Review Category : Top Stories

Showdown Looms at Dakota Access Pipeline Protest as Vets, Civil Rights Observers Converge Before Evacuation Deadline

Scott Olson/Getty Images(MANDAN, N.D.) — There may be a looming showdown in the coming days in the already contentious demonstrations in North Dakota against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Local authorities have issued a mandatory evacuation order for the site near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation where hundreds of activists are camping out in protest of the controversial crude oil pipeline. Those who have not cleared out by Monday could be arrested, authorities said.

Authorities said they issued this evacuation order as a safeguard against the winter conditions.

Meanwhile, a military veterans group announced that at least 2,000 vets would “deploy” to the area on Sunday to defend the demonstrators if local authorities move in to clear out the camp this weekend. In addition, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights told ABC News on Friday that it would send commissioners to North Dakota because of the commission’s civil rights concerns.

“We are concerned with numerous reports and testimony regarding the use of military-style equipment and excessive force against protesters,” the USCCR said in a statement. “Our concerns are compounded by the disproportionate police use of excessive force against Native Americans, who are more likely than any other racial group to be killed by police.”

Despite the looming possibility of confrontations, arrests and the below-freezing temperatures, many demonstrators said they will continue their protests.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Terrell Iron Shell, 23, who came to Standing Rock from Rapid City, South Dakota, in early August, told ABC News from inside a yurt, a traditional nomadic home, erected on the contested land. “I’m willing to set my life on the line to protect this water, to protect this way of life, Unci Maka, mother earth. And so, I’m willing to do whatever it takes.” Unci Maka is Lakota for “grandmother earth.”

“I’m willing to give my life for this cause. I hope it doesn’t come down to that. But you know Crazy Horse once said, ‘Today is a good day to die,’” he added, referencing a historical Native American leader.

Iron Shell, a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, is one of the original members of the International Indigenous Youth Council, an advocacy group that has become known for its commitment to remaining peaceful during confrontations with police.

The activist is also a descendant of Chief Iron Shell, a widely respected Brule Sioux chief who was among the first tribal leaders to sign the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, which established the Great Sioux Reservation, a vast territory that has since been cut down by acts of Congress into checkerboard remnants of its original version.

Iron Shell said there’s a lot of talk among the protesters about what’s going to happen on Monday.

Since this summer, Native American groups and environmental activists have been battling to block construction of the 1,172-mile pipeline that is slated to traverse four states and transport crude oil from North Dakota’s oil fields to refinery markets in Illinois. The activists, who call themselves “water protectors,” say that the pipeline traverses culturally sacred sites and poses a risk to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s water supply.

Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas-based company behind the project, has argued that those claims are unfounded, writing in an internal memo to staff in September that “concerns about the pipeline’s impact on the local water supply are unfounded” and “multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route.”

Iron Shell said it’s important that people understand the protesters’ concerns.

“We’ve been silent for so long, with the historical trauma that we face,” he said. “A lot of these things that happened to us in the past, our identities were taken from us, our voices were taken from us, and now we have them back and we’re fighting for the water, we’re protecting the water.”

Wesley Clarke, Jr., who is among those mobilizing fellow veterans, said on the GoFundMe page he established that he and fellow organizers “are calling for our fellow veterans to assemble as a peaceful, unarmed militia at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.” That GoFundMe campaign has raised over $900,000 in support.

Their mission is to “defend water protectors from assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force and DAPL security,” Clarke added.

The leader of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Dave Archambault II, called on the United Nations and President Obama to “take immediate action to prohibit North Dakota from engaging in its retaliatory actions and practices,” in response to the mandatory evacuation order issued for demonstrators by North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple earlier this week.

“This week is the anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre. It’s time for the United States to end its legacy of abuses against Native Americans,” Archambault said in a statement Thursday.

“As a tribal nation, we call on the President to take all the appropriate steps to ensure water protectors are safe and that their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly are protected,” Archambault added.

The advocacy group Amnesty International, which has dispatched a delegation of human rights observers to the protest site, sent a letter earlier this week to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, requesting that the Department of Justice investigate the “policing of the Dakota Access Pipeline demonstrators.”

“[T]he Civil Rights Division should deploy observers to the area to ensure that the rights of people opposed to the pipeline are respected, protected and fulfilled,” Amnesty International U.S. Executive Director Margaret Huang states in the letter. “Should your investigators uncover any civil rights violations by law enforcement, individual officers should be charged and prosecuted as warranted.”

