Review Category : National News

BASE Jumper Dean Potter Killed in Accident

iStock/Thinkstock(YOSEMITE VALLEY, Calif.) — BASE jumpers Dean Potter and Graham Hunt were killed in an accident at Taft Point in Yosemite National Park, a park spokesman said Sunday night.

Potter, 43, and Hunt, 29, were jumping Saturday evening when the accident occurred, Yosemite National Park spokesman Scott Gediman said.

The report came in at 9 p.m. that there had been an accident inside the park at Taft Point, but it was too dark to search, he said.

A California Highway Patrol helicopter search was initiated Sunday morning, and two bodies were spotted.

When Rangers got to them about noon, they were identified as Potter and Hunt, Gediman said.

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FBI Investigating Claim Computer Expert Hacked Plane In-Flight

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The FBI is investigating a computer security expert’s claim that he hacked into an airliner’s in-flight entertainment system and briefly made the plane fly sideways.

The claims were outlined in a newly released FBI affidavit, which says that Denver computer security expert Chris Roberts told investigators that he not only hacked into in-flight entertainment systems 15 to 20 times, but that at one point “he caused one of the airplane engines to climb resulting in a lateral or sideways movement of the plane.”

According to affidavit, Roberts said that as a passenger he broke into the planes’ entertainment system through boxes under the seats.

Law enforcement sources told ABC News there is no evidence that a hacker could gain control of an airliner in the way that Roberts indicated he did.

“While we will not comment on specific allegations, there is no credible information to suggest an airplane’s flight control system can be accessed or manipulated from its in-flight entertainment system,” one senior law enforcement official said. “Nevertheless, attempting to tamper with the flight control systems of aircraft is illegal and any such attempts will be taken seriously by law enforcement.”

ABC News aviation consultant and former Marine Corps pilot Steve Ganyard said it is something that is a possibility, and is something the government has said is a problem.

“Nobody can take control of the airplane right now,” Ganyard said. “I think somebody can insert bad data. They can spoof and fool the crew. They can say that they are in one place when they’re really in another. They can do all sorts of things that could potentially be dangerous. But at this point, we don’t have any reason to suggest that somebody can take over the airplane and fly it into a mountainside.”

Last month, while traveling on United from Denver, Roberts tweeted about the airplane’s system that caused the FBI to be alarmed.

After the plane landed in Syracuse, N.Y., FBI agents immediately met him at the airport, seizing more than a dozen electronic items.

According to the affidavit, agents later found that the seat electronic box on that plane “showed signs of tampering in the location where Roberts had been seated.”

Roberts declined to speak with ABC News Sunday but spoke to FOX last month about hacking into a plane’s wi-fi:

“It is definitely difficult,” he said. “It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of research and you have to be on quite a number of flights.”

Roberts tweeted Sunday night: “Over last 5 years my only interest has been to improve aircraft security…”

Federal sources tell ABC News they believe it is extremely unlikely that someone could hack a plane’s control system while in the air.

United Airlines also said Sunday night that the company is confident Roberts’ claims are unfounded.

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Nine Dead in Waco, Texas, Biker Gang Shooting, Cops Say

mathieukor/iStock/Thinkstock(WACO, Texas) — A shooting between biker gangs in a Waco, Texas, restaurant parking lot on Sunday left at least nine people dead, police said.

In addition to the 9 people confirmed dead, many others were injured, according to ABC News affiliate KXXV-TV in Waco. Everyone involved was a gang member, KXXV-TV reported.

The shooting took place at the Twin Peaks Restaurant during a rival motorcycle gang fight, police said. The fight broke out just after noon and escalated into gun fire, police said.

Waco police said officers were at the scene when the shooting started this afternoon. No officers were injured, police said.

Twin Peaks and a nearby restaurant were temporarily locked down during the incident, according to KXXV-TV.

This is a developing story.

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Amtrak Service Returns Monday Between New York and Philadelphia

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Amtrak is resuming service between Philadelphia and New York City beginning Monday morning, six days after a deadly derailment on the line, the company said on Sunday.

Amtrak travel between Philadelphia and New York City had been halted since Tuesday night’s derailment outside of Philadelphia, which left eight people dead and more than 200 injured. The train, which accelerated before the crash, was traveling over 100 mph at the time, well over the speed limit.

Amtrak President & CEO Joe Boardman said in a statement: “The safety of our passengers and crew remains our number one priority. Our infrastructure repairs have been made with the utmost care and emphasis on infrastructure integrity including complete compliance with Federal Railroad Administration directives.”

“Amtrak staff and crew have been working around the clock to repair the infrastructure necessary to restore service for all the passengers who travel along the Northeast Corridor,” he said.

All Amtrak Acela Express, Northeast Regional and other services will be running, the company said. The first train leaves New York City Monday at 5:30 a.m. and Philadelphia at 5:53 a.m.

