Review Category : National News

US Justice Dept. Warns Law Enforcement: Street Gangs Actively Targeting Officers

aijohn784/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Gang Intelligence Center has issued a bulletin to law enforcement agencies nationwide, suggesting that the general anger towards police could now be morphing into an organized effort to target both uniformed and plain-clothes officers — especially by street gangs.

The bulletin was issued on July 15, just two days before the ambush of police and sheriffs deputies in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Sunday.

“Gang-related threats and attacks on LEOs [law enforcement officers] have been reported in multiple jurisdictions since the Dallas shootings, and suggest that individuals and gang members may be targeting LEOs for retaliatory violence,” the bulletin reads. “Gang members have also issued multiple threats of violence towards LEOs via social media following the Dallas shootings and the officer-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota.”

The bulletin cites the shooting deaths of black men by police in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, and Baton Rouge, and references the deadly sniper attack on police in Dallas. Other highlights in the bulletin include:

-In July 2016, a high-ranking member of the Four Corner Hustlers street gang in Chicago expressed a serious desire to kill a federal law enforcement agent, reasoning that the murder of a federal agent would resonate louder than the death of a local police officer.

-According to July 2016 FBI source reporting, United Blood Nation (UBN) leadership is encouraging violence against law enforcement, by promising elevated status to members who initiate violence against police.

-Some Black extremist groups are reportedly applauding the death of the five Dallas police officers and are encouraging gangs nationwide to unite and attack law enforcement, according to uncorroborated July 2016 open source reporting.

ABC News law enforcement contributor Steve Gomez, who worked gangs in South-Central Los Angeles first as an LAPD cop and then as an FBI agent, said the bulletin and the threats it details mark a return to the nightmare of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

At that time, the only thing that unified Los Angeles’ infamous street gangs was their hatred of law enforcement, and it was common for law enforcement to face sniper fire as they patrolled or responded to calls. The situation deteriorated dramatically, Gomez said, after the Rodney King verdict and 1992 riots.

“If the movement to target and assassinate cops expands past lone wolves (as we have thus far seen in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and other cities), and mobilizes violent gang members nationwide,” Gomez said, “the effect could be overwhelming.”

In response to the killings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, many police departments around the nation ordered heightened security for police facilities and directed that cops patrol only in pairs. In Los Angeles, where police already patrol in pairs, chief Charlie Beck on Sunday went even farther by ordering the specialty Metro Division to serve as on-site security for patrol cars responding to calls and directing the LAPD’s force of helicopters to monitor black-and-whites and search for possible snipers.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Whale Lunges Out of Water, Surprising Flute-Playing Paddleboarder

Qusek/iStock/Thinkstock(HALF MOON BAY, Calif.) — A professional flutist who brings her instrument with her when she paddleboards got the surprise of her life when a whale lunged towards her paddleboard off the coast of California.

Viviana Guzman was paddleboarding off the coast of Half Moon Bay, California, last week when the whale jumped out of the water right next to her.

“When I screamed it turned away from me. It surprised me and I surprised it,” Guzman told ABC News Wednesday. “It could have totally toppled me but he just gently went away, went under the water.”

Guzman, who lives near Half Moon Bay, described the whale as “like an iceberg.” She said she often plays her flute while paddleboarding, which she said catches the attention of whales in the water.

“I feel like they’re curious about the flutes and they come towards me,” she said. “I started my usual playing and all of a sudden one came really, really close to me.”

Guzman posted video of the encounter on YouTube, where it has been viewed more than 60,000 times.

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Cops Are on Alert, but They Won’t Be Deterred, Says Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly

mauinow1/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Deadly, targeted attacks on law enforcement officers in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, within a span of 10 days have drawn national attention to the dangers of being a cop. But former New York City Police Department Commissioner and ABC News consultant Ray Kelly doesn’t think the current climate impacts officers’ productivity at work.

While it “probably strikes most of us differently depending on how much time you’ve had as a police officer,” he told ABC News Wednesday, “this is part of the whole role of police officers. They’re going to lose fellow officers as they go forward in their careers, not unlike the military.

“But you have to continue to do your job. And I think that’s what we see and what we’ll continue to see,” Kelly added.

