Review Category : National News

Last Washington State Mudslide Victim Reportedly Found

Hemera/Thinkstock(OSO, Wash.) — Four months after an enormous mudslide wiped out an entire Washington state community, recovery teams believe they have finally located the body of the 43rd and last victim.

Molly Kristine “Kris” Regelbrugge was among those who drowned in a literal sea of mud near Oso last March 22. The remains of her husband, Navy Cmdr. John Regelbrugge II, were found last April when crews initially called off the search for victims.

However, Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said as excavation crews continued working, they turned up the Regelbrugges’ garage under 18 feet of debris.

That’s where they believe they turned up the body of Kris Regelbrugge.

Her family members said Tuesday that they were awaiting the results of DNA tests to positively identify the remains of the missing 44-year-old.

The site where 49 homes were buried under millions of pounds of mud and debris was declared a federal disaster area, and the cleanup is expected to take years.

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Trial Begins in ‘Porch Shooting’ of Unarmed Woman

iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) — A jury has been selected and opening arguments are expected Wednesday in the trial of a suburban Detroit man charged with second-degree murder after he allegedly shot an African-American teen in 2013.

Fourteen jurors (which includes two alternates) — four African Americans and 10 whites — will determine whether Theodore Wafer, 54, who is white, shot Renisha McBride, 19, in self-defense on his front porch in Dearborn Heights on Nov. 2, 2013.

Wafer said he heard McBride pounding on his door at around 4:30 a.m. when he fired his shotgun through the locked door. He later called 911.

An autopsy released by the Office of the Wayne County Medical Examiner ruled that McBride died of a large gunshot wound to the face. The shot that killed McBride showed “no evidence of close range discharge,” according to the report.

A toxicology report showed that McBride had alcohol and marijuana in her system. She had crashed her vehicle into a parked car before being shot, a witness testified in a hearing on Dec 18, 2013.

She was unarmed, according to prosecutors.

In a 911 call released by police, Wafer could be heard saying: “Uh yes…I just shot somebody on my front porch. With a shot gun. Banging on my door.”

When the police asked him what city he was in, Wafer said thank you, and hung up.

Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in. Otherwise, a person must prove his or her life was in danger.

The case has caught the attention of civil rights activists because of its resemblance to the George Zimmerman trial.

Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense after the teenager knocked him to the ground, punched him and slammed his head repeatedly against the sidewalk.

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Video Could Hold Clues in Brooklyn Bridge White Flag Mystery

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Police are looking for five people seen on surveillance video before bleached-white American flags were added to the poles atop the Brooklyn Bridge.

The group was seen walking on the bridge after 3 a.m. Tuesday. At around 3:30 a.m., the lights that illuminate the U.S. flags on either side of the bridge could be seen flickering and then going out completely. At 5:30 a.m., construction workers noticed that the seemingly-white flags had replaced the American flags, police said.

Officers later made their way up the bridge’s main cables, finding aluminum pans — secured with zip ties — covering the lights. The bleached flags were removed, and the traditional American flags were returned.

Police admitted they don’t know who committed the security breach or how they accomplished it.

“I’m not particularly happy about the event,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said Tuesday.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller, who also oversees intelligence and counter terrorism, said tests were being conducted on the two flags.

“At this time, there is no sign of any particular nexus to terrorism or even politics,” Miller said. “It could be someone’s art project or a statement, but it’s not clear what that statement is.”

The perpetrators may have had some experience climbing in construction or bridgework, or have previously been up to the bridge’s flag platforms, Miller said.

Either way, authorities said, whoever pulled off the breach was able to scale 276 feet, somehow making it past the locked gates that sit atop the bridge’s steel cables.

Eric Adams, Brooklyn’s borough president, is offering $5,000 for information leading to an arrest.

“This is the Brooklyn Bridge, and the only person who should surrender at this time is the person responsible for the desecration of this flag,” Adams said.

The famed bridge, one of the country’s oldest suspension bridges, was completed in 1883 and connects Brooklyn and Manhattan over the East River.

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Lightning Kills 1, Injures 2 on Florida Beach

iStock/Thinkstock(FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla.) — A lightning strike on a Florida beach Tuesday afternoon killed one person and left two others injured.

The three people were hit at around 2:10 p.m., while they were walking on the beach a short distance from the Lani Kai resort in Fort Myers Beach.

The strike, which was part of a storm so fierce that emergency workers were reportedly hesitant to go out on the beach when they arrived, horrified onlookers.

“The blood was rolling, just floating down to the water’s edge and the water was turning red right there. It was really terrible,” witness Robert Gustafson told ABC affiliate WZVN-TV in Fort Myers.

