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Philadelphia Jewish community feels ‘threatened’ after gravestones toppled

iStock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) — After an incident in which hundreds of headstones at a cemetery were found broken and overturned, the head of The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia said the local Jewish community is feeling threatened.

Police have not yet attached any specific motive to the destruction of the headstones, which occurred at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in the Wissinoming section of the city, but the incident follows a series of bomb threats at Jewish day schools and centers in Philadelphia, according to Naomi Adler, the federation’s CEO.

Those incidents, coupled with a similar incident that took place at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Missouri last week, have shaken the city’s Jews, according to Adler.

“Our community definitely feels threatened,” Adler said. “This incident, coupled with the St. Louis episode last week, brought with it a lot of anxiety.”

Representatives of Mt. Carmel Cemetery did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request to speak about the incident. Some volunteer reports have said that several hundred headstones were damaged.

The Philadelphia Police Department said that more than 100 headstones were affected in the act of apparent vandalism and the discovery was made after only family reported their relatives’ headstones had been toppled.

“On Sunday, February 26, 2017, at approximately 9:40 AM, 15th District officers responded to a radio call for a report of ‘Vandalism’ at Mount Carmel Jewish Cemetery located at 5701 Frankford Avenue,” a police statement read. “Upon their arrival at the listed location, responding officers were met by the complainant, who reported that three headstones belonging to his relatives were damaged, due to being knocked over.”

According to ABC station in WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, Aaron Mallin of North Jersey discovered the fallen stones on Sunday when he came to visit his father’s grave.

“It’s just very disheartening that such a thing would take place,” Mallin told WPVI. He said he hoped that the incident was a reckless act by teenagers and not part of a more targeted attack against the city’s Jewish community.

Adler said he would not yet tie the incident to anti-Semitism until an investigation by police had been completed, but said that it brought up unpleasant memories for many Jewish people in the area.

“We have hundreds of holocaust survivors who are still alive, and when things like this happen they can bring out horrific trauma in people,” Adler said.

She added that her organization is rallying with other Jewish groups in the city, including the Anti Defamation League (ADL), to show solidarity, raise money and help repair the cemetery.

For now, however, she’s urging people not to visit the cemetery because the damaged stones are at risk of falling on people.

The Philadelphia ADL has offered a $10,000 Reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the incident.

Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO, said the incidents in University City and Philadelphia were perpetrated by “cowards” in a statement.

President Donald Trump denounced an apparent rising tide of anti-Semitism last week, following criticism that he had not come out strongly enough against it as threats to Jewish centers throughout the country were occurring.

“The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” Trump remarked after touring the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

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Arrest made in 2005 disappearance of Georgia high school teacher

iStock/Thinkstock(OCILLA, Ga.) — Georgia police have arrested a 33-year-old man in connection with the 2005 disappearance of a high school teacher.

Ryan Alexander Duke, a former student of the Georgia high school where the woman taught, was arrested Wednesday, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Monday in a press conference. He was charged with burglary, aggravated assault, murder and concealing a death during his first court appearance Thursday.

On Oct. 22, 2005, Tara Grinstead vanished from her home in Ocilla, Georgia, a small town with a population of less than 3,500 about 160 miles south of Atlanta. She was 30 years old at the time. Police immediately suspected foul play in Grinstead’s case, the GBI said in a press release.

A massive manhunt was launched after Grinstead’s disappearance, but the case proved difficult due to the lack of evidence found in Grinstead’s home, according to the GBI. Though they have received many tips over the years, none led to credible information.

However, the case remained open and the GBI recently received a tip that led authorities to interview subjects they had never interviewed before, which led them to gather enough probable cause to charge Duke with Grinstead’s murder. The tip was given to police earlier this week in person when someone with the information walked into a local sheriff’s office, ABC affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta reported.

In Monday’s court appearance, Duke requested a court-appointed attorney and said he did not want a preliminary hearing. He will appear in court again on April 12.

Grinstead’s stepmother, Connie Grinstead, said in Thursday’s press conference that Duke’s arrest is “another chapter in a long and painful journey,” WSB reported.

Although the case is more than 11 years old, a GBI policy requires all investigative case files to be reviewed several times per year, and the case remained active for more than a decade.

Grinstead, a former beauty queen, was last seen at a co-worker’s barbecue, WSB reported, before she left to go home. Her remains were never found. The investigation is ongoing.

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Man who tried to stop Kansas shooting says he was ‘more than happy’ to risk his life to save others

NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images(OLATHE, Kan.) — A Kansas man who’s been called a hero for trying to stop a deadly shooting last week said he was “happy” to risk his life to save others and that he’s grateful for how his community has united following the incident.

Ian Grillot, 24, intervened to stop a gunman who witnesses said yelled “get out of my country” before shooting two Indian men in Olathe, Kansas last Wednesday, killing one.

Adam Purinton, a 51-year-old Navy veteran and former air traffic controller, is being charged with murder and attempted murder in the shooting that killed Srinivas Kuchibhotla and wounded Alok Madasani, both 32-year-old employees of the technology company Garmin.

Authorities are investigating if the shooting was a hate crime. Purinton is being held on a $2 million bond and is scheduled make his first court appearance on Monday.

“This is a very bad way of it happening, but, I’m so grateful that it is actually bringing the community together instead of driving them apart,” Grillot said in an interview posted on the University of Kansas Hospital’s YouTube page on Sunday. “It is such a beautiful thing. I love it.

“I was more than happy to risk my life to save the lives of others,” Grillot said. “I thank everybody for drawing together and supporting me and the other families affected by this.”

Grillot said he is recovering from gunshot wounds to his hand and chest. He said he was “doing a lot better,” but still sore and feeling the aftermath from “the bullet lodged in my ribs.”

People traveled from as far as India and Washington, D.C. to attend a prayer vigil for Kuchibhotla and the other victims in Olathe on Sunday.

Representative Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., attended the vigil and posted about it on his Instagram account, calling the incident a “great tragedy” and saying “thousands of concerned citizens came together to support one another and the Indian community.”

He also urged people to remember Kuchibhotla’s life as well as Grillot’s “heroism.”

Many of the vigil’s attendees, including Mike Johns of Olathe, said they were there to rally for peace.

“This isn’t Selma, but this is close,” Johns told ABC affiliate KMBC on Sunday. “We’re marching, just like Dr. Martin Luther King [Jr.] did, for peace.”

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Hundreds of headstones damaged at Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia

WPVI-TV(PHILADELPHIA) — Hundreds of headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia were damaged on Sunday.

Police said more than 500 headstones were broken or overturned at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in an act of vandalism, according to ABC affiliate WPVI-TV.

A $10,000 reward is being offered by the Mizel Family Foundation, through the Anti-Defamation League, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible, WPVI-TV reports.

Aaron Mallin of New Jersey told WPVI-TV he discovered the wrecked tombstones when he came to visit his father’s grave.

“It’s just very disheartening that such a thing would take place,” he said to WPVI-TV.

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Manhunt launched for a man linked to two murders in Mississippi

Neshoba County Sheriff(HATTIESBURG, Miss.) — A manhunt is underway for man who is wanted in connection with two murders, according to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

Alex Bridges Deaton, 28, is considered “armed and extremely dangerous,” and remains at large Sunday after having been connected to at least three crimes, authorities said.

Officials said Deaton is connected to Brenda Pinter, who was found murdered Thursday afternoon, and he is wanted in the shooting early Friday of a jogger, who was wounded by “a white male with facial hair.”

Deaton is also wanted in connection with 30-year-old Heather Robinson, who was found murdered on Friday afternoon inside her home at the Vineyards Apartments near the Castlewoods subdivision in Rankin County, after the sheriff’s department received a request for a welfare check.

A deputy and a family member entered the home and found her dead, according to Sheriff Bryan Bailey of Rankin County.

Deaton is wanted for aggravated assault and murder by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

Robinson’s white 2012 GMC Acadia SUV was missing when her body was found, and authorities say that it’s possible Deaton could still be driving that vehicle.

The jogger told police that the shooter fired at her out of the driver’s window of a small white SUV, which fits the description of the Acadia.

The vehicle bears a Mississippi Nurses Foundation tag with the number F396 NF.

Deaton may have fled the state, and a law enforcement source told ABC News that he is believed to be in Oklahoma as of Sunday afternoon.

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25-year-old named as suspect in New Orleans parade crash that injured 28

New Orleans Police Department(NEW ORLEANS) — 25-year-old man has been named as a suspect in connection with a New Orleans incident of a pickup-truck driver plowing into a crowd of parade spectators, which injured at least 28 people, police said.

Three victims remain hospitalized, according to police.

The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office identified Neilson Rizzuto as the suspect and released a list of charges he faces, including: first-degree negligent vehicular injuring; hit-and-run driving causing serious injury; and reckless operation of a vehicle.

Rizzuto had a blood alcohol level of .232, well above the legal limit, police said.

He’s expected to appear in court later Sunday afternoon.

The crash occurred around 6:40 p.m. during one of the busiest nights of Mardi Gras, and at a time when New Orleans typically sees an influx of tourists, eager to celebrate the holiday in the city.

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25-year-old named as suspect in New Orleans parade crash that injured 28

New Orleans Police Department(NEW ORLEANS) — A 25-year-old man has been named as a suspect in connection with a New Orleans incident of a pickup-truck driver plowing into a crowd of parade spectators, which injured at least 28 people, police said.

A police officer was among the injured, authorities said.

The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office identified Neilson Rizzuto as the suspect and released a list of charges which authorities said he faces. They include: first-degree negligent vehicular injuring; hit-and-run driving causing serious injury; and reckless operation of a vehicle.

The crash occurred around 6:40 p.m. during one of the busiest nights of Mardi Gras, and at a time when New Orleans typically sees an influx of tourists, eager to celebrate the holiday in the city.

Police said Saturday that they suspected the driver was intoxicated.

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Suspected drunk driver plows into New Orleans parade crowd, 28 injured

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) — A pickup truck driven by a suspected drunk driver plowed into a crowd of spectators at a parade in New Orleans Saturday night, injuring at least 28 people, police said.

Of those 28 parade-goers, 21 were transported by ambulance to seven area hospitals, including University Medical Center, Tulane Medical Center, Tulane Lakeside, Touro Hospital, East Jefferson General Hospital, Ochsner Main Hospital, and Ochsner Baptist Hospital. Seven people declined treatment.

The victims range in age from as young as 3 or 4-years-old to adults in their 30s and 40s, the city’s emergency services director, Dr. Jeff Elder, told The Associated Press

Among the injured was a police officer, the police chief said.

“One police officer was struck by a vehicle,” Harrison said. “The mayor and I have gone to one hospital, we did manage to speak with her, she was in good spirits but is injured.”

New Orleans Police Department Chief Michael Harrison said one person is in custody and he is being investigated for driving while intoxicated. He said police do not not suspect terrorism.

“We suspect that that subject was highly intoxicated,” Harrison said. “He is in custody. He is being investigated right now and is at our DWI office.”

The crash occurred around 6:42 p.m. during one of the busiest nights of Mardi Gras in the Mid-City neighborhood at the intersection of Orleans and Carrollton Avenue, where people were watching the Krewe of Endymion parade.

“A Chevrolet pick up truck was seen traveling eastbound on Carrollton Avenue when he struck two vehicles,” police said in a statement. “The driver then caused one of the vehicles to strike a third vehicle. He then lost control driving over the neutral ground, striking a city dump truck and hitting multiple pedestrians … The drunk driver of the vehicle was quickly apprehended on scene.”

New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu tweeted, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims injured by a drunk driver on the parade route today.”

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Vehicle runs into New Orleans parade crowd, police say

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) — A vehicle plowed into a crowd of people watching a parade in New Orleans, injuring more than 20 people, officials said.

The crash occurred at the intersection of Orleans and Carrollton Avenue, where people were watching the Krewe of Endymion parade.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said one person is in custody and he is being investigated for driving while intoxicated, according to ABC affiliate WGNO-TV. He said police do not not suspect terrorism.

Leslie Capo, a spokesperson at LSU Health New Orleans, said that New Orleans EMS said they transported 21 patients to 10 hospitals, and seven people declined treatment.

This is a developing story. Check back for more.

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Meet the youth at the heart of the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline

ABC News(MANDAN, N.D.) — Opposition against the Dakota Access Pipeline shifted into a new phase this week after law enforcement in full riot gear evicted several protest camps that had captivated the nation for nearly a year.

The clearing of the Oceti Sakowin and Rosebud camps marked a somber moment of reflection for members of the International Indigenous Youth Council, a little known group of indigenous youth that has helped steer the movement from the very beginning. Their remarkable story is now told in the ABC News Digital documentary: “The Seventh Generation.”

“Watching the eviction was difficult for us,” Thomas Lopez, an IIYC Member, wrote to ABC News.

“On one hand, you’re seeing a very important chapter in our lives coming to a close and it’s painful. On the other hand, I’m determined to rise from the ashes of that pain,” Lopez said.

Indigenous youth were among the first to publicly oppose the pipeline, citing concerns over their drinking water and sacred sites, when they organized a series of relay “prayer” runs in the spring of 2016.

The youth groups first ran from Cannon Ball, North Dakota, to the Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District branch in Nebraska, then on to the agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters to hand deliver a petition against the pipeline.

Danny Grassrope of the Lower Brule Sioux and a 25-year-old member of the International Indigenous Youth Council was among them.

“I didn’t know [it] would lead to a massive ceremony that involved prayer and it’s really amazing how that happened,” Grassrope told ABC News in November.

Shortly after the runs, the first “prayer camps” were established just south of pipeline construction sites, drawing most of the original occupants from the relays.

So began a nearly year-long standoff, as thousands of self-described “water protectors” descended on the high plains, attempting to halt construction of the pipeline before it reached the Missouri River, the primary source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, along with millions of other Americans living downstream.

After an early proposal for the Dakota Access Pipeline route that would have crossed the Missouri River north of Bismarck was abandoned due to a variety of reasons, including concerns over contaminating that city’s municipal water supply, the project was re-routed to cross the river 1,500 feet upstream of the current Standing Rock reservation, through ancestral lands granted to them in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. A subsequent treaty in 1868, followed by a series of congressional acts, resulted in the Sioux losing most of the land originally set aside for them.

Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, wrote in a statement provided to ABC News that the company is “committed to the safe construction and operation of all its pipelines throughout the country. Dakota Access is a state-of-the-art underground pipeline with advanced safety technology and construction methods that exceed state and federal standards where possible.”

Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas-based developer behind the project, has said that “concerns about the pipeline’s impact on local water supply are unfounded” and “multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route.”

Sunoco Logistics, the future operator of the Dakota Access Pipeline, spills more crude oil than any of its competitors, with “more than 200 leaks since 2010,” according to a Reuters analysis of government data. Sunoco said that since 2012, it has “enhanced and improved our integrity management program,” according to Reuters.

“It’s not if it breaks, it’s when it breaks,” Alex Howland, a 21-year-old co-founder of the International Indigenous Youth Council, told ABC News.

“Our ancestors thought seven generations ahead and so we have to do the same,” Howland said.

Many at camp believe they are fulfilling the “last vision” of Crazy Horse, the famed Oglala Sioux leader who made a prophesy shortly before his death that the seventh generation would bring about the rise of indigenous people.

“We’re the answers to our ancestor’s prayers,” said Terrell Iron Shell, a 23-year-old descendant of the famed Sioux chief, Iron Shell, who was among the signatories of the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty.

The International Indigenous Youth Council has been at the heart of nearly every direct action since the movement began, often urging their fellow activists to stay in prayer during heated confrontations with law enforcement.

“If we see people getting worked up or they look like they are having a hard time, we pull them aside and we talk to them,” Iron Shell said before adding, “because that’s kind of the role that we’ve placed ourselves in, the de-escalators.”

“The youth council has always been and will always continue to be about prayer and peace,” said Lauren Howland, an IIYC co-founder, who along with other IIYC members, personally delivered supplies to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department after the sheriff’s department put up a Facebook post asking for community donations.

On Dec. 4, during the waning days of the Obama administration, then-assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, announced that an easement would not be granted for the pipeline to cross under the Missouri River. Darcy said at the time of the decision that the Army Corps would engage in additional review and analysis, including a “robust consideration and discussion of alternative locations for the pipeline crossing the Missouri River,” a process that could have taken years.

The Army published its intent to prepare a full environmental impact statement in the Federal Registry.

But the victory, as many at the protesters’ camp expected, was short lived.

Less than a week after taking office, President Trump’s signed a memorandum ordering the Army Corps of Engineers to “review and approve” the pipeline in an expedited manner “to the extent permitted by law.”

Two weeks later, the Corps issued the easement needed for the project to cross under the Missouri, reversing its previous pledge to consider alternative routes and conduct a full environmental impact statement. Two days before the dramatic reversal, the Department of the Interior withdrew a legal opinion that concluded there was “ample legal justification” to deny the easement, according to court documents filed this week. A spokeswoman for the department told ABC News that the opinion was suspended so that it could be reviewed by the department.

Prior to his election, Donald Trump had significant investments in the companies involved with the construction and operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline and his campaign received more than $100,000 in donations from Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, according to election finance documents.

Though Trump has since claimed to have since divested himself of such investments, he has offered no substantial proof of that claim, and in the meantime he selected former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has sat on the Energy Transfer Partners board, to head the U.S. Department of Energy.

With the largest protest camps dispersed and construction resumed on the Missouri River crossing, opposition against the pipeline remains before the courts as the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes continue their legal challenges to the pipeline. Indigenous activist groups are planning a march on Washington next month. The IIYC has established branches in Chicago and Denver and has already organized rallies and marches across the country.

“This isn’t over,” Thomas Lopez told ABC News.

“Because once you’re a water protector, you’re a water protector for life. This may be Trump’s America, but it’s our revolution,” he said.

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