Energy Transfer Partners filed for a court order two weeks ago asking for the right-of-way to complete construction of the pipeline without further intervention from the federal government. The court has yet to rule on the matter.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

At Least 9 Dead in Fire at Oakland Warehouse

moodboard/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) — Authorities fear there may be as many as 40 fatalities from a fire overnight at a warehouse in Oakland, California, where a party was taking place, though at least 9 deaths have been confirmed thus far, officials said.

Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said authorities are prepared for a mass causality event.

During a press conference Saturday morning, Kelly said the roof of the building had collapsed and firefighters were shoring up the charred structure to ensure it’s safe before recovery crews can enter.

The Oakland Fire Department responded to reports of a structure fire on 31st Avenue at around 11:32 p.m. on Friday night. Most of the bodies were found on the warehouse’s second floor, which was only accessible by a makeshift stairwell assembled with various materials, according to Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed.

Reed said the warehouse appears to be a work and residential building that hosts a makeshift artists’ studio. It’s unclear if the building is equipped with smoke alarms, the fire chief added.

Aside from those confirmed dead, at least 13 others are unaccounted for and more fatalities are expected. A thorough search of the building and recovery effort is still underway, authorities said.

An official briefed on the ongoing investigation said there were stacks of wooden pallets inside the warehouse that essentially served as kindling for the fire.

Preliminary indications suggest the blaze was not caused by arson, but rather was an electrical fire. The power went out inside the building when the fire began and the flames blocked the building’s only exit, making it difficult for people inside to escape, the official told ABC News.

Investigators will look into the building’s inspection history and will try to determine whether the owner was aware what the structure was being used for. Criminal charges could be possible depending on the outcome of the investigation, the official said.

One person who was inside the warehouse at the time of the fire told ABC affiliate KGO that the building is home to about 18 people who use it as an artist collective.

Officials told KGO there was an event with at least 75 people inside when the flames erupted Friday night.

Footage from the scene showed the building engulfed in flames as plumes of thick, grey smoke billowed into the dark sky.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Massachusetts Firefighters Battle 10-Alarm Fire in Cambridge

iStock/Thinkstock(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) — At least eight buildings in Cambridge, Massachusetts, were damaged by a 10-alarm fire, officials said Saturday.

About 140 firefighters were on the scene as of 6 p.m., the Cambridge Fire Department said.

There were three or four minor injuries as a result of the fire, according to fire officials, and 60 people were displaced. Shelters for those affected by the fire were said to be opening at a local recreation center.

According to ABC affiliate WCVB-TV, at least one building had collapsed in the massive fire. The building was under construction and officials believed it was where the fire started, WCVB-TV reported.

The Cambridge Fire Department said they were thankful the incident started early in the afternoon so people were awake and aware of the situation.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

At Least Nine Dead, 13 Unaccounted For in Fire at Oakland Warehouse

moodboard/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) — At least nine people are confirmed dead in a fire overnight at a warehouse in Oakland, California, where a party was taking place when the blaze broke out, authorities said.

The Oakland Fire Department responded to reports of a structure fire on 31st Avenue at around 11:32 p.m. on Friday night. Most of the bodies were found on the warehouse’s second floor, which was only accessible by a makeshift stairwell assembled with various materials, according to Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed.

Reed said the warehouse appears to be a work and residential building that hosts a makeshift artists’ studio. It’s unclear if the building is equipped with smoke alarms, the fire chief added.

Aside from those confirmed dead, at least 13 others are unaccounted for and more fatalities are expected. A thorough search of the building is still underway, authorities said.

Oakland police Officer G. Plasencia told The Associated Press that firefighters were still on the scene as of early Saturday morning.

Footage from the scene shared on Twitter showed the building engulfed in flames as plumes of thick, black smoke billowed into the night sky.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

At Least 9 Dead, 13 Unaccounted For in Fire at Oakland Warehouse

moodboard/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) — At least nine people are confirmed dead in a fire at an Oakland warehouse, authorities told ABC News.

Besides those confirmed to have died, at least 13 others are unaccounted for, officials told ABC News, although they cautioned that a thorough search of the building is underway.

Oakland police and fire departments responded to the fire at about 11:32 p.m. Friday night.

Authorities told KTVU-TV about 50 people were inside the building, which houses a group of artists and their studios.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

University of Southern California Confirms Student Fatally Stabbed Psychology Professor

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — The University of Southern California has confirmed that a man stabbed to death Friday afternoon at its Los Angeles campus was a faculty member. It also confirmed that the suspect in police custody is a student.

