Review Category : National News

Buffalo, NY, Buried in Snow, Could Get Another Three Feet Thursday

iStock/Thinkstock(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — Buffalo, New York, generally averages about eight feet of snow every winter. By the end of the day Thursday, it could eclipse that mark in just three days. And winter is still a month off.

Governor Andrew Cuomo got a first-hand look at all the white stuff that has paralyzed much of the city due to the much talked about lake effect, which causes snow to come down faster, thicker and harder than in other areas due to cold air picking up moisture from Lake Erie.

Cuomo admitted, “This is a historic event. When all is said and done, this snowstorm will break all sorts of records, and that’s saying something in Buffalo.”

Meanwhile, the governor has called in more than 200 National Guardsmen to remove snow, direct traffic and rescue the hundreds of stranded people from area highways.

Meteorologists are predicting that Buffalo, which got five feet Tuesday, could get at least another three feet Thursday in a second round of snowfall.

To get an idea of how much of a burden the snow has become, it’s estimated that the average Buffalonian has to shove 25 tons of it just to get out of their driveway.

Meanwhile, it’s uncertain whether the Buffalo Bills’ game with the New York Jets can be played Sunday since the Bills’ stadium is already buried under 220,000 tons of snow with more is forecast for Thursday. The Bills are offering local residents $10 an hour and tickets to a future game in exchange for helping shovel snow.

On a more somber note, seven snow-related deaths have occurred in Western New York, some from people suffering heart attacks while shoveling.

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Three Wounded, Suspected Gunman Dead After Shooting on FSU Campus

iStock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — Three people were wounded in a shooting on Florida State University’s campus in Tallahassee, police said, with the suspected gunman shot and killed by officers.

The shooting happened early Thursday morning at the university’s Stozier Library.

A police officer fatally wounded the suspected gunman after he fired at police, Tallahassee Police Department public information officer David Northway said at an early morning press conference.

Two of the victims were taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, with one listed in critical condition, the other in stable condition. The third victim’s condition is unknown.

The university sent an emergency alert to students, classifying the incident as a “dangerous situation” and telling students to seek shelter.

University President John Thrasher released a statement following the Thursday morning shooting.

“The Florida State University community is extremely saddened by the shootings that took place early this morning at Strozier Library, in the very heart of campus, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of all those who have been affected,” Thrasher said in the statement.

“The three students who have been injured are our highest priority followed by the needs of our greater university community. We will do everything possible to assist with their recovery.”

The shooting was an “isolated incident,” Thrasher said.

Toni Haywood, a junior, says she was on the second floor of the library at about 12:30 a.m., when she says she heard gunshots.

Minutes later, people on the first floor ran upstairs, telling students to hide, Haywood said.

“The police came on the intercom and said that there was a gunman in the lobby, and I think he said two people had been shot,” Haywood told ABC News in a text message. “He said to stay away from doors and windows and to stay where we were. We all waited then the police came back on and said the gunman was in custody and to stay where we were.”

Haywood and other students remained hunkered down an hour later, waiting as police cleared the floors of the library.

Junior Guillermo Page described the scene as “total chaos.”

“A kid who was up with me [in the library] told me he had walked past the shooter,” Page told ABC News. “He said he was a six-foot-tall man with a red sweater and that he saw him walk right by him and saw him pull out his gun, and that’s when he ran upstairs.”

The campus will remain open Thursday, but classes are canceled, university officials said.

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WATCH: Man Holding Toddler Allegedly Steals Box of Toys

iStock/Thinkstock(UPPER DARBY, Pa.) — As authorities in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, search for a man captured on a home surveillance camera carrying a toddler in his arms as he allegedly steals a package off someone’s porch, consumers are being reminded about the risks of shipping packages this holiday season.

“The thing that bothers me about this one is the little baby,” Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood told ABC News affiliate WPVI about the surveillance tape. “He never lets go and uses the baby as a cover to steal.”

In the video released Tuesday, a UPS driver can be seen knocking on the neighbor’s door and then leaving the package on the porch, as instructed by the homeowner. The box reportedly was full of toys for the holiday.

Minutes later, after the UPS driver leaves, the man holding a toddler in one arm walks up to the porch and allegedly steals the box.

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Chitwood said the delivery drivers were just doing their jobs.

“They knock on the door. Nobody’s home. They leave the package,” he said. “These bums are perusing the neighborhood and…they follow the trucks.”

With the U.S. Postal Service, UPS and FedEx expected to deliver nearly 1.3 billion packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year — 10 percent more than last year — consumers should be on alert, experts say.

Delivery companies told ABC News that they trained their drivers to be highly alert to possible thieves but police said consumers should be on alert too.

Police said home security cameras like the ones in Upper Darby have also been key in helping the authorities identify alleged thieves.

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Ferguson School District Poised to Get Students Off the Streets

Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Schools in Ferguson, Missouri, released plans on Wednesday to ensure that students are off the streets – possibly including closing schools – ahead of the grand jury verdict in the shooting of teenager Michael Brown.

The Ferguson-Florissant School District said that whenever a decision is handed down, schools could close early or close for the day if the decision is released during a school day. The decision would affect schools beyond Ferguson and would include the entire district and its 23 schools, the majority of which are elementary schools.

They also noted that seven churches have agreed to work with the school district in providing free breakfast and lunches for students if the schools are closed.

“First, we will take actions necessary to ensure the safety of our students and staff, both at school and on their way home from school. Second, activity in the area that causes logistical or operational concerns may necessitate a change in our school schedule,” Acting Superintendent Lawrence Larrew wrote in the statement.

The statement does not mention how long the change in schedule is expected to last, whether it be just the day of the announcement or multiple days after.

If the decision comes at night, the schools could continue with their normal schedules, the statement said.

One fact not mentioned in the note was that school officials are expected to have a heads-up for when the announcement will be made.

The Hazelton School district, which lies directly north of the Ferguson-Florissant district, posted a letter to parents last week saying that the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s office previously told educators that if the decision is made on a weekend, school superintendents will be notified 24 hours prior to the information being released to the media, and if it comes during the week, school districts will be given three hours of advance notice.

“The three-hour window will allow us enough time to transport students home safely,” the letter states, though they do not specifically note if they will follow the same protocols of Ferguson-Florissant schools.

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NJ Attorney General Launches Separate Probe into Murder of CEO, Wife

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New Jersey’s attorney general is conducting his own shadow investigation into the shocking September deaths of a politically connected hospital CEO and his wife, ABC News has learned.

Word of the separate probe came late Tuesday in the wake of revelations that John and Joyce Sheridan had both been stabbed multiple times before their home was torched on Sept. 28.

Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said one person briefed on the case has deployed a team from the State Police and state Division of Criminal Justice that is “providing a fresh set of eyes, additional manpower and expertise. This is a very complex investigation.”

The AG’s spokesman, Paul Loriquet, declined to comment because of the ongoing investigation.

John Sheridan, a former state transportation commissioner, was a pillar of the New Jersey Republican establishment, having served as an adviser to every GOP governor in recent memory, including the current holder of the post, Chris Christie.

When he died, Sheridan, 72, was the president and CEO of Cooper Health System, the leading hospital operator in South Jersey.

Deemed an arson in the first days of the probe, the blaze was confined to the master bedroom in the couple’s upscale home in Montgomery Township, about 40 miles southwest of Newark.

Originally, local authorities acted as though it were not complex at all. Officials suggested repeatedly the deaths were the result of an open-and-shut murder-homicide and that the public should have no concern at all.

On Oct. 2, Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Jack Bennett told ABC News: “At this point, based upon facts and circumstances learned through this investigation, we are quite confident that there exists no threat to either the immediate neighborhood or to the local community.”

The prosecutor also said investigators had quickly ruled out the couple’s four sons, though he refused to explain that determination.

Then, officials went silent. Dozens of interviews yielded no information that might confirm the possibility of a murder-suicide and no other evidence was found to point detectives in that direction. The couple’s sons hired renowned pathologist Michael Baden to conduct his own investigation, though Baden has not released those results.

Late Tuesday, ABC News confirmed that John and Joyce Sheridan, 69, were stabbed multiple times with at least three different weapons prior to the fire being set and that only two of those weapons have been retrieved. The clear indication from the missing weapon is that a third party could have committed the crime and then left with key evidence.

The nature of the wounds to both Sheridans also appears ragged and unplanned and, when John Sheridan was found, he was lying beneath a large armoire that had been doused with gasoline. Those facts, again, suggest to investigators that someone besides either victim was involved.

The prosecutor’s office — which has been criticized for its refusal to discuss the case — again did not reply to questions from ABC News.

The Sheridans’ four sons issued a statement, saying “no one wants answers about our parents’ deaths more than us. Real answers will only come after a full and thorough investigation. …We are committed to getting to the truth and that means we will not comment while the investigation is ongoing.”

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What It’s Like to Be Trapped by a Wall of Snow in Buffalo Storm

iStock/Thinkstock(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — People in the Buffalo, New York, area have been snowed in for the second straight day, and some are even trapped at stores or jobs because of a sudden huge snowstorm.

And it isn’t over. More snow is expected to pound upstate New York on Wednesday, as officials frantically try to clear massive truckloads of snow from the area.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Wednesday that more than 5,000 tons of snow have already been removed from south Buffalo.

Meanwhile, residents are posting photos of the snow piling up outside their car or home windows.

Patti Mahaney said she’s stranded at home for the second day in a row and there’s more than four feet of snow in the parking lot of her apartment building, near the stadium where the Buffalo Bills play.

#BuffaloSnow #buffalostorm We have almost 4 feet of snow in parking lot of Regency Court Apts in O.Park & NOT 1 PLOW!

— Patti Mahaney (@spikezezel2) November 19, 2014

And there are plenty of snow doors:

Many #snovember pics with snow halfway up open door. First one all the way to top: More pics:

— 7 Eyewitness News (@WKBW) November 19, 2014

Others not so lucky to be stranded at home got stuck at stores, restaurants or at work on Tuesday.

So this is how I’m spending my night. On the floor of a Tim Horton’s. You can see the snow piled up outside…

— Wolfvember Advocate (@Faustwolf) November 19, 2014

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Basketball Team Spent Day Stranded on Bus in Snowstorm

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A women’s basketball team stranded on a bus for more than a day during a massive snowstorm in upstate New York turned to social media to keep morale up, and to keep fans posted.

The Niagara University team was returning from a game in Pittsburgh late Monday when they got stuck on the New York State Thruway near Buffalo, as several feet of snow pounded the area.

Things started to get bad Tuesday around 2 a.m., and the bus had to stop, Niagara players and coaches said.

Five hours later, players tweeted that they were still stuck:

Omg we got on this bus around 11 o’clock we were suppose to get home in 3 hrs.. It is 7:03 am and still on the bus..

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Al Sharpton on ‘High Alert’ About Ferguson Decision

Win McNamee/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Al Sharpton said on Wednesday that he is “on high alert” for the grand jury decision in the case of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Sharpton said that his civil rights group, the National Action Network, have been planning for “vigils and non-violent demonstrations” when the Ferguson grand jury hands down its ruling, which is expected to come any day.

“I have pledged to the mother and father of Michael Brown that I will be there with them when the decision is announced,” Sharpton said at a press conference Wednesday.

Sharpton said he is also waiting for a grand jury ruling on the death of Eric Garner, a black man who died while being held in a choke hold by a New York City police officer. That incident was caught on videotape.

He said both grand juries appear to be going beyond the usual protocol of hearing enough evidence to determine whether there should be a trial.

“It is very suspect to us that the grand juries in both cases appear to be improperly expanded to where it is about to prove or disprove the accused rather than seeing if there is probable cause to go to trial,” Sharpton said.

“That is not the proper use” of a grand jury, he said. Such tribunals are generally used to deem whether or not there is enough probable cause for a criminal case, while guilt or innocence should not be their focus.

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Basketball Team Spent Day Stranded on Bus in Snowstorm

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A women’s basketball team stranded on a bus for more than a day during a massive snowstorm in upstate New York turned to social media to keep morale up, and to keep fans posted.

The Niagara University team was returning from a game in Pittsburgh late Monday when they got stuck on the New York State Thruway near Buffalo, as several feet of snow pounded the area.

Things started to get bad Tuesday around 2 a.m., and the bus had to stop, Niagara players and coaches said.

Five hours later, players tweeted that they were still stuck:

Omg we got on this bus around 11 o’clock we were suppose to get home in 3 hrs.. It is 7:03 am and still on the bus..

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US Faces Epidemic of Phony Debt Collectors: Prosecutor

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The United States is facing an epidemic of unscrupulous debt collectors who pose as law enforcement, threatening their victims with jail time unless they pay bills for things they never bought, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Tuesday as he announced the arrests of seven people who worked for a Georgia-based company.

A criminal complaint was filed Tuesday against employees at Williams Scott & Associates LLC, based in Norcross, Georgia. The alleged thieves posed as debt collectors and local law enforcement, conning 6,000 people of out more than $4 million in recent years, authorities said.

Victims were tricked into believing they’d committed a crime such as fraud then bullied into paying up bogus debts or going to jail, authorities said.

“I don’t care if you’re nine months pregnant, I have a job to do here,” a phony collector said on one of the calls, which was recorded.

In another recorded call, a person was threatened with legal backlash. “I will have no choice but to forward it to Los Angeles County. However, Los Angeles County will issue you a warrant for your arrest,” a recorded caller said.

Experts warned that more fraudsters are on the loose and that federal authorities are cracking down.

“There are lots of companies that do this and victimized not just 6,000 people, but I think tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people all over the country,” Bharara said.

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