Review Category : National News

Three Dead, One Missing Following Explosion in Louisiana

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — An explosion at a plant in western Louisiana has killed three people and injured several others Wednesday afternoon, authorities said. One person was reported missing.

The cause of the blast at the Packaging Corporation of America in Beauregard Parish was not immediately clear, the Beauregard Parish Sheriff said.

The area around the explosion is now secure, the sheriff added.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

New Orleans Woman Survives Tornado Hiding in Bathtub

ABC News(NEW ORLEANS) — A New Orleans woman survived a tornado that tore through her home by hiding in her bathtub.

Linda Pierre was home alone when the tornado hit around 11:20 a.m. Tuesday. She tried to call her husband as she sat in the bathtub but couldn’t reach him, so she called her mother.

“I told her that we were getting hit by the tornado. She told me to calm down and I just started praying because I let my faith kick in,” Pierre told ABC News.

Her mom “talked me through everything,” she added.

“And I waited 10 minutes and I assessed my house, and I realized we had a lot of damage to the back of the house but, structurally, the house was sound,” Pierre said.

Pierre went to her front door and “dropped to my knees” after seeing the destruction left in the front yards of the houses on her street, she said.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing all around me,” Pierre added. “But God kept me.”

At least five tornadoes were reported in Louisiana Tuesday. The powerful winds leveled homes, knocked down trees and left thousands without power. No deaths were reported, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards reportedly said.

The governor declared a state of emergency for Louisiana.

“I am heartbroken to once again see Louisiana families suffering,” he said in a statement. “We are working tirelessly to ensure that every citizen affected by this storm receives the resources they need as quickly as possible.”

At the Pierre home, their fully-furnished sun room in the back of the house was destroyed and the roof was blown off.

Wooden planks went barreling into husband Roland’s car, leaving the front windshield shattered.

But Pierre said she’s not worried about material things, adding she and her husband will rebuild.

“We got each other, and it could’ve been a whole lot worse,” Roland Pierre, who was at work when the tornado hit, said. “This is devastating for a lot of folks.”

Noting that many residents have “a lot of work to do,” he called New Orleanians “resilient,” saying, “we’re used to this kind of stuff.”

Pierre also said he’s thankful that the tornado didn’t strike at night while they were asleep.

“Thank goodness it happened when it did; daylight. Folks were able to get around, grab themselves and just get out into the open to get some help,” he said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Winter Storm to Bring Heavy Snowfall to Northeast

ABC News(NEW YORK) — A storm system developing in the Midwest is forecast to move across country and bring the heaviest snowfall of the season to major cities in the Northeast.

ABC News meteorologists tracking the storm said it will sweep into the Northeast region overnight and dump snow from Washington, D.C., to New York by 7 a.m. ET on Thursday.

The snowstorm will move away from New York and arrive in eastern New England by 3:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, according to ABC News meteorologists.

ABC News meteorologists predict the snowstorm will pass through Massachusetts and Maine before moving toward the Atlantic Ocean around 10 p.m. ET on Thursday.

The weather system could bring as much as a foot of snow to major Northeast cities Thursday. Philadelphia could get 4 to 6 inches of snow, New York City could see 6 to 10 inches and Boston could end up with 12 inches, according to ABC News meteorologists.

The National Weather Service has issued winter storm warnings from Philadelphia to Boston.

Meanwhile, severe storms that brought tornadoes to Louisiana and Mississippi on Tuesday will likely reach the Carolinas coastline Wednesday morning.

Another storm is taking aim at the West Coast as the region reels from this week’s already copious rainfall. The National Weather Service has issued flood watches and warnings from Washington state to California.

“This storm is ready to strike,” ABC News senior meteorologist Max Golembo said.

ABC News meteorologists predict the storm will hit the Pacific Northwest region Thursday morning and will move into northern and central California later in the day, bringing more torrential rain to already saturated areas.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Soccer Ball from Challenger Explosion Makes it to Space 31 Years Later

iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) — A soccer ball that was taken aboard NASA’s ill-fated Space Shuttle Challenger finally made it into space last week, 31 years after the shuttle exploded just 73 seconds after launch.

