Review Category : Top Stories

One Teen Dead, Another Injured After Being Ejected From Carnival Ride at Texas Church

iStock/Thinkstock(EL PASO, Texas) — A female teenager was killed Friday night when she was ejected from a spinning carnival ride at an El Paso, Texas, church, local police have confirmed.

Another female teenager, who also was ejected from “The Sizzler” ride at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, sustained injuries and was rushed to a local hospital.

A third female teenager, who was not ejected from the ride, was treated at the scene but did not sustain any injuries, El Paso Police Department Sgt. Enrique Carrillo told ABC News.

The hospitalized teen’s condition is unknown.

CAP responding to St Thomas Aquinas Church 10900 Bywood carnival ride injuries

— EL PASO POLICE DEPT (@EPPOLICE) April 30, 2016

The ride was part of the church’s Dia De Los Niños Fiesta festivities.

At a press conference Friday night, Sgt. Carrillo said the three females are between the ages of 15 and 18.

Sgt. Carrillo said the accident remains under investigation, and its cause remains to be determined.

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Scientology Leader’s Father Ron Miscavige Describes the Moment When He Says He Escaped

ABC News(HEMET, Calif.) — Two hours east of Los Angeles, in Hemet, California, sits a 500-acre Scientology compound known as the “Gold Base.”

The Church characterizes the base as a slice of Scientology utopia, with state-of-the-art facilities and gorgeous landscaping.

“If you talk to the staff, they’ll tell you it’s a worker’s paradise,” Scientology attorney Monique Yingling told ABC News 20/20. “It couldn’t be a better place to work.”

But that’s not how Ron Miscavige remembers it.

Ron Miscavige, the father of Scientology’s leader David Miscavige, and his wife Becky moved onto the base in 2006, where he said they were forced to live under serious restrictions.

“I’m living on a compound…where your mail going out is read before its seal and sent out, where before you get your mail, it’s opened and read before you get it,” Ron Miscavige told 20/20 in an exclusive interview. “Phone calls, you’re on the phone, somebody else is listening on an extension.”

Gary Morehead, a former Scientologist turned Church critic, says he was once director of security for the Church and would go through people’s belongings at Gold Base to collect information on them.

“I would go through people’s personal belongings out of their berthing, where they slept… obtaining bank records, date of birth, passwords, any personal information, where their family addresses were,” Morehead told 20/20.

Before he moved to the base, Ron Miscavige had joined the Sea Organization, or “Sea Org,” the clergy of the Church, in 1985 and was working as a musician and composer for the Church’s Golden Era Productions. But Miscavige said by the late 2000s, the crushing workload, rigid lifestyle and lack of sleep on the base became unbearable.

The Church rejects those claims, telling ABC News in a statement that “long and hard hours” and a “restrictive lifestyle” are part of the mission that Sea Org members sign up for.

“These are people that have dedicated their lives to something they really believe in,” Yingling said. “They may work hard. They may work really long hours… but they enjoy it.”

As for Ron, he “was working with first-class musicians in one of the best studios in the world,” she continued. “He had nothing to complain about.”

To prove it, the Church gave 20/20 photos of Ron enjoying fancy birthday meals they said his son David Miscavige provided and a car David and his two sisters had bought their father for his birthday.

The Church also sent ABC News video testimonials and letters from Ron’s former bandmates and other staffers in which they called Ron “lazy,” and claimed he used “racial and ethnic slurs,” was a “poor musician” and a “disgusting pig.”

All of which Ron Miscavige disputes, pointing to a video showing him being allowed to play at a birthday party the Church threw for Tom Cruise, and asking why he would be allowed to be a part of the celebration if Church members thought so little of him.

Ron also claims he was subjected to a practice called “over-boarding,” a disciplinary measure in which a Sea Org member in trouble with the Church is thrown overboard from the Sea Org ship into the water with clothes on. The Church claims over-boarding is voluntary.

“When you jump off… you commit yourself to the sea, so that you’ll be cleansed and come back, you know, better,” Yingling said. “There’s… some sort of an ecclesiastical discipline thing or it can be done as a group, and when a group does it, it’s more, sort of, because they’re all agreeing that somehow they screwed up, and ‘let’s get together and cleanse ourselves of it.’”

But Ron disagreed.