In a letter sent to staff and students, USC president C.L. Max Nikias identified the victim as Bosco Tjan, a professor of psychology with the university’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. LAPD said the student’s name would be released after he was interviewed and booked.

Tjan, also the co-director of the Dornsife Cognitive Neuroimaging, joined the USC faculty in 2001 and was an expert in perception, vision, and vision, cognition, Nikias wrote.

According to the LAPD, Tjan was killed inside the Seeley G. Mudd building around 4:30 p.m. A male student was arrested without incident immediately after police arrived at the scene of the attack but his name was not released.

The USC Department of Public Safety said in a statement that investigators believe the attack “was the result of a personal dispute.”

USC’s Nikias said in his letter, “Our Department of Public Safety officers responded immediately, and apprehended the suspect on the scene. The suspect was confirmed to be a student, and is in the custody of the Los Angeles Police Department. We are extremely proud of our Department of Public Safety officers for their quick response, and our university counselors for immediately offering support at the scene.”

Nikias said on Monday the school’s dean of religious life, Varun Soni, “will bring the campus community together for reflection and prayer.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Bus Carrying High School Cheerleaders in Texas Collides With 18-Wheeler, Some in Critical Condition

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A school bus carrying a group of high school cheerleaders from a football game collided with an 18-wheeler in West Texas late Friday night, leaving some passengers in critical condition.

According to KMID, an ABC affiliate in Odessa, Texas, the Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating a collision on Interstate 20 in Howard County involving an Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District bus and an 18-wheeler. The DPS identified the passengers as cheerleaders.

A spokesperson at Scenic Mountain Center in Big Spring, told ABC News early Saturday morning it received 11 passengers, “a couple” of whom are in critical condition. The condition of the others was “undetermined.”

KMID reported that the westbound lanes of Interstate 20 are closed off as troopers investigate.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Man Posing as UPS Delivery Driver, 3 Others Wanted in Violent Robbery, Police Say

ABC News(HOUSTON) — A man who posed as a UPS delivery driver and three others are wanted in a violent robbery, caught in part on camera, according to Houston police.

The robbery occurred on Nov. 22 around 8:40 p.m. local time at a residence on Willers Way in Houston, Texas, police said. A surveillance camera outside the home captured part of the incident, according to police.

In the surveillance footage, one suspect — clad in a UPS jacket and brown baseball cap, and carrying a package — is seen approaching the door to the residence. Police said the man rang the doorbell, claiming he needed a signature for the package.

After the homeowner opens the door, the surveillance footage appears to show the man forcing his way into the home. Three other suspects brandishing guns and wearing hoodies or masks then appear and also enter the home.

Upon entering, police said the suspects assaulted a man inside the residence with a pistol. At some point during the struggle, a shot was fired, though no one was struck, police said.

The man was later transported to a local hospital for severe neck and head injuries, police said. Two women inside the house were able to grab two small children and lock themselves in closets to stay safe, according to police.

The suspects stole several pieces of jewelry and collectible firearms before fleeing the scene in a getaway car, police said.

Authorities are cautioning homeowners in the area to not open the door if they don’t recognize their regular delivery person.

The Houston Police Department is working with UPS in the investigation, according to local ABC-owned station KTRK-TV.

“We’re still trying to understand how the suspect gained access to that jacket. UPS is fully cooperating,” Houston Police Department Sgt. Tony Mora told KTRK-TV on Friday. “Their full-time employees are the ones who are normally issued that jacket.”

In a statement, UPS said it was aware of the incident in Houston and added that it is “cooperating with law enforcement as they are leading the investigation.”

“We appreciate the public’s trust extended to our delivery personnel and hope the perpetrator is quickly apprehended and [brought] to justice,” UPS said.

The company also offered advice: “If consumers are concerned about the identity of UPS personnel, they should ask to see a photo I.D. Consumers can also direct that the parcel be left at the door without a signature required. Residents do not have to sign for a delivery unless they specifically ordered that the delivery be made with ‘signature required.’

“Further, UPS offers online services including UPS My Choice, which provides email alerts on the delivery status and time frame for the delivery. Shipments also can be routed to a local UPS Access Point location if the consumer prefers to pick up the parcel at a nearby neighborhood UPS Store or other participating retailer, rather than having it delivered at their residence.”

