Wildfire Spreads Over 45,000 Acres in California as Search Through Destruction Continues

iStock/Thinkstock(KERN COUNTY, Calif.) — Many residents in Kern County, California, have lost their homes in a deadly fire still burning through the area, while others have been denied access to their houses amid the catastrophic destruction left behind.

Two people have died and at least 200 homes have been destroyed in the Erskine fire, which has spread to over 45,000 acres. Officials continue to search through the charred rubble using a team of cadaver dogs, which they expect to extend for about three more days. On Saturday, some animal remains were found.

The fast-moving fire is 40 percent contained as of this morning, according to the spokesperson for Cal Fire, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Daniel Berlant. More than 2,000 people are helping to fight the blaze.

Chief Brian Marshall of the Kern County Fire Department described the blaze as mother nature and a spark colliding.

Brandi Pettit, an evacuee who said she learned from a neighbor that her home didn't make it, said, "Losing a house at age 29, it's hard," through tears. "I don't wish this on [anybody]."

Another woman told ABC News she feels "homeless and helpless."

Eighty-one evacuees are in shelters; residents whose homes were not affected will be allowed to return home Monday.
Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


WV Man Goes House to House Rescuing Neighbors After Flooding

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- As West Virginia residents brace for more rain Monday in the wake of the state's historic flooding, ABC News spoke to one man who rescued his neighbors after flooding tore through their block.

At least 23 are dead from the flooding last week, and many devastated residents have been forced from their homes.

When high waters rushed through Michael Mitchem's West Virginia home, destroying his belongings, he immediately went to save his neighbors.

"I wasn't really thinking of myself," he told ABC News. "After I got my family up here I waded in this water down to this woman's house who was trapped in there, her and her daughter. And we called the National Guard, we called the fire department, we called everybody."

He and another man then went house to house rescuing neighbors on the block, picking up the stranded in a boat.

"That's all we did all night long, was grab people, grab people," Mitchem said.

He said the water was sometimes chest-high and even above his head.

"Our protocol was not to worry about ourselves. Nobody left behind," Mitchem, an army veteran, said.

"I got nine kids that have to look at me as a father figure and a hero," he said. "My daughter thinks that I'm better than Superman."

A cold front moving though West Virginia Monday is expected to bring more rain to the already rain-soaked state. The forecast shows an additional 1 to 3 inches of rain. Due to the record rainfall last week, any rain is likely to cause flash flooding.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Passengers Evacuate Flight After Brakes Cause Smoke Upon Landing

conductorjason/Twitter(DALLAS) -- Passengers aboard a flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport were forced evacuate their plane after a smoky landing Monday morning, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Everything aboard American Eagle Flight 3492 from Mobile, Alabama, operated by Envoy Air, was business as usual Monday morning until the plane was already on the ground, according to the airline. Upon landing, the aircraft's brakes became hot and began to produce smoke, according to American Airlines spokesperson Ross Feinstein.

The airport and American Airlines told ABC News the plane landed safely and no one suffered any serious injuries.

The pilots of the Embraer E145 reported some smoke in the cockpit after landing, FAA spokesperson Lynn Lunsford told ABC News, adding that a flame may have appeared out of a wheel well.

It's the crew's decision whether to have passengers evacuate rather than the routine exit at a gate.

The 40 passengers and three crew members on board the flight were helped down from the plane to the tarmac by those on the ground. The FAA does not allow slides on small planes like the Embraer E145 in this incident.

Photos on social media show the airport's emergency response vehicles coming to the aid of the aircraft while the passengers watched the scene unfold on the tarmac.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Limits

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court Monday struck down a Texas law that imposed significant restrictions on abortion clinics — a major victory for abortion rights activists and a blow to the campaign to limit the procedures.

In a 5-to-3 decision, the justices struck down a law that set strict regulations governing how abortion clinics operate. The Texas law, enacted in 2013, mainly required clinics providing abortion services to beef up their facilities to match walk-in surgical centers and mandated physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

Hundreds of activists on both sides of the debate gathered outside the Supreme Court in anticipation of the ruling. Monday is the last day that the court will issue decisions for this term, which began in October.

Texas has defended the restrictions, and the number of clinics providing abortion services in the state has dropped since the law was enacted. The Supreme Court said Texas put an undue burden on a woman's legal right to get an abortion.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, criticized the ruling.

"The decision erodes states' lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women and subjects more innocent life to being lost," he said in a statement. "Texas' goal is to protect innocent life while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women."

The court is down one justice, from nine to eight, because of the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in February. He routinely sided with anti-abortion advocates.

The court is now evenly divided, with four conservative justices and four liberals. The majority opinion for the court, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, held that the regulations are medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limit a woman's right to an abortion.

"We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes," Breyer wrote of the “admitting-privileges requirement" and the “surgical center requirement. "Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the federal Constitution."

Breyer was joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.

In a concurring opinion, Ginsburg wrote, “Given those realities, it is beyond rational belief that [the Texas law] could genuinely protect the health of women and certain that the law "would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions."

In his dissent, Thomas argued that the court shouldn't have decided the case at all for technical and procedural reasons. But he also argues that the court's abortion jurisprudence is fundamentally misguided, and the court today "radically rewrites the undue burden test" by "requiring courts to consider the burdens a law imposes on abortion access together with the benefits those laws confer."

The last time the high court decided a major abortion case was nine years ago when they ruled to uphold a law banning late-term abortion procedures.

"Today women lost," Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America, said outside the court after the ruling. "Today the Supreme Court put politics over the health and safety of women in our country."
Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Mom of Teen Charged in 'Slender Man' Stabbing Claims Daughter Has Mental Illness

iStock/Thinkstock(MILWAUKEE) -- The mother of one of the two Wisconsin girls charged with stabbing their friend in the woods, allegedly because of “Slender Man,” said her daughter battles mental illness and should be tried in court as a juvenile, not an adult.

"You can't hold somebody responsible for the rest of their life for something they did when they were 12," Angie Geyser told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in an interview published last week.

Geyser's comments mark the first time she has spoken publicly since her daughter, Morgan Geyser, was charged with attempted intentional homicide for the May 2014 stabbing of then 12-year-old Payton Leutner. Morgan and her friend, Anissa Weier, who were both also 12 at the time, are accused of luring Payton into the woods and stabbing her 19 times with a kitchen knife, leaving her to die.

Payton survived after being rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Geyser, 36, told the newspaper her daughter was diagnosed with early onset schizophrenia while in custody. Geyser said Morgan's father also suffers from schizophrenia but admitted she did not know to look for the symptoms in her daughter.

"I don't think that there were any glaring, obvious clues that she was ill," Geyser said. "She was just always such a gentle and kind person."

A forensic psychologist testified for the defense at a June 2015 hearing that Morgan’s father, Matthew Geyser, was hospitalized at least four times as a teenager due to mental illness and later went on disability because of his schizophrenia, according to the Journal-Sentinel.

Prosecutors have said that Weier and Geyser, both from Waukesha, Wisconsin, were obsessed with the fictional character "Slender Man," who is often depicted in fan fiction stories online as a horror figure who stalks children.

Not-guilty pleas have been entered on behalf of both teens.

A Waukesha County Court judge ordered the defendants to be retained in the adult jurisdiction, which could send them each to prison for up to 65 years.

Geyser is now fighting to get her daughter's case tried in the juvenile court, where the maximum sentence for Morgan would be three years in a juvenile prison. The District 2 Court of Appeals panel in Waukesha is now deciding the appeal to move the case to juvenile court.

Earlier this month, Morgan was moved from a juvenile detention center in Wisconsin to a state mental hospital. Geyser said the treatment Morgan is receiving at the hospital is helping her daughter but also making her more aware of her road ahead.

"With this lucidity that she's developed comes an awareness of the gravity of her situation, so she misses home, she misses her family," Geyser told the Journal-Sentinel.

The other suspect in the case, Anissa Weier, remains behind bars at the juvenile detention center on $500,000 bail.

A spokesperson for the victim's family told ABC News the Leutners "fully support" prosecutors' efforts to try Anissa and Morgan as adults.

"If tried as juveniles there is a likelihood that both assailants would already have been released, with little to no supervision, and their records expunged," the spokesperson said in a statement on behalf of the family. "Our little girl was lured into the woods by these two assailants and brutally stabbed 19 times. Their premeditated attack was with the hope of killing our daughter. We fully support the efforts of the District Attorney in this case. We must protect our little girl and others so this never happens again."