“I’m going out there and I’m thinking to myself, this is straight lunatic asylum stuff,” Ron Miscavige said. “This is going to make me better? The only effect it had on me is make me all the more want to possibly get out of there.”

For months, Ron Miscavige and his wife Becky said they planned what they called their escape from Gold Base by conditioning guards into letting them make regular Sunday trips to the music studio across the street. It all came to a head one day when Ron drove his car up to the security gate and pressed the button. To his relief, the gate opened.

“I drove out slowly so it wouldn’t arouse suspicion,” Miscavige said. “When I turned left, I put my foot right to the floorboard… I knew we were free. I knew they couldn’t catch us.”

“It was an escape,” he continued. “You can’t leave. You think you can just walk out? No. You will be stopped. I escaped.”

The Church denies that this was an “escape.” Yingling told 20/20 that Gold Base “is not a prison.”

“People can come and go as they please, and they do,” she said.

But Gary Morehead said he had many ways to discourage would-be deserters from leaving the base.

“I wouldn’t open up the gate,” he said. “I would send my rover guard down there to meet up with them face-to-face in case he started scaling in and I would try to calm, cool and collectively talk to him on the intercom.”

During his tenure there, Morehead said he tracked people down who he said had deserted and got them to come back.

“I used to have to keep a statistic which is a printed out graph of security threats, and that was the people who wanted to leave or the people to had left that we brought back and were undergoing handling,” Morehead said. “So every time somebody left, I learned something new to make it that much quicker for me to find somebody… the amount of sheer pressure that I would get until that person was back here was incredible.”

At the time, he said he thought that he was “helping that person.”

“They’re obviously having troubles, they’re leaving for a reason,” Morehead said. “So I’m going to be the one to help bring them back and… regain their spiritual enlightenment… and that sheltered my true view of the way I should look at it.”

The Church told ABC News in a statement that Morehead hasn’t worked at “any Church of Scientology” for 20 years, his comments are false and, “He is a teller of tales with no credibility.”

Once Ron and Becky Miscavige were off the base, they said they drove for three days to Wisconsin where Becky’s mother lives. But despite all of Ron’s complaints about the Church, he said he sent his son David Miscavige a letter asking for money soon after they left.

“In that letter, I said, ‘Hey, listen, I spent a lot of years in the Sea Org, I couldn’t live under those conditions, and I have very little money paid into social security. If you can give me some financial help, I would appreciate it,’” Ron Miscavige said.

He said his son David gave him $100,000, from money David had inherited from his mother, to buy a house.

“Maybe he read it and he’s thinking, you know, ‘he is my old man and he’s old, maybe I’ll help him out,’” Ron Miscavige said. “And then on the other hand… I think, ‘well, maybe he did it just so it would be insurance that I wouldn’t do anything.’ And I wasn’t going to do anything.”

Ron Miscavige wrote a memoir, “Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me,” with Dan Koon, a former Church official who is now a vocal critic. It’s out in stores on May 3.

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Woman Reunited with Purse Allegedly Stolen 14 Years Ago

Lisa Hall Mazzaglia(AMESBURY, Mass.) — A Massachusetts woman was reunited this week with the purse she says was stolen from her shopping cart 14 years ago.

Lisa Hall Mazzaglia of Amesbury said she was “stunned” to hear that police in Seabrook, New Hampshire, had her purse after it was found in the trash can of a Seabrook grocery store.

“I found this confusing since my purse was sitting in my kitchen,” Mazzaglia, a talent agent, told ABC News. “I did have a fleeting thought of the purse that had been stolen years earlier but I dismissed it as ridiculous.”

“I had since married and changed my name and I live in a different city than when the purse was stolen,” she said.

Mazzaglia said her black leather purse was stolen in 2002 as she loaded Christmas presents that she planned to donate into her car. She said she was at a completely different store from where her purse was found this week.

The purse that was returned to Mazzaglia by Seabrook police was like a “time capsule,” she said.

“Everything, with the exception of a large portion of cash, was there and in perfect condition,” Mazzaglia said, adding that the purse’s still-in-place contents included a cellphone and pager, credit cards, receipts, a checkbook and even a camera and undeveloped rolls of film.

Seabrook Deputy Chief Brett Walker told ABC News they received a call Tuesday saying a Market Basket employee had found the purse in a trash can.

“We sent an officer to retrieve it and the officer came back and we returned it to Ms. Mazzaglia,” Walker said. “I don’t think there was anything missing, aside from the cash.”