Ellison Onizuka, one of the seven astronauts that died in the accident, had stashed the item aboard the shuttle in 1986 before an engine-related issue caused the craft to explode, according to the NASA’s website.

The ball was from his daughter’s high school soccer team at Clear Lake High School in Houston, Texas.

“It was amazing the condition it was in after the explosion,” Janelle Onizuka, the astronaut’s daughter, told ABC News affiliate KTRK on Tuesday.

“By virtue of the catastrophic days that followed, it is quite literally my last fond memory of my dad face to face,” she said.

NASA returned the soccer ball to the Onizuka family after it was discovered in the Atlantic Ocean among the shuttle’s wreckage.

It was on display at Clear Lake High School until astronaut Shane Kimbrough — whose daughter now attends the school — asked if it would want anything sent up when he launched in October to the International Space Station, according to KTRK.

Last week, Kimbrough posted a picture of the ball, finally, in space.

“This ball was on Challenger that fateful day. Flown by Ellison Onizuka for his daughter, a soccer player,” Kimbrough tweeted on Friday.

This ball was on Challenger that fateful day. Flown by Ellison Onizuka for his daughter, a soccer player
@Clear_LakeHS. #NASARemembers pic.twitter.com/grShwq372X

— Shane Kimbrough (@astro_kimbrough) February 3, 2017

Janelle Onizuka said she is grateful that the special item made it into orbit.

“The soccer ball in many ways has continued the mission my father embarked upon so many years ago. It has continued to travel and explore space while inspiring so many through its history,” Janelle Onizuka told KTRK in a separate statement. “I am grateful for the memories and future of this one special item that touched my dad and me along with so many others.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Nine Tornadoes Reported in Louisiana, Mississippi, at Least 31 Injured and 9,400 Residents Without Power

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) — Nine tornadoes were reported Tuesday in Louisiana and Mississippi — four of which have been confirmed — damaging property, injuring at least 31 people and prompting Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to declare a state of emergency in the state.

In addition to New Orleans, which also declared a state of emergency, tornadoes were reported in Baton Rouge, Donaldsonville, Ponchatoula and Killian, according to ABC News meteorologist Melissa Griffin.

Tornado watches were in effect for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. The tornado watch in Louisiana and Mississippi expired after 2 p.m., when the storms moved east, Griffin said. The tornado watch in Alabama and Florida is set to expire at 6 p.m. Severe storms are expected in cities such as Gulfport, Biloxi, Mobile and Pensacola.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said a serious tornado hit Chef Menteur Highway and traveled there for about two miles. Landrieu described the damage it caused as “devastating” and that it looked “like an elephant stomping on your house.”

Approximately 9,400 Orleans Parish residents are currently without power, the mayor said. Crews are working around the clock and expect to have all power restored in three to five days.

No deaths have been reported, but of the 31 injuries reported in New Orleans, at least six were considered moderate to severe according to Landrieu. Authorities will continue to survey the damage in the next several days.

NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans was impacted by a tornado, the agency said Tuesday. All 3,500 employees at the facility were accounted for, with five sustaining minor injuries. The facility will remain closed on Wednesday, as emergency personnel continue damage assessments on multiple buildings which were damaged, including the main manufacturing building, which sustained roof damage.

NASA posted the following video to YouTube of the tornado near the facility.

President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday night, “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in southeastern Louisiana affected by today’s severe tornadoes.”

There could still be isolated severe storms in North and South Carolina.

As of Tuesday morning, at least 23 U.S. states were under winter weather alerts, and a tornado watch has been issued for parts of the Southeast as most of the country braces for severe weather this week.

“We are in a very active weather pattern all across the country, from California to New York,” ABC News senior meteorologist Max Golembo said.

An atmospheric river, which draws massive amounts of water vapor from the Pacific Ocean, has taken aim at California, where the National Weather Service has issued flash flood and flood watches through Friday.

Copious rainfall is in the forecast for the West Coast until the end of the week, potentially bringing floods, mudslides and debris flows. ABC News’ weather team predicts more than a half a foot of rain in Central to Northern California over the next several days. Additional rain is expected for Portland, Oregon, and Seattle.

“California will see waves of moisture on and off through Friday,” Golembo said.

Meanwhile, thunderstorms and damaging winds are expected to rattle Southern states, from the Gulf Coast to the Ohio Valley. The National Weather System has issued a tornado watch for portions of southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and other parts of the region’s coast until 2 p.m. local time.

“Severe storms are firing up already in Louisiana and Mississippi,” Golembo said. “Damaging winds are the biggest threat this morning.”

Northeastern states can expect to see rain, snow and ice this week, according to ABC News meteorologists. The first of two storms arrives Wednesday, bringing rain and ice for much of the region, with potential snowfall in Boston and other parts of New England.

The icy weather moved through the Hudson Valley into southern New England Wednesday morning. By the afternoon, the snow and ice in Boston will transition to heavy rain, with some snow and ice lingering in New England and the upper Hudson Valley near Albany, New York.

ABC News meteorologists said a second storm will move into the Northeast on Thursday morning, bringing mostly snow to New York City and Boston. Heavy snowfall is in the forecast until Thursday afternoon. Some weather models are showing snow farther south in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

“This could be a plowed event for major Northeast cities,” Golembo said. “Stay tuned. This is a changing forecast.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

City Ordinance Bans Dancing Within 500 Feet of Church

iStock/Thinkstock(HENRYETTA, Okla.) — In the iconic 1984 film Footloose, a small town’s youth are at odds with lawmakers who uphold a local law banning dancing and rock music.

Well, fast forward 32 years to the present — and to reality — and a similar situation has unfolded in Henryetta, Oklahoma.

The city of approximately 6,000 people — located about 90 miles east of Oklahoma City — has a law on the books that was unknown to most of its residents, until a Valentine’s Day dance was recently scheduled — then scrapped.

Apparently, dancing is not permitted within 500 feet of a church, according to a city ordinance, and the dance was slated to be held at a venue just 300 feet from a church, the Henryetta Church of Christ.

So, to the dismay of lovestruck toe-tappers, the dance would be illegal.

Mayor Jennifer Clason, who was born and raised in Henryetta, admits she heard of the law but she never thought much about it.

“It’s never been enforced my entire life,” Clason told ABC affiliate KTUL in Tulsa. “But I’d never looked at it because it never came up. It’s an antiquated ordinance, no one has ever looked at it to change it.”

Although the ordinance seems archaic and its origins unknown to many residents, the law is the law. So the dance’s organizer canceled the soiree — mostly because her husband is the city’s attorney, according to KTUL.

Such is life in a small town. “He said his oath is to uphold the law,” Clason said.

And the city’s police chief, Steve Norman, admitted he’s never enforced the law nor is he about to start.

“It’s one of those ordinances that was passed long before I ever came, and we have no interest in enforcing it,” he said.

City council will consider abolishing the ordinance during its Feb. 22 meeting, Clason said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Fourth Victim of Alleged Killer William Boyette Dies; Suspect Found Dead, Accomplice Captured

Escambia County Sheriff’s Office(NEW YORK) — A fourth victim of an alleged killer William “Billy” Boyette has died, officials announced Tuesday, shortly after the suspected gunman was found dead after a week-long manhunt and his alleged accomplice was captured.

The duo was on the run and considered armed and dangerous after the shooting deaths of three women in Florida and Alabama. A fourth woman, who was shot when Boyette allegedly broke into her home, died, police announced Tuesday.

The Escambia County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office tweeted this evening that Boyette is dead and Rice has been captured. Boyette is believed to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Troup County Sheriff’s Office said.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately provide additional details, but about 30 minutes earlier the Troup County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office said it appeared that the pair were holed up inside a motel in West Point, Georgia, near the Alabama border. The sheriff’s office said that once it received word that Boyette and Rice were inside the motel, authorities surrounded the area.

The first reported crime was on Jan. 31, in Santa Rosa County, Florida, when Alicia Greer, 30, and Jacqueline Moore, 39, were found shot to death at an inn, Morgan said.

Greer, a mother of three, was allegedly in an abusive relationship with Boyette, the victim’s father told ABC affiliate WEAR-TV in Pensacola. Authorities said the other victims don’t appear to have any connection to Boyette.

