Review Category : Top Stories

Tropical Storm Cindy makes landfall in Louisiana

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Tropical Storm Cindy made landfall in southwestern Louisiana near the Texas border early Thursday morning, threatening to bring strong winds, rain and potentially-dangerous floods to several surrounding Southern states.

The National Weather service has warned that the storm could cause “life-threatening flash flooding.”

Cindy is expected to move across western and northern Louisiana and into southeastern Arkansas between Thursday night and Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service. The service also warned that the storm could produce a few tornadoes on Thursday in portions of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The governors of Alabama and Louisiana both declared a state of emergency earlier this week due to the coming storm.

It is also expected to dump a total of 6 to 9 inches of rain, with as much as 12 inches in isolated spots, over southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama and western portions of the Florida Panhandle through Thursday. The storm’s maximum sustained winds were close to 40 miles per hour when it made landfall early Thursday.

Before the storm made landfall on Thursday, one person had already died from injuries related to its winds.

The deceased person was a 10-year-old boy who died in Alabama on Wednesday. The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office said the boy had walked outside a waterfront condo where he and his family were staying in Fort Morgan, Alabama, and was standing only a few feet from the door when a large wave knocked a log into him around 10:30 a.m.

The boy, whose identity has not been released, died at the scene, according to police.

Prior to reaching land, the storm brought heavy winds and rain to some southern states, including Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana on Wednesday.

Social media users in Lake Charles, Louisiana, posted images and video of the storm on Wednesday as it battered the area with severe rain. One user even posted a video of people kayaking through the flooded streets of the Lake Charles.

Meanwhile, social media users near the Florida panhandle shared video on Wednesday showing the shoreline moving closer as unusually large waves crashed on the beaches there

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American student who died after release from North Korea to be laid to rest

Xinhua/Lu Rui via Getty Images(CINCINNATI) — Otto Warmbier, an American college student who died just days after North Korea released him from prison while he was in a coma, will be laid to rest in his hometown of Cincinnati on Thursday.

The funeral service will begin at 9 a.m. ET at Wyoming High School in Wyoming, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, where Warmbier was the salutatorian of his 2013 graduating class. The service will be open to the public but closed to the press, according to a press release from the funeral home.

Warmbier will be buried at the Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum in Cincinnati following the service.

The 22-year-old University of Virginia student was detained by North Korea for nearly 17 months before he was medically evacuated and flown to Cincinnati on June 13. He was then rushed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. North Korea claimed that Warmbier slipped into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill shortly after his sentencing.

He was arrested in January 2016 at the airport in Pyongyang for allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster while he was visiting North Korea on a sightseeing tour organized by a Chinese-based company. After a one-hour trial in March 2016, he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

At a news conference on June 15 his father, Fred Warmbier, revealed that President Trump called him a day earlier to ask about his son and the rest of his family. Warmbier said Trump, who was “very candid” during the telephone call, told him Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other U.S. officials worked hard to negotiate his son’s release.

Fred Warmbier told reporters at a news conference that the North Korean regime deemed his son a “war criminal” and “brutalized and terrorized” him during his detainment.

At that news conference, doctors from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said Otto Warmbier suffered from injuries related to cardiopulmonary arrest and was in a state of unresponsive wakefulness. They said that scans showed extensive loss of tissue in all regions of his brain and that they found no evidence of botulism.

“This pattern of brain injury is usually seen as result of cardiopulmonary arrest, where blood supply to the brain is inadequate for a period of time, resulting in the death of brain tissue,” Dr. Daniel Kanter told reporters at the news conference.

He said Warmbier was breathing on his own at the time and his vital signs were normal but he could not speak or move voluntarily.

“He shows no signs of understanding language … He has not spoken. He has not engaged in any purposeful movements,” Kanter said. “He has profound weakness of contraction in his arms and legs.”

According to Dr. Jordan Bonomo, Warmbier had “no fractures to the bone and has minor blemishes on his skin. We see no evidence of an acute or healing fracture.”

Warmbier died six days after he was returned home.

“It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died,” his parents wrote in a statement Monday.

“Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible,” they said.

The Warmbiers added that they are “at peace” and “at home.”

The Hamilton County Coroner’s Office in Ohio examined Warmbier’s body after he died and announced that his family declined an autopsy, leaving his cause of death a medical mystery for now.

