Review Category : Top Stories

Mystery Lights Streak Across West Coast Sky, Igniting Social Media Frenzy

Paul Bartholomew(LOS ANGELES) — A blazing fireball streaked across the night sky on Wednesday, igniting a social media frenzy on the West Coast.

Residents of southern California all the way to Utah spotted a curious streak of light, and many took to the internet to find the answer, and share their own theories as to what it could possibly be.

Among the most popular suppositions were that this was the work of some kind of extra-terrestrial life, or that it was a meteor.

A NASA spokesperson told ABC News Thursday that the light was actually “the re-entry of a Chinese rocket body.”

Social media users were nonetheless awed at the beauty of this flaming piece of space junk as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.

WOW! Ian T. snapped this long-exposure pic near Page, AZ last night. Did you see the “space junk” in the sky? #abc15 pic.twitter.com/6Ydk11Fez5

— ABC15 Arizona (@abc15) July 28, 2016

Huge asteroid shooting star thing entering atmosphere over Vegas. July 27th 2016 9:40 p.m. pic.twitter.com/djdR3Xu6En

— Trevor Kerr (@AdmiralTrevMan) July 28, 2016

Correction, the object in question was not a meteor but rather a piece of “space junk.” https://t.co/iJkQtddAG6

— NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) July 28, 2016

Definitely a #UFO!!! pic.twitter.com/eB2mlnyrSh

— JoJo Wright (@JoJoWright) July 28, 2016

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Man Arrested at NYC Bus Station After Threatening Officers

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A Florida man was arrested Wednesday night at New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal after he allegedly made threats against officers at the Times Square-area transportation hub, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The unidentified 18-year-old man was charged with illegal possession of a firearm, terroristic threat and unlawful possession of marijuana, the PANYNJ said.

“A man to whom the suspect was speaking approached PAPD and said the man had asked him if he wanted to ‘off some cops’ and claimed he had the gun in the bag,” the PANYNJ said in a statement.

The PANYNJ said the suspect had a .38 caliber in a bag he was carrying when he was arrested at 8:35 p.m. Police got a warrant from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, searched the bag and found the weapon.

The police were never directly confronted or threatened by this individual.

As of late Wednesday evening, the suspect was being held at the bus terminal pending removal to the Manhattan Criminal Courts.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Four Missing Boaters Found 40 Miles off Key West Coast

iStock/Thinkstock(KEY WEST, Fla.) — After a search that covered nearly 4,000 square nautical miles, crews Wednesday found four boaters — including two children — who were reported missing Tuesday night when they didn’t return from a snorkeling trip off Key West, Florida.

The Coast Guard said the boaters were in good spirits and good health.

A concerned family member contacted the Coast Guard on Tuesday evening after the group — David Thompson, 48; Adam Kelley, 28; Joshua Thompson, 15; and Evan Thompson, 11 — did not return from their trip. They had been expected back before 4 p.m. that day, the Coast Guard said.

Search crews found the missing boat Wednesday nearly 40 nautical miles northwest of Key West, the Coast Guard said Wednesday afternoon.

The boaters left Banana Bay Resort in Key West on Tuesday in a 25-foot Grady-White to snorkel about 6 miles north of Key West.

The search was conducted by air and sea, the Coast Guard said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Switching Off Red Light Cameras Likely Cost Lives, IIHS Says

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The sudden flash of a red light camera in the rear-view mirror can certainly put a damper on a driver’s day. But those pesky cameras might have saved lives, a non-profit says.

Cities that switched off their red light cameras between 2010 and 2014 saw a 30 percent increase in the number of fatal red-light-running crashes, a new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study says. Meanwhile, cities that turned cameras on saw 21 percent fewer fatal red-light-running crashes than they would have otherwise, the study says.

Red light cams affect other types of dangerous driving behavior, too: Cities that terminated their camera programs saw a 16 percent increase in all types of fatal intersection crashes, and cities that debuted camera programs saw a 14 percent decrease.

Following criticism that cities’ red light camera programs were more focused on making money than saving lives, many cities switched off their cameras. In fact, at least 158 communities have discontinued their programs in the last five years, and though other cities have activated cameras, the total number of cities with red light cameras has fallen from 533 in 2012 to 467 in 2015.

Red-light-running crashes led to 709 deaths and 126,000 injuries in 2014 alone — and over half of those deaths were innocent bystanders: pedestrians, bicyclists, or occupants of vehicles struck by the red light runner, according to IIHS. But the organization says based on its research, red light cams have saved nearly 1,300 lives through 2014 — while cities’ cessation of red light camera programs has cost an estimated 63 lives, the organization says.

