Review Category : National News

House Homeland Security Chairman: ‘Disturbing Flags’ in Orlando Shooting Case

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) — House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, said there are some “disturbing flags” in the Orlando shooting case and that his committee will conduct oversight hearings to determine whether the FBI did all it could to investigate them prior to the attack.

“There are some disturbing flags going up in this case that we’re going to take a close look at,” the Texas Republican said on ABC’s This Week, adding, “The FBI tells me they didn’t have predication to detain or arrest” the alleged shooter, Omar Mateen, in its prior investigations of him.

“We do know he was on the radar several times saying he had affiliations with al Qaeda, terrorist organizations. We know he was close or attended the same mosque with the suicide bomber in Syria out of Florida,” McCaul said.

McCaul also warned that there will likely be future attacks.

“This will not be the last attack in the United States. I’m certain that there is another individual like Mateen out there who is radicalizing as we speak,” he said.

Earlier this week, Republican Sen. John McCain said President Obama was “directly responsible” for the attack in Orlando. He later tweeted to clarify that he was referring to the president’s national security decisions, not the president himself.

McCaul did not personally blame the president, but did criticize his foreign policy. “I do think the foreign policy that’s been conducted over the last three-and-a-half years since we’ve known about ISIS has led to this.”

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How Oakland Lost Its 3rd Police Chief in 9 Days

iStock/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) — Oakland, California, lost its third police chief in nine days Friday as the city’s embattled police force grapples with allegations of sexual misconduct.

Oakland Police Assistant Chief Paul Figueroa was acting chief for two days before stepping down. Mayor Libby Schaaf said Figueroa’s decision was unrelated to the scandal enveloping the Oakland Police Department.

“He has gone on leave and has asked to return, as is his right, in the position of captain. I will not be appointing another acting chief,” Schaaf told a news conference Friday night.

Instead, the mayor put city administrator Sabrina Landreth in charge.

“This is an appropriate time to place civilian oversight over the police department and to send a clear message about how serious we are of not tolerating misconduct, unethical behavior, and to root out what is clearly a toxic and macho culture,” Schaaf said. “I want to assure the citizens of Oakland we are hell bent on rooting out this disgusting culture and holding those accountable responsible for their misdeeds.”

How It Started

Last month, the Oakland Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division launched an internal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct involving three police officers. The officers under investigation were placed on paid administrative leave, the department said in a statement at the time.

“The Oakland Police Department will not tolerate misconduct of any kind from its employees,” it said in the statement. “The Oakland Police Department holds all employees accountable for their actions on and off duty.”

The statement, which included no details about the allegations, did not name the officers, and police have not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

The Woman

The young woman at the center of the scandal has told local media she had sex with at least 14 officers from the Oakland Police Department. She said she slept with three of these officers before she turned 18 last August.

The woman said she met one of the officers after she had turned to prostitution. She told the Bay Area News Group they started a sexual relationship and the others soon followed.

The first officer reportedly committed suicide in September 2015. According to the East Bay Express, police sources said the officer “left a suicide note that included information about the alleged sex crimes.”

The Scandal Spreads

The Oakland Police Department is not the only agency affected by the scandal. An inspector in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office was put on administrative leave in a possible connection, according to ABC station KGO-TV in San Francisco.

“While it is our practice not to discuss pending investigations, I can firmly state that we do not and will not turn a blind eye to human trafficking or the sexual exploitation of a minor, whether the offender is a civilian or a law enforcement officer,” Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said. “The alleged conduct of the officers in this matter is not in line with what our office and the wider community feel is acceptable for those who are sworn to protect and serve.”

The Fallout

Two police chiefs had stepped down before Figueroa did so Friday. Earlier this month, Schaaf announced the resignation of Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent, who was with the department for 19 years.

A release from Schaaf’s office quoted Whent as saying the resignation was a “personal choice.”

Schaaf appointed BART Deputy Police Chief Ben Fairow as interim chief on June 9. But Schaaf relieved Fairow of his duties Wednesday, saying that after learning new information she felt she had made a mistake with the appointment.

“I take responsibility for this decision,” the mayor said at a news conference. “The information that I received raised concerns for me about whether he can effectively lead this department at this particular moment in time and during this critical transition.”

Fairow did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Although Schaaf didn’t reveal what information led her to dismiss Fairow, ABC News learned he had a sexual relationship years before that was unrelated to the department’s scandal. BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said in a statement Fairow had “a personal relationship with a consenting adult, more than a decade ago” while he was married.

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Former Vanderbilt Football Player Convicted of Rape in Retrial

iStock/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — A jury in the retrial of a rape case involving a former Vanderbilt University football player found he was guilty on all counts.

Brandon Vandenburg was accused of encouraging his teammates to rape an unconscious student that he was dating at the time. The jury had to decide whether he should be held criminally responsible for what his former teammates did to the woman in a dorm room in June 2013.

He was found guilty of five counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated sexual battery, and one count of unlawful photography.