An attorney for Geyser told ABC News in a statement, "We remain optimistic that the Court of Appeals will issue a decision sending the case to children's court. Until that occurs, Morgan will unfortunately be held in custody with limited access to her family."

Weier's attorney told ABC News in a statement that his client is "awaiting a decision from the Court of Appeals" and added that the next court date in the case is scheduled for July 15.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Two Escaped Inmates Captured, One Still on the Run in South Carolina

iStock/Thinkstock(BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C.) — Two brothers who escaped from a South Carolina jail were captured Sunday night while a third inmate remains on the loose, Berkeley County Sheriff's deputies said.

Berkeley County Chief Deputy Mike Cochran said Michael Bryan Chaplin and Matthew Daniel Chaplin surrendered about 9:15 p.m. after SWAT team members surrounded them in a home in Goose Creek, South Carolina.

Deputies are still searching for 34-year-old Donald Ray Little. According to police, Little is about 6 feet tall and 165 pounds.

The escape happened early Friday inside the Dorchester County jail, roughly 50 northwest of Charleston, when the three inmates broke out of a window, using bed sheets to escape the facility.

Police said they stole a truck from a nearby home that was later recovered in Berkeley County Friday.

Officials say the suspects stole another vehicle Friday from Charleston County. A deputy spotted the suspects in the vehicle Saturday and attempted to pull them over, ABC Charleston affiliate WCIV-TV reported.

Instead, the truck drove away, setting off an eight-hour manhunt that was called off that evening.

Cochran said deputies learned the Chaplin brothers were at the house in Goose Creek about 1 p.m. Sunday. He said SWAT surrounded the house while deputies went to get a search warrant. Once they had it in hand, negotiators contacted the men and they surrendered.

The suspects were returned to the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office. A bond hearing has not been set.

Little, 34, was in jail for a probation violation. He was convicted in 2014 of making meth and sentenced to prison and probation, according to court records.

Michael Bryan Chaplin, 31, was in jail on two counts of grand larceny and four counts of burglary.

Matthew Daniel Chaplin, 28, was jailed on three counts of larceny, possession of meth, card theft and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Right-Wing Group's Rally Turns Violent in Sacramento

iStock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Officials said at least 10 people were injured after an alleged Nazi protest in Sacramento, California, turned violent on Sunday.

The rally was planned by the "Traditionalist Workers Party," according to Sacramento Police, at the state capitol where counter protesters showed up in advance.

Counter protesters called the Traditionalist Worker Party "Nazis," according to ABC affiliate KXTV in Sacramento.

Police were not immediately sure what triggered the violence, but said they were first notified of a stabbing around 11:45 a.m. Sunday.

Nine victims were transported to local hospitals, and officials said two people had critical trauma stab wounds.

The Traditionalist Worker Party says on its website that it "stands for Faith, Family, and Folk. Our party members share a common struggle to transfer power and resources from the corrupt and unaccountable federal government to community and regional leaders who stand for traditional values, strong families, and revived cultures.

"Localism and secessionism are central to our mission," it says.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the TWP was formed in January 2015 as the political wing of the Traditionalist Youth Network, a group that tries to draw high school and college students into white nationalism.

This is a developing story. Check back for additional updates.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


At Least 2 Dead as Wildfire Fight Continues in California

iStock/Thinkstock(LAKE ISABELLA, Calif.) -- Hundreds of California firefighters are still struggling to contain a deadly fire that has destroyed entire neighborhoods.

Kern County officials said Sunday that the 58 square mile-wide Erskine Fire blazed through at least 200 homes and other structures.

As of late Sunday night, the fast-moving fire was 40 percent contained and at least two people were killed, according to officials. Kern County officials were also trying to confirm if more were dead as they continued to battle the blaze.

"We weren't that lucky," said Kern County Fire Chief Brian Marshall. "Again, mother nature and a spark collided and this fire moved extremely fast."

Nearly two million acres have burned in California this year, ahead of last year's record-setting burnage pace, and fire season has barely started.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Gay Pride Marches Marked by Celebration and Mourning 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Gay Pride marches took place across the country Sunday, but the celebratory tone of the events was inter-spliced with poignant moments of mourning over the 49 men and women who died during the shooting massacre at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, earlier this month.

