Review Category : Top Stories

Trial Concludes for Van Driver Charged in the Death of Freddie Gray

iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — The trial of Officer Caesar Goodson, the van driver charged with second-degree murder in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, came to a close on Monday.

Judge Barry Williams will render his verdict Thursday morning. He will have to decide when, over the course of the ride, Gray sustained the fatal injury that led to his death, as well as whether that injury was a result of actions taken, or not taken, by Goodson.

Goodson, the third of six Baltimore City police officers to stand trial for their alleged role in the arrest and death of Gray, has pleaded not guilty.

Gray was alive when he was loaded into the back of a police van in handcuffs and leg shackles in April 2015. He was not wearing a seat belt. Roughly one hour later, Gray was found unresponsive and suffering from a severe spinal injury. The medical examiner ruled that he received the injury while being transported. Goodson was at the wheel.

Gray died several days later, his death sparking days of violent protests, riots and looting.

Following seven days of testimony and nearly 30 witnesses, the prosecution laid out a scenario in which Gray received a spinal cord injury following a wide right turn. Prosecutors argued the injury then progressively worsened throughout the remaining four stops during the ride, ultimately leading to Gray’s death days later.

During closing remarks, the defense countered that Gray’s injury was “catastrophic” and “immediate,” and did not occur until right before the last stop at the police station.

Williams, the same judge who presided in the previous cases of Officers William Porter and Edward Nero, will be the sole decider in the case. During closing remarks, he seemed confused by the state’s argument that the wide right turn was a “rough ride,” asking, “Can we not agree that taking a turn wide is less dangerous?”

He also asked prosecutors why Goodson stopped to check on Gray if it was his intent to give him a “rough ride.” Surveillance footage during the ride shows Goodson stopping the van, walking to the back, looking in, returning to the front, and getting back behind the wheel.

Porter’s trial ended with a hung jury in December and he will be retried in September. Nero, who opted for a bench trial, was acquitted last month.

Goodson faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the second-degree murder charge.

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Four Dead as Heat Intensifies in Southwest States, Millions Under Heat Warning

iStock/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) — Four people were killed in Arizona and millions more remain under a heat warning advisory following an intense heatwave that impacted several states Sunday.

A male and female hiker died Sunday in Arizona’s Pima County due to heat-related illnesses, according to the Pima County Sheriff’s Office.

In nearby Phoenix, a 28-year-old female trainer died Sunday, according to the Phoenix fire department. A 25-year-old male hiker also died of heat exposure in the Superstation Mountains on Saturday, according to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

Record highs were reported in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California. The mercury in Yuma, Arizona, hit 120 degrees, according to ABC News meteorologist Max Golembo.

The National Weather Service in Phoenix also reported a high of 118 degrees at Sky Harbor International Airport, breaking the previous record of 115 degrees that was set in 1968.

Monday will be the hottest day of the week as temperatures in some areas will rise above 120 degrees, said Golembo.

Excessive heat warnings are in place and are expected to last at least until Tuesday evening in Ventura, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties, according to KABC, ABC News’ Los Angeles station.

The extreme heat is forcing firefighters to work extra hard to combat large fires raging across New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Officials say the Dog Head Fire in New Mexico has already burned nearly 18,000 acres; only 9 percent of the fire was contained as of Sunday night.

Fire crews were able to control 40 percent of the Cedar Fire in Arizona which has burned more than 12,000 acres as of Sunday afternoon.

Sherpa Fire in California has burned nearly 8,000 acres as of Monday morning.

The record heat also impacted some flights over the weekend.

A United Airlines flight operated by Mesa Airlines departed Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport Sunday afternoon and was minutes away from landing at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix when the flight crew notified passengers it would be turning back due to the weather.

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Empty Bounce House Crashes Into Power Lines in Incredible Video

@NCFirewire / Twitter(NIAGARA, N.Y.) — A bounce house was fortunately empty when it was swept up by wind during a child’s birthday party and sent flying into tension wires in Niagara, New York.

Incredible video taken by a nearby homeowner shows the bounce house floating through the air and eventually crashing onto the power line in the western New York town, according to ABC station WABC in New York.

No injuries were reported in the Saturday incident and the bounce house was later removed from the wires, WABC said.

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Feds Release Excerpts of Orlando Shooter’s Calls with Police

MyspaceFeds Release Excerpts of Orlando Shooter’s Calls with Police

(ORLANDO, Fla.) — The FBI has released portions of conversations between Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen and police that took place during the massacre last Sunday.

Witnesses told ABC News last week that Mateen made multiple phone calls from inside the club’s bathroom.

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Small Plane Crash-Lands Onto the Roof of a Houston Warehouse

KTRK-TV(HOUSTON) — A small plane crash-landed on top of a warehouse in Houston, Texas, late Sunday night, causing minor injuries to the pilot and heavy damage to the aircraft, according to the Houston Police Department.

“The pilot stated he ran out of gas,” Jodie Silva, a spokesperson for the Houston Police Department, told ABC News Monday. “He had a cut to his head, he was transported to the hospital for precaution.”

Silva said the injuries were minor and that the pilot was conscious and responding after the crash. The pilot was the only one on board, according to Silva.

The small plane dropped off the radar around 11 p.m. Sunday night, four miles north of Hobby Airport, the Houston Fire Department said in a statement. The H.P.D. and the H.F.D. have not released the name of the pilot.

Federal Aviation Administration said it is investigating the incident.

The pilot flew a single-engine Piper PA-24 and reported a loss of engine power before making a forced landing on top of a distribution center, a spokesperson for the FAA told ABC News Monday.

