Review Category : National News

NYPD Arrest Man in Connection With the Murder of Queens Jogger Karina Vetrano

karinavetrano/Instagram(NEW YORK) — A suspect is in custody in the murder of Karina Vetrano, a 30-year-old woman who went out running in the Howard Beach neighborhood of Queens, New York, and never returned, police announced Sunday.

Vetrano was strangled on August 2, while jogging alone on a path where she and her father often ran together.

Chanel Lewis, a 20-year-old man who lives with his mother in East New York, Brooklyn, was taken into custody Saturday evening at approximately 6 p.m., the New York Police Department announced.

Later this afternoon, he was formally charged with murder in the 2nd degree.

Lewis, police said, was identified through a number of factors, including DNA evidence taken from Vetrano’s person, a 911 call, and several court summonses that linked him to the area. He has no prior arrest record, police said.

Police said that he was interviewed by detectives and made detailed confessions to the crime.

Early in the investigation, police said that Vetrano had put up a fight against her attacker, and Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce referred to that detail in a press conference this afternoon.

“Karina helped us to identify this suspect,” Boyce said. “Thanks to the DNA we recovered from under her nails.”

Police gave only limited details about the conclusion of their investigation. Boyce corrected what he described as a misconception about it by saying that Lewis had not been in their sights for very long.

He described the case as coming to a head within only the last 10 days, and pointed to a DNA swab as being the key link between Lewis and Vetrano’s body.

He added that he expected Lewis to be arraigned either later today or early tomorrow. It is unclear right now who will be representing the suspect at the arraignment.

Police suggested today that it was unlikely that Lewis knew Vetrano in any personal or social capacity, and believed the violence occurred following a “chance encounter.”

Boyce also said that it was unlikely Lewis was a stalker, as some had speculated earlier in the investigation.

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Republican Congressman in California Escorted from Town Hall by Police After Protests

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images(ROSEVILLE, Calif.) — Hundreds of protesters in northern California booed and chanted, “Shame!” on Saturday as police escorted Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) out of what quickly became a heated town hall.

The Republican congressman held the gathering at the Tower Theater in Roseville to defend his party’s agenda and President Trump’s policies, including the controversial executive order on immigration and refugees.

“I believe that order is constitutional,” he said at the event, according to the Sacramento Bee, eliciting boos.

McClintock also reportedly compared the frustration of those at the town hall to Republicans who disliked Barack Obama’s policies.

“I understand you do not like Donald Trump,” he said according to the Sacramento Bee. “I sympathize with you. There have been elections where our side has lost. … Just a word of friendly advice: Remember that there were many people in America who disagreed and feared Barack Obama just as vigorously as you disagree with and fear Donald Trump.”

Protesters told ABC affiliate KXTV that more people were unable to attend because officials had closed off the event, despite there being additional space inside the theater. After the town hall, McClintock told KXTV by phone the fire marshal said the theater was at capacity and there were plans to let people enter in small groups.

After an hour, however, the congressman was escorted out by police. McClintock told KXTV that officials said he needed to leave due to “deteriorating events outside.”

A town hall attendee told KXTV: “McClintock did not seem to display any awareness of the frustration, of the fears, of the legitimate concerns on the part of those of us who were there [Saturday].”

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Thousands Join New Protests Against Trump’s Immigration Order

BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Thousands of people from New York to Los Angeles to Miami where President Trump is staying launched new protests Saturday against President Trump’s executive order barring entry into the U.S. of travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

The demonstrations came in the wake of a federal judge’s order Friday placing a temporary restraining order on the executive action. With that ruling, the federal Department of Homeland Security said Saturday it has stopped enforcing key parts of the executive action on entry into the U.S. by travelers from the seven countries — Syria, Yemen, Libya, SSudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and Libya.

In New York, demonstrators braved bitterly cold weather to turn out for what organizers billed as a solidarity rally by the LGBT community in support of immigrants and refugees affected by the executive order. It was based around the Greenwich Village’s iconic Stonewall Inn, the site of historic protests for LGBT rights.

Anthony Sandoval, 35, a fashion designer, told ABC News, “A lot of my friends are going to be affected by Trump’s immigration policies.”

Julia Pelta Feldman, carried a sign declaring, “Families of Holocaust survivors stand with refugees,” and on the opposite side, “My bubbe warned me about this,” using the Yiddish word for grandmother. She said her grandparents were Polish refugees who escaped the Holocaust and that in addition to her concerns about immigrants and refugees she is worried about preserving the separation of church and state and protecting the rights of the LGBT community.

