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Thursday
Aug212014

Stolen Brooklyn Bridge Flags Returned to US Officials -- In Germany

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The flags taken off the Brooklyn Bridge and swapped for white surrender flags have been handed over to U.S. officials, a law enforcement official told ABC News Thursday.

The handover took place far from the iconic landmark, however: it happened in Germany. The flags were given to the U.S. embassy a week after Mischa Leinkauf and Mattias Wermke, artists in that country, identified themselves as having perpetrated the stunt that became a national news sensation.

"They returned the flags to the embassy. There has been no determination on charges," the law enforcement official said.

 The artists said last week that the Brooklyn Bridge stunt was intended as a celebration of public art and not as any political statement.

The Berlin-based duo said that the flags that they put on top of the bridge were not bleached white but were made of white material and then hand-stitched so that it was done in "Old Glory" style with white stars and stripes. They said that they followed U.S. Flag Code in their handling of the American flags that they took down.

Prosecutors in New York could still pursue felony burglary charges against the duo, which could lead to the issuing of an international arrest warrant. Authorities also "have some significant leads" as to the people who assisted the Germans in their stunt in the U.S. The American accomplices are still being pursued.

New York Police Department officials are taking the flag return as a sign of "good faith" that the stunt was, "some sort of artistic thing or stunt," as opposed to a serious threat or attempt to scare American citizens, the law enforcement official said.

It is believed that the artists realized how serious this was and how much trouble they were in when NY Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced on WABC's Sunday show Up Close with Diana Williams that investigators knew who the perpetrators were.


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Thursday
Aug212014

A Different Look at Ferguson's Michael Brown Just Days Before His Death

iStock/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- A different view of Michael Brown emerged Thursday in a video that is starkly different from the images previously seen of the unarmed teenager who shot dead by police in Ferguson, Missouri.

Brown, 18, is seen waiting to join the procession of graduates for Normandy High School in early August, just days before his controversial death on Aug. 9. He is wearing the traditional black cap and gown with a red sash around his neck and the tassel hanging jauntily off the back of his mortarboard.

Brown's family said that he was going to attend college in the fall.

The only other video images of Brown, who was 6-foot-4, to surface since the shooting has been in sharp contrast. Police released a surveillance video last week that showed a large man apparently stealing cigars from a convenience store.

The theft occurred shortly before Brown was shot at least six times following a confrontation with Officer Darren Wilson that left him with serious facial injuries. A Ferguson police report said that the officer who viewed the store surveillance video and saw Brown's body identified him as the prime suspect in the store robbery.


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Thursday
Aug212014

Kentucky Firefighters Shocked in Electrical Mishap During Ice Bucket Challenge

iStock/Thinkstock(CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky.) -- The popular ice bucket challenge has left four firefighters injured in Kentucky.

The marching band at Campbellsville University joined in on the ice bucket challenge, but instead of getting a bucket of water dumped on their heads, firefighters sprayed water on them from a ladder.  

Police Chief Tim Hazlette says the ladder got too close to a power line and the electrical current injured four firefighters.

Two of the firefighters' injuries are serious.

The ice bucket challenge has spread across the country this summer as participants dump a bucket of ice water on their heads to raise awareness -- and donations -- for ALS.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug212014

Parents Attach Camera to Son to Capture First Day of School

iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- For the parents of a first-grader in Florida, simply asking their son what he did on his first day of school this year was not enough.

"We wanted to see what it was like to be a first-grader on the first day of school," May Weber told ABC News.

Weber and her husband, Tim Weber, of Tampa, strapped a camera onto the chest of their 6-year-old son, Andrew, Tuesday for his first day at McFarlane Park Elementary in Tampa.

"I have that challenge every day when I pick my children up from school, I say, 'How was school? Tell me about your favorite part of school,' and I always get that one word answer," May Weber said. "Now I know maybe different kinds of questions to ask about their friends."

The video shows Andrew walking down a shrub-lined street on his way to McFarlane Park, walking into the school's decorated hallways and getting a hug from his new teacher, all from his own chest-level perspective.

"I was impressed by what the perspective was of a three-foot something child," Tim Weber said. "How big everything was, the furniture, how big adults were, how big some of the other kids at school."

"I think we sort of forget that perspective," he said.

Andrew himself says he had no qualms about meeting his classmates while wearing the video camera, claiming that it was the object of envy in his first-grade classroom.

"My friends wanted to wear it," he said.

Both Andrew's teacher, Arianne DeClue, and the school's principal, Denyse Riveiro, say they are using the video footage as a learning tool.

"On the first day of school everyone has nerves and jitters and it was exciting to see what the kids felt," DeClue told ABC News.

"I thought about from the child's perspective, what it looked like, what they were experiencing, the social skills, the developmental skills," principal Riveiro said.


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Thursday
Aug212014

Umbrella Sparks Lockdown at Cal State San Marcos

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO, Calif.) -- It rains so infrequently in California that a simple umbrella caused a college campus to go on lockdown.