“It’s impossible to not be emotional about this case,” District Attorney Jan Norman said after the verdict. “The facts of it are horrific, and what happened to this victim is horrifying, no matter how many times you say it.”

Vandenburg now faces a prison sentence of 15 to 25 years.

He was convicted on all charges along with Corey Batey in the first trial before a judge declared a mistrial due to a problem with a juror. Batey was later found guilty in a separate trial.

Two other former football players who were allegedly involved are still waiting to go to trial.

Vandenburg’s verdict comes after a former Stanford University swimmer was given a sixth-month prison sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The case gained national attention when critics said the punishment was not harsh enough.

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Former Teacher: Orlando Nightclub Gunman’s Wife Had ‘Difficulty’ Understanding Things

ABC News(ORLANDO, Fla.) — The wife of the Orlando nightclub shooter had learning difficulties when she was in middle school and was enrolled in special education classes, according to her now retired teacher in California.

Susan was Noor Zahi Salman’s teacher at her middle school in Crockett, California. ABC News is not using Susan’s full name or showing her face at her request.

“Noor had difficulty with retention, she had difficulty with conceptualizing, understanding, all challenges to her,” Susan said. “She tried hard. She was very sweet.”

Her family confirmed Susan was Salman’s special education teacher and that she was enrolled in special education classes.

Susan said Noor Salman was considered a “special day class student”, meaning she had to take all of her classes with special education teachers.

Noor Salman’s family released a rare statement to ABC News after confirming she was a special education student. Salman is currently under investigation by the FBI for possible links to her husband’s killing of 49 people at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando last weekend.

“Noor is completely innocent and [was] unaware of the attacks,” the statement said, adding she doesn’t understand “cause and effect.” The family said Salman was enrolled in special education classes because she needed extra help in school.

Omar Mateen and Noor Salman, 30, were married in September 2011 after meeting online.

The FBI investigation is ongoing.

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Partial Transcripts of Shooter’s Calls to Police to Be Released

MySpace(WASHINGTON) — A week after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said a portion of Orlando shooter Omar Mateen’s calls with hostage negotiators will be released Monday.

“We’ll be releasing a partial transcript of the calls between the killer and the hostage negotiators so people can, in fact, see the type of interaction that was had there,” Lynch told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl on This Week Sunday.

The Attorney General says she’ll travel to Orlando on Tuesday to get an on-the-ground perspective on the investigation.

“I say partial because we’re not going to be, for example, broadcasting his pledges of allegiance. We are trying not to re-victimize those who went through that horror,” she added. “We’re trying to get as much information about this investigation out as possible, and we want people to provide information that they have to us.”

Lynch added she will travel to Orlando on Tuesday to get an on-the-ground perspective on the investigation.

“I’ll be meeting with the victims, the first responders, talking about the ways we are going to be supporting the victims and the first responders and also operationally,” she said. “We will be releasing more information about this investigation as it comes to light.”

Last Monday, FBI Director James Comey defended the agency’s earlier investigation of the Orlando shooter.

“So far, the honest answer is I don’t think so. I don’t see anything in reviewing our work that our agents should have done differently,” he said.

Lynch did not say whether something could have been done differently, but said “we’re looking into it.”

“This is an ongoing investigation. We are going back and scrubbing every contact we had with this killer,” she said. “We’re also asking people to come forward with the contacts they have had with this killer as well.”

Lynch said it is “certainly” the Justice Department’s goal to prevent more attacks like ones in Orlando and San Bernardino.

“As you can see from this investigation, we are going back and learning everything we can about this killer, about his contacts, people who may have known him or seen him, and we’re trying to build that profile so that we can move forward,” Lynch said.

The attorney general noted it is important “to keep our focus on the victims of this tragic crime.”

“One of the things I’ll be doing in Orlando on Tuesday is meeting with victims talking about the support that we’ll be providing them as well, because this is a community. The LGBT and Latino community has come under fire before, but never in as horrific a manner as this,” she said.

Omar Mateen was fatally shot by police after he killed 49 people at a LGBT nightclub in Orlando last weekend.

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Western Wildfires Continue to Burn Forcing Hundreds to Evacuate

iStock/Thinkstock(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) — Massive wildfires continue to burn as states in the West work through a weekend of record heat.

The Sherpa Fire in Santa Barbara County, California, has increased to over 7,500 acres, forcing hundreds to evacuate. Fire officials said it was 50 percent contained as of Saturday night.

The weather conditions in Santa Barbara are ripe for wildfires with the “sundowner” winds and the state’s five-year drought.

Fires are also burning in New Mexico, where 24 homes have been lost, and in Arizona, where 12,000 acres have burned so far causing more evacuations.

In Phoenix this weekend, temperatures could hit a record 120 degrees, as a heat wave from California to Texas is set to affect millions.

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Oakland Police Department Loses Another Police Chief

iStock/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) — The Oakland Police Department’s police chief position is a revolving door.