“I’m shaken up. Three people hit by lightning … at the same time, that’s — that’s terrible,” Alice Lynch told WZVN-TV.

Emergency workers performed CPR on a young man who was hit, and he was unconscious when he was taken was taken from the scene, according to reports.

A teenage girl who was also hit was reportedly conscious when she was taken by ambulance to a hospital.

Lee County Sheriff’s officials have not yet identified the three victims, but according to WZVN-TV they were all from Lehigh Acres.

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Official: Gun Shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Played Greater Role in Bombing and Aftermath

FBI(BOSTON) — The handgun used by one of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers in a violent firefight with police and to allegedly murder an MIT police officer was given to the Tsarnaev brothers by a local alleged heroin dealer who was taken into custody late Tuesday, several law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Stephen Silva, a Cambridge Rindge and Latin classmate of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, appeared in federal court Tuesday on drug and gun possession charges.

In addition to charges related to alleged heroin dealing, the Eritrea native, “knowingly received and possessed a firearm…a Ruger model P95 9mm pistol, which had the importer’s and manufacturer’s serial number removed, obliterated, and altered,” according to court documents obtained by ABC News. Silva is alleged to have had the gun in Feb. 2013, just months before the marathon blasts.

Law enforcement sources said that gun was the same as the Ruger P95 described in other court documents as used by Tamerlan Tsarneav, Dzhokhar’s older brother, in a gun battle with police three days after the marathon bombing in April 2013. Tamerlan emptied the gun when firing at police and then threw the empty weapon at the officers before he was killed, the documents say. Dzhokhar was injured, but survived the firefight and would be apprehended hours later. He has pleaded not guilty to a litany of charges related to the marathon bombing.

Hours before the police engaged the brothers, the same gun was also allegedly used in the murder of MIT security officer Sean Collier.

Defense attorneys for Dzhokhar have filed papers and have said in open court that Tamerlan was the architect of the marathon attacks that left three dead, 260 wounded, and that Dzhokhar came under the “stronger influence of his older brother.”

However, a high-ranking law enforcement official said that while Tamerlan may have used the Ruger last, it was Dzhokhar who was friends with Silva and in the end, “it was Dzhokhar’s gun.”

“The defense is trying to paint Tamerlan as the mastermind [of the Boston attacks], but they were working in concert and we have evidence that Dzhokhar secured the weapon,” the official said.

Though the serial number was damaged, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was able to use what was left to track it to a gun to a store in Maine where it had been purchased legally, law enforcement sources said.

The original buyer told investigators he gave it to a Portland, Maine drug dealing gang. The alleged leader of that gang has been identified in federal court records as Biniam “Icy” Tsegai, also from Eritrea. Tsegai and others were indicted by federal prosecutors in Maine last year and in recent weeks several of those charged with drug-related crimes have pleaded guilty or been sentenced, according to FBI releases and court records.

It is unclear what connection “Icy” or his associates may have had with Silva or the Tsarnaevs. But Silva was described by investigators as a longtime friend of the younger Tsarnaev – who today turned 21 in jail where he is awaiting trial. Silva told U.S. Magistrate Court Justice Marianne Bowler Monday that he attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin, the same school as Dzohokhar, and graduated in the same year, 2011.

Silva’s attorney, Jonathon Shapiro, did not respond to requests for comment. Silva will return to federal court next month for a bail hearing.

The FBI has doggedly built cases against four other Tsarnaev friends.

Another Cambridge Rindge and Latin classmate, Robel Phillipos, will go on trial this fall for lying to federal agents.

On Monday, Azmat Tazhayakov, who was with Tsarnaev every day after the bombings, according to court testimony in his trial, was found guilty of obstruction charges and faces twenty years in prison.

The FBI dug through a dump for ten days to recover a backpack with spent fireworks that Tazhayakov and roomate Dias Kadrybayev are accused of disposing of the night of Collier’s murder.

Kadrybayev was also charged with obstruction and is slated for trial this fall. He has pleaded not guilty.

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Official: Gun Shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Played Greater Role in Bombing and Aftermath

FBI(BOSTON) — The handgun used by one of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers in a violent firefight with police and to allegedly murder an MIT police officer was given to the Tsarnaev brothers by a local alleged heroin dealer who was taken into custody late Tuesday, several law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Stephen Silva, a Cambridge Rindge and Latin classmate of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, appeared in federal court Tuesday on drug and gun possession charges.