On Wednesday, armed police moved into Cal State San Marcos, outside of San Diego, on reports of a man with gun.

Students were told to shelter in place and authorities held the man at gunpoint.

But it turned out it wasn't a gun-- it was simply an employee walking with a black umbrella.

The employee, identified as Bill Craig, has been a staff member at the school for 17 years.

After the scare, Craig said the police were just doing their jobs.

"What could you do but find the humor in it," he said.


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Thursday
Aug212014

National Guard Ordered to Leave Ferguson

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- The Missouri National Guard has been ordered to leave the strife-torn town of Ferguson.

Gov. Jay Nixon, who ordered the guard into Ferguson earlier this week, said on Thursday he was withdrawing them because "we continue to see improvement" in safety conditions in the town.

“I greatly appreciate the men and women of the Missouri National Guard for successfully carrying out the specific, limited mission of protecting the Unified Command Center so that law enforcement officers could focus on the important work of increasing communication within the community, restoring trust, and protecting the people and property of Ferguson,” Nixon said in a statement.

The governor said the guard would begin withdrawing after a relatively calm Wednesday night which resulted in only six arrests.

"Tonight was a very good night,” said Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

On Tuesday night, 43 were arrested and nearly 80 arrests were made on Monday night.

The National Guard did not patrol Ferguson's streets, standing guard instead at the police command center.

Johnson said the city would continue to have a strong police presence.

The St. Louis suburb has been roiled with angry protests since the police officer shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, 18, on Aug. 9. At times, those protests erupted into looting, Molotov cocktails and rock throwing. Police have responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

On Monday, when Nixon called out the National Guard, President Obama appeared to express skepticism over the tactic.

"I spoke to Jay Nixon about this and expressed interest that if it was used, it would be in a limited and appropriate way," Obama said Monday. He added that, "I’ll be watching to see that it’s helping, not hindering, progress."

Nixon visited Ferguson Wednesday, as did U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Protesters have been demanding that the police officer, Darren Wilson, be arrested for shooting Brown. But St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said Wednesday that a grand jury investigation into the shooting would likely last until mid-October.


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Thursday
Aug212014

Cured Ebola Patient Dr. Kent Brantly Says 'God Saved My Life'

ABC News(ATLANTA) -- Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly have been cured of the Ebola virus and released from Emory Hospital in Atlanta.

Brantly, 33, called his recovery "a miraculous day."

"I am thrilled to be alive, to be well, and reunited with my family," he said.

He also told a news conference at Emory Hospital that "God saved my life."

Both patients were given blood and urine tests to determine whether they still had the virus, Emory doctors said in a statement Thursday morning.

"After a rigorous course of treatment and testing we have determined...that (Brantly) has recovered from the Ebola virus disease and he can return to his family, to his community, and to his life without any public health concerns," Dr. Bruce Ribner, director of Emory’s Infectious Disease Unit, said Thursday.

Brantly said that when Writebol left the hospital on Tuesday, she asked him to speak on her behalf to the public and express gratitude for prayers on her behalf.

"When she walked out of the room, all she could say was ‘To God be the glory,’" Brantly recalled. "Nancy and (her husband) David are now spending some much needed time together."

Writebol's husband said in the statement that his wife left the hospital in a "significantly weakened condition."

"We are tremendously pleased with Dr. Brantly and Mrs. Writebol's recovery," Ribner said. "All of us who have worked with them have been impressed by their courage and determination. Their hope and faith have been an inspiration to all of us."

Ribner emphasized that though there is public fear and anxiety about Ebola, there is no threat to public health with the patients' release.

He also said that the decision to bring Brantly and Writebol to America for treatment would help push forward the research and knowledge about how to treat Ebola wherever it is contracted.

Brantly contracted the deadly virus while working in a Liberian Ebola ward with the aid agency Samaritan’s Purse. He was evacuated to the U.S. earlier this month along with Writebol.

"I never imagined myself in this position," Brantly said. "We treated our first Ebola patient (in Liberia) in June. When she arrived we were ready."

"On Wednesday, July 23, I woke up feeling under the weather and then my life took an unexpected turn as I was diagnosed with Ebola. As I lay in my bed in Liberia for nine days, getting sicker each day, I prayed God would help be more faithful even in my illness, and that in my illness or even death he would glorified," Brantly said.


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Brantly is the first-ever Ebola patient to be treated in the U.S. and the first human to receive the experimental serum known as ZMapp.

According to reports, Brantly’s condition deteriorated so quickly that doctors in Africa decided to give him the drug in a last-ditch effort to save him.

Brantly’s condition started to improve dramatically within an hour after getting the serum, according to Samaritan’s Purse, but it’s unclear if the improvement was directly related to the medication. After his health stabilized, Brantly was evacuated on a specially outfitted plane to Atlanta in early August to the hospital isolation ward.

Writebol, 59, also survived after getting the serum.

But Ribner said Thursday that it is unclear what role ZMapp played in their recovery.

"Frankly we do not know if it helped them, made any difference, or even delayed their recovery," Ribner said.