“Debates over automated enforcement often center on the hassle of getting a ticket and paying a fine,” IIHS President Adrian Lund said in a statement. “It’s important to remember that there are hundreds of people walking around who wouldn’t be here if not for red light cameras. Sadly, there are 63 families who are missing a loved one because these life-saving programs were canceled.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

No Winners in Wednesday’s Powerball Drawing, Jackpot Now $478 Million

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) —The jackpot for Wednesday’s Powerball drawing was a whopping $422 million — but there were no winners, a California Lottery spokesperson confirmed to ABC News early Thursday morning.

Now, the jackpot has increased to an estimated $478 million. The next drawing is Saturday.

The jackpot has steadily been increasing, thanks to nearly three months without a winner of the big prize.

The numbers drawn Wednesday were 10, 47, 50, 65, and 68. The Powerball is 24.

The big Powerball prize comes less than three weeks after a player in Indiana won a $536 million Mega Millions jackpot.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Cocaine Found Stashed in Luggage Compartments of Two JetBlue Planes

Columbia County Sheriffs Office(LAKE CITY, Fla.) — About 3 kilos of cocaine were discovered on two JetBlue planes during routine maintenance of the aircraft in Lake City, Florida, a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, Murray Smith, tells ABC News.

A maintenance worker discovered 1 kilo tucked behind some insulation inside a panel in the luggage compartment of one plane on July 20, Smith said. The panel’s covering was screwed in, so someone would have had to unscrew it to stash the drugs inside the compartment, a part of the plane to which passengers don’t normally have access.

“This was not a hatch you just go up to and open,” Smith said. “Somebody had to know what they were doing to put it there.”

Four days later, on July 24, just under 2 kilos were discovered in the same place on another JetBlue plane, Smith said.

Some of the cocaine and its dark brown paper packaging have been sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for testing, Smith said. The state will look for fingerprints or DNA on the packaging and will test the drugs to try to figure out where the cocaine came from, Smith said. He estimated the street value of the drugs was about $180,000.

According to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, which got the first plane’s itinerary history from JetBlue, the aircraft had most recently flown from the Dominican Republic to JFK International Airport in New York City before it proceeded to Florida. The Sheriff’s department is still awaiting information on the second plane’s itinerary. When they get it, they’ll look for any destinations common to both planes.

JetBlue declined to comment, referring ABC News instead to local authorities. According to Smith, JetBlue aircraft have to be serviced every 90 days; in that time period, each plane is typically used in about 360 flights, both domestic and international.

Smith said the drugs could have been planted during any one of hundreds of flights prior to the routine maintenance check, adding that he’s “not convinced” the drugs were meant to land in Lake City.

The maintenance worker who discovered the drug stash on the first plane is employed by HAECO Americas. HAECO did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

One Dead, Eight Injured After Car Slams into Los Angeles Bible Study Group

KABC(LOS ANGELES) — One person was killed and eight others injured after a car plowed through a Los Angeles home during a bible study session Wednesday evening.

Police said the driver of the car is still on the loose.

The incident happened around 8 p.m., when a female driver sped through the neighborhood and crashed into the house where a group of 11 elderly people had gathered for a prayer meeting, according to police.

Footage from a KABC Los Angeles news helicopter showed a red sedan almost completely inside the Harbor Gateway home, where it apparently came to a stop.

UPDATE: #LAFD now says 8 injured when car crashes into Harbor Gateway home https://t.co/mvZgkFEmSd pic.twitter.com/wXNJxebToA

— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) July 28, 2016

Police said the female driver fled the scene, leaving behind a car with no license plates and no identification inside.

Some of the victims were stuck under the car and had to be rescued by firefighters at the scene, reports KABC. Victims of the hit-and-run crash ranged from their 40s to 80s, police said.

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the crash.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Deadly Ambush Attacks Against Cops Have Increased Dramatically This Year: Inside the ‘Troubling’ Report

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The number of law enforcement officers killed in ambush-style attacks has increased dramatically this year, according to a report issued today by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a finding its spokesperson called “especially troubling.”

Sixty-seven law enforcement officers died in the line of duty this year as of July 20 — a small increase from 62 deaths in the same period last year, according to the report. But of this year’s 67 deaths, 32 were firearms-related — which is a 78 percent spike from last year, when 18 deaths were firearms-related.

And of this year’s 32 firearms-related deaths, almost half — 14 — were the result of eight ambush-style attacks against unsuspecting officers, according to the report. At this time last year there had been just three ambush deaths.

Forty-six officers were killed as a result of a criminal act so far this year, the report said — double last year’s number of 23. The criminal-related deaths this year were from shootings, traffic-related incidents, a beating, and an officer who died from illness contracted from 9/11 rescue and recovery work.

Texas has had the most officer fatalities with 13, followed by Louisiana with seven, in the wake of deadly, targeted attacks on officers in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this month.

In Baton Rouge, three officers were killed on July 17 by a gunman who “intentionally targeted and assassinated” cops, according to police. The attack followed 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 reportedly said he was angry at police.