In addition to charges related to alleged heroin dealing, the Eritrea native, “knowingly received and possessed a firearm…a Ruger model P95 9mm pistol, which had the importer’s and manufacturer’s serial number removed, obliterated, and altered,” according to court documents obtained by ABC News. Silva is alleged to have had the gun in Feb. 2013, just months before the marathon blasts.

Law enforcement sources said that gun was the same as the Ruger P95 described in other court documents as used by Tamerlan Tsarneav, Dzhokhar’s older brother, in a gun battle with police three days after the marathon bombing in April 2013. Tamerlan emptied the gun when firing at police and then threw the empty weapon at the officers before he was killed, the documents say. Dzhokhar was injured, but survived the firefight and would be apprehended hours later. He has pleaded not guilty to a litany of charges related to the marathon bombing.

Hours before the police engaged the brothers, the same gun was also allegedly used in the murder of MIT security officer Sean Collier.

Defense attorneys for Dzhokhar have filed papers and have said in open court that Tamerlan was the architect of the marathon attacks that left three dead, 260 wounded, and that Dzhokhar came under the “stronger influence of his older brother.”

However, a high-ranking law enforcement official said that while Tamerlan may have used the Ruger last, it was Dzhokhar who was friends with Silva and in the end, “it was Dzhokhar’s gun.”

“The defense is trying to paint Tamerlan as the mastermind [of the Boston attacks], but they were working in concert and we have evidence that Dzhokhar secured the weapon,” the official said.

Though the serial number was damaged, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was able to use what was left to track it to a gun to a store in Maine where it had been purchased legally, law enforcement sources said.

The original buyer told investigators he gave it to a Portland, Maine drug dealing gang. The alleged leader of that gang has been identified in federal court records as Biniam “Icy” Tsegai, also from Eritrea. Tsegai and others were indicted by federal prosecutors in Maine last year and in recent weeks several of those charged with drug-related crimes have pleaded guilty or been sentenced, according to FBI releases and court records.

It is unclear what connection “Icy” or his associates may have had with Silva or the Tsarnaevs. But Silva was described by investigators as a longtime friend of the younger Tsarnaev – who today turned 21 in jail where he is awaiting trial. Silva told U.S. Magistrate Court Justice Marianne Bowler Monday that he attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin, the same school as Dzohokhar, and graduated in the same year, 2011.

Silva’s attorney, Jonathon Shapiro, did not respond to requests for comment. Silva will return to federal court next month for a bail hearing.

The FBI has doggedly built cases against four other Tsarnaev friends.

Another Cambridge Rindge and Latin classmate, Robel Phillipos, will go on trial this fall for lying to federal agents.

On Monday, Azmat Tazhayakov, who was with Tsarnaev every day after the bombings, according to court testimony in his trial, was found guilty of obstruction charges and faces twenty years in prison.

The FBI dug through a dump for ten days to recover a backpack with spent fireworks that Tazhayakov and roomate Dias Kadrybayev are accused of disposing of the night of Collier’s murder.

Kadrybayev was also charged with obstruction and is slated for trial this fall. He has pleaded not guilty.

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Official: Gun Shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Played Greater Role in Bombing and Aftermath

FBI(BOSTON) — The handgun used by one of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers in a violent firefight with police and to allegedly murder an MIT police officer was given to the Tsarnaev brothers by a local alleged heroin dealer who was taken into custody late Tuesday, several law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Stephen Silva, a Cambridge Rindge and Latin classmate of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, appeared in federal court Tuesday on drug and gun possession charges.

In addition to charges related to alleged heroin dealing, the Eritrea native, “knowingly received and possessed a firearm…a Ruger model P95 9mm pistol, which had the importer’s and manufacturer’s serial number removed, obliterated, and altered,” according to court documents obtained by ABC News. Silva is alleged to have had the gun in Feb. 2013, just months before the marathon blasts.

Law enforcement sources said that gun was the same as the Ruger P95 described in other court documents as used by Tamerlan Tsarneav, Dzhokhar’s older brother, in a gun battle with police three days after the marathon bombing in April 2013. Tamerlan emptied the gun when firing at police and then threw the empty weapon at the officers before he was killed, the documents say. Dzhokhar was injured, but survived the firefight and would be apprehended hours later. He has pleaded not guilty to a litany of charges related to the marathon bombing.

Hours before the police engaged the brothers, the same gun was also allegedly used in the murder of MIT security officer Sean Collier.

Defense attorneys for Dzhokhar have filed papers and have said in open court that Tamerlan was the architect of the marathon attacks that left three dead, 260 wounded, and that Dzhokhar came under the “stronger influence of his older brother.”

However, a high-ranking law enforcement official said that while Tamerlan may have used the Ruger last, it was Dzhokhar who was friends with Silva and in the end, “it was Dzhokhar’s gun.”