Julia Pelta Feldman at #stonewall rally says she stands up for refugees in part because her grandparents were Jewish refugees from Poland

— Michael E. Hayden (@MichaelEHayden) February 4, 2017

Tightly packed crowd at #Stonewallrally protesting Trump and GOP agenda

— Michael E. Hayden (@MichaelEHayden) February 4, 2017

Sidney Grant, 51, told ABC News that he is also worried about possible actions by the Trump administration that could roll back progress on rights for LGBT people.

“People who falsely say LGBTQ people are godless are antiquated. We are the most spiritually diverse of any minority group,” Grant said.

Protesters also rallied in the cold temperatures in Philadelphia to protest against the executive action.

“No ban, no wall,” said many signs held by protesters at the rally across from Philadelphia’s City Hall, reported ABC station WPVI-TV.

In Los Angeles, protesters both for and against the president’s immigration order demonstrated at Tom Bradley International Airport, ABC station KABC-TV reported.

In Miami, a crowd marched downtown toward the county courthouse around 3 p.m. local time, ABC afflicate WPLG-TV reported.

Protests were also held in Washington, D.C. and in cities in other countries including Ottawa, Canada, and London.

I’d guesstimate about 2-3000 folks rallying at WH for “No Ban, No Wall” protest. Should be marching soon.

— Bullneck (@Bullneck) February 4, 2017

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Thousands Affected by N.C. Water Emergency

Mixa next/iStock/Thinkstock(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) – 75,000 residents in Chapel Hill, North Carolina are being told not to drink their water for a second day in a row Saturday due to a water main break.

Officials say the break coupled with a fluoride problem at a treatment plant could leave the water unsafe to drink. The Orange Water and Sewer Authority is planning to test the water and could have results available by Saturday evening.

“We’re gonna have to soak it up, we’re gonna have to soak it up because we’ve got family here visiting, we can’t afford to leave right now,” said resident OJ Iftihar.

Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger has issued a State of Emergency and is calling for restaurants and public schools to close. UNC-Chapel Hill has canceled all activities indefinitely.

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Teacher’s Inspirational Note to Students Goes Viral, ‘Remember to Aim Far!’

iStock/Thinkstock(BRISBANE, Australia) — A teacher wanted to welcome her students to a new school year in a special way.

So the educator in Queensland, Australia, crafted a note packed with inspirational messages that’s gone viral on Facebook with more than 14,000 people liking it.

“Welcome to year 4. I am so glad that you’re here,” begins the note by a 4th-grade teacher at Bowen State School. “Here’s is a little goodie bag to help kick off the year.”

“The eraser is to remind you that [it] is ok to make mistakes,” the note continued. “We’ll work and learn together, no matter what it takes.”

“The stickers mean we’ll stick together and work hard as a team. The puzzle shows how we fit together, working towards a common theme,” the note continued.

Bowen State School

The welcome letter ends by telling students, “Work hard and do your best. Remember to aim far!”

A Queensland Department of Education and Training spokesperson told ABC News that the teacher found a note online that she amended for her class. The department did not give the teacher’s name.

“This is a great example of the welcoming atmosphere Bowen State School teachers and staff created for students as they started the school year,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The school’s dedicated teachers came up with a range of ways to make new and returning students feel welcomed and confident for the year ahead.”

The internet seems to agree.

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Army Corps of Engineers Closing Dakota Pipeline Protest Camp

Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to close the federal property where demonstrators have been protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline for safety reasons, it announced Friday.

Record snowfall is expected in North Dakota, which could lead to record flooding in the area, according to an Army press release. There is also concern that the protester camp is leaving refuse, debris and untreated waste, which could lead to environmental issues at the Cannonball River and Lake Oahe if there is major flooding.

“Much of the land where the protest camps are currently located is directly in an area prone to flooding in years with heavy plains snow pack,” the Army said. “While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers routinely monitors river levels, ice jam flooding can very quickly force water into low-lying areas near the river with little time for reaction, placing anyone in the floodplain at risk for possible injury or death.”

Protesters were informed Friday of the closure, which will take place Feb. 22, the Army said. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department said that if the protesters do not leave the camp, it will become a “humanitarian mission” to rescue them.

The moves comes in the wake of a presidential memo by Donald Trump asking for an expedited review of the Dakota Access Pipeline in an effort to get the controversial final portion of the 1,100-mile project moving again.

Officials are also concerned about soil erosion, which will be exacerbated should flooding occur, the Army said. Additionally, the grass from about 50 acres of land on the property has been removed or destroyed due to “the unauthorized placement of structures, vehicles, personal property and fires.”

“As stewards of the public lands and natural resources, we have a responsibility to the public to prevent injuries and loss of life, and to ensure that our precious water resources are free from pollution due to human activities and respect for all who rely on this water for their livelihoods,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District Commander, Col. John Henderson. “Public safety will continue to be our top priority.”

The website of the largest protest camp urged protesters to leave.

“As we are caretakers of this land we are familiar with the oncoming flooding of the land of Mni S’os’e (Missouri River) we ask occupants of the Oc’eti Oyate to evacuate as soon as possible for safety reasons,” the Oceti Sakowin camp said in a statement.

Seventy-six protesters were arrested after they tried to set up an additional camp on private property across the street from the existing camp on Wednesday.

Officers from the Morton County Sheriff’s Office gave the group, which included American Indian activist and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe member Chase Iron Eyes, a given period of time to dismantle the camp, but when demonstrators did not show signs of vacating, police decided to “enforce the law and evict,” the department said.

The leader of the camp told ABC News that they believed they had rights to use the land, although it is now private property, under a 19th century treaty. The arrests were “relatively peaceful,” the leader said.

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In Heartbreaking 911 Call, Child Says Father Driving While Drunk SIMONS, Ga.) — A harrowing 911 audio recording has been released by authorities in Georgia Friday of a young child hysterically crying for help as she tells a dispatcher that she is riding in a car being driven by her allegedly drunk father.

“Hello, is this 911? … The only person that’s here is my dad and he’s drunk. My dad is drunk,” the 9-year-old can be heard telling the 911 dispatcher. “Help me, please! Help me!”

In the 17-minute 911 call made Sunday around 4 p.m., the little girl told the dispatcher that she was traveling in St. Simons Island, Georgia, with her father behind the wheel. Police said a younger sister was also in the car.

The little girl said she was from Atlanta, nearly four hours away, and that she thought her father was trying to take her to her grandparents’ house. At times, on the recording, she was so upset and terrified that the dispatcher could not make out what she was saying.

“I don’t know where we’re going. He’s driving really fast. … I think I’m going to get into a wreck,” she says. “I think I’m going to get into a wreck and kill myself. … I don’t know where I am right now. Daddy, stop the friggin car! Stop the car. Pull over somewhere!”

As the dispatcher tried to locate the vehicle, the 9-year-old was able to calm down and recall her grandparents’ address. The dispatcher was able to direct police officers to the house, where they found the girls, their father and the car.

In a police report, officers identified the father as 36-year-old Wesley Burgner and said he was “visibly intoxicated.” Police said he’d been drinking along the way from Atlanta to St. Simons Island.

“Wesley had slurred, slowed speech, had trouble standing, had trouble formulating sentences, stumbled when he walked and smelled of an alcoholic beverage,” the police report said. “Wesley admitted he had been driving.”

He was arrested and taken to the Glynn County Detention Center. Burgner faces charges including DUI, endangering a child/DUI and driving on a suspended license.

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Bowling Green Massacre Never Happened

Scott Eisen/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Despite comments made by White House Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway, there never was a massacre at the hands of Iraqi refugees in the city of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

In fact there never has been a terror attack of any kind in the city of 60,000, and local officials are now rushing to assure everyone their town is safe – and always has been.

“I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green Massacre,” Conway said on MSNBC on Thursday night. “I mean most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”

It didn’t get covered because it didn’t happen. There was no massacre.

It is true – as ABC News first reported in 2013 – that in 2009 two al-Qaeda terrorists from Iraq were found to be living as refugees in Bowling Green. In court, they later admitted that they had attacked U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

The arrest of the two men, who are now in prison, led to a six month drastic curtailment and overhaul of the Iraqi refugee program in 2011.

The entire saga played out in the small Kentucky town without bloodshed, much less a massacre.

Conway’s comments marked another embarrassing on-air appearance for the senior white house counselor.

On Jan. 22, Conway defended White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s claim that Trump’s inauguration saw “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”

Pressed by a journalist on the press secretary’s false characterization, Conway said, “you’re saying it’s a falsehood and they’re giving – Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that.”

On Friday, Conway’s false claim that a massacre took place in Bowling Green became the subject of widespread mockery on social media – replete with custom memes and a parody hashtag.

But where there was humor, there was also drama.

Early on Friday, Conway tweeted that she “meant to say ‘Bowling Green terrorists’,” during her live appearance last night.

Not long after, Chelsea Clinton – daughter of Trump’s campaign rival, Hillary Clinton – tweeted in part: “Please don’t make up attacks.”

Conway later said on the social network, “Instead of creating memes & phony outrage. It’s a dangerous world.”

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Judge Denies Lighter Security for ‘El Chapo,’ Says ‘I Think We All Know the Reasons’

Daniel Cardenas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Defense attorneys for Joaquin Guzman, the Mexican drug lord known as “El Chapo,” sought to have some of the strict security measures surrounding the drug kingpin’s incarceration relaxed during an appearance in federal court in Brooklyn, New York Friday morning.

But Judge Brian Cogan, without mentioning Guzman’s prior two prison escapes, said, “They’re taking extra security measures. I think we all know the reasons for that.”

Guzman, who was most recently recaptured in Mexico in January 2016, was extradited to the United States last month for alleged drug crimes.

A heavy police presence Friday morning escorted Guzman from the high-security Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan to a Brooklyn federal courthouse after Guzman’s lawyers challenged the government’s plan for him to appear in court via closed circuit TV from his MCC cell. The 12-car caravan shut down the outbound Brooklyn Bridge for 15 minutes.

The defense asked for permission for Guzman’s wife, who was present in court, to visit him, but the judge deferred to prison officials, who have previously rejected the request.

Guzman, who appeared in court Friday in navy prison garb, appeared to acknowledge his wife, former teen beauty queen Emma Coronel. This was the first time Coronel had seen her husband since he was incarcerated in the U.S.

Guzman is on a 23-hour lockdown in jail. Guzman’s attorney Michelle Gelernt told reporters after court that her client is only permitted to leave his cell to speak to “limited members” of the defense team and for one hour of exercise a day.

Gelernt called the security measure “extremely restrictive” and said he should eventually be allowed to make phone calls to his attorneys and have visits with his wife.

“We believe that in light of the fact that he has caused no security problems since he’s come to this country, he’s conducted himself the way he should in court and with the agents who arrested him, that the current restrictions are excessive,” she said.

The 17-count indictment filed in the Eastern District of New York against Guzman alleges that between 1989 and 2014, Guzman, as the leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, ran a “criminal enterprise responsible for importing into the United States and distributing massive amounts of illegal narcotics and for conspiring to murder people who posed a threat to the narcotics enterprise,” according to a Department of Justice statement.

The government is also demanding that Guzman surrender $14 billion “in drug proceeds and illicit profits,” the Department of Justice said, profits that he allegedly smuggled into Mexico from the U.S.

Guzman has pleaded not guilty.

“Guzman faces a sentence of mandatory life imprisonment, if convicted of the continuing criminal enterprise charge, and a maximum sentence of life on the remaining charges,” the Department of Justice said.

His next hearing was set for May 10.

Guzman has twice escaped from prison in Mexico. The most recent escape was in 2015; he was recaptured in January 2016. He was extradited to the U.S. in January 2017.

Last month, Robert Capers, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, called Guzman’s extradition a “milestone,” saying that federal prosecutors from around the U.S. spent well over a decade investigating the suspect’s alleged criminal activities.

Guzman led a “life of crime, violence, death and destruction” and continued to grow his empire during the times he has been in prison, Capers said at a press conference.

Guzman will face charges in six indictments from around the U.S., the Justice Department said.

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Zoos in Atlanta, Boston Prepare for Super Bowl LI

Zoo Atlanta(ATLANTA) — Who says animals aren’t football fans?

Animals at Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia, and Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, Massachusetts, are going wild for their hometown teams ahead of Sunday’s championship game.

The gorilla and lemur enclosures at Franklin Park Zoo are decked out in red, white and blue streamers. The lions at the zoo got their own festive decor, with “Go Pats” spelled out in the snow with hay and wood shavings.

Not to be outdone, twin giant panda cubs Ya Lun and Xi Lun at Zoo Atlanta were spotted wrestling over their Atlanta Falcons football. The cubs will be 5 months old on Feb. 5 and seem ready to celebrate the occasion with a Super Bowl win.

The Atlanta Falcons will face off against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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