“The family’s objection to an autopsy was honored and only an external examination was performed,” the coroner’s office said in a statement Tuesday night.

In addition to the external exam, the coroner’s office reviewed his medical records from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and AeroMed Management Group, the air ambulance service that helped evacuate him from Pyongyang, North Korea, where he had been detained. The coroner’s office also had “extensive conversations” with Warmbier’s treating physician at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, according to the statement.

“No conclusions about the cause and manner of Mr. Warmbier’s death have been drawn at this time, as there are additional medical records and imaging to review and people to interview,” the coroner’s office said in its statement. “Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Mr. Warmbier at this time of their tragic loss.”

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Police chief pleads with author who hid treasure to ‘call off the hunt’ after two die

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The New Mexico State Police chief is pleading with author Forrest Fenn to call off a treasure hunt he created that authorities say has resulted in the death of two people.

“I want Mr. Fenn to retrieve the treasure or call off the hunt,” Pete Kassetas, the chief of the New Mexico State Police, told ABC News. “It’s solely based in the interest of public safety.”

Kassetas said he “felt compelled to take a stance” on the treasure hunt after a body was recovered earlier this week in the New Mexico wilderness that police believe is Paris Wallace, a Colorado pastor who went missing after telling family members that he was searching for treasure hidden by Fenn.

Kassetas said they are still awaiting final confirmation from medical investigators that the body is Wallace, but told ABC News, “we’re very sure its him, unfortunately.”

Last year, the Santa Fe Police Department announced they found the remains of Randy Bilyeu, a 54-year-old man who also embarked on a quest to find the chest of gold and gems that Fenn, a Sante Fe author and antiquities dealer, says he hid somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.

Fenn told ABC News in a 2015 interview that the chest contains 265 gold coins — “mostly American eagles and double eagles, hundreds of gold nuggets, some as large as chicken eggs, ancient Chinese carved jade figures, pre-Columbian gold animal artifacts, lots of rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds and other things.”

In Fenn’s self-published 2011 memoir, The Thrill of the Chase, he includes a poem with clues as to where to find the treasure. Part of the poem reads, “Begin it where warm waters halt / and take it in the canyon down / not far, but too far to walk / put in below the home of Brown.”

Kassetas said he has spoken to Fenn on multiple occasions and respects what he is trying to do, but maintains that the two deaths could have been avoided.

“I want people to have fun and I want people to be adventurous, but the reality is … when you have 2 million dollars or so, as its rumored to be, at stake, people make poor decisions,” Kassetas said.

“His ultimate goal is to get people outdoors, I understand that,” he added. “But people, at least two, have died, and that’s difficult for me to fathom and accept as the chief of the state police here in New Mexico.”

Kassetas said he is also concerned about the lives of other police officers and search and rescue crews at risk. He urges those who continue to search for the treasure to educate and equip themselves.

“Mr. Fenn has told me personally that he has not put this treasure anywhere where it will cause harm to anybody,” Kassetas said.

Mitzi Wallace, the wife of Paris Wallace, the Colorado pastor who authorities believe died in pursuit of Fenn’s treasure, said she does not blame the author for her husband’s death, telling ABC News, “it wasn’t his fault.”

Mitzi Wallace said searching for Fenn’s treasure is something she and her husband “did together as a hobby” and it served as “a motivation to get out in nature.”

“Paris knew his Lord, and it was time for him to go home,” Mitzi Wallace added. “Searching for the treasure, and having the time we had together, it was wonderful.”

Mitzi Wallace said she may even still go searching for Fenn’s treasure with her two sons, aged 19 and 21, saying “we may, because we enjoy the outdoors, we enjoy hiking.”

The pastor’s wife added that she is “thankful” to Fenn for “giving us an adventure.”

Earlier this week, Fenn issued a statement mourning the death of Paris Wallace, saying the loss “is tragic and it has impacted me in a profound way. My heart and prayers go out to Mrs. Wallace, his friends, and to his congregation. I am so sorry.”

In response to calls for him to put an end to the treasure hunt that has taken a deadly turn, Fenn told ABC News in a statement, “I have given a lot of thought about ending the search, but I am not sure what that would accomplish.”

“An average of 9 people lose their lives each year at the Grand Canyon, but there is no call to close it,” Fenn added. “I have said that my treasure is not hidden in a dangerous place, so why are people searching in dangerous places?”