Anyone with information on the incident is urged to contact the HPD Robbery Division at 713-308-0700.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

‘Nothing Short of a Miracle’: Tennessee Family ‘Stunned’ to Discover Home Untouched by Wildfires

Courtesy Abigail Terrazzino and Jeremy Terrazzino(GATLINBURG, Tenn.) — Amid news of death and destruction in Gatlinburg, Tennessee — one of the hardest hit areas by the wildfires this week — is one family’s story of hope.

Jeremy Terrazzino and his wife, Abigail Terrazzino, live in a neighborhood in Gatlinburg called Chalet Village.

When flames consumed their neighborhood Monday evening, they said they were fortuitously nearly a thousand miles away in New Jersey, visiting family as part of an extended Thanksgiving holiday.

Upon hearing news of the blaze, they immediately drove back to Tennessee, the couple told ABC News Friday. However, they had not been able to check in on their home until this morning, when officials allowed homeowners and renters back into the city to assess their properties.

Jeremy Terrazzino said what his family found was “nothing short of a miracle.”

“We didn’t know what to expect on the drive up to the mountain to our home,” he said. “All along the way we saw mansions, houses — all completely gone.”

But upon turning onto their road, Jeremy Terrazzino said he and his wife were “stunned” to discover that their home was left untouched by wildfires.

“It was a pretty moving experience,” he said. “You could see the ground and land was charred all the way up to the base of our house, but it just stopped right there.”

Jeremy Terrazzino added that discovering his home was spared from the fires wan’t the only miracle his family experienced this week.

He said that his parents — who stayed behind when he and his wife went to New Jersey during the past weekend — narrowly escaped the wildfires.

When he called to check in on them on Monday evening he said, “My mom was crying, saying she loved us and wasn’t sure if they were going to make it.”

Jeremy Terrazzino said that his parents — Joseph Terrazzino and Patricia Terrazzino — immediately got in their car and tried to drive down the mountain, but the fire had spread so fast and “completely blocked” them from getting down onto the main road below.

“I was obviously really scared,” he said. “I kept remembering this one saying that became my mantra, ‘Let your faith be bigger than your fear.'”

Joseph Terrazzino and Patricia Terrazzino eventually stopped in the parking lot of a clubhouse near the base of the mountain, their son said.

“There weren’t a lot of trees in the area and there was a pool there,” he said, “so they parked there — along with a few other cars — and rode the fire out.”

A fire rescue crew was able to help get them out early the following morning, Jeremy Terrazzino said.

“It’s been crazy, unbelievable,” he said. “We know that unfortunately, a few people didn’t make it and a lot of houses were lost as well. It’s heartbreaking and we send our deepest condolences and sympathies.”

Jeremy Terrazzino said he and his family are currently staying in a cabin and will be “playing it by ear,” in terms of next steps.

“It’ll certainly take some time to rebuild the whole community,” he said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

22-Year-Old Woman Pulled Alive from Rubble in Sioux Falls Building Collapse

Sioux Falls Fire Department(SIOUX FALLS, S.D.) — A 22-year-old woman was pulled alive from the rubble of a building that collapsed in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, according to local reports.

Around 10:30 a.m. local time, the Sioux Falls Fire Department posted a photo showing the collapsed building, saying firefighters were working “as rapidly and safely as possible” to locate two people trapped in the debris.

Three hours later, firefighters rescued the woman from the pile of rubble, ABC News affiliate KSFY-TV reported. The woman was wearing only a T-shirt as temperatures hovered around 32 degrees, but authorities said she was doing well, according to KSFY-TV.

After finding the woman, firefighters announced on Twitter that they were continuing to search for the second victim. The woman was an occupant of the building, while the second victim is a construction worker, KSFY-TV reported.

Rescue efforts need to be methodical, as there are additional structural issues. Safety for rescuers and the public is top priority.

— Sioux Falls Fire (@SiouxFallsFire) December 2, 2016

The fire department said the building collapsed due to a construction-related incident and that the structure was still at risk. Power was shut down in the downtown area where the building was located. A photo posted to Twitter showed the firefighter carrying a husky that was pulled out of the rubble. The dog was rescued minutes before the woman was found, police said.

pic.twitter.com/pZIucXMTWH

— Sioux Falls Fire (@SiouxFallsFire) December 2, 2016

The building had been vacant since September and was slated to reopen as a drug store next spring, KSFY-TV reported.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →