Review Category : Top Stories

More Officers to Patrol Golden Gate Bridge to Help Prevent Suicides

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) — Five more bridge patrol officers will be assigned to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to help prevent suicide attempts.

The bridge currently has 31 uniformed personnel, including 17 patrol officers. The decision to add five more patrol officers was made Friday in a unanimous vote by the Golden Gate Bridge Board of Directors.

The officers, who work shifts around the clock, are beneficial because they work on building a relationship with the individual in crisis, such as asking about one’s family and friends, said Priya Clemens, public information manager for the Golden Gate Bridge.

“The addition of five new officers will allow us to increase our monitoring of the bridge and help save troubled visitors from harming themselves here,” Clemens told ABC News.

The decision is the latest effort to help curb suicide attempts on the bridge. In 2014, the bridge board unanimously decided to build a suicide barrier that is expected to be completed by 2020.

Last year, there were 33 confirmed suicides and 153 successful interventions on the bridge, officials said.

From Jan. 1 through Sept. 30 of this year, there have been 26 confirmed suicides and 138 successful suicide interventions, officials said.

Bridge officials said over the years the average number of successful interventions has increased considerably. Between 2000 and 2005, the average number of successful interventions each year was 52; between 2006 and 2010, the average yearly number was 73.

Bridge officials attribute the decrease in suicides to the greater presence of patrol officers.

Clemens said the decision to add five more officers was based on both need and budgetary restrictions. These officers still need to be recruited and hired, Clemens said.

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Police Release 911 Call on Suspected Firebombing, Graffiti at North Carolina GOP Office

NC GOP(HILLSBOROUGH, N.C.) — The person who reported this weekend’s apparent arson attack and graffiti vandalism at a county Republican Party headquarters in North Carolina told police: “They threw some sort of firebomb through the window. … I can smell smoke.”

The 911 call about damage to the GOP’s Orange County office in Hillsborough was released Monday with some parts redacted and the caller’s voice deliberately distorted to protect the person’s identity, Hillsborough police said. Law enforcement is still investigating the crime and urging anyone with information to come forward.

The suspected firebombing happened between midnight Saturday and the time of the call at 8:54 a.m. Sunday, police believe.

“Someone has firebombed through the window of the Republican Party next to me and sprayed all over the side of my building: ‘Nazi Republicans leave town or else,'” the 911 caller, who police said owns a business nearby, told police Sunday morning.

The caller attributed a smell at the site to an “incendiary device.”

“They threw some sort of firebomb through the window because it smoked up under the porch and all around the window frame,” the caller said. “I can smell smoke, so obviously it went out on its own or didn’t work well, but it is some sort of incendiary device.”

Police said “a bottle containing flammable material was thrown through a front window” of the GOP office, damaging the inside and some furniture “before going out on its own.” Graffiti was spray-painted on the side of a building next door.

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens called the apparent attack on the building a “reprehensible act.” He added, “I’m extremely appreciative for everybody who is using this as an opportunity to pull our community together, rather than promote division.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday of the apparent attack, “There is no justification for the use of violence to advance a political agenda.”

The town’s police said they are working with the federal and state bureaus of investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The Secret Service also is supporting the investigation, the police said.

A law enforcement source told ABC News that evidence has been sent to the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, for analysis.

Hillsborough Police Chief Duane Hampton said, “We continue to ask for anyone with any information to come forward.” Anyone with information can call Hillsborough Investigator Jon Purvis at 919-732-9381 ext. 37.

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Men Arrested in Fatal Shooting of Tyson Gay’s Daughter Plead Not Guilty

iStock/Thinkstock(LEXINGTON, Ky.) — Three men pleaded not guilty Monday in connection with the fatal shooting of the teenage daughter of Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay.

Trinity Gay, 15, was shot in a Lexington, Kentucky, parking lot around 4 a.m. Sunday during an exchange of gunfire between two cars, police said.

She was later declared dead at a nearby hospital, according to police.

The first arrest announced by the Lexington Police on Sunday was 21-year-old Dvonta Middlebrooks. He was in the parking lot and fired multiple shots, according to his arrest citation. He was charged with wanton endangerment and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Chazerae Taylor, 38, and his son, D’markeo Taylor, 19, were also arrested. Both were charged with wanton endangerment, the police said.

D’markeo Taylor has an attorney; Chazerae Taylor and Middlebrooks do not, according to court officials.

Their next court appearance is Oct. 25.

Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay, who is from Kentucky, has competed in the past three Summer Olympics. His daughter was also an accomplished sprinter herself.

Tyson Gay spoke to local Lexington station WLEX-TV about the shooting on Sunday.

“It’s so crazy. I have no idea what happened,” Gay told the station.

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Obama Celebrates Improved US High School Graduation Rate

Michael Davidson for Hillary for America(WASHINGTON) — President Obama touted that America’s high school graduation rate has risen to 83.2 percent, but emphasized more work lay ahead in improving the nation’s public education system, including addressing cuts in government funding to state university systems.

“I just want to be honest with you: We’ve still got more work to do,” the president said on a visit to a Washington, D.C., high school.

“As I go, I’m giving you kind of a final report card, transcript on what more we’ve got to get done,” Obama said. “There are still too many states that are cutting back on public education. And part of the reason tuition is going up is because states aren’t putting as much money into state education, universities, community colleges as they used to. That’s why, if you’re 18, by the way, you’ve got to vote to make sure that the folks who represent you actually deliver.”

Obama visited the capital’s Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, which boasted a 100 percent graduation rate for its seniors last year.

“One hundred percent. It’s been awhile since I did math, but 100 percent is good,” he said, drawing laughter. “You can’t do better than that.”

As he prepares to leave office early next year, the president said young people like those at Banneker give him a sense of optimism.

“There’s magic in each and every one of you, and we just have to help you unleash it and nurture it and realize it,” Obama said. “I’ve met so many young people around the country whose energy, and excitement, and how you treat each other, with respect. That gives me a lot of confidence, a lot of faith for our country.”

The White House said new education data show that the average four-year graduation rate in 2014-2015 was 4 percent higher than in 2010-2011, when a new method for calculating graduation rates was adopted, with progress across all student demographics and in every state, and with Washington, D.C., recording the greatest improvement.

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Record October Warmth Broils Parts of the US

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Record-high temperatures have put autumn weather on hold for parts of the U.S., and forecasters predict the unusual October heat will continue through the middle of this week, possibly breaking records in the South, the Plains and the Northeast.

High temperatures either equaled or broke records in nearly a dozen locations around the U.S. Sunday, with temperatures in some areas reaching close to 100 degrees.

The thermometer in Dodge City, Kansas, hit 99 degrees Sunday, tying the city’s previous record. Temperatures in Garden City, Kansas, reached 98 degrees, also matching a previous record. Meanwhile, Amarillo, Texas, recorded a high of 98 degrees, smashing an old record of 91 degrees.

In the Northeast, the return of summer is bringing high temperatures reaching up to the mid-80s.

The fall heat comes after a sweltering summer that smashed temperature records around the globe. In July, NASA released midyear data that revealed 2016 was on track to be the hottest year since the agency’s record-keeping began in 1880.

NASA has since announced that August tied with July of this year for the warmest month ever recorded.

The current high temperatures are expected to break with much cooler air moving into the Midwest by Wednesday and into the Northeast by the weekend.

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Minnesota Man’s Arrest Sparks Concern from Rights Groups

iStock/Thinkstock(EDINA, Minn.) — A cellphone video showing the arrest of a black man in Minnesota who was walking in the street has sparked concern among community and civil rights groups that the man was mistreated and manhandled without justification.

The video, which circulated widely online after it was posted on YouTube, shows the man, Larnie Thomas, held at first by his jacket by a plainclothes police officer who refuses Thomas’ demands that he let go.

The officer tells Thomas he’s in the middle of the street. Thomas responds that he was avoiding construction on the street and demands to be released. Throughout the video, Thomas’ frustration is apparent, and at one point Janet Rowle, a bystander who filmed the altercation, tells the officer that Thomas is scared.

Thomas removes first his jacket, then his shirt to escape the officer’s grasp. A second officer arrives, and puts Thomas under arrest.

The Minnesota NAACP demanded a formal apology from the Edina Police Department through a statement released on social media that said Thomas was “manhandled and emasculated” by police.

“Watching that video and seeing a black man being manhandled and emasculated by Edina police was not only painful and humiliating, it was a vivid reminder that blacks are still too-often seen as second class citizens in the State of Minnesota and in this nation,” the NAACP statement said.

The Minnesota ACLU also expressed concern.

Teresa Nelson, legal director of the state chapter of the civil liberties group, said it is “pretty unusual for plainclothes officers to be doing the kind of patrol seen in the video,” and suggested that the officer appeared to desire to maintain a level of control over Thomas that was not clearly based on criminal conduct.

“In most cases, if this was jaywalking, you would typically give a warning,” Nelson said of what she saw on the video. “Especially if it were true that he was simply avoiding construction, this wouldn’t make much sense. There must be at least a reasonable, articulable suspicion that he has violated the law to warrant such behavior.”

The City of Edina said in a statement made on behalf of the police department that the incident started several minutes before the recording.

A police officer “observed a man walking southbound … in the southbound lane of traffic, though there is a sidewalk on the east side and a sidewalk under construction and a paved shoulder on the west side of the street. Recognizing the risk to the safety of the public, the officer pulled in behind the man with his lights and an audible signal in an attempt to advise him to get out of the roadway.”

The statement continued that “the man, who was wearing headphones, turned and looked at the officer and continued walking in the lane of traffic.” The officer then drove in front of the man to block him but the man deliberately walked around the squad car and continued walking.

The officer got out of his car, followed the man and asked him to stop. “The man did not stop and was defiant. It was after that point that the recording began,” the statement said.

The statement added that the officer smelled alcohol on the man’s breath and that “a breathalyzer later confirmed the presence of alcohol.”

Edina, a suburb 15 minutes south of Minneapolis, has a population of 50,000, that is 88 percent white and 3 percent black, Census figures show.

“People of color don’t always feel welcome in Edina, particularly African-Americans,” Nekima Levy-Pounds, a spokesperson for the NAACP of Minnesota told ABC News.

In addition to the community’s lack of diversity, Levy-Pounds said African-Americans in Minnesota have a heightened sensitivity about police interactions with their community since two high-profile, police-involved shootings, of Jamar Clark and Philando Castile.

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Billions in Losses Expected for North Carolina After Hurricane Matthew

(NEW YORK) — As floodwaters begin to recede in North Carolina, officials and experts are beginning to count the cost of Hurricane Matthew. Early estimates of property damage and lost business are in the billions of dollars for a storm that was not forecast to focus on the state.

The storm passed over North Carolina just over a week ago and left at least 26 people dead and more than 2,100 people still in shelters as a result of floods, according to state officials.

“The effects of Hurricane Matthew continue to have a destructive impact 12 days later,” North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said in a press conference Saturday. “There are still many difficult days ahead, but our top priority will continue to be helping people in the hardest hit areas who are dealing with this flooding.”

The storm damaged about $1.5 billion in property, including homes, businesses and government buildings, according to officials with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. The state deployed aerial drones for the first time to see above the flooded areas and assess the damage.

But that figure doesn’t include other costs to the state’s economy, including losses that businesses suffered when they were forced to close and when consumers were not spending because they were forced to hunker down or evacuate — lost economic output.

“Entire towns have been destroyed with record flooding from Hurricane Matthew, meaning many businesses and employees have been directly impacted,” McCrory said in a statement on Thursday, when he announced Disaster Unemployment Assistance for people in 20 counties.

Preliminary projections from Moody’s Analytics as of Oct. 10 say the storm caused between $4 billion and $5 billion in lost economic output across the affected states, according Laura Ratz, an economist covering the region. North Carolina accounts for about half of the estimated economic output loss, Ratz told ABC News.

These numbers could go up.

The storm was initially expected to have a relatively minor effect on the Tarheel state, forecast to curl away and towards the ocean just before fully reaching North Carolina.

However, forecasts were off and the storm turned inland, hitting eastern North Carolina and causing much more damage than expected.

A week out, many areas are still inundated with flood waters that are making their way through the state’s river system from the piedmont region of central North Carolina across state’s coastal plain and on to the ocean.

In some areas, roads remain closed and business remains disrupted.

The storm had resulted in historic insurance claims and difficulty in processing the claims because of conditions, Stuart Lindley, president of Discovery Insurance in Kinston, North Carolina, told ABC News.

“We’ve had recorded flooded vehicles and on top of that, seven of my adjusters were unable to get to work until today because of road flooding,” Lindley said by phone Monday morning. “We didn’t have a full staff to even take claims.”

And the problem wasn’t limited to his industry, he said.

Even in areas that are above the floodplain the storm’s effects were being felt, Lindley said.

“Drain lines were backed up because they couldn’t go into the river, which caused flooding in several basements of downtown buildings,” he said. “As a result several restaurants were closed for several days.”

The Neuse River, which runs through the town, crested on Saturday morning, leaving much of the city submerged, according to ABC News’ affiliate WTVD.

Despite the closures, some business owners are going to extraordinary lengths to stay open.

Donnie Paderick and Misty Paderick, along with their pet goats and pig, have been living out of the gift shop that they own after road closures have cut-off access to their home, according to ABC News’ affiliate in the area, WCTI.

“We knew the road would be blocked, so we brought all of our supplies to the store and we prepared to camp out,”Donnie Paderick told WCTI. “That way, we can still open the store.”

The good news for the people of the region is that natural disasters often have offsetting economic effects, according to Goldman Sachs.

The investment bank estimated $10 billion in property damage across the entire region on Oct. 10. They told investors that natural disasters generally result in short-term declines in economic output and demand. But once the hurricane or other disaster is over, demand and output bounce back to the same level or a greater level than was seen before the storm.

Recovery and rebuilding efforts can also have a stimulating effect on the economy of areas hit by disaster, the bank said in its note.

As the waters move eastward and relief efforts reach larger areas, the toll of Hurricane Matthew is becoming clearer.

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Good Samaritan Speaks Out After Rescuing Elderly Woman from Pond

iStock/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Mass.) — A Massachusetts woman is lucky to be alive after Arlington police say she accidentally hit the accelerator while backing up near Spy Pond in Arlington around 1:02 p.m. Friday, sending her Ford Edge straight through a fence and plunging about 8 feet into frigid waters.

Three good Samaritans helped rescue the 68-year-old woman as she was trapped inside pounding on the SUV’s passenger-side window.

One of the quick-thinking bystanders wasted no time swimming out to the car but just as he opened the door to help the woman out, the vehicle took on more water and submerged. Numerous items from the car floated to the surface of the pond as two more rescuers jumped in the water.

Dan Frazier, the second man in the video to leap into action, told ABC News he was on a nearby bike trail with his wife and two friends when they heard the tires screech and the sound of a collision.

Frazier said he turned down the hill about 10 yards away, heard a splash and saw the vehicle enter the water.

“By the time I got there I turned around quickly and said to the rest of the people in my party, ‘There’s a car that went in the water and somebody is in it,'” he recalled of the harrowing experience.

He rushed down to the area where the car went in, tossed aside his bike, took off his outer layer of clothes and jumped in the water. As Frazier swam toward the sinking car, he saw one man pounding on the passenger window in an attempt to free the woman, when she eventually reaches the surface gasping for air.

“I could see that she couldn’t swim and she was an older woman and she was struggling at the surface of the water, almost going down again,” Frazier said.

“By the time I got to her she had this terror, frantic look in her eyes and I knew right away she couldn’t swim,” he added. “I grabbed what looked like some kind of flotation device — it was a cushion that had handles on it. I just flung the handles toward her.”

After a few attempts, the woman was able to reach out and grab on to the safety device.

Frazier said she was “floating on the surface with her head up,” which allowed him to pull her close to shore where another man helped lift the woman, who has not yet been publicly identified.

Thinking back on the timing of the events that day, Frazier said, “To me there are no coincidences in the way this all happened the way that it did … We just saw this woman struggling and, I mean, life is precious and you know every life has worth and we were just very glad that the timing was what it was and we were able to help her in this really urgent time of need.”

The crash was an accident and the driver was not impaired in any way, police say. The woman is in the hospital recovering from mild hypothermia.

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Men Arrested in Fatal Shooting of Tyson Gay’s Daughter to Appear in Court

iStock/Thinkstock(LEXINGTON, Ky.) — Three men arrested in the fatal shooting of the teenage daughter of Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay are expected to appear in court Monday.

Trinity Gay, 15, was shot in a Lexington, Kentucky, parking lot around 4 a.m. Sunday during an exchange of gunfire between two cars, police said.

She was later declared dead at a nearby hospital, according to police.

The first arrest announced by the Lexington Police on Sunday was 21-year-old Dvonta Middlebrooks. He was in the parking lot and fired multiple shots, according to his arrest citation. He was charged with wanton endangerment and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Chazerae Taylor, 38, and his son, D’markeo Taylor, 19, were also arrested. They were both charged with wanton endangerment, the police said.

The three men are expected to appear in court at 1 p.m. ET Monday. The men have not yet entered a plea.

Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay, who is from Kentucky, has competed in the past three Summer Olympics.

Tyson Gay spoke to local Lexington television station WLEX about the shooting on Sunday.

“It’s so crazy. I have no idea what happened,” Gay told the station.

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UConn Student Run Over, Killed by Campus Emergency Vehicle

iStock/Thinkstock(STORRS, Conn.) — A 19-year-old University of Connecticut student died after she was run over by a campus emergency fire vehicle early Sunday morning.

Jeffny Pally was sitting outside a garage door for the UConn Public Safety Complex when it opened after an emergency call, and a firefighter ran her over in an SUV, police said according to ABC News affiliate WTNH-TV.

The firefighter was put on administrative duty, WTNH-TV reports.

Pally’s cousin, Atul Sajan, told WTNH-TV that she wanted to be a nurse and loved helping other people.

“No one can handle it because she was so young,” he said. “She was full of life and she was so lovable. Everyone loved her.”

In a statement, UConn President Susan Herbst called Pally’s death a “heartbreaking and tragic loss.”

“Our deepest sympathies go out to her family, friends, and all those whose lives she touched,” she said. “We know that words cannot begin to express their grief.”

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