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Stabbing of officer at Michigan airport being investigated as act of terrorism

iStock/Thinkstock(FLINT, Mich.) — Authorities are investigating the stabbing of an airport police officer at Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan, on Wednesday morning, as an act of terrorism, David Gelios of the FBI said Wednesday.

The police officer, Lt. Jeff Neville, was stabbed in the neck, and is in stable condition and expected to fully recover, officials said.

The suspect, who was taken into custody after the incident, was identified as Amor Ftouhi, 49, a Canadian man who legally entered the U.S. in Lake Champlain, New York, on June 16, and later traveled to Flint, Gelios said.

Officials said the suspect was outside the Transportation Security Administration screening area at the time of the attack.

Ftouhi allegedly went into a public restroom, then dropped his bags and “came out, pulled out a knife, yelled ‘Allahu Akbar’ and stabbed Lt. Neville in the neck,” Gelios said.

Gelios said the attacker, armed with a roughly 12-inch knife with an 8-inch serrated blade, “continued to exclaim ‘Allah’ and he made a statement to the effect of ‘you killed people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan,’ and, ‘We’re all going to die.'”

Officials said Neville got the suspect to stop the attack, and that “Neville never stopped fighting” until the suspect was in handcuffs, which happened within about one minute.

The suspect was interviewed about his motivations and was cooperative, officials said. No one else appears to have been involved and there is no information to suggest a wider plot, officials said.

Canadian police also searched an apartment in Montreal where the suspect is believed to have lived, authorities said.

Officials said it appears the suspect “has a hatred for the United States and a variety of other things that motivated him to coming to the airport today to conduct this act of violence.”

After the incident, a complaint was filed against the suspect for “violence at an international airport,” but officials noted that there could be more charges in the future. The investigation is ongoing as a part of a joint operation with Canada, officials said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement, “I want to assure all our law enforcement across the nation, any attack on someone who serves and protects our citizens will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” He added, “Our prayers are with the officer and his family for a full recovery.”

The airport, which was evacuated and shut down, was later reopened. All passengers were safe amid the investigation, officials said.

An airport official said Wednesday afternoon that Neville is “doing fine” and “resting comfortably” at a hospital.

The FBI said earlier, “We believe this to be an isolated incident” and there is “no specific, credible information that there is a threat to the Flint community.”

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder wrote on Twitter, “There is simply no room for senseless acts of violence such as this.”

“It is my hope that we can come together as one Michigan in the face of this terrible incident, just as people did today at Bishop Airport,” Snyder said. “Even with this attack, we must continue to balance our need for increased security with understanding and tolerance.”

Snyder also thanked all law enforcement officers and first responders and said he is “heartened to hear that Lt. Jeff Neville is expected to make a full recovery.”

The Canadian Department of Public Safety said in a statement, “We condemn this heinous and cowardly attack. The officer and his family and colleagues are foremost in our thoughts and prayers.

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Eric Garner’s family ‘frustrated’ by slow pace of federal investigation

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The family of Eric Garner — the New York man who died after he was placed in a chokehold by an NYPD officer — said they were “frustrated” by the lack of resolution in the federal investigation into Garner’s death, which remains ongoing nearly three years later.

“Once again, we’re gonna be playing the waiting game,” Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon after the family met with officials from the Department of Justice in Brooklyn.

“We came here today for answers, but evidently, we are still without knowing whether we are going to get justice or not,” Carr said.

Garner died in July 2014 after he was placed in a chokehold by NYPD Officer David Pantaleo during an arrest for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.

In the witness video of the incident, the 43-year-old can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe.” The phrase later became the slogan for protests demanding justice for Garner’s death.

One of the attorneys representing the Garner family, Jonathan Moore, said the family met with two veteran prosecutors in the Justice Department’s civil rights division, “both of whom have a long history of prosecuting police officers in various venues throughout the country.”

During the meeting, the family had a “frank discussion” with the officials, in which they expressed “deep frustration” at the slow pace of the investigation, Moore said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said the DOJ officials stressed to them that “the case is still active and being seriously investigated.” The family is “absolutely” still seeking a criminal conviction in Garner’s death, he said, but they were not given an indication on when a resolution would be made.

Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley issued a short statement regarding the meeting.

“As is common with an ongoing investigation, agents and prosecutors from the Department of Justice are meeting with the family of Eric Garner today,” he said. “There are no new major announcements regarding the matter.”