New York, San Francisco and Chicago were among the cities holding marches, where loud music, dancing, and rainbow-colored imagery mixed with more subdued tributes to the victims of the attack at Pulse.

In the New York event, 49 men and women dressed in all white, marched with signs around their necks bearing the names and faces of the victims of the attack, asking for silence. A bystander at the event told ABC News that "you could hear a pin drop" as the group marched.

In Chicago, a group marched with an arrangement of rainbow colored balloons shaped into the phrase "1 Pulse", according to a report by the Chicago Tribune.

At San Francisco's parade, a "We're Orlando" group of about 300 people participated in the parade, honoring with a moment of silence when the march reached the grandstand.

"Our hearts are with Orlando. We think of them every day," San Francisco resident Cory Vaughn told ABC station KGO-TV, regarding Sunday's march in his home city.

Throughout the country, security was increased in the wake of the shooting.

Sunday's events also coincided with the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage, a date that was capitalized upon by advertisers, and celebrated on social media.

On Friday, President Obama designated a new national monument at the site of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City, where gay men and women demonstrated against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969.

Local and national politicians took part in Pride events, including presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who marched with a security detail at the New York event, taking breaks to shake hands with onlookers.

Clinton also marched in the New York Pride Parade in 2000 and 2006. She has received criticism in the past for the timing of her support for gay marriage, which she announced in a video for Human Rights Campaign in March 2013, nearly a year after President Obama did in an interview with ABC News.

Sunday's Pride events were mostly peaceful, according to reports, and in New York, interactions between participants and the NYPD were described as "friendly" by observers.

In the Capitol Hill area of Seattle on Wednesday, Michael Volz, a local trans man, was attacked after leaving a fundraiser for the victims of the Pulse shooting, ABC affiliate KOMO-TV reported.

The attacker allegedly said "Happy Pride" before punching and choking Volz.

The FBI has joined in the investigation, which police are classifying as a hate crime, according to KOMO-TV.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


West Virginia Comes Together in Wake of Devastating Flood

iStock/Thinkstock(HUNTINGTON, W.V.) -- West Virginia residents in need have received an outpouring of donations in the wake of a devastating flood that has left parts of the state stuck in "standing deep water" and at least 24 dead, according to a spokesman for the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (WVDHSEM).

WVDHSEM spokesman Timothy Rock told ABC News that while some of the flood waters that had shocked residents on Friday had receded, other areas remained in serious need of emergency assistance.

"Our primary focus is to make sure that everyone is accounted for," Rock said, regarding the ongoing rescue efforts.

According to WVDHSEM, 500 homes have been severely damaged or destroyed in Roane County, which is a 484-square-mile area with a little over 14,000 residents, according to census data.

"The people who have lost homes here have lost literally everything," Rock said.

The West Virginia National Guard has placed 300 troops on the ground to support the rescue effort, and the state's Health and Human Resources Division has received requests from several counties for tetanus vaccinations, which have been coordinated for delivery and distribution, WVDHSEM said in a statement.

Jerrad Riggs, general manager at Black Sheep Burrito and Brews in Huntington, West Virginia, has helped to oversee a donation drive at his restaurant, and told ABC News in a phone interview that the outpouring of generosity he has witnessed was "immediate." He described the mood in the state Sunday as "far from comfort but past panic."

"Some people came from as far as Dayton, Ohio," Riggs said of the donation efforts. "There was a pick-up truck filled with bottled water."

Despite the speed and size of the donation efforts, Riggs said West Virginia has a long way to go before the state could claim a recovery.

"I think that for the communities that are affected by this flood, there is no sense of relaxation," he said. "We have entire towns underwater."

He also described West Virginian residents as being quick to come together in times of crisis.

"I think that West Virginia is sometimes looked down upon [nationally]," he said. "But we are survivors with a survivors mentality and fighting to protect our land."

The devastation caused by the flood led the PGA to cancel a tour event, The Greenbrier Classic, which was scheduled to be played in the state July 7-10. The course was extensively damaged and could not be repaired in time, the PGA said.

"We are heartbroken by the devastation that the residents of West Virginia are experiencing at this time and the reports of lives lost due to the terrible flooding," PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement. "Canceling the Greenbrier Classic is certainly the most prudent course of action as our foremost concern is the well-being of those who are having to live through this tragic situation."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ABC News Radio