The Targeted Attacks

In Baton Rouge, three law enforcement officers were killed July 17 by a gunman who “intentionally targeted and assassinated” cops, according to police. The attack came in the wake of the death of Alton Sterling, a black man who was shot and killed during an altercation with Baton Rouge police officers on July 5. Protesters took to the streets nationwide after video surfaced of the encounter, which was followed the next day by a video of the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile, another black man, in Minnesota.

The Baton Rouge attack was also 10 days after the killing of five officers in Dallas by a gunman who said he was angry at police.

Kelly says cops in Baton Rouge and Dallas have since been “performing admirably.”

“When you lose … your colleagues, it’s gut wrenching. You may know them personally, you know their families. And of course you will have some anxiety yourself, understandably,” Kelly said, but “they will continue to do their job.”

Kelly also praised the Dallas and Baton Rouge police chiefs.

“They have, I think, supported their officers and raised the comfort level of the citizens,” he said.

Police departments around the country are on high alert in the wake of the targeted attacks.

In New York, the NYPD released new measures Sunday — the day of the Baton Rouge attack — announcing dual patrols. Kelly says the advantage of doubling up is that single officers are easier to attack.

However, dual patrols “put a strain” on small- or medium-sized departments, he said, because it reduces resources.

The NYPD also said this week its Critical Response Command is staffing security posts “visible with helmets and long guns” at stations throughout the city.

“It’s put in place to act as a deterrent to anyone who may want to attack police officers,” Kelly explained.

“I think that there’s no specific threat,” he said, but the precautions are in place as an “additional effort to secure our police facilities” and “to raise the comfort level of police officers working in that facility.”

Daily Dangers of Being a Cop

Targeted shootings aren’t the only dangers.

In Kansas City, Kansas, Tuesday, a police captain died after he was shot while responding to help officers at a call. This was not a planned ambush, officials said, adding that it appeared the suspect had committed a crime and fired to try to avoid being apprehended.

“Our officers do have some stress and increased anxiety,” Kansas City Police Chief Terry Zeigler said at a new conference Wednesday. “There’s no way they couldn’t.” But Zeigler added that the “officers will continue to fight for the safety of our community.”

Kelly says the everyday dangers of being an officer can differ depending on the setting — urban or rural — but there is “always potential for the unexpected.”

There are some calls “that historically create more of a problem,” he said, like domestic violence calls — “oftentimes the parties engaged in a domestic dispute will turn on the officer,” Kelly said.

Or when weapons are involved — which “have potential for the officer to get injured,” he said.

Traffic stops are also dangerous, Kelly said, because “you don’t know who is in the car” you’re approaching. Officers can also be injured by passing cars.

And in large cities, guns and assaults in progress are big factors.

“Disputes can turn against the officer pretty quickly,” Kelly said. “Anything where action is ongoing … the danger is there.”

For police, the unknown is dangerous, Kelly said.

“Virtually any 911 assignment can, first of all, not be what the caller describes, and secondly, can change very quickly,” he said. “So officers have to be aware of that and on guard to a certain extent.”

“There is an element of danger,” Kelly said. “That goes along with police work … I think people in the business realize that.”

But he stressed that he’s never seen that impact officers’ performance “in any way.”

“They go where the problems are, while the rest of the world is going in the other direction,” he said.

In terms of the psychological impact, he said he thinks it’s “not as great as people outside of policing may think.”

“I think police officers handle it pretty well. They have to have a fairly resilient demeanor to see what they see on a regular basis,” he said.

“This is what they do. This is their livelihood. So you get used to it to a certain extent,” he said. “And this is a self-selecting business. If the impact on you psychologically [is in] a negative way consistently, perhaps you should find another business.”

So while officers throughout the country have a “heightened awareness,” Kelly says recent events are “not going to deter them.”

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Parents of Boy Killed by Gator at Disney: ‘Pain Gets Worse’ Each Day

Orange County Sheriff’s Office(NEW YORK) — The parents of the 2-year-old boy killed by a gator at Walt Disney World in Florida say the pain of losing their son gets worse each day.

Lane Graves died June 14 at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa near Orlando, when a gator snatched the boy into a man-made lake on the property, authorities said. His body was found the next day.

His parents, Matt and Melissa Graves, said in a statement Wednesday, “We will forever struggle to comprehend why this happened to our sweet baby, Lane.”

