Review Category : National News

Deadly Tornadoes, Storms Sweep Through Oklahoma

David Schliepp/iStock/Thinkstock(TULSA, Okla.) — At least one person was killed as tornadoes and severe storms swept through northeast Oklahoma Wednesday evening.

One person was killed and several others were injured at a mobile home park in Sand Springs, about seven miles west of Tulsa, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office said. A tornado had formed near Westport, Oklahoma, before moving east toward Tulsa, reported the National Weather Service.

The tornado went by Tulsa and was headed for Inola at about 7 p.m. local time, ABC affiliate KOCO reported.

The National Weather Service had issued tornado warnings as a severe storm headed towards Tulsa, Oklahoma, Wednesday.

People in the Tulsa area captured photos and videos of what was believed to be a tornado. One had formed near Westport, Oklahoma, fewer than 30 miles west of Tulsa, and was moving east at 45 mph, the National Weather Service reported.

Tornado just west of Tulsa OK! Seek Shelter Immediately. Photo courtesy of Brandon Ivey. #okwx pic.twitter.com/HJr23dpuOr

— Twisted Sky Media (@TwistedSkyMedia) March 25, 2015

Tornado coming in

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Body Cam Footage Shows Police Sergeant Rescuing Child from Fire

Denniro/iStock/Thinkstock(GRIFFIN, Ga.) — A Georgia police officer’s body camera showed his heroic rescue of a 3-year-old boy in a burning house.

Told by the home’s occupant that her young grandchild was inside the house on March 16, Sgt. Joe Hudson, a 14-year veteran of the Griffin Police Department, ran into the house and started to search for the child.

His rescue effort can be seen in the body camera footage below.

“I got a little panicked for a second,” he said. “The smoke was so thick so I grabbed clothes off the bed and put them in front of my face.”

When Hudson couldn’t find the child, he ran back to the front of the house and the occupant, identified on a police incident report as Lynne Brown, told him that there was another room in the back out the house.

Hudson made his way back through the thick smoke that filled the home. He tried searching for the boy again, and finally saw him lying on a bed.

“I was definitely relieved to see him there,” Hudson said. “I grabbed him, and another officer opened up a side door for me. We ran outside.”

Hudson said that the child was “scared” after the ordeal. Hudson, who has three kids of his own, wanted to calm him down, so he decided to make the boy laugh by putting his glasses on his head. The boy’s grandmother gave Hudson a “big hug and kiss” and thanked his for rescuing her grandchild, he said.

Initially, Hudson did not want speak about the rescue, but decided to open up about it after reflecting on recent events involving police officers.

“After talking with some of my co-workers who pointed out everything that’s been going on nowadays with police, I wanted to,” he said. “It’s good for people to see we are human and we have children of our own. Ninety-nine percent of us aren’t trying to arrest people. We are trying to protect people and take care of our community.”

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Philadelphia Says It Needs 10,000 Volunteers for Pope Francis’ Visit

Buda Mendes/Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) — The Archdiocese of Philadelphia says it needs 10,000 volunteers or more for Pope Francis’ visit there in September.

In his weekly column, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput wrote that advance teams from the Holy See have already visited the city.

Francis will attend the final two days of the World Meeting of Families on Sept. 26 and 27.

For comparison, the BBC reported the London Olympics required 70,000 volunteers for the two-week Olympiad.

All volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old. Chaput wrote that registration will soon be open on the event’s website.

Organizers are expecting up to two million people to attend the Pope’s closing mass. That’s 500,000 more than the population of the city.

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Philadelphia Says It Needs 10,000 Volunteers for Pope Francis’ Visit

Buda Mendes/Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) — The Archdiocese of Philadelphia says it needs 10,000 volunteers or more for Pope Francis’ visit there in September.

In his weekly column, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput wrote that advance teams from the Holy See have already visited the city.

Francis will attend the final two days of the World Meeting of Families on Sept. 26 and 27.

For comparison, the BBC reported the London Olympics required 70,000 volunteers for the two-week Olympiad.

All volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old. Chaput wrote that registration will soon be open on the event’s website.

Organizers are expecting up to two million people to attend the Pope’s closing mass. That’s 500,000 more than the population of the city.

