isolated cabin in northern California after authorities received a tip late Wednesday describing a possible sighting of the pair.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation received the tip around 11 p.m. Wednesday and the caller pointed authorities to a cabin in Cecilville, a rural area near the Oregon border with little to no cell service, TBI Public Information Officer Joshua Devine said.

The caller indicated that 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas and her former teacher, 50-year-old Tad Cummins, may have been living in the cabin for a week-and-a-half, Devine said.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office also received a similar tip from the same individual around the same time, the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies in Siskiyou County located a 2015 silver Nissan Rougue at the cabin that matched the description of the car Cummins was driving, according to the sheriff’s office. Investigators were then able to use the car’s VIN number to confirm that it belonged to Cummins and kept the car under surveillance for several hours, Devine said.

Law enforcement then established a perimeter around the cabin and decided to wait until the morning to arrest Cummins as he exited the cabin, according to the sheriff’s office. A citizen who had befriended the pair assisted police on the scene.

As daylight broke, Cummins was taken into custody, Devine said. Thomas family attorney Jason Whatley said a special police unit “swooped in” on the cabin with “force.”

Elizabeth exited the cabin behind Cummins and was taken into FBI custody in Redding, California, authorities said.

Two loaded handguns were recovered in the cabin, as well as personal items belonging to the pair, according to the sheriff’s office.

Cummins was transported to the Siskiyou County Jail in Yreka, according to the sheriff’s office. He will be arraigned Friday morning.

It could take weeks to extradite Cummins, the FBI said.

Cummins faces charges in Siskiyou County for kidnapping and possession of stolen property, according to the sheriff’s office. The charges are pending review by Siskiyou County District Attorney Kirk Andrus.

In Lawrence County, Tennessee, Cummins faces charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor, said Attorney General Brent Cooper.

The U.S. State Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee also filed a federal charge of transportation of a minor across state lines with intent of having criminal sexual intercourse against Cummins, said U.S. attorney Jack Smith. The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Whatley speculated that Cummins had planned an escape to the Northwest, referencing the citing of the two at a Walmart in Oklahoma City off Interstate 44, which leads to California.

There are “particular qualities in the Northwest that make it easy to disappear,” Whatley said.

Elizabeth was described by authorities to be “healthy” and “unharmed,” but they added that the main concern is the state of her emotional and mental well being. She will be flown back to Tennessee Friday morning on a TBI aircraft, Devine said.

The teen had been missing since she was allegedly kidnapped on March 13 by Cummins, who had been added to Tennessee’s Top 10 Most Wanted list. A day after they disappeared, Cummins was fired from his teaching job at Culleoka Unit School, where Elizabeth had been a student in his forensics class.

Authorities credited citizens and the media for their involvement in helping to locate the teen. Investigators received more than 1,500 tips regarding the whereabouts of the pair, according to the FBI.

“It only takes one tip,” Gwyn said. “This is yet another example of the value of the public helping us to rescue a kidnapping victim.”

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US authorities debating charges against Wikileaks’ Assange

Carl Court/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — U.S. authorities have been engaged in discussions over whether to seek charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The debate over charges was first reported by CNN.

Officials have been debating whether Wikileaks — the organization which has shared troves of confidential materials, often received via persons sharing it illegally — should be viewed as a journalistic enterprise, as Assange claims, or as a group that illegally aided and abetted the widespread disclosure of sensitive information.

The matter was previously considered by the administration of President Barack Obama, but charges were never brought.

In March, Wikileaks released files it said originated from the CIA and detailed the agency’s ability to secretly gain access to internet-connected consumer products.

Last week, CIA Director Mike Pompeo took aim at the organization, describing it as a “hostile” intelligence-gathering service that at times is “abetted by state actors like Russia.” He further identified Assange as a “fraud” and “coward.”

“I am quite confident that had Assange been around in the 1930s and 40s and 50s, he would have found himself on the wrong side of history,” said Pompeo.