On Friday, Oakland lost its third police chief in nine days as more than a dozen police officers continue to be investigated for alleged sexual relations with an underage prostitute.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf placed the police department under civilian control, and said anyone involved in the scandal would be held accountable “for their misdeeds.”

“As the mayor of Oakland, I am here to run a police department, not a frat house,” she said Friday.
Paul Figueroa most recently resigned as police chief without explanation after two days on the job. He replaced Ben Fairow who was fired after five days due to reports he had an extra-marital affair over a decade ago. Fairow took Sean Whent’s place after Whent resigned for allegedly mishandling the sexual misconduct case.

An investigation is also underway after Oakland Police were accused of sending racist text messages.

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Hungry Bear Snatches Peanuts from Virginia Family

ABCNews.com(CHESAPEAKE, Va.) — One family in Chesapeake, Virginia, received a surprise visit from a four-legged friend hoping to make off with a tasty treat.

Around 9:30 a.m on Wednesday, as Heather Sperling was enjoying her coffee on the patio, her husband alerted her to the unexpected thief hovering over the fence.

“I expected a cat, raccoon, the typical things we see,” Sperling told ABC affiliate WVEC-TV.

Instead, it was a black bear, helping himself to peanuts the family had put out, before continuing on his way. The family dubbed the bear “Wilson” –- after the neighbor form the ’90s sitcom Home Improvement, who was regularly seen poking his head out from behind a fence.

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Car Crashes Into Funeral Procession for Orlando Shooting Victim

(ORLANDO, Fla.) — A car crashed into a funeral procession for one of the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting Saturday, injuring two police officers, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The funeral procession was traveling with marked police vehicles from a church to the grave site in Kissimmee, about 20 miles south of Orlando, when a driver hit two police vehicles within the procession, officials said. The wounded officers were taken to a nearby hospital, where one was in serious but stable condition and the other was in stable condition.

Both injured officers are from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, officials said.

The woman driving the car was not injured in the crash but asked to be taken to the hospital, said Florida Highway Patrol spokesperson Kim Montes.

“She was distraught after the crash and wanted to be checked out,” Montes told ABC News.

Charges against the woman are pending.

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Woman Protects Homeless Man’s Shopping Cart When He Collapses on the Street

Dana Lee Calabrese (NEW YORK) — A homeless man is seeing brighter days after a stranger came to his rescue following a frightening health scare.

Dana Lee Calabrese, of Los Angeles, told ABC News that she first encountered Douglas Hall, who said he’s a veteran who lost his leg during combat, when he collapsed in the middle of a busy street. While others called paramedics, she protected and later returned his belongings to him.

Now, the Good Samaritan is gifting Hall with trip back to New York to be with his loved ones.

“He knows that I am getting him to New York because I told him that I would make that happen,” Calabrese said. “At that point, he was crying and telling me I was an angel. He also at one point screamed out ‘God is Good'”

She added: “I believe we became immediate friends, and hopefully we will be friends for life. I think I will always wonder and worry about him now.”

Calabrese was on her way to dinner on April 30 when she witnessed Hall’s fall on Highland Ave. in Hollywood. Concerned for his safety, Calabrese and two onlookers called 911, she said.

“When I asked the first responders if they would be taking his belongings one of them replied, ‘No, are you? A million more dominoes fall a day around here,'” Calabrese recalled. “I couldn’t stomach that response. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that they have a very hard job to do and perhaps you get desensitized after working in such a large city with such an immense homeless population, but I just couldn’t bare this person losing what I believed to be all he had in the world. So I thought, ‘Yeah, I will take his cart.’ and then strolled it all the way home.”

The day Hall collapsed, Calabrese took to Facebook asking her social media friends to help find him so she could return the shopping cart containing his belongings.

Calabrese’s neighbor found Hall on the street and he and Calabrese met on June 9. The pair even made plans to have dinner, she said.

“From our brief encounters thus far he seems like a really great guy,” Calabrese said. “He looks like he has been through a lot in life and somehow maintains this really positive vibe about him. I am really looking forward to learning more about him.”

Attached to his cart, Hall had a handwritten sign stating he was trying to get to New York. “I’m not asking for a handout, just a hand up,” he wrote. “Anything would help.”

In an effort to grant his wish, Calabrese launched a GoFundMe Page titled “Help Veteran Douglas Dean Hall.”

“He told me he has really good friends there,” in New York, Calabrese said. “I think he just really misses it.”

“I am actually quite overwhelmed by all of the support,” she added. “I thought I would have enough to cover the ticket and maybe a little extra for the transition. But, there is quite a lot extra now. He does not know yet about the campaign, from my knowledge, and all of the extra money that I’ve raised for him. I plan on surprising him next week with some friends at the restaurant/bar close by to where he collapsed. I’m extremely excited for this.”

Calabrese said she’s received countless messages from friends and strangers in New York who want to help Hall with housing. She hopes Hall’s story inspires others to make a difference.

“I cannot even put into words how much happiness this has brought to me knowing that I am bringing happiness to him,” Calabrese said.

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