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Boston Marathon Bombing: Tale of the Gun

DOJ(BOSTON) — Three days after the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon explosions, investigators say bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev used a Ruger 9mm semi-automatic handgun to murder MIT police officer Sean Collier, carjack a young businessman and, hours later, to fire on police in a vicious gunfight.

Now, with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on trial, witnesses and court documents have shed new light on the pistol’s curious path through a criminal underground and purportedly into the hands of the brothers who were once the most wanted men in America.

The gun’s serial number was “obliterated” by the time U.S. law enforcement got to it, but federal investigators were able to forensically “raise” the numbers and trace its purchase to a gun store more than three years ago and 100 miles from Boston.

In November 2011, Los Angeles native Danny Sun Jr. bought the 9mm Ruger P95 at a Cabela’s hunting and fishing store in South Portland, Maine as part of a “multi-gun” purchase, law enforcement officials and a Cabela manager told ABC News. Sun Jr. later told police that at some point over the next year, he gave the weapon to Biniam “Icy” Tsegai.

When Tsegai, an Eritrean immigrant, received the gun, federal prosecutors in Maine said he and others were the target of a multi-agency federal investigation into crack dealing out of Portland hotel rooms. Tsegai would plead guilty to drug charges in 2014.

But back in 2012, Tsegai handed the gun off to 21-year-old Merhawi “Howie” Berhe, according to recent testimony from Stephen Silva, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s “best friend.” Berhe is also Eritrean and was arrested in South Portland on a burglary charge last year, according to a police log.

It remains unclear how Berhe, a Cambridge, Massachusetts resident, knew Tsegai. An attorney for Berhe declined to discuss specifics of his case with ABC News and an attorney for Tsegai did not respond to request for comment.

Silva testified that he then took the gun from Berhe, who he said was “a friend of mine from my neighborhood.”

“He asked me if I could do him a favor and hold down a firearm for him because he needed to get it out of his house,” Silva testified, adding that Berhe’s “mother had searched his room.”

Berhe was charged earlier this month possessing a firearm with an “obliterated” serial number, presumably the same one he gave to Silva and would eventually end up in Tsarnaev’s hands.

Berhe has pleaded not guilty and was released on $10,000 bond on March 17, the same day Silva outlined from the witness stand in Tsarnaev’s trial how the gun made it from a ceiling panel in his apartment where it was secreted in a tube sock, to the accused marathon bombers.

Silva described the gun as “black…looked a little rusty…the serial number was obliterated on a silver panel and it said ‘P95′ on top slide and it also says Ruger on the side of the gun.”

While he had it, Silva decided to make use of the gun himself, he said, and ripped off buyers in a drug deal in Cambridge, Massachusetts later in 2012.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly first saw the gun after Silva brought it to a New Year’s Eve party that same year. Tsarnaev asked about borrowing the gun, Silva testified, but Silva didn’t get around to giving it to him until February 2013.

Silva testified that Tsarnaev wanted the gun to “rip some URI students,” presumably referring to the University of Rhode Island, which is close to his college dorm at University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth. Tsarnaev also demanded bullets, asking Silva for the “food for the dog,” Silva said.

Over the next few weeks, Silva said he was annoyed with Tsarnaev because he refused to return the gun, always “coming up with excuses,” up until the first week of April when he last saw Tsarnaev and allegedly sold him marijuana.

The Marathon bombs exploded on April 15, 2013 and three days later, MIT police officer Sean Collier was murdered in his patrol car, allegedly with six bullets fired from the Ruger.

Tsarnaev’s attorney Judy Clarke admitted in her opening arguments that the Tsarnaev brothers were responsible for the 27-year-old officer’s murder.

Prosecutors said Collier was shot three times in the head and three times in the hand, by the Tsarnaev brothers, though it’s unclear which one pulled the trigger.

A short time after Collier’s death, Tamerlan knocked on the window of a young businessman, Dun Meng, and pointed the Ruger at his head several times during a harrowing carjacking and robbery, Meng testified. Meng was able to escape when the brothers stopped at a gas station.

A few miles and hours later after Meng escaped, the Tsarnaevs became pinned in by police and engaged in a firefight. Police say Tamerlan fired the Ruger until it was empty and then threw the handgun at the officers.

Massachusetts State Police Lt David Cahill testified on Tuesday that the Ruger was fired 56 times in Watertown during the Tsarnaevs’ crime spree.