The pilot had flown from St. Louis to Houston, according to the FAA.

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Feds to Release Excerpts of Orlando Shooter’s Calls with Police

Myspace(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Later Monday morning the FBI is planning to release portions of conversations between Orlando shooter Omar Mateen and police during the deadly assault at Pulse nightclub last week.

Transcripts of those excerpts, summaries of negotiations with police and other investigative details will be released ahead of a scheduled press conference with law enforcement officials in Orlando, according to the FBI.

“What we’re going to be doing … is talking more about what happened, sadly, inside the nightclub,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “We’ll be releasing a partial transcript of the calls between the killer and the hostage negotiators so that people can, in fact, see the type of interaction that was had there.”

However, federal authorities will not be releasing Mateen’s pledges of allegiance to ISIS, Lynch added.

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Monday Interview: Putnam County Fair Hoping For Better Weather

6/20/16 -5:30 A.M.

The Putnam County Fair opens today. Fair officials are hoping that the poor weather that washed out many of the events last year will hold off for this year’s run.

Communication Director Kendra VonLehmden-Wentz says harness racing is among the traditional events at the fair.

Audio: Kendra VonLehmden-Wentz

There will also be a Bigfoot sighting in Ottawa this week. VonLehmden-Wentz says the monster truck will have two shows at the fair…

Audio: Kendra VonLehmden-Wentz

The Putnam County Fair run today through Saturday in Ottawa.

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Three Top NYPD Officials and a de Blasio Fundraiser Arrested by FBI in Widening Corruption Investigation

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Three top NYPD officials and a fundraiser for Mayor de Blasio were arrested by the FBI early Monday morning as part of a widening investigation that has embroiled the nation’s largest police department and the mayor’s administration, authorities said.

Deputy Inspector James Grant, Deputy Chief Michael Harrington, and a third man who is linked to the department’s gun licensing division were arrested Monday morning in raids. Jeremy Reichberg, a Brooklyn man who donated to de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign, has also been arrested.

The arrests are linked to the alleged exchange of lavish gifts for favors, such as funeral escorts, street closures and expedited gun licenses for the Shomrim, an Orthodox Jewish patrol that has long been controversial for its tactics protecting the Borough Park section of Brooklyn.

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Orlando Strong: Estimated 50,000 People Gather at Vigil for Slain Victims

iStock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) — An estimated 50,000 people attended a candlelight vigil Sunday night to remember the 49 people killed in Orlando last week, event organizers said.

50,000 have come out to #LakeEola for tonight’s #OrlandoUnited vigil. This is why we #LoveOrlando! #OrlandoStrong

— Visit Orlando (@VisitOrlando) June 20, 2016

What was initially supposed to be a small, grassroots movement turned into a massive turnout as tens of thousands of people arrived by Lake Eola in the heart of downtown Orlando Sunday evening.

Orlando’s Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and several other elected officials were on hand to give remarks.

The vigil concluded with people in the crowd holding candles as the names of the 49 Pulse victims were read.

Mayor Jacobs told the crowd that enough is enough when it comes to hate and violence.

“Together we will drive out the darkness,” Jacobs said during the rally. “We will drive it out with kindness and compassion.”

“This is the moment in time when hearts are opened and minds are changed forever. And this is the moment when love will prevail,” Jacobs added.

We will not be defeated. #OrlandoUnited @ChiefJohnMina

— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 20, 2016

Before the vigil even began, a rainbow had appeared in the sky, causing many to take notice in excitement.

A rainbow for the Vigil #orlandounited

— Lake Eola (@LakeEolaPark) June 19, 2016

An emotional tribute was held Saturday evening as thousands filled the Camping World Stadium for a soccer match between Orlando City and the San Jose Earthquakes at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

Through social media, fans were able to coordinate T-shirt colors by sections to turn the stadium into a rainbow in support of the LGBT community.

Thank you @OrlandoCitySC for bringing our community together tonight. #OrlandoUnited

— Mayor Buddy Dyer (@orlandomayor) June 19, 2016

Thousands had also gathered to mourn the death of Christopher Andrew Leinonen on Saturday, who was killed last weekend during the Pulse nightclub massacre.

In a powerful symbol of love overcoming hate, roughly 200 people had formed a human chain on the the main street of downtown Orlando outside St. James Catholic Cathedral to counter-protest the Westboro’s Baptist Church.

A group of “guardian angels” had also descended onto, dressed in wings large enough to block the WBC from picketing in an effort to protect the mourners.

Orlando police said the Westboro protesters had left the state with no plans to return.

Westboro protesters have left the state & no plans to return. Thank you to those who met protest with grace & love.

— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 18, 2016

Equality Florida Institute says it has raised nearly $6 million for victim’s families and survivors, most of it coming from a GoFundMe campaign that has drawn more than 110,000 worldwide contributors.

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Orlando Gunman Omar Mateen Bought $9,000 Worth of Jewelry Days Before Shooting

(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Omar Mateen bought nearly $9,000 worth of jewelry less than a week before he killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, ABC News has learned.

The purchase was made June 6 at the Kay Jewelers in Jensen Beach, Florida, which is near the Lotus Gun Shop where Mateen attempted to buy body armor.

Signet, which owns Kay Jewelers, would not confirm the purchase by Mateen, but issued a statement that they are “working closely with the authorities.”

“Signet was shocked and deeply saddened by the violent acts against the LGBT community. We join all Americans in mourning and are working closely with the authorities. We will do everything possible to support them,” Signet Vice President David A. Bouffard said in a statement.

Investigators are still trying to piece together possible motives for the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

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