In 2014, a grand jury on Staten Island decided not to indict Pantaleo in connection with Garner’s death, meaning the only potential criminal charges against Pantaleo would come from the pending federal investigation.

In order to convict in the federal civil rights case, prosecutors will need to prove that the officers willfully violated Garner’s constitutional rights.

Sources close to the investigation have told ABC News that federal prosecutors believe it is tough to prove an obvious violation of Garner’s civil rights, even though he died in custody. Instead, they believe that Pantaleo could have been indicted on a manslaughter or reckless endangerment charge if he had been tried on state charges.

Pantaleo was suspended from the police force following the incident. The NYPD will not decide whether Pantaleo should remain on the force until the federal criminal inquiry is complete.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

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Jurors in Bergdahl case will be quizzed about Trump

3drenderings/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Attorneys at a pre-trial hearing Wednesday for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl discussed a questionnaire that could be given to potential jurors to determine whether they have been influenced by President Donald Trump’s past critical remarks about the former prisoner of war.

During last year’s presidential campaign, Trump referred to Bergdahl as a “dirty, rotten traitor” and a “bum,” among other terms, on numerous occasions as he decried the exchange of five Guantanamo Bay detainees brokered to free Bergdahl as part of his regular stump speech.

The sergeant disappeared from his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was held for almost five years before his release by the Taliban. He was charged in 2015 with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, the latter a military crime that carries a potential life sentence.

The judge handling Bergdahl’s case previously ordered lawyers on both sides to develop the questionnaire for possible jurors.

Bergdahl’s defense developed 16 questions about voter status, who panel members voted for, how they feel about Trump, if they are aware of and how they feel about his statements — suggesting that those with strong views about the president would be unfairly biased. Prosecutors contended that a vote for Trump doesn’t necessarily indicate that they know about his statements concerning Bergdahl.

Judge Col. Jeffery Nance said he agreed with most of the 41 total questions on the panel questionnaire and that he is “making tweaks” to the list. He indicated that he intends to release the questionnaire to get it to panel members by next Tuesday. They would then provide their answers and the attorneys will decide whether they would like to ask more questions in writing or have potential jurors testify in voir dire.

Prosecutors additionally argued Wednesday for the ability to present witnesses at the sentencing phase of the trial who contend that the search for Bergdahl caused harm to the search party. Nance previously prohibited the testimony at the guilt-or-innocence phase of the trial, saying that it would unfairly influence the jury.

Senior Chief Petty Officer James Hatch, a retired Navy SEAL, appeared in court in support of the prosecution to testify about his SEAL task force that attempted a search for Bergdahl in 2009. Hatch was shot in the leg during the mission and eventually needed 18 surgeries that forced his retirement from the SEALs. He testified that his team would not have been on the mission if they weren’t searching for Bergdahl, and that hostage rescue situations are more dangerous than regular missions.

Nance has not yet ruled on whether Hatch’s testimony will be admissible during the sentencing phase of the trial. The next pre-trial hearing in the case is scheduled for July 27.

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Teen killed after leaving mosque was ‘loved by so many people,’ imam says

Furtseff/iStock/Thinkstock(STERLING, Va.) — At a funeral in Sterling, Virginia, Wednesday afternoon, for a 17-year-old girl who police say was killed this past weekend after she left her mosque, Imam Mohamed Magid said the slain teenager was “so loved by so many people.”

Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, is in custody for the homicide of Nabra Hassanen of Reston, Virginia, after he allegedly “became so enraged” that he hit her with a baseball bat, the Fairfax County Police Department said Monday. Road rage was the alleged motive behind the slaying, police said.

Police said the incident occurred at about 3:40 a.m. Sunday, when a group of teenagers was heading to an overnight event at a mosque. Police believe one teen on a bike began arguing with Martinez Torres as he approached the group in his car.

The suspect “then drove his car onto the curb as the group scattered,” the police said. “Witnesses say [Martinez] Torres caught up with them a short time later in a nearby parking lot and got out of his car armed with a baseball bat and began chasing the group. [Martinez] Torres was able to catch Nabra [Hassanen]. His anger over the encounter led to violence when he hit Nabra [Hassanen] with a baseball bat.”

Police said Martinez Torres took Hassanen in his car to Loudoun County, Virginia, and the teenager’s body was found in a pond in Loudoun County later that evening. According to her autopsy, Hassanen suffered from blunt force trauma to the upper body, police said.