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Driver Crashes Into Virginia State Police Cars on I-95

Sergeant Stephan M. Vick, spokesman for the Virginia State Police(CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va.) — Three children were among four people hospitalized Saturday after their car crashed into two Virginia State Police cars.

The driver ran off of Interstate 95 in Chesterfield County, striking the barrier wall and then colliding into both stopped police cars, the Virginia State Police said.

The driver and three passengers — children ages 9, 8 and 4 — were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

The state patrol cars — one marked vehicle and one gray, unmarked vehicle — had been on the shoulder of the road at the time, helping another driver with a flat tire, police said.

The troopers and the driver of the disabled vehicle were not injured during the dramatic collision, police said.

The marked unit suffered a loss of more than $10,000 in damages while the unmarked car’s damages were estimated at $7,000, the police said.

The crash is under investigation, police said.

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Before Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, The Last Man Boston Sentenced to Death

fotokon/iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — Prior to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence last week, the last person judged worthy of the ultimate punishment in a Boston courthouse has spent more than a decade on death row assaulting prison inmates and staff, writing an autobiography and ordering cappuccino through the prison’s commissary, according to court records and a prison official.

Gary Lee Sampson, who grew up in Massachusetts, was sentenced to death in 2003 on federal carjacking and murder charges stemming from a week-long crime spree that left three people dead. The judgment against him was read in the same Boston courthouse where Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber, heard Friday he would suffer the same fate.

In his original trial, Sampson pleaded guilty and it took jurors 10 hours to sentence him to death. But Sampson is getting a new penalty trial, slated to begin this fall, after it was revealed one of the jurors who sentenced him to die lied on a questionnaire.

Since he’s been behind bars, court records show Sampson has been a violent, unrepentant inmate who has attacked other inmates and prison officials and boasted incessantly about his crimes.

“Do you know what the definition of a serial killer is?” Sampson asked a prison official who runs the death penalty unit, according to a court filing. “Me. I’m a stone-cold killer.”

He also told his brother in a recorded phone call that he was “going to die with a smile on my face so this whole world… they can bury me with my face down and this whole world can kiss my Yankee white ass,” according to court records.

No one has been executed in Massachusetts since 1947 when two men were sent to the electric chair for murder. Sampson is first Massachusetts man sentenced to the death penalty under the federal statute, charged under a 1994 change in law that made fatal carjacking’s a federal crime.

Since 2003, Sampson has been housed on federal death row at FCI-Terre Haute in Indiana and over the years he has become a serial killer celebrity of sorts, whose commissary account is filled with donations from strangers — the type of treatment some marathon bombing victims fear Tsarnaev could receive from his own twisted “fans.”

Previously strangers filled the commissary of Tsarnaev’s federal prison account after he was transported to Fort Devens in Massachusetts to await his trial, federal prison officials confirmed. Many of them were young women who called themselves “Jaharians” — a twist on the phonetic spelling of Dzhokhar — a few of whom were his only supporters in court when he was sentenced to die Friday.

“I don’t understand these girls who cried for him on the stand or the teachers who testified for him with stars in their eyes,” said Liz Norden, whose two sons each lost a leg in the marathon blasts. She supported the death penalty for Tsarnaev and also bemoaned those who would send Tsarnaev money in jail. “I want him to disappear from the earth without being treated like some sort of celebrity.”

Robert Curley, whose 10-year-old son was kidnapped, raped and murdered in a separate case in 1997, said he initially led a charge to bring back the death penalty for state trials in Massachusetts, but later changed his mind.

“Trust me, [as] for my son’s killers, I would murder them myself. But I’m opposed to the death penalty for multiple reasons now,” Curley told ABC News. “One of them is that they become rock stars on death row.”

“That’s the problem with the death penalty,” he added. “They should have put Tsarnaev in a hole and let the world forget about him. Now we will hear about him nonstop.”

During the penalty phase of Tsarnaev’s trial Assistant United States Attorney Steve Mellin referred to inmates like Sampson when he cross-examined a former Terre Haute prison warden who testified for the defense about the harsh conditions there and at USP Florence ADMAX, the country’s highest security prison, where Tsarnaev would have been housed if sentenced to life in prison.

Federal officials have complained about the way Sampson has spent his time on death row in multiple court filings regarding his upcoming trial.

“No lie, the guy is ordering cappuccino’s from the prison commissary,” one federal official who is not authorized to discuss his case publicly told ABC News. A list of commissary items from the death row unit at Terre Haute does list “vanilla cappuccino” as an item available for purchase along with Nike sneakers, candy, cinnamon toast crunch cereal, and racquetballs.

A court filing said that Sampson is “one of the inmates who receives the largest amount of commissary,” on federal death row due to donations.

But that access to high-end items has not squelched Sampson’s penchant for violence, prosecutors say.