Tamerlan died after being shot in the firefight, and then run over by his brother as Dzhokhar fled the scene, according to witness testimony. Dzhokhar managed to elude capture for 16 hours before being pulled off a dry-docked boat in a Watertown, Massachusetts backyard.

The Ruger was recovered at the scene of the firefight in Watertown and now serves as a key piece of evidence in the trial against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts related to the bombing, Collier’s murder, and the businessman’s carjacking.

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Boston Marathon Bombing: Tale of the Gun

DOJ(BOSTON) — Three days after the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon explosions, investigators say bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev used a Ruger 9mm semi-automatic handgun to murder MIT police officer Sean Collier, carjack a young businessman and, hours later, to fire on police in a vicious gunfight.

Now, with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on trial, witnesses and court documents have shed new light on the pistol’s curious path through a criminal underground and purportedly into the hands of the brothers who were once the most wanted men in America.

The gun’s serial number was “obliterated” by the time U.S. law enforcement got to it, but federal investigators were able to forensically “raise” the numbers and trace its purchase to a gun store more than three years ago and 100 miles from Boston.

In November 2011, Los Angeles native Danny Sun Jr. bought the 9mm Ruger P95 at a Cabela’s hunting and fishing store in South Portland, Maine as part of a “multi-gun” purchase, law enforcement officials and a Cabela manager told ABC News. Sun Jr. later told police that at some point over the next year, he gave the weapon to Biniam “Icy” Tsegai.

When Tsegai, an Eritrean immigrant, received the gun, federal prosecutors in Maine said he and others were the target of a multi-agency federal investigation into crack dealing out of Portland hotel rooms. Tsegai would plead guilty to drug charges in 2014.

But back in 2012, Tsegai handed the gun off to 21-year-old Merhawi “Howie” Berhe, according to recent testimony from Stephen Silva, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s “best friend.” Berhe is also Eritrean and was arrested in South Portland on a burglary charge last year, according to a police log.

It remains unclear how Berhe, a Cambridge, Massachusetts resident, knew Tsegai. An attorney for Berhe declined to discuss specifics of his case with ABC News and an attorney for Tsegai did not respond to request for comment.

Silva testified that he then took the gun from Berhe, who he said was “a friend of mine from my neighborhood.”

“He asked me if I could do him a favor and hold down a firearm for him because he needed to get it out of his house,” Silva testified, adding that Berhe’s “mother had searched his room.”

Berhe was charged earlier this month possessing a firearm with an “obliterated” serial number, presumably the same one he gave to Silva and would eventually end up in Tsarnaev’s hands.

Berhe has pleaded not guilty and was released on $10,000 bond on March 17, the same day Silva outlined from the witness stand in Tsarnaev’s trial how the gun made it from a ceiling panel in his apartment where it was secreted in a tube sock, to the accused marathon bombers.

Silva described the gun as “black…looked a little rusty…the serial number was obliterated on a silver panel and it said ‘P95′ on top slide and it also says Ruger on the side of the gun.”

While he had it, Silva decided to make use of the gun himself, he said, and ripped off buyers in a drug deal in Cambridge, Massachusetts later in 2012.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly first saw the gun after Silva brought it to a New Year’s Eve party that same year. Tsarnaev asked about borrowing the gun, Silva testified, but Silva didn’t get around to giving it to him until February 2013.

Silva testified that Tsarnaev wanted the gun to “rip some URI students,” presumably referring to the University of Rhode Island, which is close to his college dorm at University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth. Tsarnaev also demanded bullets, asking Silva for the “food for the dog,” Silva said.

Over the next few weeks, Silva said he was annoyed with Tsarnaev because he refused to return the gun, always “coming up with excuses,” up until the first week of April when he last saw Tsarnaev and allegedly sold him marijuana.

The Marathon bombs exploded on April 15, 2013 and three days later, MIT police officer Sean Collier was murdered in his patrol car, allegedly with six bullets fired from the Ruger.

Tsarnaev’s attorney Judy Clarke admitted in her opening arguments that the Tsarnaev brothers were responsible for the 27-year-old officer’s murder.

Prosecutors said Collier was shot three times in the head and three times in the hand, by the Tsarnaev brothers, though it’s unclear which one pulled the trigger.

A short time after Collier’s death, Tamerlan knocked on the window of a young businessman, Dun Meng, and pointed the Ruger at his head several times during a harrowing carjacking and robbery, Meng testified. Meng was able to escape when the brothers stopped at a gas station.

A few miles and hours later after Meng escaped, the Tsarnaevs became pinned in by police and engaged in a firefight. Police say Tamerlan fired the Ruger until it was empty and then threw the handgun at the officers.

Massachusetts State Police Lt David Cahill testified on Tuesday that the Ruger was fired 56 times in Watertown during the Tsarnaevs’ crime spree.

Tamerlan died after being shot in the firefight, and then run over by his brother as Dzhokhar fled the scene, according to witness testimony. Dzhokhar managed to elude capture for 16 hours before being pulled off a dry-docked boat in a Watertown, Massachusetts backyard.

The Ruger was recovered at the scene of the firefight in Watertown and now serves as a key piece of evidence in the trial against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts related to the bombing, Collier’s murder, and the businessman’s carjacking.

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Former University of Oklahoma Fraternity Member Apologizes, Admits Words Were ‘Mean, Hateful and Racist’

ABC News(NORMAN, Okla.) — Former University of Oklahoma student and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity member Levi Pettit offered a public apology on Wednesday for his role in leading the racist chants that were captured on video earlier this month.

“Let me start by saying I’m sorry, deeply sorry. I’m so sorry for the pain that I’ve caused and I want you to hear that directly from me. Even though I don’t deserve it I would like to ask for your forgiveness,” Pettit said, standing beside about a dozen community leaders.

In front of reporters on Wednesday, Pettit read from a letter he had written to university President Dave Boren shortly after the video was posted online. In the letter, he acknowledged that while he had “never thought of myself as a racist and never even considered it a possibility,” the words he uttered “were mean, hateful and racist.”

Pettit said that he has since met with student leaders in an effort to apologize for his actions.

“I’m so sorry for all the pain that I’ve caused,” Pettit said, “and I want you all to know that directly from me.”

Speaking at a Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Pettit declined to discuss where he had first heard the racist chant or what had specifically happened on the bus.

State Sen. Anastasia Pittman, a Democrat, University of Oklahoma alum and chairwoman of the Oklahoma Black Caucus, hosted the press conference at Oklahoma City’s Fairview Baptist Church, The Dallas Morning News reported. Before the event, Pettit was expected to spend an hour behind closed doors with pastors, politicians and African-American community leaders, according to the newspaper.

“I received an apology from him, and I believe it’s sincere,” Pittman told The Dallas Morning News. “But I told him it’s not about me, and that community leaders would need the same courtesy, so if he’s going to apologize to me, I’d rather he apologize to civic leaders, pastors, people who resonate with the pain.”

Pittman did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

Pettit and one other member of the SAE fraternity were expelled earlier this month after video of them leading the racist chant on a party bus appeared online. The video, posted by a group describing itself as “an alliance of Black students organized for change within campus administration and atmosphere,” showed students chanting “there will never be a [racial epithet] at SAE.”

When asked by reporters if he knew the meaning of the words, Pettit said, “I knew they were wrong, but I didn’t know how or why they were wrong.”

“I’m not here to talk about the chant or where I heard it,” Pettit said. “The truth of the matter is that the chant is disgusting.”

The university expelled two students on March 10 in connection with the incident. A university spokesman, Corbin Wallace, told ABC News Wednesday that the university can’t specify the students’ names, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The university, according to Wallace, declined to comment about Wednesday’s press conference. The university’s investigation is still ongoing regarding the incident.

Brandon Weghorst, a spokesman for the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon organization, said all of the University of Oklahoma members are still suspended and awaiting hearings by the national organization, which disbanded that chapter.

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Former University of Oklahoma Fraternity Member Apologizes, Admits Words Were ‘Mean, Hateful and Racist’

ABC News(NORMAN, Okla.) — Former University of Oklahoma student and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity member Levi Pettit offered a public apology on Wednesday for his role in leading the racist chants that were captured on video earlier this month.

“Let me start by saying I’m sorry, deeply sorry. I’m so sorry for the pain that I’ve caused and I want you to hear that directly from me. Even though I don’t deserve it I would like to ask for your forgiveness,” Pettit said, standing beside about a dozen community leaders.

In front of reporters on Wednesday, Pettit read from a letter he had written to university President Dave Boren shortly after the video was posted online. In the letter, he acknowledged that while he had “never thought of myself as a racist and never even considered it a possibility,” the words he uttered “were mean, hateful and racist.”

Pettit said that he has since met with student leaders in an effort to apologize for his actions.

“I’m so sorry for all the pain that I’ve caused,” Pettit said, “and I want you all to know that directly from me.”

Speaking at a Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Pettit declined to discuss where he had first heard the racist chant or what had specifically happened on the bus.

State Sen. Anastasia Pittman, a Democrat, University of Oklahoma alum and chairwoman of the Oklahoma Black Caucus, hosted the press conference at Oklahoma City’s Fairview Baptist Church, The Dallas Morning News reported. Before the event, Pettit was expected to spend an hour behind closed doors with pastors, politicians and African-American community leaders, according to the newspaper.

“I received an apology from him, and I believe it’s sincere,” Pittman told The Dallas Morning News. “But I told him it’s not about me, and that community leaders would need the same courtesy, so if he’s going to apologize to me, I’d rather he apologize to civic leaders, pastors, people who resonate with the pain.”

Pittman did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

Pettit and one other member of the SAE fraternity were expelled earlier this month after video of them leading the racist chant on a party bus appeared online. The video, posted by a group describing itself as “an alliance of Black students organized for change within campus administration and atmosphere,” showed students chanting “there will never be a [racial epithet] at SAE.”

When asked by reporters if he knew the meaning of the words, Pettit said, “I knew they were wrong, but I didn’t know how or why they were wrong.”

“I’m not here to talk about the chant or where I heard it,” Pettit said. “The truth of the matter is that the chant is disgusting.”

The university expelled two students on March 10 in connection with the incident. A university spokesman, Corbin Wallace, told ABC News Wednesday that the university can’t specify the students’ names, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The university, according to Wallace, declined to comment about Wednesday’s press conference. The university’s investigation is still ongoing regarding the incident.

Brandon Weghorst, a spokesman for the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon organization, said all of the University of Oklahoma members are still suspended and awaiting hearings by the national organization, which disbanded that chapter.

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Missing California Physical Therapist Found Alive, Police Say

ABC News(VALLEJO, Calif.) — The physical therapist who was reportedly abducted from a California home early Monday morning has been found alive, police said Wednesday.

Denise Huskins, 29, was found safe in Huntington Beach, California, authorities confirmed to ABC News.

Huskins’ father, Mike Huskins, told ABC News that his daughter called him from Huntington Beach to say she is safe. Authorities said the investigation into Huskins’ alleged kidnapping is “still active.”

Huskins was reported missing at 1:55 p.m. Monday, by what police describe as a 30-year-old male who called to report the alleged kidnapping and claimed he witnessed it.

Police say Huskins was abducted from the home where she was staying in Vallejo, California, hours earlier, at around 3:30 a.m. Monday.

ABC News has learned that the home from where Huskins was reported taken belongs to 30-year-old Aaron Quinn. Huskins’ family describes Quinn as their daughter’s boyfriend and co-worker. They also say he is the male who called 911 hours after the abduction.

Police have said that Quinn is not a suspect or person of interest. Huntington Beach, where Huskins was found alive, is around 419 miles from Vallejo.

Authorities in Vallejo held a news conference earlier Wednesday in which they said there was a “ransom demand” in the case and described Huskins as being forcibly abducted from her home.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday that after Huskins’ alleged abduction, the newspaper, “received an e-mail from an anonymous person claiming to be holding Huskins.”

The newspaper “decided not to immediately publish” details of the email.

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Bowe Bergdahl Charged with Desertion, Lawyer Says

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — American soldier and former Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl has been charged with desertion for allegedly walking off his post in Afghanistan in 2009, Bergdahl’s attorney told ABC News Wednesday.

Bergdahl was freed after five years in Taliban captivity in a controversial deal last year in which the U.S. agreed to release five mid- to high-level Taliban figures from detention in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

President Obama called it a “good day” when Bergdahl was freed, but critics, including some high-ranking Republicans, loudly denounced the deal, likening it to negotiating with terrorists. Also, lawmakers complained that Congress had not been consulted about the exchange, as they said the law requires.

After Bergdahl’s dramatic return to the U.S., the Army launched an investigation into whether the soldier willfully left his post in Afghanistan before he was taken by the Taliban in 2009, as some Afghan war veterans alleged.

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