“The defense is trying to paint Tamerlan as the mastermind [of the Boston attacks], but they were working in concert and we have evidence that Dzhokhar secured the weapon,” the official said.

Though the serial number was damaged, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was able to use what was left to track it to a gun to a store in Maine where it had been purchased legally, law enforcement sources said.

The original buyer told investigators he gave it to a Portland, Maine drug dealing gang. The alleged leader of that gang has been identified in federal court records as Biniam “Icy” Tsegai, also from Eritrea. Tsegai and others were indicted by federal prosecutors in Maine last year and in recent weeks several of those charged with drug-related crimes have pleaded guilty or been sentenced, according to FBI releases and court records.

It is unclear what connection “Icy” or his associates may have had with Silva or the Tsarnaevs. But Silva was described by investigators as a longtime friend of the younger Tsarnaev – who today turned 21 in jail where he is awaiting trial. Silva told U.S. Magistrate Court Justice Marianne Bowler Monday that he attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin, the same school as Dzohokhar, and graduated in the same year, 2011.

Silva’s attorney, Jonathon Shapiro, did not respond to requests for comment. Silva will return to federal court next month for a bail hearing.

The FBI has doggedly built cases against four other Tsarnaev friends.

Another Cambridge Rindge and Latin classmate, Robel Phillipos, will go on trial this fall for lying to federal agents.

On Monday, Azmat Tazhayakov, who was with Tsarnaev every day after the bombings, according to court testimony in his trial, was found guilty of obstruction charges and faces twenty years in prison.

The FBI dug through a dump for ten days to recover a backpack with spent fireworks that Tazhayakov and roomate Dias Kadrybayev are accused of disposing of the night of Collier’s murder.

Kadrybayev was also charged with obstruction and is slated for trial this fall. He has pleaded not guilty.

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Florida Council Votes to Ban Saggy Pants; Mayor Sees No Need for Fashion Police

iStock/Thinkstock(OCALA, Fla.) — A Florida city council’s vote to ban sagging pants has sparked a debate among city officials over whether the need for fashion police.

The ordinance, passed July 15 in a unanimous vote, makes it illegal to wear pants two inches below the natural waistline, with violators facing a penalty of possible jail time and a fine of up to $500. The ordinance affects city-owned or leased property, including sidewalks, streets and parks.

Mary Sue Rich, a councilwoman for Ocala, was “the driving force” for the law, said Jeannine Robbins, public information officer for the City of Ocala.

Councilwoman Rich told ABC News: “Sometimes fads come in and they go out, but this one, to me, just seems to be getting worse. I’m just tired of looking at young men’s underwear, it’s just disrespectful.”

Rich, a retired probation senior supervisor for the Florida Department of Corrections, believes the ordinance will have a positive effect.

“I think it would make [individuals who wear sagging pants] respect themselves, and I would wager 9 out of 10 of them don’t have jobs,” she said.

“Everyone’s saying I’m targeting young black men,” she added. “I’m black. I’ve been black for a long time, why would I be targeting black men? I would just like to ask one of these men, ‘What is the advantage of pulling your pants down so far?’”

Not everybody agrees is on board with the anti-sag push, including Mayor Kent Guinn, who may veto it.

“I don’t think it’s a good law,” Guinn told ABC News, “when we start getting into creating laws that prohibit peoples’ freedom of expression and the way they dress, I think you’re getting into some dangerous territory.”

Guinn said, “After I thought about it, I thought, ‘this is just a bad law.’ I may not like the way they dress, but I’m not going to make a law about it.”

“It’s nothing personal towards councilwoman Rich,” said Guinn, “you vote for what you believe in your heart is right.”

“I just don’t think you can create laws that make you respect yourself,” he added.

On the fate of the law she worked so hard to implement, Councilwoman Rich simply says, “I guess we’ll see.”

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NYPD to Retrain Every Officer on Use of Force After ‘Chokehold’ Death

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Every member of the New York City Police Department will be required to undergo retraining on the use of violence following the death of a man in custody who appeared to have been subdued with a chokehold, the police commissioner said on Tuesday.

Police Commissioner William Bratton said his investigators have spoken with the FBI “to discuss their monitoring of this investigation,” and said that he would “not be surprised” if federal prosecutors began their own civil rights violation case.

Bratton was referring to the death last week of Eric Garner. Garner, who was 6-foot-3 and roughly 350 pounds, died Thursday as police struggled to arrest him on suspicion of selling “loosies,” or individual cigarettes, according to the NYPD. A video of the incident showed police apparently putting Garner in a chokehold while he says he can’t breathe.