Walker said the statute of limitations has expired on the alleged theft. The wallet contained Mazzaglia’s old driver’s license, which is how she says police tracked her down.

“It took a lot of precise moves to have it all work out,” Mazzaglia said. “It’s so strange but really kind of cool.”

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Baltimore News Station Bomb Threat Suspect Facing Felony Charges

iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — A man who was shot by police after reportedly making a bomb threat at a Baltimore TV news station now faces felony charges as he remains hospitalized for non-life-threatening injuries.

Alex Michael Brizzi, 25, is facing charges of second-degree arson and first-degree malicious burning — both felonies — as well as threat of arson, reckless endangerment and possessing a phony destructive device, Baltimore police said Friday.

Police said the incident was not connected to organized terrorism.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said Friday that Brizzi, of Howard County, Maryland, had challenges with mental illness and that his father has been cooperative with authorities. Police said Brizzi will undergo a psychiatric evaluation when he’s well enough.

Brizzi was wearing a hedgehog “onesie” and a surgical mask, as well as what appeared to be an explosive vest, when he entered the Fox-affiliated news station WBFF Thursday, holding a flash drive with something he apparently wanted the station to run on the news.

Police said the USB flash drive contained video rants of Brizzi talking about the end of the world.

When Brizzi walked out of the station and didn’t take orders to remove his hands out of his pockets, he was shot at least three times by an officer, police said. A robot was later deployed to disarm him.

Following the stand-off with police, investigators found that what originally appeared to be an explosive device on Brizzi was actually a vest stuffed with chocolate candy bars wrapped in aluminum foil, and nothing was wired that could possibly blow up. There was also a small motherboard contraption that was attached to him and a wire running down the sleeve of his jacket that emulated a detonation device, police said.

A car was also set on fire in front of the news station at the time Brizzi entered the station. Police said the fire was associated with Brizzi.

Police said Friday a search of the TV station and Brizzi’s home and car didn’t turn up any other real or fake explosives.

Police said Friday they are still examining the contents of the flash drive.

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Arizona School Yanks Poster Some Students Find Offensive

Alissa Adams(MESA, Ariz.) — Officials removed a controversial poster from the Desert Ridge High School library in Mesa, Arizona, Thursday after some students took offense at its message that appears to be a humorous attempt to highlight the school’s dress code.

“I don’t get offended easily, but this definitely crossed the line for me,” senior Alissa Adams, 18, told ABC News.

The poster, which had a photo and cartoons attached, claimed that girls who came to school “looking pretty cute” made boys see them as “meat, and it’s distracting.” It went on to say that boys would “make lousy grades” as a result, but the girls “end up with one of them anyways because he thought you looked HOT!”

It suggested that the distractions posed by a girl left a boy “underemployed because he learned nothing in school,” leaving the girl to support him.

When Adams first saw the poster a couple days ago, she took a pen and wrote on the bottom, “So it’s the girls fault, right? #feminism,” she said.

Adams said she approached the librarian who put up the poster, but she declined to remove it, saying that Adams was the only person who took offense. Later that day, she said, another student alerted the principal, who directed the librarian to remove it.

“Hanging of the poster was inappropriate and very poor judgment on behalf of the librarian,” school spokeswoman Irene Mahoney Paige said in a statement. “It is not reflective of the spirit and community of Desert Ridge High School or the Gilbert Public Schools District.”

School officials said they had no idea who created the poster, only that the librarian put it up after she found it lying around. The school district declined to make the librarian available for comment.

Even after it was removed, Adams and other students voiced concern about the message.

“They shouldn’t have compared boys to animals and girls as meat,” Adams said. “They could’ve done it better.”

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Video Shows Florida Teens Leaving Inlet the Day They Went Missing

ABC News(JUPITER, Fla.) — Newly released video shows missing Florida teens Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen as they pull out of the Jupiter inlet by boat the day they went missing.

In the video, both 14-year-olds are shirtless and wearing dark-colored shorts. At one point, Stephanos takes off his hat, showing his blond hair and indicating he was driving the 19-foot single-engine boat as Cohen sits on the boat’s edge, facing him.

The video, which shows several different angles of the boys as they cruise through the inlet lined with luxury homes, was released as part of the investigation into their disappearance.

The boat was found on March 18 off the coast of Bermuda, the U.S. Coast Guard announced last weekend. An iPhone belonging to Stephanos was recovered from the boat.

The boys’ parents initially feuded over what to do with the phone, with Perry’s mother, Pam, taking the issue to court. They eventually agreed Friday to have Apple analyze the iPhone, which may hold the key to what happened to the boys.

The teens, both experienced boaters, went missing on July 24. They were last seen buying more than $100 worth of fuel at the marina in Jupiter.

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Natural Gas Explosion Creates Massive Fireball

Instagram/@tonilconrad(SALEM, Pa.) — A natural gas explosion erupted into a massive ball of fire near Salem Township, Pennsylvania, Friday morning. One person was injured.

Forbes Road Fire Department Chief Bob Rosatti said in a press conference it was the “biggest ball of fire I’ve ever seen.” As firetrucks “were coming around the bend, it looked like you were looking down in hell,” he added.

The Forbes Road Fire Department was dispatched at 8:17 a.m. after multiple calls of a huge fire. Spectra Energy reported the incident, which involved the Texas Eastern pipeline owned by the company.

“Our first concern is for the safety of the community, our employees and any others who may be affected. We have activated our emergency response plan,” Creighton Welch, manager of external communications for Spectra Energy, said in a statement.

One man sustained burns after running out of his home and being exposed to the heat from the fire ball. The man described the explosion as a loud noise like a tornado.

The Delmont Fire Department said homes and businesses within a one-mile radius were evacuated. By 9:30 a.m. the flames started to die down and it was mostly black smoke, according to the fire department.

Approximately 10 to 12 homes remain in the evacuation zone. The explosion is being investigated.

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‘Frisco Five’ on Hunger Strike While San Francisco Police Chief Refuses to Resign

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) — Five protesters in San Francisco’s Mission District, called the “Frisco Five,” continue their hunger strike over what they call racist actions by the San Francisco police department, which they say include shootings of minorities and racially-charged text messages by officers.

The group is calling for the resignation of San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr, as well as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. They have been camped out in front of the Mission District police station since April 21, refusing to eat.

Protesters cite the separate shootings over the past three years of Alejandro “Alex” Nieto, Amilcar Perez-Lopez, Mario Woods and Luis Gongora as evidence of racism in the department.

They also mention the recent release of months-old transcripts showing racist text messages written by Officer Jason Lai, who has since resigned. The texts were discovered during a criminal investigation of Lai last fall. He was charged last month with six misdemeanor counts for unlawful access and use of criminal and motor vehicle data bases.

“The investigation also revealed that three other officers had each received single questionable text messages from Lai,” a statement from the San Francisco Police Department reads. “The investigation concluded that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against the officers.”

Despite the rising pressure to resign, Suhr “has no intentions of stepping down,” the department’s spokesperson Officer Albie Esparza confirmed to ABC News.

Instead, Esparza said Suhr is working to clean up the department, mandating that all officers currently attend anti-harassment classes.

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NYC Police Looking for Man Who Reportedly Offered Boy to Tourist for Sex

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New York City police say are investigating a report of a man who allegedly offered up a boy for sex in exchange for money in Central Park Thursday night.

A tourist in the park, a 50-year-old male, was allegedly “asked if he wanted to perform sexual acts with the child for $300.00,” police told ABC News.

Authorities say they are treating the report as credible, and they are looking for the man and boy, who are both described as white and approximately 35 and 11 years old, respectively.

The man was described as being clean shaven, having dark hair and wearing a black coat with a furry hood and blue jeans. The child was wearing either an orange or red jacket.

The incident reportedly happened at around 11:49 p.m. Thursday night in the area of Central Park near the Bow Bridge on West 74th Street.

Police told ABC News they cannot confirm reports that the man is the child’s father.

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FAA Investigating Two Emergency Landings at Philadelphia International Airport

iStock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating two emergency landings Friday morning at Philadelphia International Airport.

Both incidents occurred just after 8 a.m. ET, according to an FAA spokesperson.

Republic Airlines 4518, on its way to Philadelphia from Toronto, reported steering problems while in flight.

Piedmont Airlines 4801 was also on its way to Philadelphia when it reported smoke in the cockpit and cabin.

An FAA spokesperson said passengers evacuated the aircraft on the runway via emergency slides.

The airport has returned to full operations, with residual delays.

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