On Feb. 3, in nearby Baldwin County, Alabama, 52-year-old Peggy Broz was discovered shot to death in her driveway, Morgan said. Officials said Tuesday that both Boyette and Rice were involved in the fatal shooting.

On Feb. 6, in Escambia County, Florida, 28-year-old Kayla Crocker was shot and injured during a home invasion, they added. Crocker’s white Chevrolet Cobalt was stolen, and Morgan said that video surveillance showed the duo took the car.

We just received these recent pictures of Boyette and Rice. Now believed to be traveling in a white 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt Fl Tag #9613BJ. pic.twitter.com/mDQhvp48aG

— ESCO News (@ECSONews) February 6, 2017

Santa Rosa County, Florida, Sheriff Bob Johnson Tuesday morning said there is no doubt Rice is a “willing participant” in the crime-spree.

Regarding Boyette, Johnson said, “it’s just a matter of time” before he’s caught. The pair were last seen in west Escambia County, Alabama, he said.

“Sooner or later he’s going to make a mistake and when he does were gonna pounce on him,” Johnson said. “Hopefully we can get to him before he does anything stupid again.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Donald Trump Claims US Murder Rate ‘Highest’ in ’47 Years’ Despite FBI Data Showing Otherwise

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump made the claim on Tuesday that the murder rate in the U.S. is the highest it’s been “from 45 to 47 years” — a claim that isn’t backed up by data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

“And yet the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years, right? Did you know that? Forty-seven years,” President Trump said during a listening session at the White House Tuesday with county sheriffs from across the country.

2015 is the most recent year the FBI released its annual report compiled by its Uniform Crime Reporting Program. FBI data for crime in the U.S. in that report shows that the murder rate in 2015 was 4.9 per 100,000 inhabitants — the highest murder rate in six years. In 2009, the murder rate was at 5.0, while 10 years ago, in 2007, the murder rate was at 5.7.

The estimated murder rate jumped 10.8 percent from 2014 to 2015, which according to The New York Times was the highest increase in nearly half a century. Richard Rosenfeld, a professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis whose research focuses on crime trends, told The New York Times that the “10.8 percent increase in the murder rate in 2015 is the most since a rise of more than 11 percent from 1967 to 1968.”

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, could not point to any specific data Trump was citing.

“I think that I will discuss it, but think he is relying upon data perhaps for a particular area,” Conway said Tuesday in an interview with CNN. “I don’t know who gave him that data.”

ABC News has reached out to the White House for comment.

During the campaign, Trump repeated the claim of the murder rate being the highest in 47 years, which was fact-checked at the time as false.

“I’d say that in a speech and everybody was surprised, because the press doesn’t tell it like it is,” Trump said Tuesday, addressing the National Sheriffs’ Association’s executive committee. “It wasn’t to their advantage to say that. But the murder rate is the highest it’s been in, I guess, from 45 to 47 years.”

In his remarks Tuesday, Trump went on to mention crime in Chicago; “If you ran Chicago, you would solve that nightmare, I tell you,” Trump said to the room of the sheriffs.

“Hundreds of shootings a month, it’s worse than some of the places that we read about in the Middle East, where you have wars going on,” Trump said. “It’s so sad. Chicago has become so sad a situation.”

There were 762 murders recorded last year in Chicago, according to police.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

1 Suspect Dead, 1 Captured After Weeklong Manhunt in Southeast

Escambia County Sheriff’s Office(NEW YORK) — The weeklong manhunt for alleged killer William “Billy” Boyette and his alleged accomplice Mary Rice is over, officials said.

The Escambia County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office tweeted this evening that Boyette is dead and Rice has been captured. Boyette is believed to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Troup County Sheriff’s Office said.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately provide additional details but about 30 minutes earlier the Troup County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office said it appeared that the pair were holed up inside a motel in West Point, Georgia, near the Alabama border. The sheriff’s office said that once it received word that Boyette and Rice were inside the motel, authorities surrounded the area.

The duo was on the run and considered armed and dangerous after the shooting deaths of three women in Florida and Alabama.

In Escambia County, Florida — where uniformed and plainclothes officers were increasing patrols — the sheriff’s office on Monday called Boyette, 44, and Rice, 37, moving targets, saying they were believed to be moving through wooded areas and may be along the Florida-Alabama border. U.S. Marshals from across the country, along with bloodhounds and helicopters, were taking part in the search, officials said.

“We have a killer in our midst,” said Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan.

The first reported crime was on Jan. 31, in Santa Rosa County, Florida, when Alicia Greer, 30, and Jacqueline Moore, 39, were found shot to death at an inn, Morgan said.

Greer, a mother of three, was allegedly in an abusive relationship with Boyette, the victim’s father told ABC affiliate WEAR-TV in Pensacola. Authorities said the other victims don’t appear to have any connection to Boyette.

On Feb. 3, in nearby Baldwin County, Alabama, 52-year-old Peggy Broz was discovered shot to death in her driveway, Morgan said. Officials said Tuesday that both Boyette and Rice were involved in the fatal shooting.

On Feb. 6, in Escambia County, Florida, 28-year-old Kayla Crocker was shot and injured during a home invasion, they added. Crocker’s white Chevrolet Cobalt was stolen, and Morgan said that video surveillance showed the duo took the car.

We just received these recent pictures of Boyette and Rice. Now believed to be traveling in a white 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt Fl Tag #9613BJ. pic.twitter.com/mDQhvp48aG

— ESCO News (@ECSONews) February 6, 2017

Santa Rosa County, Florida, Sheriff Bob Johnson Tuesday morning said there is no doubt Rice is a “willing participant” in the crime-spree.

Regarding Boyette, Johnson said, “it’s just a matter of time” before he’s caught. The pair were last seen in west Escambia County, Alabama, he said.

“Sooner or later he’s going to make a mistake and when he does were gonna pounce on him,” Johnson said. “Hopefully we can get to him before he does anything stupid again.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Police Investigating Death of Penn State Student Found in Fraternity House

iStock/Thinkstock(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) — Authorities in State College, Pennsylvania, are still investigating the weekend death of a college student and trying to uncover why it took fraternity members nearly 12 hours to report that they’d found him motionless at the bottom of basement stairs in their house.

According to police, officers were called to the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house on the campus of Pennsylvania State University on Friday around 10:49 a.m. There, police said, they found 19-year-old Timothy J. Piazza unconscious.

“Fraternity members reported that Piazza, while intoxicated, had fallen down basement stairs around 11 p.m. Thursday,” a police news release said.

Police said Piazza had been attending a party at the Beta Theta Pi house. He was taken to the hospital but died Saturday morning.

Penn State said Tuesday that Piazza was an engineering major from Lebanon, New Jersey, in his fourth semester.

In a Facebook post, Piazza’s brother Mike said he was “utterly devastated.”

“On Saturday morning, I lost my other half. Tim, I will miss you eternally,” he wrote. “My job for the past 19 years has been to protect my younger brother. Now, I know he will protect me. I love you Timmy. Rest in peace.”

Dauphin County coroner Graham Hetrick told ABC News that an autopsy was performed Tuesday and that it showed that Piazza had suffered multiple traumatic injuries due to the fall. Hetrick said there was also alcohol found in Piazza’s system. Hetrick said the death was accidental.

“Alcohol was obviously a factor in this and we are also looking into why it took so long to call,” State College police Lt. Keith Robb said Monday during a news conference, according to MyCentralJersey.com. “We are still in the process of determining that. We are getting some different stories.”

In a statement on its Penn State Alpha Upsilon chapter website, said: “Our chapter is mourning the loss of Tim Piazza, a student who recently accepted an invitation to join our fraternity. It is believed that Tim’s death stemmed from an accidental injury sustained from a fall in the chapter house. We are working closely with our General Fraternity to determine how this happened, and are fully cooperating with police and Penn State administrators in their own investigations. While additional statements and information will be released once confirmed, our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family during this difficult time.”

Robb said, at the Monday news conference, that authorities were in the process of obtaining video from inside the fraternity house.

Penn State said its governing body for all fraternities as well as the fraternity’s national organization had placed Beta Theta Pi on temporary cease and desist until all investigations were complete.

“Our deepest sympathy goes out to Tim’s family and friends during this mournful time,” the school said in a statement to ABC News. “Currently, the University is offering counseling services for those individuals in our community who are in need.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →