Review Category : National News

Former Senator Al D’Amato Kicked Off JetBlue Flight After Seat Disagreement

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) — Former New York Sen. Al D’Amato was escorted off a JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale to New York Monday night after he “lost patience” with several passengers who refused to move their seats to help balance the plane, his spokesperson tells ABC News.

According to passengers on board JetBlue flight 1002 –- which had already been delayed more than five hours –- the captain asked 10 passengers from the plane’s first nine rows to move to the back of the aircraft due to “weight and balance issues.”

When only a few would budge, D’Amato, 79, got up to encourage them to move, the passengers said. Only a couple more did. Eventually, the Senator “lost patience” and confronted the captain, demanding that he force the remaining passengers to move.

Not long after, Broward County Sheriff’s Deputies boarded and escorted D’Amato off the aircraft, which was still at the gate.

“We can still speak in this country,” he told passengers as he deplaned, according to a video of the incident posted on D’Amato’s twitter feed. “Stand up for what’s right, and walk out with me.”

At least one man followed D’Amato off the plane, the video showed.

“The decision to remove a customer from a flight is not taken lightly. If a customer is causing a conflict on the aircraft, it is standard procedure to ask the customer to deplane, especially if the crew feels the situation runs a risk of escalation in-flight,” JetBlue said in a statement.

“Anyone who knows Senator D’Amato knows he speaks his mind – but in this case he spoke after a long and demanding trip to Florida to visit an ailing friend, a five hour airport ground delay, additional delays as the crew sought to deal with weight and balance issues and then sleep deprivation,” D’Amato’s spokesperson said.

The rep added that the airline apologized for “overreacting” and the senator apologized for speaking out “when he clearly had left his patience at the gate.”

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Cat Caught in Garage Door Saved by Deputy

Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office(NEW ORLEANS) — As a sheriff’s deputy who worked for decades serving Louisiana, Deputy Mike Scott likely witnessed his fair share of unusual events. But nothing prepared him for what he responded to a call for a cat stuck in a garage door.

On Dec. 29, Scott — who retired as a captain in 2011, but now works part-time as a deputy — responded to a call for assistance of an animal being stuck in a residence, according to the Ascension (Louisiana) Parish Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

By the time Scott arrived, several neighbors were already trying to assist. With their help, he removed the upper frame molding of the garage door, allowing the cat to be freed.

Bella the cat was checked for injuries and none were found. According to the sheriff’s department Facebook post, the homeowner told Deputy Scott Bella that the cat must have been sleeping on the garage door and he did not notice when he left. The homeowner was out shopping for lumber after flooding damaged his home.

“I am not much of a cat person, but no one wants to see an animal suffer,” said Deputy Scott. “After losing so much from the flood, I was happy that I could save the homeowner’s cat. Thank God for miracles and good neighbors.”

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Charleston Victim’s Brother Calls Dylann Roof’s Sentence a ‘Hollow Victory’

ABC News(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — The brother of one of convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof’s nine victims calls the 22-year-old’s death sentence a “hollow victory.”

Melvin Graham, brother of victim Cynthia Hurd, said after Roof’s sentence was read this afternoon, “Today we had justice for my sister.” But he called Roof’s sentence a “very hollow victory because my sister’s still gone.”

“I wish that this verdict could have brought her back,” he added.

Graham said he supported the death penalty in this case, calling Roof’s crimes “executions.” He added that Roof took nine lives in a brutal fashion with no remorse.

“It’s a hard thing to know that someone’s going to lose their life,” Graham said of Roof. “But when you look at the totality of what happened, it’s hard to say that this person deserves to live.”

Roof, 22, was sentenced to death this afternoon in a unanimous decision by the jury for killing nine black churchgoers during a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015. This verdict comes at the end of the federal death penalty case in which he was convicted of hate crimes resulting in death, among other charges. This is the first time a death penalty verdict was rendered in a federal hate crimes case, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

Roof also faces a state trial in which he may again face the death penalty. The state trial was delayed indefinitely last week.

The jury began deliberating Roof’s fate earlier Tuesday, after Roof told the jury in a closing statement, “I still feel like I had to do it.”

Asked whether he has forgiven Roof, Graham replied, “I’m a work in progress.”

“I think that in time that’ll come,” he said. “I can’t live in hate. But I think in time it’ll come, the peace will come. But right now, no.”

Graham added that Roof’s fate is “in God’s hands now.”

As Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson laid out the government’s argument for the death penalty Tuesday, he called Roof’s actions “calculated.” “He spent years acquiring this deep hatred, this deep hatred we would all like to believe could not exist in someone. But it does. You’ve seen it,” Richardson said.

Roof’s family said in a statement Tuesday, “We will always love Dylann. We will struggle as long as we live to understand why he committed this horrible attack, which caused so much pain to so many good people. We wish to express the grief we feel for the victims of his crimes, and our sympathy to the many families he has hurt. We continue to pray for the Emanuel AME families and the Charleston community.”

Roof’s defense said in a statement that the “sentencing decision means that this case will not be over for a very long time. We are sorry that, despite our best efforts, the legal proceedings have shed so little light on the reasons for this tragedy.”

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Charleston Church Shooter Dylann Roof Sentenced to Death

ABC News(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — Dylann Roof, 22, has been sentenced to death for killing nine black churchgoers during a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina.

The jury began deliberating Roof’s fate earlier today, after Roof told the jury in a closing statement, “I still feel like I had to do it.”

The verdict comes at the end of the federal death penalty case in which he convicted of hate crimes resulting in death among other charges. Roof also faces a state trial in which he may again face the death penalty.

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

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Reward Increased to $100K for Man Wanted in Killing of Veteran Orlando Officer

Orlando Police Department(ORLANDO, Fla.) — The reward for the capture of Markeith Loyd, who is wanted for allegedly gunning down a veteran police sergeant in Orlando, Florida, on Monday, has been raised to $100,000.

Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, a wife and mother, was on duty by herself at around 7 a.m. Monday near a Walmart when a citizen approached her about a wanted murder suspect — Loyd — and said he was nearby, Orlando police said.

Clayton found Loyd and then chased him, according to police. When Clayton told him to stop running, he opened fire, police said. Clayton, who was wearing body armor, was shot multiple times, police said, and later died.

Authorities said Loyd, 41, was already wanted for allegedly killing a pregnant woman before Clayton’s shooting.

While the “extensive” manhunt is ongoing, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said Tuesday he wants the community to know it is safe to go about daily activities.

As Mina and other local law enforcement leaders today asked for the public’s help in finding Loyd, Mina vowed, “We’ll get him. It’s only a matter of time.”

“We’ve never dealt with a reward like this [before],” Barb Bergin of Central Florida Crimeline added. She said Crimeline had received tips on Loyd before Clayton’s shooting, but since Monday’s deadly shooting, it has received about 300 additional tips.

Authorities believe people have been helping Loyd evade capture for weeks, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said Tuesday, adding that anyone helping Loyd will also be arrested.

Mina said harboring a fugitive is a felony. “We’re not going to stop looking for them, either,” he said of those helping Loyd. “If people know of people who are harboring Markeith Loyd … they need to call 911.”

Clayton’s funeral will be Saturday in Orlando, Mina said Tuesday. A GoFundMe page has been set up for her family, he said.

On Monday, police called Clayton a hero, saying she gave her life protecting the community she loved. She had been with the Orlando Police Department since 1999 and was promoted to master sergeant last year, police said.

Mina said in a news conference Monday that Clayton “was in our mentoring programs where she personally traveled and mentored young kids in high school from this area and went to trips to Washington, D.C., and all over the country.”

“She was trying to do her part to make this community safer,” Mina said. “She’s going to be forever missed.”

A second law enforcement officer, a motorcycle officer from the Orange County Sheriff’s office, was also killed in the line of duty while responding to the Walmart shooting, authorities said. The officer, Deputy First Class Norman Lewis, an 11-year veteran, was struck by a motorist and killed, the sheriff’s office said.

Lewis’ funeral is set for Friday.

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Dylann Roof Tells Jury: ‘I Still Feel Like I Had to Do It’

Charleston County Sheriff(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof told the jury who will decide his fate, “I still feel like I had to do it.”

Roof, already convicted of opening fire and killing nine churchgoers during a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015, will be sentenced to death or life in prison at the conclusion of this federal trial. The jury will begin deliberations after Tuesday’s closing arguments.

Roof said Tuesday, “I think that it’s safe to say that no one in their right mind wants to go into a church and kill people,” ABC affiliate WCIV-TV reported. “In my confession to the FBI I told them that I had to do it.”

“But obviously that’s not really true. I didn’t have to do it and no one made me do it,” Roof said. “What I meant when I said that was I felt like I had to do it and I still feel like I had to do it.”

The government is asking the jury to sentence Roof to death. In the sentencing phase of the federal trial, the government laid out its case over four days, with testimony from the loved ones of victims. The family members and friends shared personal stories about the victims and described what life has been like since the shooting. Jurors cried in court during some of the emotional testimony.

Roof, 22, who is representing himself, refused to testify and did not call any witnesses to the stand. Last week, Roof spoke for less than five minutes in his opening statement, telling the jury there is nothing wrong with him psychologically. He did not apologize for his actions.

The jury must be unanimous to sentence Roof to death; a split decision will yield a life sentence.

Among those who testified for the government during the sentencing phase was Jennifer Pinckney, wife of slain pastor and South Carolina State Sen. Clementa Pinckney. Pinckney told the jury her husband was a loving and devoted father to their two young daughters, then 6 and 12.

She and her youngest daughter were in an office at the church on the night of the shooting. She recounted to the jury how she and her young daughter hid under a desk as gunshots rang out. She said they put their hands over each other’s mouth. She said Roof tried to open the door to where she was, but it was locked.

She testified that the hardest thing she ever had to do was tell her children that their father had been killed.

On June 17, 2015, Roof entered the predominantly black Emanuel AME Church with the “intent of killing African-Americans engaged in the exercise of their religious beliefs,” according to the federal indictment against him. The parishioners welcomed Roof into their Bible study group, according to the indictment, after which Roof drew his pistol and opened fire.

The 33 federal counts against Roof included hate crimes resulting in death and obstruction of exercise of religion resulting in death.

Roof’s defense attorney David Bruck told the court last month that Roof “did it,” but added, “Our society does not order the death penalty if there are reasons to choose life.”

Roof also faces a state trial in which he may again face the death penalty. The state trial, which was scheduled to begin this month, has been delayed indefinitely.

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Suspect in Custody After Hostage Situation at Alabama Credit Union

iStock/Thinkstock(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) — A suspect is in custody after a hostage situation at a credit union in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, officials told local media.

No one was injured in the incident inside the One Credit Union, according to Tuscaloosa Police Lt. Teena Richardson.

The suspect’s connection to the bank is not immediately clear, police said.

The situation did not appear to be a robbery, the police said earlier to ABC affiliate WBMA-TV, adding that the initial call came in as a “gun call.” Police said the credit union did not appear to be open.

The credit union is located across the street from the University of Alabama’s law school. The University of Alabama issued a campus alert when the hostage situation was reported, urging people to avoid the area.

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Hostage Situation Reportedly Underway at Alabama Credit Union

iStock/Thinkstock(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) — A hostage situation is reportedly underway at a credit union in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, officials told local media.

A suspect and hostages are inside the One Credit Union, Tuscaloosa police told ABC affiliate WBMA-TV, although it’s not immediately clear how many hostages are there.

The situation does not appear to be a robbery, the police said, adding that the initial call came in as a “gun call.” Police said the credit union did not appear to be open.

The credit union is located across the street from the University of Alabama’s law school. The University of Alabama issued a campus alert, saying police are responding to an active hostage situation and people should avoid the area.

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Winter Storms That Battered Parts of the West Are Moving Eastward

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — At least a dozen states from California to Minnesota are under some sort of winter weather alert or flood alert as storms that have battered the western part of the country with rain or snow are expected to travel east Tuesday, rolling into the Midwest.

Since Friday afternoon, up to 11.84 inches of rain fell north of San Francisco. Meanwhile, Reno, Nevada, had 2.87 inches of rain so far this month, making it the city’s wettest month in nine years.

Here’s the current view of Wingfield Park. Please stay away from the water. #NVFlood17 pic.twitter.com/kDegGDUlYB

— City of Reno (@CityofReno) January 8, 2017

NDOT #NVFlood17 related Road Closures Update go to https://t.co/GwEQ3kmZvf
Pyramid Lake Area photo attached pic.twitter.com/LIdAvz5l4N

— NV Emergency Mgmt (@NVEmergencyMgmt) January 9, 2017

Sacramento set a record for daily rainfall on Monday with 1.95 inches, and it isn’t likely to let up any time soon. More rain is expected in central California Tuesday, as a brand new storm is about to pass through.

The Napa, Russian and Navarro Rivers, located in northern California, are all expected to rise as a result of the storms.

Avalanche blocking both west and east I-70 Vail pass. Road closures at Vail and Copper Mtn. pic.twitter.com/WjrqDaXnh1

— CSP Eagle (@CSP_Eagle) January 10, 2017

Meanwhile, an avalanche on Interstate-70 early Tuesday morning hit a semi truck and closed Vail Pass in Colorado, forcing the Colorado Department of Transportation to close parts of the highway.

Trucks are taking a beating in Colorado in general. Winds were so powerful on Monday that it apparently flipped a semi onto its side.

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Jurors Hear Closing Arguments in Dylann Roof Trial

Charleston County Sheriff(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof will have one last opportunity Tuesday to plead his case in front of a jury.

Roof, already convicted of opening fire and killing nine churchgoers during a bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015, will be sentenced to death or life in prison at the conclusion of this federal trial. The jury will begin deliberations after Tuesday’s closing arguments.

The government is asking the jury to sentence Roof to death. In the sentencing phase of the federal trial, the government laid out its case over four days, with testimony from the loved ones of victims. The family members and friends shared personal stories about the victims and described what life has been like since the shooting. Jurors cried in court during some of the emotional testimony.

Roof, 22, who is representing himself, refused to testify and did not call any witnesses to the stand. Last week, Roof spoke for less than five minutes in his opening statement, telling the jury there is nothing wrong with him psychologically. He did not apologize for his actions.

Among those who testified for the government during the sentencing phase was Jennifer Pinckney, wife of slain pastor and South Carolina State Sen. Clementa Pinckney. Pinckney told the jury her husband was a loving and devoted father to their two young daughters, then 6 and 12.

She and her youngest daughter were in an office at the church on the night of the shooting. She recounted to the jury how she and her young daughter hid under a desk as gunshots rang out. She said they put their hands over each other’s mouth. She said Roof tried to open the door to where she was, but it was locked.

She testified that the hardest thing she ever had to do was tell her children that their father had been killed.

On June 17, 2015, Roof entered the predominantly black Emanuel AME Church with the “intent of killing African-Americans engaged in the exercise of their religious beliefs,” according to the federal indictment against him. The parishioners welcomed Roof into their Bible study group, according to the indictment, after which Roof drew his pistol and opened fire.

The 33 federal counts against Roof included hate crimes resulting in death and obstruction of exercise of religion resulting in death.

Roof’s defense attorney David Bruck told the court last month that Roof “did it,” but added, “Our society does not order the death penalty if there are reasons to choose life.”

Roof also faces a state trial in which he may again face the death penalty. The state trial, which was scheduled to begin this month, has been delayed indefinitely.

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