In all of 2015, there were eight deadly ambushes, said Steve Groeninger, senior director of communications and marketing of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, and in all of 2014 there were 15.

“We’re halfway through the year and already at 14,” Groeninger said, calling the increase of ambushes “especially troubling.”

And while Groeninger said the mass ambushes in Dallas and Baton Rouge are “terribly relevant,” he added, “there have been other officer ambushes in the first half of the year.” One was 28-year-old police officer Ashley Guindon, who was shot dead while on her first shift after being sworn in at the Prince William County Police Department in Virginia in February.

Despite what Groeninger points out to be an alarming 78 percent firearms-related spike from last year, he said this isn’t the deadliest time ever for cops — another dangerous year was in 1973, when at the midway point of the year, 84 officers had been shot and killed.

But police throughout the country are certainly on edge today, and deadly danger for police extends beyond ambushes. While ambushes made up 14 of the 32 firearms-related deaths, other firearms deaths were by incidents including handling prisoners and stopping a suspicious person, the report noted.

Of the non-firearms-related deaths, 24 were traffic related and 11 were from other causes, the report said.

Terrence Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, told ABC News that officer safety in the current climate can very difficult to achieve. He said some departments are taking “steps to try to keep officers safe in this current environment,” like dual patrols. He said it’s also been suggested that officers not write reports in their cars in the open and not eat in restaurants, instead returning to their stations.

Cunningham called it “really unfortunate” that “in a time we need to connect most with the community,” these potential steps are “driving a wedge between the community and the police.”

“Those [community interactions] are the interactions we need right now, and unfortunately that’s being lost,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham also gave insight into the mindset of police officers. He said officers are often responding to “people’s worst day,” and while citizens may think they are the only call that officer is responding to, the officer is really going to “call after call after call.”

The tension is “palpable out there,” he said, “and this cumulative effect of stress and trauma on the officers … is something we have to deal with as a profession.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Mother of Orlando Shooting Victim Makes Emotional Plea at DNC

ABC News(PHILADELPHIA) — The mother of one of the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting made an emotional plea from the stage of the Democratic National Convention as she called for commonsense gun policies.

Christine Leinonen, mother of Christopher Leinonen, told how her son and his boyfriend were among the 49 victims of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

She recalled that when Christopher was born, she was a Michigan state trooper and the hospital put her gun away as she prepared to give birth.

“When I went into labor, the hospital put my off-duty gun in a safe. I didn’t argue,” she said. “I know commonsense gun policies save lives.”

“I’m glad commonsense gun policy was in place the day Christopher was born,” Leinonen said. “But where was that common sense the day he died?”

Leinonen told how her son was an award-winning humanitarian who had started a gay-straight alliance at his high school.

“Christopher’s paternal grandparents met and fell in love in a Japanese internment camp. So, it was in his DNA that love always trumps hate,” she said.

Leinonen spoke to ABC News in the hours that immediately followed the Orlando shooting, when at the time she did not know the fate of her son.

“Please, let’s all just get along,” Leinonen said while gasping for breath. “We’re on this earth for such a short time. Let’s try to get rid of the hatred and the violence, please!”

Among others who gave emotional testimonies on gun violence were former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head in 2011 and survived, and Erica Smegielski, daughter of the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal, Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in a mass shooting at the Newtown, Connecticut, school in 2012.

Giffords spoke briefly, calling for the election of Hillary Clinton because “in Congress, I learned a powerful lesson: Strong women get things done.”

“Speaking is difficult for me,” Giffords said. “But come January I want to say these two words: Madam President.”

Both Giffords and Smegielski campaigned for Clinton ahead of the convention, and Smegielski said that one reason she feels passionately about Clinton’s bid is because the candidate reminds her of her mother.

“What we need is another mother who is willing to do what’s right, whose bravery can live up in equal measure to my mom’s,” Smegielski told the assembled delegates tonight. “What we need is to elect Hillary Clinton as the 45th president of the United States of America so that no other daughter ever has to say, ‘I would give every single day that I have left for just one more day with my mom.'”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Eight Hikers Led to Safety After California Fire Stranded Them for Days

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Eight hikers were led to safety after a raging wildfire in northern California stranded them for at least five days, officials said.

A Cal Fire spokesperson said this was not technically a “rescue” as the hikers, who had been near the massive Soberanes fire in Monterey County for at least five days, were given the option to stay or leave, and they chose to walk down from the fire with firefighters.

The hikers were not injured and in fine condition, the spokesperson said. Once they walked down they were were given food and water at a Boy Scouts camp.

The Soberanes fire in Monterey County started on July 22 and has since burned 23,500 acres. It’s 10 percent contained.

Meanwhile, a second massive blaze is raging in southern California; the Sand fire has covered 38,000 acres in the Los Angeles area and is 40 percent contained.

The two fires prompted states of emergency to be declared Tuesday in Monterey County and Los Angeles County.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →