Review Category : Top Stories

5.2-Magnitude Earthquake Rattles Southern California, Felt in Los Angeles, San Diego

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) — An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.2 shook Southern California early Friday morning.

The quake was centered about 14 miles northwest of Borrego Springs — about 90 miles east of San Diego — and hit just after 1 a.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Residents reported feeling shaking from the earthquake in San Diego, West Los Angeles, Riverside and Woodland Hills, ABC Los Angeles station KABC reported.

Earthquake! It felt like a bus hit our house.

— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) June 10, 2016

There were no immediate reports of injuries or property damage, San Diego Sheriff’s Office Lt. Andrea Arreola said.

“At this point, we are just monitoring,” the area, she said.

5.2 magnitude #Quake 13 miles NW of Borrego Springs at 1:06 am. No damage reported yet. https://t.co/YZ4xGYKVRq

— NWS San Diego (@NWSSanDiego) June 10, 2016

Officials said the earthquake set off a lot of alarms at businesses.

The earthquake occurred along the San Jacinto Fault, historically the most active fault in Southern California, according to seismologist Lucy Jones.

Within an hour, there were six aftershocks in the same general area, the strongest a 3.5-magniude tremor at 1:06 a.m. with roughly the same epicenter, but at a depth of 6.7 miles.

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Police Apprehend Suspect in Ohio After Shooting Sheriff’s Deputy, One Other

iStock/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) — Police apprehended a suspect this morning after allegedly shooting a sheriff’s deputy and at least one other person Thursday night near Cincinnati, Ohio, police said.

Lt. John Faine of the Warren County Sheriff’s department identified the suspect as Mohammed Abdou Laghaoui, 19. He was described as armed and dangerous.

The arrest took place at a location near to where the shootings took place about eight hours ago, Faine said.

Authorities responded to reports of an active shooter near a Kroger grocery store in Deerfield Township.

Faine said the injured female deputy has since been released after being transported to a nearby hospital. The male victim who was also shot had non-life threatening injuries.

The sheriff’s deputy was responding to a report of a domestic disturbance when, upon the deputies’ arrival, the suspect opened fire, Faine said.

The Deerfield Township Fire Department tweeted about the active shooter around 10 p.m. telling residents to say indoors. That alert has since been lifted.

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Man Accused of Joining ISIS Did Not Want to Be Suicide Bomber, Lawyer Says

Fairfax County Police Department(WASHINGTON) — The Virginia man who allegedly fought for ISIS before being captured by Kurdish forces appeared in U.S. court today to face federal terrorism-related charges.

Mohamad Khweis’ court appearance at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, lasted under five minutes. The judge notified Khweis of the charges against him and scheduled two more hearings in the weeks ahead. When Khweis was first brought into the courtroom, his family all stood up, and his mom energetically waved at him. After the hearing wrapped and he was being led out of the courtroom, Khweis’ entire family waved — and he waved back with a smile.

Khweis was captured by Kurdish Peshmerga military forces in March after leaving an ISIS-controlled neighborhood, according to federal authorities. He left his home in Alexandria, Virginia, in mid-December and traveled through England and Turkey to join ISIS in Syria, authorities said.

Once in Iraq, he and others stayed in an ISIS safe-house in Raqqa, Syria, where they went through an ISIS “intake process.” According to the Justice Department, Khweis allegedly volunteered to be a suicide bomber.

Khweis was contacting “ISIS-affiliated social media accounts to gain information and discuss his desire to travel to Syria,” and using social media platforms and programs “to securely and privately communicate with ISIL,” according to charging documents.

Khweis purportedly told authorities after his capture that he interacted with an ISIS group at a safe-house near Raqqa. This group is allegedly responsible for accepting volunteers from foreign countries who would be trained and sent back to their home countries to conduct attacks. The recruits had to be single, free of any injuries, and had to stay reclusive when back in their home countries, according to the documents.

The documents say Khweis recounted how an ISIS operative asked him if he would be a suicide bomber, and he said yes, believing it to be a test of his commitment.

His defense attorney, however, disputed that Khweis wanted to be a suicide bomber.

After his capture in March, Khweis told Kurdish news outlet k24 that he ended up in Mosul, a large ISIS-controlled city in Iraq, after meeting a woman.

“At the time I made the decision, I was not thinking straight. On the way there I regretted, and I wanted to go back home after things didn’t work out and saw myself living in such an environment,” he said. Khweis said conditions in Mosul are “very difficult.”

“I stayed there about a month, and I found it very, very hard to live there. I decided to return back home,” he explained. According to Khweis, he regretted “going off with Daesh,” an alternate term for ISIS, and was trying to make contact with Kurdish forces when he was captured Monday.

At the end of the interview, Khweis addressed the American people directly and said, “Life in Mosul is really, very bad. The people who control Mosul don’t represent a religion.”

A video posted on social media at the time appeared to show the young man’s surrender.

A U.S. counterterrorism official told ABC News in March that Khweis had not been on the radar of American security or intelligence agencies. U.S. officials have said they suspect nearly 250 Americans have traveled to, or have attempted to travel to, Iraq or Syria to join extremists groups.

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Stanford Sexual Assault Survivor’s Words to Attacker Shared by Others

Stanford Univ Dept of Public Safety(PALO ALTO, Calif.) — “You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.”

These are the words a 23-year-old sexual assault survivor, known as “Emily Doe,” read aloud to her attacker Brock Turner when she faced him in court.

Turner, 20, was found guilty in March of three felonies — assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person. Last week, a judge sentenced the former Stanford University student and swimmer to six months in jail and three years of probation. That sentence, which many critics say was too lenient, has provoked widespread outrage.

But even though “Emily” has chosen to remain anonymous, telling the Santa Clara County District Attorney over text message that, “I’m coming to you simply as a women wanting to be heard… for now I’m every woman,” her voice is still being heard.

Since being published online, her statement has gone viral and there has been an outpouring of support on social media. Her powerful words have especially resonated with survivors of sexual assault and rape around the world.

With the help of End Rape on Campus, a survivor advocacy organization “Nightline” collected video readings of excerpts of “Emily’s” statement from 22 others who say they too have survived sexual assault and rape.

“The things that she lost — privacy, dignity, respect, her voice, her confidence — these are internal things… that is something that so many people can really resonate — that resonates with so many people who have gone through this,” Sofie Karasek, the director of education and co-founder of End Rape on Campus, told “Nightline.” “It’s you know it’s hard to compartmentalize that feeling of invalidation and suffering and silence.”

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Texas High School Valedictorians Come Out as Undocumented Immigrants, Face Backlash

Courtesy McKinney ISD(MCKINNEY, Texas) — Larissa Martinez warned the audience at McKinney Boyd High School’s graduation ceremony this week that she was not going to give a typical valedictory speech.

“I am one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows of the United States,” she said at the ceremony, a video of which was captured by the school district in McKinney, Texas.

In fact, two Texas high school valedictorians have announced they are undocumented immigrants. Martinez revealed her status to her classmates and received a standing ovation, while Mayte Lara Ibarra of David Crockett High School in Austin made a post on Twitter, and received a barrage of tweets either attacking or supporting her.

In her speech, Martinez thanked her mother for her strength and explained the difficulty of her decision to come forward.

“After all of these years I have finally mustered up the courage to stand before you and share a struggle I have had to deal with each and every day,” she said. “We are here without official documentation because the U.S. immigration system is broken, and it has forced many families to live in fear. I myself have been waiting for seven years for my application to even be processed.”

Martinez described her decision to reveal herself as part of the important discussion around immigration in the U.S., and even referenced Donald Trump, though not by name, saying immigrants are people who “yearn to help make America great again without the construction of a wall built on hatred and prejudice.”

Hatred and prejudice, however, is exactly what Martinez and Ibarra experienced. In Ibarra’s case, after posting her announcement to Twitter. She was called names like “scumbag” and worse, and Twitter users accused her of stealing scholarships from American students, and called for her deportation. Ibarra’s Twitter account has since been removed, but the conversation around her has gone viral with the hashtag #MayteLara.

About 65,000 undocumented students graduate from American high schools every year, according to The College Board, the non-profit organization behind AP courses and SAT tests. In fact, The College Board states that while some institutions have policies against admitting undocumented students, “there is no state or federal law that prohibits the admission of undocumented immigrants to U.S. colleges.”

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VA Admits 25,000 Veterans Received Improper Brain Injury Screening

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Almost 25,000 veterans were examined for traumatic brain injuries by Veterans Affairs medical providers who were not qualified to diagnose them, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has admitted.

Since 2007, VA guidelines have required one of four specialists — psychiatrists, physiatrists, neurosurgeons or a neurologists — to diagnose traumatic brain injury in patients. These specialists generally have the most experience with the symptoms and treatments of traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, according to a VA statement, the VA “issued a series of guidance documents that created confusion regarding the policy,” and led to more than 24,000 examinations conducted by unqualified medical personnel.

In response, VA Secretary Robert McDonald granted “equitable relief” to all of those affected, a policy that will allow veterans to undergo new TBI exams, conducted by a qualified specialist, and receive disability benefits for diagnosed TBIs from the effective date of the original claim.

The VA will send a letter, a draft of which was obtained by ABC News, to each of the affected 25,000 veterans.

“You are receiving this letter because your initial TBI exam was not performed by one of these specialists,” the draft reads, “and we are offering you the option to undergo a new TBI exam by an appropriate specialist.”

The letter gives recipients one year to request a new exam.

But some veterans said they feel the measures are not enough. Retired U.S. Army Captain Charles Gatlin was injured by a truck bomb explosion in Iraq in 2006. The Army conducted extensive neurological testing on Gatlin, determined his brain injuries were permanent and ultimately discharged him with a 70 percent disability rating.

But when Gatlin went to the VA in Fort Harrison, Montana, to receive his VA disability rating, a brief screening conducted by a psychologist, not one of the four qualified specialists, dropped Gatlin’s disability rating to 30 percent, attributing some of his difficulties to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Gatlin challenged that rating before the VA Board of Appeals and the Montana Board of Psychologists. Though the Montana Board of Psychologists agreed that Gatlin’s VA test results were flawed, the VA objected.

“It took me 3 years, it caused problems in my marriage, stress in my life,” Gatlin told ABC News.

But he was ultimately victorious, was re-evaluated and his disability benefits were re-instated.

Still, Gatlin and his wife, Ariana Del Negro, said they feel that the brain injury examinations conducted by the VA are not thorough enough. Though a veteran’s examination must be conducted by one of the four specialists, subsequent examinations conducted for disability evaluation purposes may be conducted by other types of clinicians. And though nearly 25,000 veterans will receive the opportunity to be re-evaluated, Del Negro pointed out that the brief screenings are limited in scope.

“I don’t have a great deal of hope things will change significantly,” she said.

Veterans service organizations expressed a mix of disappointment and optimism.

“We’re really disappointed that the VA conducted all these examinations using non-certified physicians or health care professionals to examine veterans who claimed TBI,” Jerry Manar of the Veterans of Foreign Wars told ABC News. “On the other hand, we’re glad that the VA is finally responding and is voluntarily undertaking this review that should be helpful to most, if not all affected veterans.”

Jonathan Schleifer, policy director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said, “The VA makes mistakes like any large organization. What we’re pleased about is that we’ve seen a real shift in the last year in the way they deal with their mistakes and the way they’re focusing on improving the quality of care.”

On Capitol Hill, officials said the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs had been investigating this issue for years. Rep. Jeff Miller, the chairman of the committee, commended Secretary McDonald for rectifying the issues.

“While it is unacceptable that the department allowed this issue to persist for years amid a chorus of complaints voiced by veterans, our committee and the media, I am hopeful that with McDonald’s leadership VA will be more proactive in responding to stakeholders’ concerns,” Miller told ABC News in a statement. “I look forward to hearing from VA officials regarding the steps they are taking to hold those responsible for VA’s TBI struggles accountable, as this is the only way to prevent similar problems in the future.”

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Driver Who Fatally Struck 5 Cyclists in Kalamazoo Charged With Second-Degree Murder, Prosecutors Say

iStock/Thinkstock(KALAMAZOO, Mich.) — The motorist who allegedly struck and killed five cyclists and injured four more in Kalamazoo, Michigan Tuesday night has been charged with second-degree murder, prosecutors said.

Charles Pickett Jr., 50, was also charged with reckless driving causing serious injury. Prosecutors alleged that he committed the act in willful and wanton disregard, causing “serious impairment of bodily function” to the four injured victims.

The motorist faces a total of nine felonies, one for each of the people he struck.

The second-degree murder charge is punishable by up to life in prison, while the reckless driving charge is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. The driver will not be arraigned today due to medical problems, which could be resolved as soon as tomorrow, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors would not disclose the medical issue, citing privacy.

On Tuesday night, nine cyclists were struck from behind by a blue Chevy pickup truck as they were traveling on a roadway in Kalamazoo.

Pickett allegedly did not stop his truck after hitting the cyclists, and police found him a short distance away. He was outside of his vehicle when he was apprehended, officials said in court today.

Kalamazoo County prosecutors said the second-degree murder charge is somewhat unusual, but they believe the charges are appropriate considering the evidence they say they have about the Pickett’s alleged actions leading up to the incident. The charges can be changed depending on new evidence, prosecutors said.

Those killed were identified by police Wednesday as Debra Ann Bradley, 53, of Augusta, Melissa Ann Fevig-Hughes, 42, of Augusta, Fred Anton Nelson, 73, of Kalamazoo, Lorenz (Larry) John Paulik, 74, of Kalamazoo and Suzanne Joan Sippel, 56, of Augusta.

As of Wednesday morning, two other victims were in serious condition, the Bronson Medical Hospital said in a statement. A third remained in critical condition and another in fair condition, the Borgess Medical Center said. It is unclear if the status of their conditions has changed.

They were not on one of their regularly scheduled rides when they were struck, Mark Irwin of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club told ABC News Wednesday.

Last night, about 600 cyclists rode to pay tribute to those killed in the incident.

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Three Killed When Small Plane Crashes Into Parked Car

Houston Fire Dept./Twitter(HOUSTON) — Three people were killed when a small single-engine plane struck a parked vehicle in Houston on Thursday afternoon, city officials said.

BREAKING: Three people killed in small plane crash near Hobby Airport, HFD sayshttps://t.co/K7H6zyQ31u pic.twitter.com/sGh7BBjghC

— Houston News (@abc13houston) June 9, 2016

The Cirrus SR-22 aircraft crashed while attempting to land at Hobby Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

All three victims were inside the plane, according to the Houston Fire Department.

The remnants of the plane, registered to a company called Safe Aviation LLC, were scattered across a parking lot less than a mile northwest of the airport.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

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Georgia Police Shoot Homeowner After Responding to Wrong Home

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A Georgia police officer reportedly shot a man in the neck late Tuesday night after responding to a 911 call, but at the wrong house, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement. The bureau will conduct an independent investigation into the incident.

Henry County Police responded to a 911 caller who described hearing gunshots and an unknown female yelling for help, the statement said. Three officers were dispatched to the scene in Stockbridge, Georgia near midnight, according to the GBI.

The GBI statement said, “Preliminary review of the 911 call indicates that the officers were at the wrong location,” adding that when the officers arrived, the homeowner, William Powell, 63, was armed with a handgun.

“Preliminary information also indicated that officers gave verbal commands for Powell to drop his handgun which he did not comply with,” the statement added.

The officer directly involved in the incident has been placed on paid administrative leave, per protocol, the Henry County Police Department said in a statement.

A Georgia police officer reportedly shot a man in the neck late Tuesday night after responding to a 911 call, but at the wrong house, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement. The bureau will conduct an independent investigation into the incident.

Henry County Police responded to a 911 caller who described hearing gunshots and an unknown female yelling for help, the statement said. Three officers were dispatched to the scene in Stockbridge, Georgia near midnight, according to the GBI.

The GBI statement said, “Preliminary review of the 911 call indicates that the officers were at the wrong location,” adding that when the officers arrived, the homeowner, William Powell, 63, was armed with a handgun.

“Preliminary information also indicated that officers gave verbal commands for Powell to drop his handgun which he did not comply with,” the statement added.

The officer directly involved in the incident has been placed on paid administrative leave, per protocol, the Henry County Police Department said in a statement.

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FBI Targeting One of World’s ‘Worst’ Email Spammers

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The FBI has launched a criminal investigation into a California man deemed one of the “Top 10 Worst Spammers” in the world, who can blast out a million unsolicited messages from his San Diego home in less than 15 minutes, according to court documents.

Michael Alexander Persaud has been under federal investigation since at least 2013, and the FBI raided his home in April, the court documents indicate. By the end of April, a federal grand jury was looking at the case.

Persaud, 39, has allegedly become so prolific that Spamhaus, a London-based organization that tracks cyberthreats and works with the FBI, identified him as number 10 on its list of the “Top 10 Worst Spammers” in the world.

Such spammers are often hired by shadowy online retailers to “mass-market unregulated or counterfeit products directly to consumers,” paying the spammers a percentage of any sales their email blitzes generate, according to the court documents.

The FBI has filed these documents with the court, asking that a federal judge let agents search Persaud’s iCloud account, believing the account — linked to two Apple computers and an iPhone seized from his home — contains evidence of “illegal spamming” and wire fraud “to further his spamming activities,” one FBI agent wrote in an affidavit filed in the case.

“Unlike traditional, print unsolicited bulk mail, where the costs of printing and postage are borne by the sender, spam imposes significant costs on its recipients and the computer networks used to transmit spam,” Special Agent Timothy Wilkins, who works with a Cyber Crimes Task Force based in Chicago, wrote in his affidavit.

Not only do host companies “bear the costs of storing and delivering spam,” but spam can cause system outages and force host companies to buy new hardware, software and bandwidth, Wilkins noted. In all, spam can cost a host company $1 million per month, Wilkins added.

When the FBI raided Persaud’s home in late April, he told agents he has worked in “Internet marketing” for nearly 20 years and has used various host companies’ services to conduct that marketing, Wilkins said.

But court documents do not suggest Persaud, who has used several aliases online, acknowledged any criminal wrongdoing.

ABC News has been unable to reach Persaud, and the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago declined to comment for this article.

Nevertheless, in 2001, a 24-year-old Michael Persaud was reportedly arrested by police for using a California company’s system to blast out thousands of spam emails. The case, led by San Diego County authorities, was hailed as one of the first anti-spam prosecutions in the country.

Persaud and an accomplice ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, paying nearly $10,000 in restitution, according to media reports at the time.

Three years earlier, AOL Inc. sued Persaud for a series of “indiscriminate mass mailings and deceptive practices” that “repeatedly bombarded AOL and its members with millions of deceptive, unsolicited, and unwanted [emails] … in a dubious attempt to lure unwitting individuals into paying for guides to home employment opportunities,” the lawsuit alleged.

The massive spam campaign prompted “thousands” of complaints from users and caused “serious and irreparable harm and injury to AOL by impairing the functioning of AOL’s e-mail system and harming AOL’s business reputation and goodwill among its members,” AOL said in its lawsuit.

A federal judge agreed with AOL, ordering Persaud to pay $490,000 in restitution and more than $54,000 in damages.

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