Assange is currently living in the Embassy of Ecuador — the country that granted him asylum in 2012 — in London, where he has avoided extradition to Sweden over sexual assault charges.

President Donald Trump’s personal opinion of Wikileaks has varied over time. During the presidential campaign, he praised the organization as it released the purported emails of the Democratic National Committee, at one point calling it a “treasure trove.” But Trump has also criticized the actions Wikileaks’ sources such as Chelsea Manning, whom he has called a “traitor.”

During the first three months of his presidency, Trump has identified the leaking of sensitive information as one of the federal government’s most serious problems. He has repeatedly implored the intelligence community to find “leakers” who have provided information on surveillance activities involving his associates that have ensnared his administration in controversy.

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2 Seattle officers shot while responding to robbery, suspect at large

tonda/iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) — Two Seattle police officers were shot Thursday while responding to a robbery at a 7-Eleven, according to the city’s police department.

The two officers, one male and one female, were brought to the Harborview Medical Center. The hostpial tweeted that the male officer was upgraded to serious condition, and that the female officer remained in satisfactory condition. One officer suffered a shot to the chest, but was wearing a vest sustained minor injuries. The other officer was shot in the chin and in the rib cage.

Condition update: Male officer has been upgraded to serious condition; female officer remains in satisfactory condition. @SeattlePD

— UW Medicine (@UWMedicine) April 20, 2017

Officers responded to a robbery on the 600 block of First Ave. shortly after 1 p.m. local time and identified the three suspects involved with the robbery.

A fight had ensued being the two officers and three suspects and at one point at least one of the suspects fired shots. The suspects, two males and one female, then fled. The female suspect is in custody, another male suspect was apprehended after barricading himself in a nearby building. One of the two suspects contained has “significant injuries,” according to police.

Police initially said they were looking for a possible third suspect, but later tweeted, “Detectives have determined 3rd person initially believed to be suspect was not involved in incident. All suspects in custody.”

“Our hearts and our thoughts are with those officers and their families,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said.

Police are advising people to stay out of the area near Madison Street and Western Ave in downtown Seattle. A large police presence is in the area as it is “still an active crime scene.” Several blocks in the area are still closed to traffic while the investigation is ongoing.

One of the old federal buildings in the area is blocked and people in the building are still sheltering in place until police rend it safe.

The following roadways are closed due to major @SeattlePD incident. Avoid the area and use alternate routes. pic.twitter.com/agmENwqQpH

— seattledot (@seattledot) April 20, 2017

— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) April 20, 2017

More #Seattle PD, SWAT, ATF on scene pic.twitter.com/Sj7cSFTjnX

— Grady Gausman (@GradyGausman) April 20, 2017

Bomb squad now here as well. #Seattle pic.twitter.com/JFUI6wIHbh

— Grady Gausman (@GradyGausman) April 20, 2017

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Family’s custom soccer jerseys show off their co-parenting skills

Jupiterimages/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Alex and Clara Cazeau and Ricky and Emilee Player are a blended family raising Maelyn Player, 4, the daughter of Clara Cazeau and Ricky Player.

The four parents unintentionally showed off their co-parenting skills at Maelyn’s soccer game by wearing customized jerseys identifying them each as mommy, daddy, stepdad and stepmom.

“When I was younger my brother played baseball and my mom would get us shirts made so I wanted to do the same thing when Maelyn started playing her first sport,” Clara Cazeau, 26, told ABC News. “I didn’t think it was going to be anything different.”

A photo of the foursome posing with Maelyn on the soccer field is earning praise after Emilee Player posted it on Facebook. The photo has now been shared more than 85,000 times.

“I wanted to send a message that, because of us, I know that co-parenting can work,” said Emilee Player, 23. “I wanted other people to see it because we’ve been doing this for three years now so it’s our normal life.”

She added, “I think it’s pretty cool that we’re there for our daughter.”

Maelyn’s parents, Ricky Player and Clara Cazeau, split in 2013 when she was just 8 months old. The pair, who both live in Columbus, Georgia, made a commitment immediately to still raise Maelyn in a family unit.

“We just want Maelyn to see that she has two loving parents,” said Ricky Player, 27, who also has an infant daughter with his new wife. “We do a week on and a week off and Clara still comes over on my weeks and sees Maelyn and I do the same for her.”

Ricky Player and Clara Cazeau both met their new spouses while working at the same restaurant in Columbus.

“I came when [Maelyn] was just turning 2,” said Clara’s husband, Alex Cazeau, 21, who is stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. “I love her and treat her as if she’s my own.”

The key to successful co-parenting, according to all four parents, is to act as a team and put the child first.

“Try to stay strong and to put your differences aside, with your ex or the new spouse,” advised Clara Cazeau. “Everyone has to be 100 percent in or it’s not going to work.”

Ricky Player said his daughter can “sense the love” she gets from all four family members, while his wife offered more advice from the perspective of a stepparent.

“We have an understanding in terms of major life events and decisions, that Alex and I kind of step down and Clara and Ricky make those decisions,” Emilee Player said. “Her parents are going to know what’s best for her at all times and we all want what’s best for Maelyn.”

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Missing Tenn. student Elizabeth Thomas found, former teacher Tad Cummins arrested in California

KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Thinkstock(YREKA, Ca.) — Former Tennessee teacher Tad Cummins, who is accused of kidnapping his 15-year-old student, has been arrested in northern California, according to the Tennessee Bureau of
Investigation.

Authorities said the student, Elizabeth Thomas, has been “safely recovered.”

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to ABC News on Thursday that it had located Cummins’ vehicle. Siskiyou County is nestled in the northernmost part of California in the Shasta
Cascade region along the Oregon border.

Cummins, a 50-year-old married father and grandfather, was wanted on allegations of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. An Amber Alert had been issued for Thomas.

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Video shows Kansas City International Airport confrontation with pilot, passenger

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Surveillance footage shows the tense moments leading up to an altercation last week between a pilot and a passenger in a Missouri airport.

The video shows two men entering the Kansas City International Airport through an American Airlines gate on April 12. One man is wearing a pilot’s uniform and the other is wearing a blue shirt, later identified by authorities as a passenger named Edward Foster.

Foster appears to follow the pilot through the airport, arguing with him.

Foster told authorities the altercation began when the pilot, who was traveling as a passenger on the same flight, was “taking up to much room on the aircraft and being disrespectful,” according to an incident report filed by the Kansas City International Airport Police Department.

This caused Foster to follow the pilot “outside the secure area” in an attempt to take a photo of his badge with his cellphone, the incident report stated.

The video shows Foster’s cellphone being knocked out of his hand as the pilot tries to block his badge. That’s when Foster grabs the pilot by the shoulders and pushes him away, causing the pilot to trip over his own luggage.

After the physical altercation, the pilot tried to leave the concourse to meet his wife waiting outside in a car. Foster followed him, talking to the pilot and trying to take a photo of the license plate, before airport police intervened, according to the incident report.

Police said the incident was captured on video from the security cameras in the airport and the footage was saved for further review.

Although the pilot walked away from the altercation, he “suffered lacerations to both legs and bruising to his forearm,” according to the incident report. The pilot’s name was not included in the report.

Foster, 49, has been charged with “intentionally inflicting injury” upon the pilot. His court date is set for May 16, according to court documents. Foster could face a fine or up to 180 days in jail.

It’s the latest incident of the unfriendly skies. Last week, a video that quickly went viral captured the moment when a bloodied passenger was yanked from his seat on a United Airlines flight and dragged down the aisle.

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Migrant workers are making thousands trimming marijuana in California

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — They sit for hours at a time, hunched over tables with scissors in one hand and marijuana in the other. The work is tedious, but it pays well -– for now. This once mostly black market trade is slowly becoming more regulated, hindering the flow of quick, under-the-table cash.

Time melds together, the sound of snipping and sticky scissors clinking as they are dipped in jars of alcohol, before they get back to grooming the weed.

Most people sitting around this table in Mendocino County are migrant workers. They flood into the region during the cannabis harvest in the fall. They are the trimmers –- those hired to cut marijuana for hours on end. Many trimmers in the county looking for work this season have come from all over the U.S. and from all over the world, including Spain, France, Portugal and Switzerland.

“You want to get all the big leaf, and all the leaf, off the flower stuff so it shows in a beautiful way,” said cannabis farmer Tim Blake. “You really want to trim it perfectly if you’re going to sell it.”

Blake, 60, is a self-described activist who has been growing cannabis for 45 years.

Blake’s 155-acre farm is located across the road from his dispensary, Healing Harvest Farms, in Laytonville, California. The farm is home to 99 marijuana plants that look more like trees, standing between 6 and 13 feet tall. On average, he said, they produce 400 pounds of weed annually.

The towering plants are harvested every fall. Before the weed is sold, it has to be cut, dried and trimmed.

“The very best flowers are always going to be trimmed by hand,” Blake said.

“Why do we trim? It’s obviously financial motivation, for sure. It’s not fun work,” said Bishma, 31, who has been trimming weed for eight years. He goes by Bishma in Mendocino, but declined to give ABC News his legal name.

California passed Proposition 64 in 2016, which legalized recreational marijuana for the state. But even before that, Blake’s medicinal marijuana farm was legal under state and county ordinances.

“It’s not like a free for all, grow wherever you want, whatever you want,” said Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman. “We certainly have limits and conditions and ordinances. Our citizenry understands that if they don’t want law enforcement to come to their house … then all they have to do is comply with the law.”

Blake, like other growers in the county, is restricted to 99 plants and has to undergo inspections on his property.

“For the most part, the federal government has said that if the state law is complied with, that the federal government will not get involved with,” Allman said prior to the 2016 presidential election.

However, despite the medicinal measures Blake has followed, and the recreational law that passed in California in 2016, the future is still uncertain when it comes to marijuana and legalization under the Trump administration.

In February, press secretary Sean Spicer spoke about differences between recreational and medicinal marijuana and said, “I do believe you will see greater enforcement of [federal restrictions on recreational use].”

A recent Yahoo News/Marist poll titled “Weed and the American Family” reported that 52 percent of Americans ages 18 or older have tried marijuana in their lifetime. It also found that “there is overwhelming support for the legalization of medical marijuana” with 83 percent of Americans behind it, and that a majority of Americans, 56 percent, “think marijuana use is socially acceptable.”

Marijuana laws in the United States currently differ state to state and county to county. Even though Prop. 64 passed in California, the state is still in transition when it comes to recreational marijuana. But there is a strong sentiment from people in the business that as laws evolve to legalize recreational weed, it will have an impact when it comes to trimming and money.

The first person who hired Bishma to trim paid him in cash –- no taxes. And as a self-proclaimed world-class trimmer, he brags about how fast he is, which means he can earn more.

“Really slow trimmers can make as little as $100 a day, if they’re not any good,” Blake said. “A really great trimmer can make up to $400 a day, or $450 a day. An incredible trimmer can make $500 a day in product.”

Trimmers working on Blake’s farm this year said they were hoping to make anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 during the harvest, depending on who you asked.

But as laws evolve and marijuana becomes more of a regulated industry, so does the business.

Blake said he always only hires trimmers who are American citizens, and in the past has had them work for barter, trimming in exchange for medicinal marijuana. But, for the first time this year, he said they will receive monetary compensation and be expected to pay taxes.

“I don’t think we’re going to get paid as much as we used to, or even still getting now, because taxes are coming in now,” Bishma said. “We never had taxes before, ever, nothing.”

“Trimmers are going to get paid through salaries,” Blake said. “It’s going to be the end of the gold rush for trimmers.”

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