Law Enforcement Ramps Up Security for July 4th Weekend

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Law enforcement agencies around the country say they are pulling out all the stops to make sure that this year’s Independence Day celebrations are not disrupted by a terror attack. The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have issued a bulletin to authorities nationwide, warning that ISIS sympathizers may try to stage attacks and police are responding by beefing up security measures.

“Our nation is under threat, our law enforcement, our military are under threat, so we take the threat seriously,” U.S. Park Police Chief Robert MacLean says. However, no specific threats have been made.

An ABC News analysis shows that this year alone 40 people with suspected ties to ISIS have been arrested in the U.S. There have been seven arrests in just the last two weeks, including a group of ISIS believers who allegedly had plans to plant a bomb on the George Washington Bridge between New York and New Jersey.

ABC News has checked with police departments in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston and Atlanta and were told that all plan to have full deployments on July 4th. In New York, a sophisticated command center is up and running, with surveillance cameras and police patrols closely monitoring all five boroughs, as well as the waterways and airspace.

“We have a very robust, overlapping, concentric rings of security that we adopt on July 4th,” MacLean told ABC News Correspondent Pierre Thomas of preparations for the National Mall.

MacLean said the security at the nine access points to the Mall will be seen and unseen and will focus on protecting law enforcement as well as the crowds. The reason is increasing concern about attacks on military, police and law enforcement itself, MacLean said. ISIS has taken to social media to urge its followers to assault police officers and others in authority.

“We tell our officers on a day-to-day basis to be aware of your surroundings. You as law enforcement are targets, our nation is a target,” MacLean said.

And the threats are not just here on U.S. soil. The American airbase at Lakenheath, England has cancelled its July 4th celebration amid reports of worrisome social media chatter revealing specific events and locations.

The base Commander saying he was taking no chances with the safety of his troops.

MacLean and other law enforcement leaders are asking the public to become their eyes and ears this weekend. On the National Mall, visitors can use a two-way text messaging system called Nixle to stay in touch with the police.

“We are able to message to the visiting public and now they are able to message back to us,” MacLean said. Mall visitors can text July4dc to 888777 and receive updates on developments and the weather. And, if need be, they can text the Park Police “if there is any type of critical incident law enforcement should be responding to,” MacLean said.

Finally, MacLean said, trust your gut. “We use the sixth sense of law enforcement as a great tool for us.

If you believe something is wrong…don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to reach out to a member of law enforcement that is in the area to let them know.”

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Shark Attack Surge in North Carolina: What Could Be Behind It

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As beach season hits high gear this holiday weekend, some people in North Carolina are calling for beach closures amid a surge in shark attacks over the past month.

There have been 11 shark attacks off the shores of the Carolinas this year, most in just the last three weeks.

On Wednesday, a 68-year-old man was bitten by a shark off the coast of Ocracoke Island, North Carolina. The victim, identified by the hospital as Andrew Costello, was bitten on his left side in his lower leg and hip, and on both his hands, Hyde County EMS Director Justin Gibbs told ABC News.

Experts say the increase in attacks this year could be based on four factors: First, due to drought conditions limiting fresh water along the coast, the ocean water is saltier, which sharks like. Throw in warmer water than usual, add in a surge of fish for food and factor in more people than usual at the beach and it's a recipe for disaster.

“They do like the clear ocean water,” said Capt. Steve Wilson of Dream Girl Sport Fishing, “but you also have a booming sea turtle population and they love sea turtles.”

Though some are calling for beach closures, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is offering a warning instead.

“Recognize that there are certain areas where we are having these bites,” he said. “So use your common sense -- especially if you are in and around a fishing area.”

Shark encounters haven’t just been limited to the Carolina coast.

An aggressive shark capsized a man's kayak in Florida in a terrifying moment caught on video last Thursday.

Ben Chancey, a U.S. Coast Guard captain for fishing charters, was off the coast of Stuart, Florida, trying to catch a goliath grouper when several bull sharks started swimming around his kayak, he said.

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City in Drought-Stricken Calif. Forced to Dump 550,000 Gallons of Water

Fuse/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water went to waste in California at a time when water conservation efforts are more serious than ever for the drought-stricken state.

The mayor of Poway, a city in San Diego County, defended the decision to dump 550,000 gallons of drinking water into a nearby canyon, according to ABC News affiliate KGTV.

“It was a perfect storm of conservation and heat,” Poway Mayor Steve Vaus told KGTV.

In an ironic twist, the reason so much water was lost was because of conservation efforts. The water sat in the Blue Crystal Reservoir for too long, according to KGTV. Heat created a chemical imbalance of chloramine, a combination of chlorine and ammonia used to disinfect drinking water, making the water, according to state regulations, unsafe to drink.

“I think it’s a shame, the city should have prepared better for it,” said resident Helen Shelden.

More than 500,000 gallons of water can reportedly supply four households for a year.

Vaus said the water was dumped rather than being put back in the lake where it came from, because it would be too expensive.

“This was just an unfortunate consequence that pains us, but we want to keep our people healthy,” Vaus said.

The mayor said the water wasted is a small amount compared to what residents use annually, according to KGTV.

The City of Poway did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

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This Fourth of July Could Be Among Deadliest Ever on Highways

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An estimated 35 million Americans will be on the roads this holiday weekend, and this year could be one of the deadliest due to drunk drivers, according to AAA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The National Safety Council, a nonprofit group, estimates that about 400 Americans will die on the roads this weekend, with drunk driving being the leading cause of fatalities.

"The combination of low gas prices and an improving economy is resulting in more miles being driven on our roads, unfortunately resulting in an increase in the number of deaths," said Ken Kolosh of the National Safety Council.

The Ford Motor Company has a kit using weights and goggles that mimics the effect of drunk driving, and ABC News' David Kerley tried the devices to get a feel for how much control a motorist loses when driving drunk. The sensation is similar to vertigo.

While Kerley strapped on the kit, U.S. Park Police Sgt. Adam Zielinski put him through the paces of a DUI stop, and Kerley was staggering, unable to walk even nine steps in a straight line.

"Do you think that you were able to operate a vehicle safely?" Zielinski asked.

The answer was a clear no when Kerley couldn't even get one foot in front of the other.

And it's not just gas prices that this officer is worried about, it's the calendar, too, because Friday is a legal holiday and Saturday is the Fourth of July.

"So you have the possibility of people attending two different events, on a Friday and a Saturday," Zielinski said. "There's just a culmination of different effects that could really be an integral part on how highway safety is this weekend."

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Mall Security Guards Suspended After Punching Teen on Video

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- A cellphone video that’s burning up the Internet Friday morning has led to the suspensions of three security guards seen repeatedly punching a shirtless 15-year-old boy outside the Stonecrest Mall south of Atlanta.

Witnesses say the guards were trying to get a group of underage kids to leave. Mall policy says someone has to be 18 to remain on the property without a parent. But the girl who shot the video, who’s avoiding cameras, told police that one of the guards swung first.

The boy's mother, Chavella Hamm, 45, and her lawyer are furious.

"I was horrified, I was scared," Hamm said. "I was at another store ... across the street from the mall, and I got a phone call on my phone, and it was my son, hysterical, screaming, 'Ma, come help me.'"

They went to court Thursday and filed documents demanding that police arrest the security guards for "battery and visible harm." They were granted a hearing next month, where they plan to show a judge the video.

"They should not be allowed to continuing working as security officers," said Hamm’s lawyer, Mawuli Mel Davis. "But even more importantly, they should be arrested and prosecuted as criminals."

In a statement, the mall said that guards work for Securitas USA, a "third-party company" that "is currently working with the DeKalb Police Department while this incident is under investigation."

"The security officers have been suspended without pay and will no longer work on site at the shopping center," the Mall at Stonecrest said in its statement. "With this being an ongoing investigation, we are unable to provide any additional information at this time."

Securitas USA did not respond to a request for comment.

The boy's mother said he’s recovering from a gash near his eye and wounds to his back and arms.

"What those three men did, it could have turned out even worse," Hamm said. "But my baby came home. What's to say someone else's baby won’t come home. ... And I want something done about this. This will be dealt with."

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Mass. Police Desperate to Identify Girl Found Dead in Trash Bag

Massachusetts State Police(BOSTON) -- Massachusetts authorities have released new photos in hopes of identifying a young girl who was discovered dead inside a trash bag.

On June 25, a dog walker found the girl's body on the western shore of Deer Island in Winthrop, a peninsula in Boston Harbor opposite Logan Airport, Massachusetts State Police said. The girl was found with a fleece blanket and wrapped in a trash bag.

There were no signs of trauma, said Dave Procopio, director of media relations for the state police.

On Thursday, police released a computer-generated composite image of the girl, who was approximately 4 years old. The photo, prepared by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, depicts what she may have looked like, police said.

The girl was described as having brown eyes and brown hair. She weighed about 30 pounds and stood about 3 feet 6 inches tall, police said.

Police also released images of the leggings she was wearing when discovered as well as the zebra-striped blanket found with her body.

Police have received several dozen tips, Procopio told ABC News Friday, adding that he was surprised no family members have come forward.

The cause of death has not been determined, police said.

State police, local police and the district attorney's office are investigating. Anyone with any information can call Massachusetts State Police at 508-820-2121.

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Car Wedged Under Milk Tanker in Accident on Tennessee Highway

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(MT. JULIET, Tenn.) -- A father and his two sons managed to survive a scary car crash with a tractor trailer.

A Nissan Maxima and a commercial tractor trailer -- carrying milk -- collided on a Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, highway on Thursday morning, wedging the smaller car underneath the tanker, police told ABC News Friday.

The 33-year-old father lost control of the car in the heavy rain as he switched from the far left lane to the right, ABC News affiliate WKRN-TV reported.

The truck driver drove on top of the car, wedging it, and didn’t realize there was a car underneath the trailer until it had been dragged a short distance, according to WKRN.

“Initially, it was thought that the tanker was leaking milk, but it was only leaking diesel from its gas tank,” Mt. Juliet Police Lt. Tyler Chandler told ABC News Friday.

The fire department stopped the leak and Chandler called the accident a “terrifying, mangled mess.”

The father and his two sons were transported to the Vanderbilt Emergency Room with non-life threatening injuries, according to police.

The tanker driver was not injured in the crash.

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Armed Robbery at Florida Cellphone Store Caught on Camera

Broward Sheriff's Office(PEMBROKE PARK, Fla.) -- Dramatic surveillance video out of Pembroke Park, Florida, shows multiple angles of an armed robbery at a cellphone store this week.

The footage, released by the Broward Sheriff's Office, shows three customers and a baby present during the incident on Wednesday at a Metro PCS store.

The video starts on the exterior of the store and shows the suspects pulling up in a dark-colored Nissan Maxima.

Two masked men get out of the vehicle and enter the store. One of the men is armed with a black semi-automatic assault rifle, according to police. The footage reveals different angles from inside the store during the holdup.

The unarmed masked suspect runs to the back of the store near the register, while the masked man holds the gun up and points it toward the employees. The suspects are heard yelling, "Don't move!" and "Open the register."

The customers and baby sit on the side of the store, while the employees calmly hand over the cash drawers to the suspects.

The unarmed man takes one drawer, jumps over a counter and exits. The armed man takes two drawers and appears to slightly trip as he exits.

Another angle of the store’s exterior shows the men leaving, entering the vehicle and making an exit with a getaway driver who had remained in the car during the holdup.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

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Anonymous Donors Give $3M to Scholarship Fund After SC Church Massacre

Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- Anonymous donors have given $3 million to a scholarship fund for members of the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church community after a massacre at the historic house of worship left nine dead.

The money has been donated to the Rev. Pinckney Scholarship Fund, named in honor of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the victims in the Charleston, South Carolina tragedy. The fund will provide college and advanced degree scholarships for the historical church's extended community, including the families of the victims.

"We do not pretend to understand the pain caused by this unimaginable tragedy," the anonymous donors said in a statement. "We simply want members of the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church community to know that the burdens of perseverance and empathy, which they have demonstrated with such dignity, do not fall exclusively on their shoulders."

"We want them to know that others, most of whom do not share their race or religion, who do not come from South Carolina, abhor the injustices from which they have suffered and admire the ways the African-American community has enriched our nation," the donors added. "We honor Reverend Pinckney who so profoundly embodied the values that bind us together as Americans."

Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. said the generosity of the donors "touched us all" and that "the grace and courage of this church and its members is a light in the darkness of this tragedy."

Emanuel AME's interim pastor said the scholarship fund was appropriate because the Rev. Pinckney highly valued education.

"The loss of Rev. Pinckney and the death of the faithful eight who perished with him cuts deep, but through this educational fund, Rev. Pinckney's already rich legacy will ripple across time, promoting the values of learning and public service he so nobly embodied in word and in sterling deed," said Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of the fund's board members.

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Man 'Essentially' Confesses to Murdering Arizona Couple: Sheriff

Pinal County Sheriff(PHOENIX) -- A man has "essentially" confessed to murdering an Arizona couple who were missing for over a week, and the suspect claims he and the victims were involved in recreational methamphetamine use, law enforcement officials said on Thursday.

Jose Valenzuela "essentially" confessed on Wednesday to killing Michael Careccia, 44, and Tina Careccia, 42, an official from the Pinal County Sheriff's Office said at a news conference Thursday in Florence, Arizona.

The couple went missing on June 22, according to ABC News affiliate KNXV-TV in Phoenix.

Valenzuela told authorities "all this information about killing both Mike and Tina" near their Phoenix-area home, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said on Thursday. "This is a tragic case where both of these individuals ... were murdered."

Authorities said they have retrieved the murder weapon -- a revolver.

In addition to his confession, Valenzuela also directed authorities to the spot where the Careccias were buried, an official from the sheriff's office told ABC News Thursday. The bodies have been recovered and positively identified as the husband and wife, the official said.

"One of our investigators had talked with him, got further information to determine that the decedents were buried on that property, very close to the house, within feet of the residence. He had a weapon on him at the time," Babeu said.

Valenzuela borrowed a hoe to bury his victims, Babeu said.

"He built not a makeshift grave, an actual 6-foot grave. And he put these victims in that grave and buried them," Babeu said.

Valenzuela was taken into custody without incident, the sheriff's office said. He is facing two charges of murder.

Valenzuela had an initial court appearance Thursday morning and was given a $2 million cash bond, officials said. The sheriff's office said it is unknown if Valenzuela has retained a lawyer yet.

But the case is still evolving, the sheriff's office said, in part because Valenzuela claimed Mike and Tina Careccia were involved in recreational methamphetamine use.

Valenzuela said he had a "two-year relationship or friendship with Mike and Tina," sheriff's office officials said, noting that Valenzuela said he brought the Careccias meth on Father's Day, June 21, and attended a party at their home.

Later that evening, they went to Valenzuela's house and "something happened, a fight," that led to the killing, Babeu said.

While the sheriff's office would not confirm Thursday if authorities believe the victims were involved in drug use, the sheriff said officials do believe there was drug use involved, at least by Valenzuela, "by his own admission and some other information that we have."

The sheriff would not say if drugs were found at Valenzuela's house.

A full autopsy is pending, officials said.

ABC News' attempts to reach members of the Careccia family were not immediately successful.

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