“As each day passes, the pain gets worse, but we truly appreciate the outpouring of sympathy and warm sentiments we have received from around the world,” they said.

“We will solely be focused on the future health of our family and will not be pursuing a lawsuit against Disney,” the parents added.

The Graves said they hope to keep their son’s “spirit alive” through a foundation called the Lane Thomas Foundation.

“It is our hope that through the foundation we will be able to share with others the unimaginable love Lane etched in our hearts,” they said.

Walt Disney World Resort President George Kalogridis said in a statement Wednesday, “In the wake of this tragic accident we continue to provide ongoing support for the family, which includes honoring their request for privacy.”

Disney Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger said in a statement last month, “As a parent and a grandparent, my heart goes out to the Graves family during this time of devastating loss.”

“My thoughts and prayers are with them, and I know everyone at Disney joins me in offering our deepest sympathies,” he said.

Three days after the deadly incident, Disney announced it was installing new signage and barriers on the beaches of its Disney World resorts.

New signs said there are “alligators and snakes in area” and warn visitors to stay away from the water and not to feed the wildlife. Previous signage warned not to swim in the water but did not mention gators.

Disney is also “working on permanent, long-term solutions at our beaches,” Walt Disney World Resort Vice President Jacquee Wahler said in a statement on June 17. “We continue to evaluate processes and procedures for our entire property, and, as part of this, we are reinforcing training with our cast for reporting sightings and interactions with wildlife and are expanding our communication to guests on this topic.”

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

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Texas Teen Dies in Father’s Arms After Allegedly Shot by Friend

KTRK-TV(HOUSTON) — A Texas father is heartbroken over the death of his teenage son who was shot and killed by a friend who had been at their home for a sleepover, according to police.

“He died in my arms,” Jose Flores told ABC Houston station KTRK-TV of Emilio “Milo” Flores, 15.

The incident occurred early Tuesday morning at the Flores’ home in the city of Alvin, a Houston suburb.

“He and a couple of friends were supposed to spend the night together, and right around 5 o’clock in the morning, I was awakened by a sound that sounded like a firecracker,” Flores told KTRK.

He said he then ran to the back patio, where he discovered his son limp, bleeding and slumped over in a chair.

“My son was struggling to breathe, so I tried to do the best thing I could,” Flores said, explaining that he tried to give his son mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but it “didn’t help.”

Flores added that one of his son’s friends told him, “I accidentally shot him,” before fleeing the scene.

Responding officers found the teen “deceased and sitting upright in a patio chair, with what appeared to be a single gunshot wound to his chest,” according to Capt. Todd Arendell of the Alvin Police Department.

Flores declined to comment to ABC News Wednesday.

The suspected shooter, identified by police as Logan Anderson, 18, had fled the scene but was tracked down a few hours later in an adjacent town, where he was apprehended without incident, Arendell told ABC News Wednesday.

He added that officers recovered the handgun they say was used in the incident in a field several blocks from the shooting scene.

Anderson has been charged with manslaughter and was in custody at the Alvin Police Department’s jail as of Wednesday morning, Arendell said. He added that the suspect has been fully cooperating with investigators.

Anderson was awaiting arraignment and had not yet entered a plea as of Wednesday morning, according to Arendell, who added that it was not immediately clear whether Anderson had obtained a lawyer.

The Brazoria County District Clerk’s Office does not give out case information over the phone, according to its website, which directs case inquiries to its online “Judicial Record Search.” A court record on the charge against Anderson was not online as of Wednesday morning.

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Mysterious Booms Have Small California Town Looking to the Sky

iStock/Thinkstock(SONORA, Calif.) — A mysterious booming noise in a small California town has residents baffled, and has sparked many conspiracy theories.

Every weekday, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., a thunderous noise rocks through Sonora, California, according to locals.

The cause of the mysterious booms remains a mystery, with local residents pointing to everything from mining operations to aliens.

Glen White, a local teacher and geologist who has researched the sound extensively, told local ABC affiliate KXTV-TV that he thinks the noise comes from bombs and grenades exploding.

White said he believes the explosions come from an Army depot outside of Hawthorne, Nevada, about a hundred miles away from Sonora. There, a private company disposes and dismantles old munitions, White said.

“They go through old munitions bombs, grenades, then they destroy them,” White explained, and has video footage to back up his claim.

Ken Thomas, a contracting officer for the Hawthorne Army Depot, told ABC News Wednesday that they do detonate munitions regularly at the depot when the munitions are past their shelf-life, but he is not convinced that it can be heard in Sonora.

“It doesn’t feel right that what we’re doing here would be heard 200 miles away when there’s a mountain range in between us,” Thomas said. “My office is 27 miles from where they detonate the old munitions, I only hear it here maybe one time a month, and just barely and it’s like ‘Was that a boom?'”

While White thinks he has solved the town’s mystery, he told KXTV-TV he remains open to hearing other people’s theories, as long as they are backed up by scientific research.

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Group of Strangers Flip Crashed Convertible to Rescue Driver

iStock/Thinkstock(LEXINGTON, S.C.) — A driver who lost control of his convertible on a South Carolina highway and flipped into a ditch was rescued Tuesday by strangers who pulled over to help and were able to flip his car back over.

One of the rescuers, Bert Sorin of Lexington, South Carolina, was on his way to a meeting in Columbia with a co-worker when they saw the convertible careen off road at full speed and land nearly 30 yards off the interstate.

Sorin, who was driving, slammed on the brakes and joined two other drivers who had stopped to help.

“We could smell the gas dripping off of the car and we didn’t know if anyone was alive,” Sorin, the owner of an exercise equipment company, told ABC News. “The four of us tried to lift up the car but we couldn’t do it.”

Sorin said he then drove his SUV, a Chevy Tahoe, closer to the crashed convertible and attached a tow strap from his car to the convertible’s doors to try to rip them open. When the strap broke, Sorin ran back to the convertible and saw that nearly one dozen strangers had gathered to try to help.

“The more minutes passed by the more people showed up,” he said. “They were using pliers, anything, just banging at the car to try to get the guy out.”

Sorin said the rescuers could hear a male in the car but had no idea what his injuries were and if there were any passengers.

The group then lined up on one side of the car and, in unison, pushed the car right side up. When the convertible was upright, the driver walked out of the vehicle, seemingly unscathed.

“I think it was the surprise of our lives when we flipped him over and knew there was one guy in there,” Sorin said. “He started talking immediately and I think he had a little blood on him and that was it.”

“Everyone was in shock. There were people crying. There were people hugging each other,” he added.

Sorin said the driver told his rescuers that a book from his backseat had flown into the air while he was driving. The distraction caused him to lose control of his car, sending him off the road at full speed.

No one else was injured in the accident. Sorin, who posted video of the rescue on Facebook, said the whole rescue happened in less than eight minutes.

Emergency officials arrived on the scene less than two minutes after the driver was safely pulled from his vehicle, according to Sorin.

“We cheered and people shook hands and everyone went about their day,” he recalled. “Everyone kind of looked at each other and said, ‘You good?,’ and went on their way.”

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Neil Armstrong’s Moon Landing Artifacts Are on Display at the Smithsonian

Image by Dane Penland, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution(WASHINGTON) — They were seen on television screens across the nation as Apollo 11 landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Exactly 47 years after that historic day, Armstrong’s familiar blue-tipped gloves and helmet are on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

The fragile artifacts were last seen by the public in 2012, following Armstrong’s death. According to the museum, pieces of the spacesuit “are rotated on and off display based on their individual needs as determined by Museum collections specialists.” Components from the famous space flight are kept out of public view for preservation reasons. The gloves and helmet have been recently conserved, thanks to a successful “Reboot the Suit” Kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2015.

Armstrong’s lunar extravehicular gloves and helmet will be on display until July 2017.

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Police Body Cam Catches Distracted ‘Pokemon Go’ Driver Crashing Into Baltimore Police Car

iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — A Baltimore police body camera caught a distracted “Pokemon Go” driver crashing into a parked police patrol car.

The incident happened early Monday morning when three officers were standing next to a police cruiser as an SUV approaches, as seen on footage from one of the officers’ body cams. Seconds later, the driver swerves, side-swiping the cruiser.

Police then run after the driver, who had stopped further down the block. Moments later, the driver steps out of his car showing the game on his cell phone to the officer.

“That’s what I get for playing this dumb [a–] game,” the driver told the officer, in the nearly 90 second video.

No injuries were reported. The driver wasn’t identified in the video and police did not say if he was facing any charges.

At a news conference Tuesday, Baltimore Police said the accident could have been worse.

“It’s a game, but it’s not a game when you’re behind the wheel,” public information officer T.J. Smith said. “This could have easily, easily been a tragedy.”

Smith urged users to be careful and stay vigilant. The warnings come after several incidents related to the popular mobile app have been reported across the country.

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Major Heat Wave to Spread From Plains to East Coast This Week

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Triple digit heat index values will connect the Gulf Coast and Canada on Thursday in the middle part of the country. Sweltering heat will engulf more than half of the country in this summer’s latest heat wave.

This is all due to a massive heat dome sitting in the center of the country stretching from Arizona due north to Minnesota and as far east as New York. As this heat dome, or upper level high pressure system, sits and churns over the heartland of the U.S., the air inside continues to warm and circulate oppressive heat to more than two-thirds of the country.

In response to this developing heat wave, the National Weather Service is preparing the affected population with advisories, watches, and warnings. Currently, there are 16 states that are under one or more of these different types of National Weather Service alerts. Heat Advisories, Excessive Heat Watches, and Excessive Heat Warnings are in effect for many cities through Friday evening from as far south as Texas and Louisiana to as far north as Minnesota and North Dakota. As this sizzling heat marches east towards the weekend, more advisories, watches, and warnings are expected to go up.

ABC News

Latest computer modeling data indicates that Thursday will be the hottest day for the middle part of the country. However, as Meteorologist Paul Douglas in the Minneapolis area says quoting Yogi Berra, “’It’s not the heat, it’s the humility.’ Or humidity for that matter.” Humidity coupled with high temperatures can lead to blistering heat which is exactly the scenario which will be unfolding in the area on Thursday. Heat index values in the Central Plains expanding north are expected to surpass 100 degrees and in some cities potentially over 110 degrees. Unfortunately, this heat does not leave as quickly as it comes. Friday, Minneapolis looks to get some relief with heat index values dropping from upwards of 110 to the middle 90s; the rest of the Plains remain in the 100+ heat index value range. In this part of the country, the heat sticks around through the weekend.

Looking at this event from a climatological aspect, we are currently in the hottest part of the year, therefore the weather is doing exactly what it should be! However, despite the heat being rather usual for this time of year, it is the intensity and the duration of the heat that is alarming. The Northern Plains and Midwest are expecting temperatures to be 10-20 degrees above normal with this incoming heat wave. That being said, triple digit temperatures and those within a degree or two of 100 will be the big picture here in the central part of the country on Thursday and Friday. The problem only worsens when overnight lows only dip into the middle 70s, not allowing the atmosphere to cool off. Much like the atmosphere’s way of cooling off, our body’s way of cooling off through evaporation is slowed during extreme heat. It is important to stay hydrated and avoid spending excess time outdoors.

Once the peak of the heat is over in the Midwest, this impressive heat dome spreads into the Northeast and East Coast. Saturday will likely be the hottest day for the east where temperatures will be in the 90s and the heat index could approach or go above 100 degrees. Cities like Atlanta, Nashville, and Raleigh could see triple digit temperatures. To put this heat wave into perspective, many cities in the east have not seen 100 degree readings in a few years. New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Nashville, and Atlanta haven’t reached 100 degrees or above since July 2012.

The last time the Eastern part of the country had a very hot summer was in 2012. It was so unusually mild during the winter of 2011-2012 that the U.S. National Climatic Data Center called December, January and February the fourth-warmest winter for the lower 48 states since record-keeping began. Ultimately, because of the mild winter, spring and summer had an earlier start therefore allowing a faster warm up once the official start of summer began.

This summer already started off with record warmth for the contiguous United States. June, the first month of meteorological summer, was the warmest June on record (since 1895); it was also the warmest June for both Utah and Arizona. This is the second year in a row that June has broken this record. The average June temperature this year was 71.8 degrees, over 3 degrees higher than the 20th century average.

According to NOAA, June 2016 is also the warmest June on record for all land and ocean surfaces on the earth. This is the 14th consecutive month that the monthly global temperature record has been broken making it the longest streak since records began in 1880. The global temperatures for the first 6 months of the year was also the hottest on record.

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