In one violence incident cited by prosecutors, Sampson became enraged when “there was not a meat entrée with his meal.” In another he threatened a guard saying “killing someone is not a problem for me.” He also complained in another angry tirade that prison officials were giving him “sub-level treatment because I’m on death row.”

A defense attorney for Sampson did not respond to a request for comment for this report.

Tsarnaev was sentenced to death on six of the counts that carried the death penalty out of 17 contained in his federal conviction.

“The jury has spoken. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will pay with his life for his crimes,” U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said Friday.

Tsarnaev’s father, Anzor, told ABC News from Dagestan after the verdict, “We will fight. We will fight. We will fight until the end.”

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NTSB Investigator: ‘Nothing at All’ Heard From Amtrak Train Engineer Communications to Suggest Train Hit by Projectile

ABC News(PHILADELPHIA) — There was no communication between the derailed Amtrak train engineer to the dispatch center to suggest that a projectile had hit the ill-fated train, National Transportation Safety Board lead investigator Robert Sumwalt said.

“We interviewed the dispatchers and we listened to the dispatch tape, and we heard no communications at all from the Amtrak engineer to the dispatch center to say that something had struck his train,” Sumwalt said during an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on This Week.

“Nothing at all,” Sumwalt said.

Sumwalt said that the idea that an object hit the train is something that the NTSB is continuing to assess.

On Tuesday night, an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, resulting in the death of eight people and hundreds of injuries. The train, which accelerated before the crash, was traveling over 100 mph at the time, well over the speed limit.

The engineer of the ill-fated train, Brandon Bastion, 32, told investigators earlier this week he did not remember details of the train derailment.

Following the crash, the Federal Railroad Administration ordered Amtrak to take steps to improve safety on the Northeast corridor.

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Severe Weather, Heavy Rain Continue to Pummel the Plains

Lyon County Sheriff’s Office(OKLAHOMA CITY) — Another round of severe weather hit the central plains Saturday night, downing power lines and destroying several homes.

More than 25 tornadoes were reported on Saturday with Oklahoma and northern Texas receiving the bulk of the storms.

Power lines and trees were downed by up to 80 mile per hour wind gusts stretching from Texas to Missouri, and there were homes damaged – or completely destroyed – in Oklahoma.

Six to 12 homes were damaged in Rogers County, Oklahoma, with two or three completely demolished, Sgt. Logan Eller told ABC News. He said one family was trapped in their home but that the sheriff’s office was able to get them out safely.

Earlier in the day a tornado in Elmer, Oklahoma also caused heavy structural damage.

At times during the storm more than 13,000 were without power in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and 11,000 in Oklahoma City.

In Kansas City, the severe thunderstorms brought heavy rains that caused flash flooding, with up to four inches of rain falling in the Kansas City metro area, causing impassable roads and water rescues.

Severe weather continues to threaten the midsection of the country Sunday, with large hail and strong winds expected in parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Heavy rain is also expected to continue for much of the Midwest.

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Police Release Surveillance Footage of Person of Interest in Deadly Washington, DC, Mansion Fire

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Police released surveillance video of a person of interest in the deadly blaze that killed a family of four in a Washington D.C. home last week.

The video, released Saturday night, shows a hooded figure carrying a white object, running past an unidentified building.

The video also shows a “vehicle of interest,” a blue Porsche convertible with D.C. license plates, which was seen at the house before the fire broke out.

Police said the car was later abandoned and set on fire on Arlington Road in Prince George’s County.

Two of the identities of the victims — Savvas P. Savopoulos, a 46-year-old corporate executive, and his wife, Amy — were confirmed by police in a press conference on Friday.

The two other bodies are not identified but are believed to be the couple’s 10 year old son and the family’s housekeeper, police said.

The fire is being investigated as a homicide and arson. Blunt-force or sharp object injuries were found on at least three of the four victims, police said.

The fire was reported Thursday afternoon in an upscale neighborhood less than a mile from Vice President Joe Biden’s home. According to real estate website Trulia, the home was assessed last year at more than $4 million.

“I’ve been here for 25 years and nothing like this ever happens. So it’s really kind of just rattling,” a neighbor said.

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Yellowstone National Park Visitor Gored by Bison

Scott Olson/Getty Images(MISSOULA, Mont.) — A Yellowstone National Park visitor was gored by a bison while trying to pose for a photo Friday.

According to the National Park Service, the victim was a 16-year-old girl exchange student who suffered serious, but not life threatening injuries. Park spokeswoman Traci Weaver told ABC News it all happened when the student tried to take a photo near the Old Faithful geyser with her host family.

“The young girl turned her back to the bison so she could have her picture taken with it. The bison took two steps and gored her, tossing her up in the air a little and injuring her,” said Weaver.

Weaver said bison enjoy thermal areas at this time of year as they look for grass.

“We have visitors that tend to get too close to the wildlife in Yellowstone and every year it seems we have at least one bison goring,” said Weaver.

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