At the service, Imam Magid said the community is grieving.

He said the slain teenager was “so generous, so bright, so beautiful, so energetic, so giving, so caring.”

In Washington, D.C., hundreds of people attended a vigil Tuesday evening, according to WJLA.

While the Fairfax County Police Department said Monday there is nothing to indicate this was a hate crime, explaining that “it appears the suspect became so enraged over the traffic dispute it escalated into deadly violence,” WJLA reported that a speaker at the D.C. vigil Tuesday said, “We’re not going to let Fairfax County police tell us that this was just a case of road rage.”

CAIR said Wednesday it is representing Hassanen’s family and has “called for a thorough investigation of a possible bias motive in the case.”

The police’s statement on Monday added, “If during the course of this ongoing criminal investigation, information or evidence later surfaces that would indicate this was hate-motivated, detectives would certainly ensure appropriate charges are filed.”

At an emotional press conference Tuesday outside of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Mohmoud Hassanen Aboras, the victim’s father, fighting back tears, said, “We have to love each other. … We are human beings.”

Martinez Torres is charged with murder and being held without bond, police said. Martinez Torres, who appeared in court Monday by video conference from jail, has not entered a plea, said Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond Morrogh. His public defender, Dawn Butorac, declined to comment. On Monday ICE lodged a detainer on the suspect, ICE spokesperson Carissa Cutrell said. He has no prior encounters with ICE, Cutrell added.

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FBI investigating motive after officer stabbed at airport in Flint, Michigan

iStock/Thinkstock(FLINT, Mich.) — The FBI is investigating the motive behind the stabbing of an airport police officer at Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan, Wednesday morning.

The police officer is in stable condition and the suspect, whose identity was not released, is in custody and being questioned, airport and FBI officials said.

The airport, which was evacuated and shut down, said all passengers were safe amid the investigation, headed by the FBI.

The motive of the assault is under investigation, the FBI said, adding that it is too early to determine whether it was an act of terrorism.

“We believe this to be an isolated incident,” the FBI added. “We currently have no specific, credible information that there is a threat to the Flint community.”

Active shooter report delays flights, spreads alarm at LAX

The Department of Homeland Security is monitoring the situation but at this point is not advising airports to to make any changes, DHS spokesman David Lapan said.

The airport reopened later Wednesday afternoon and said it was “working to get back to normal operations.”

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder wrote on Twitter, “please keep the attacked officer in your thoughts & prayers.”

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Upper Sandusky Under a Boil Water Alert

06/14/17 – 11:28 A.M.

Certain areas of Upper Sandusky are under a Water Boil Alert until further notice. The affected area includes Sandusky Avenue from Wyandt Avenue to Crawford Street. Johnson Street from 7th yo 4th Streets and Hicks Street from 7th to 5th Streets are also under the alert. Residents on 4th Street from Johnson to the railroad tracks and on South 5th Street from Wyandot Avenue to Crawford Street will also want to boil their water.

The EMA office said that the boil alert will be in effect for at least 36 hours.

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Downtown Findlay Revitalization Project Starts Today

6/19/17 – 5:11 A.M.

The downtown Findlay revitalization project kicks off today. The Courier reports the city signed a deal with B&J Concrete & Construction last Friday to get started on the project. The $2.5 million contract includes mid-block crosswalks and curb bump outs through the downtown area. The state gave Findlay $3.3 million for the project, and Marathon chipped in another $1.1 million. Findlay also had to pay $850,000 for design and permitting.

The curb bump outs add concrete to areas near intersections where there isn’t already a parking spot. The extra sidewalk area reduces the amount of street pedestrians have to cross to get to the other side. Designers say the feature will also slow down traffic on Main Street to make it more pedestrian friendly.

The plans call for mid-block crosswalks between Hardin and Sandusky streets, Crawford and Main Cross streets, and Main Cross and Front streets. Mid-block crosswalks allow pedestrians to cross in the middle of a block rather than at the intersection of two roads. The crossings will have landscaped medians for pedestrians to stop at before crossing the second lane of traffic on Main Street.

Service Director Brian Thomas tells the newspaper the goal is to keep pedestrians moving during the construction. He adds that crews will only work on one side of the street at a time. They’ll also use faster curing concrete to cut the time they’ll have to block off sidewalks.

The city expects construction to last into the fall.

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