Authorities said Garner appeared to have a heart attack, but the results of an autopsy have not yet been released.

The district attorney is also investigating Garner’s death and Bratton said that he expects Garner’s family to file a civil suit in his death.

Bratton said that the incident indicated to him that “We need to do a lot more, a lot more, on the issue of training.”

He said there would be a “special focus on the use of force” involving the “retraining of every member of the New York Police Department in the coming weeks and months and years.”

“The department clearly needs to do more training,” Bratton said.

A team from the NYPD will travel to Los Angeles to study the program at the LAPD, which Bratton noted he used to command.

The NYPD told ABC News on Tuesday that an internal police report prepared right after Garner’s death played down the incident, with officers saying Garner was not in “great distress” during the arrest.

The Internal Affairs report quoted two officers, Sgt. Dhanan Saminath and Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, telling supervisors immediately after the incident that cops were “maintaining control of him” and that Garner’s condition did not seem serious, a law enforcement source told ABC News.

Adonis did tell supervisors that she “believed she heard the perpetrator state that he was having difficulty breathing,” the source said.

The NYPD placed Officer Daniel Pantaleo, an 8-year veteran who was seen in the video holding Garner, on modified assignment pending the outcome of the dual probes by the district attorney and Internal Affairs.

Panataleo’s gun and badge were taken away pending the outcome of the investigations.

“We’re hanging back right now. We wouldn’t want to get in the way of the criminal investigation” being conducted by the district attorney, another federal source said.

FBI spokesman Christos Sinos stressed that a formal inquiry has not yet been opened up.

Garner’s funeral will be held Wednesday in Brooklyn.

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Pre-Teens Account for Sharpest Spike in Unaccompanied Child Migrants

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without parents are increasingly younger, according to newly released figures by the Pew Research Center.

Sixteen percent of the minors who’ve crossed unaccompanied in fiscal year 2014, ending Sept. 30, were 12 and younger, compared with 9 percent in the same nine-month period for the previous year, Pew found. The remaining 84 percent of unaccompanied minors who’ve crossed this year were teenagers.

The change from last year so far represents a 117 percent increase in the number of unaccompanied kids 12 and younger making the dangerous trek.

“The big message here is that when looking at who is crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and being apprehended, a growing number are young children,” Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew’s director of Hispanic research, told ABC News.

The data, which look at Customs and Border Patrol number released to Pew through a Freedom of Information Act request, provide the first publicly available detailed portrait of the children surging at the southwest U.S. border in the past few months.

Over 57,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border so far this fiscal year, more than double the number last year during the same nine-month period.

The majority of children this year have come from Honduras, followed by Guatemala and El Salvador. Mexico, which normally leads, comes in fourth.

The largest share of children 12 and younger comes from Honduras (27 percent), representing a 20 percent uptick in actual numbers from the previous year, according to Pew. El Salvador follows with an increased to 22 percent from 17 percent, followed by Guatemala, which has seen the share of minors 12 and younger double to 10 percent of all unaccompanied minors.

Comparatively, Mexico only had 3 percent of its unaccompanied children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border under the age of 1, the same amount seen last year.

“While this data does not tell us why [Honduras is sending more youth], one possible reason, according to Department of Homeland Security, is the growing level of violence in Honduras,” Lopez said. “Today, Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate, and San Pedro Sula, where the single largest contingent of kids from Honduras are from, is the world’s murder capital.”

Family apprehensions — parents traveling with children — have also seen a huge spike this year, according to Customs and Border Patrol numbers, with more than 55,000 apprehensions so far, compared with only 9,300 during the same time last year.

In analyzing the data, Pew also found children traveling with a parent were younger than those who travel without one, 81 percent 12 and younger.

“One pattern in the data is that younger children are more likely to be accompanied by a parent or guardian,” Lopez said. “Older children, say age 16, may have left on their own for the U.S. Perhaps to reunite with a family member in the U.S. or possibly to find work.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday at a briefing that “preliminary data” from the first two weeks of June show apprehensions of unaccompanied children down by nearly half in the Rio Grande Valley sector, going from around 350 per day to 150 per day.

“Now, while the reasons for the reduction in the number of unaccompanied children and adults traveling with children apprehended by CBP cannot be attributed to any one factor,” he said, “we do believe that the administration’s response and efforts to work with Central American leaders to publicize the dangers of the journey and reinforce that apprehended migrants are ultimately returned to their home countries, in keeping with the law, as well as seasonal flows, have all played a part.”

President Obama on Monday met with the Homeland Security Council to discuss the unaccompanied children crossing the border.

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