He emphasized that both Writebol and Brantly were not a danger to others and there was no danger that the Ebola virus could flare up again in them.

"There is no evidence that once a patient has cleared the virus from their blood that they will relapse," Ribner said.

He also said that having survived Ebola, the patients were now immune to that particular strain of Ebola, although there are five strains of the virus.

The virus has killed at least 1,229 and sickened 1,011 more, according to numbers released Tuesday by the World Health Organization. Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have the most cases.


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Thursday
Aug212014

'A Very Good Night' in Ferguson as Peace Preserved

iStock/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- Peaceful protests and community activism replaced violent clashes in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, overnight, with only six arrests reported, police said.

Unrest has ruled in the St. Louis suburb since the Aug. 9 police shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown.

Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, speaking at an early-morning news conference, said Wednesday night’s protesters remained mostly orderly, showing a marked improvement over the previous night, when 47 people were arrested.

“Tonight was a very good night,” Johnson said.

Johnson said a few minor incidents were reported, such as an officer hit by a water bottle -- but the officer wasn’t injured.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Ferguson Wednesday, as did Attorney General Eric Holder.

A decision on whether the officer who shot Brown, Darren Wilson, would be indicted will not come quickly, St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said Wednesday. McCullough predicted that it could take until the middle of October for the grand jury to decide whether to charge Wilson.

Grand juries typically meet one day a week.

McCulloch said the grand jury investigation will be thorough.

"They will have absolutely everything there is, every piece of paper, every photograph, every bit of physical evidence, all of the forensic information," the district attorney said.


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Thursday
Aug212014

Mysterious Selfie Points Cops to Persons of Interest in Break-In

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department(SANTA CLARITA, Calif.) -- California police say they want to question a couple whose selfie photo showed up on the "cloud" account attached to allegedly stolen electronics.

Authorities released the photos of the man and woman Wednesday in the hopes of identifying the persons of interest.

"I’ve been a detective for quite some time and I’ve never had a case like this before," Santa Clarita Police Det. Brian Dow told ABC News.

Police responded to an alleged burglary on July 30 when a woman said her home had been ransacked. The victim told police she had come home to find electronics and money missing, along with other personal items. She said her front door had been unlocked and the mesh screen on a kitchen window had been cut out.

An incident report was filed, fingerprints were taken and an investigation into the burglary was quickly underway.

A few days later, a break in the case came from an unlikely source: the victim’s iCloud account.

While accessing a virtual Internet server, which syncs the data from her electronic devices, she said she noticed that selfies had been taken and uploaded by a couple she did not recognize.

The man and woman, photographed snuggled up in bed, seemingly took the photos sometime after the burglary at a location the victim did not recognize.

"I want to identify these people," Det. Dow said of the mysterious couple, who he believes are key to solving the case.

The two persons of interest, who are not considered suspects, have yet to be identified.

"I was at my wits end trying to figure out who these folks were," Dow said, adding that he turned to social media Wednesday in the hopes that someone would recognize them.

"We put out the report and everything started blowing off the hook," the detective added. "Social media has never helped out like this.”


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Thursday
Aug212014

From "Jeopardy!" Contestant to Indictment in Stalking Case

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- An Ivy League grad who appeared on popular game shows such as Jeopardy! was indicted by a grand jury this week on charges that she broke into the home of a Virginia lawmaker and assaulted his wife.

Claire Ogilvie, 36, is awaiting trial in the February incident. Court documents allege that Ogilvie -- a former patent attorney and high school teacher -- sneaked into the home of Virginia House of Delegates member David Toscano, armed with a deadly weapon, and assaulted his wife, Nancy Tramontin. Ogilvie faces felony charges of breaking and entering while armed, abduction and malicious wounding.

Ogilvie remains in jail and has not entered a plea. Her attorney Adam Rhea declined bail.

“There are reasons,” Rhea said. “Every case is different. This is a case where we felt like it was in our best interest not to ask for bond.”

In a written statement to the Charlottesville Daily Progress after the alleged attack, representatives for Tramontin say she and her lawmaker husband met Ogilvie on a Semester at Sea cruise -- a study-abroad program -- in 2010, where the Yale grad was tutoring the couple’s son. They remained friends.

“In 2012, Nancy became concerned that Ms. Ogilvie had developed an unsettling interest in the Toscano family,” the statement reads. “The family reduced their contact, beginning in the early summer, and saw her for the last time in fall 2012. Before the attack, Nancy and the Toscanos had not seen Ms. Ogilvie in over a year.”

One expert says such a falling out may have caused Ogilvie to allegedly act out.

“That’s very common in stalking, when the stalker feels rejected,” forensic psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Bober, who has no connection to the case, said. “That’s often when they will turn to violence.”

Attorneys for both parties declined ABC News’ request for comment. Prosecutors say the record will remain sealed until Ogilvie’s hearing Sept. 17.

Ogilvie won $50,000 on Who Wants to be a Millionaire in 2005. She also made two appearances on Jeopardy! in 1998, advancing to the semifinals of the show’s college championship.


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