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Thursday
May282015

Parts of Great Plains Brace for More Rain Amid Cleanup Efforts

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Millions of Americans in the Great Plains are bracing for more rain and severe weather after being battered for days by powerful storms that are being blamed for several deaths.

Flash flood watches and warnings are in effect Thursday for parts of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, the latter of which has already been devastated by flooding. In fact, it's the worst flooding the Lone Star State has seen since 2007, according to Jesse Moore, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, Texas.

"We've been in a drought here for the last five or six years and now we're getting a lot of rain, which you know everybody was praying for rain. But, at this point, I think almost all of us are saying ok we've had enough. We can use a dry period," Moore says.

But it will be a while before that dry period can begin

"We're looking at 2 to 4 inches across the area," Moore notes. "We have several rounds of thunderstorms, with the biggest round expected to occur over the weekend."

He says a number of rivers in Texas are near or over flood levels and will stay that way through the weekend.

"The Trinity and the Brazos rivers are the ones that are major concerns. There's of course flooding also on the Sabine River up in northeast Texas, and of course some flooding along the Red River as well," Moore says.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
May282015

Pentagon Inadvertently Shipped Live Anthrax to Labs in Nine States

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Samples of live anthrax were inadvertently shipped to private research laboratories in nine states and one in South Korea that were supposed to have received dead anthrax samples, the Pentagon confirmed on Wednesday.

There is no known risk to the general public and there have been no suspected or confirmed cases of anthrax infection as a result of the inadvertent shipment, officials said.

"The Department of Defense is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their investigation of the inadvertent transfer of samples containing live Bacillus anthracis, also known as anthrax, from a DoD lab in Dugway, Utah, to labs in nine states,” said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

"There is no known risk to the general public, and there are no suspected or confirmed cases of anthrax infection in potentially exposed lab workers," he added. "The DoD lab was working as part of a DoD effort to develop a field-based test to identify biological threats in the environment. Out of an abundance of caution, DoD has stopped the shipment of this material from its labs pending completion of the investigation."

"One sample of Anthrax was also sent to the Joint United States Forces Korea (USFK) Portal and Integrated Threat Recognition Program at Osan Air Base," Warren said. "There is no known risk to the general public, and no personnel have shown any signs of possible exposure. The sample was destroyed in accordance with appropriate protocols."

The samples were shipped on April 30 from the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah to a military laboratory in Maryland. From there, they were shipped via a commercial shipper to eight companies with laboratories in nine states: California, Texas, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey and New York.

According to a Defense official, a laboratory in Maryland detected that their shipment contained live samples and contacted the CDC. That triggered a response from the Defense Department and other agencies, including the FBI, to trace the shipments to ensure that they were properly secured.

According to CDC spokesman Jason McDonald, a CDC team was at Dugway investigating how the inadvertent shipment occurred.

"At least 18 labs in nine states received sample kits containing 23 marked specimens and 2 controls," said McDonald said. "One of the controls was labeled ‘antigen 1.’ It was this vial that tested positive in one lab in Maryland. State health departments have done risk assessments and Maryland offered antibiotics to four lab workers due to possible exposure. Three of the four workers decided to take the antibiotics."

The DoD routinely sends dead anthrax spores or inactivated spores to research facilities. The official said that military laboratories use commercial companies to ship samples of live anthrax to research facilities, but only with the proper bio-level safety protocols.

The samples all came from a batch of anthrax listed as AG-1. The Pentagon has confirmed that one of the shipments contained live samples of AG-1 and suspects that the others do as well.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
May282015

Florida Pilot Arrested After Plane Strikes a Shed

Brevard County Sheriff’s Office(MELBOURNE, Fla.) -- A Florida man was arrested Wednesday after the plane he was piloting struck a shed, authorities said.

According to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, Christopher John Hall, 57, was arrested and booked in jail Wednesday, charged with reckless operation of a vessel -- operation of an aircraft while under the influence -- as well as child abuse.

The plane struck a shed containing communications equipment at Melbourne International Airport, according to ABC News affiliate WFTV. The shed and the plane, a Cessna Skymaster 337, were not seriously damaged.

No one was injured in the incident.

According to air traffic control audio from the incident, tower crews were communicating with the pilot in preparation for takeoff.

“Hold your position,” the air traffic controller warned.

Hall is scheduled to appear before a judge Thursday.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
May282015

Video Captures Shooting of Second-Grader in Massachusetts

iStock/Thinkstock(DORCHESTER, Mass.) -- Authorities in Massachusetts pleaded for help from the public Wednesday as a 7-year-old remained hospitalized after being hit by a stray bullet while riding his bike.

"If you have information, holding onto it only helps the suspect," Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said in a statement. "The person who shot Divan needs to be held accountable."

Divan Silva, a second-grader from Brockton, Massachusetts, was visiting family in Dorchester when he decided to ride to the store for water early Sunday evening. Private surveillance video captured the moment he was shot and the aftermath.

In the video, Divan comes around a street corner on his bicycle and soon after starts holding his leg as he passes in front of a barbershop.

He then is shown rolling off the bike and looking under his left thigh as blood stains the sidewalk. Police said Divan was shot in the buttocks. A 20-year-old man was also grazed in the head by a bullet. The window front of the barbershop was shattered.

Divan's mother, Dijanira DeAndrade, said she heard the gunshots and then ran outside to check on Divan with her mom.

"It was very emotional to see my son like that," she told the Boston Globe Tuesday. "He couldn't move. I was holding him. He was just looking at me and I was talking to him."

Divan reportedly had surgery Sunday and was attempting to walk Monday and Tuesday. He was said to be in good condition at Boston Children's Hospital.

"He's laughing. He's playing around," Divan's father, Vandir Silva, told ABC News affiliate WCVB-TV in Boston. "I really didn't know what to do. ... I was at work and then somebody called me, saying my son got shot. ... I had no idea what was going on."

Authorities said a group of men was standing in front of the barbershop at the time of the shooting but police said they did not know who the target was. Authorities said the shooter was wearing a red hoodie and tan pants, and was between the ages of 14 and 18.

"This is inexcusable," said Boston Police Superintendent William Gross. "This is our community."

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
May272015

Florida Doctor Arrested By Feds in Massive Drug Racketeering, Manslaughter Scheme

Roel Smart/iStock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- A South Florida doctor and seven of her employees were arrested Wednesday by the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration in a massive racketeering and manslaughter scheme.

The DEA charged Dr. Lynn Averill with handing out hundreds of thousands of prescriptions for painkillers at her clinic—some of which resulted in patient overdose deaths.

DEA officials, who conducted a five-year undercover investigation, allege Dr. Averill knew patients were dying from overdoses, but continued to write prescriptions to anyone who could pay. Officials who posed as undercover patients reportedly did not “present any medical necessity for medication,” according to a DEA press release.

Kevin Stanfill, Acting Deputy Special Agent in charge of the Miami DEA office, said “not a single undercover agent posing as a patient even received a medical examination.”

The DEA said Averill’s prescriptions of oxycodone, alprazolam and methadone led to the overdose deaths of at least eight people.

Dr. Averil and seven other owners and operators at the clinic, “Real Care Medical Group,” were charged -- seven of those eight were arrested on Wednesday.

In one six-month period of 2010, Dr. Averill reportedly bought 437,880 pills of painkiller oxycodone, while the national average for practitioners buying the drug is 23,659. The number placed her in the top 25 prescribers of the drug in the country.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
May272015

Father of Suspect in DC Mansion Fire Wants Perp to 'Suffer the Consequences'

Metropolitan Police Department(WASHINGTON) -- The father of a suspect charged in a quadruple homicide in Washington, D.C., Wednesday offered his condolences to the families of the victims and hoped that whoever committed the “heinous crimes, my son included, will suffer the consequences of their actions.”

Dennis Witt's son, Daron Wint, has been named a suspect in the slayings of Savvas Savopoulos, his wife Amy, their son Phillip and their housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa, whose bodies were found in the Savopoulos home after it was set on fire May 14. Police did not publicly release Wint's name until a week after the fire, after they were able to positively match trace DNA they found on an uneaten pizza crust left inside the mansion.

“I would like the family of the victims to know that our thoughts and prayers are with them. We did not know any of the victims, Mr. Savvas Savopoulous, his wife, Amy; 10 year old son, Philip; or Ms. Veralicia Figueroa, an employee of their family,” Dennis Witt said in a statement.

“But my family and friends also grieve this tragic and senseless loss. It pains me that my son, who lived with me and my wife (his stepmother) for a brief period over the years, is charged with this crime. We do not have any of the details and have been cooperative with the authorities throughout the process.”

He continued, “What we do know is that this crime was egregious and heartless and we hope that whoever committed these heinous crimes - my son included - will suffer the consequences of their actions. This violence is in no way an indication of the life we live or the values that my family embraces.

Daron Wint has been charged with first-degree murder.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
May272015

Nebraska Outlaws Death Penalty

benkrut/iStock/Thinkstock(LINCOLN, Neb.) -- Nebraska legislators overrode the state governor Wednesday to replace the death penalty in the state with life sentence without parole.

The decision came after the governor vetoed a bill banning the practice on Tuesday. The move comes at a time when states are struggle to keep lethal execution drugs stocked. In Nebraska, that’s resulted in a crowd of death row inmates the state has not been able to put to death.

“The state of Nebraska has been unable to carry out an execution for 15 years. Efforts to obtain drugs for lethal injection have failed time and time again,”  Danielle Conrad, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Nebraska, said in a statement. “Thankfully Nebraska can now implement this law and devote more resources to solving crimes, supporting victim’s families, and bringing sensible reforms to our crisis riddled prison system.”

The vote, largely divided along party lines, makes Nebraska the nineteenth U.S. state to ban capital punishment.

Governor Pete Ricketts posted on Facebook, writing “while the Legislature has lost touch with the citizens of Nebraska, I will continue to stand with Nebraskans and law enforcement on this important issue.”

This is the first time in more than 40 years that a Republican-controlled state legislature has abolished the death penalty.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
May272015

Penn State Kicks Embroiled Fraternity Off Campus For Three Years

Mark Treese/iStock/Thinkstock(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- The Pennsylvania State University fraternity that came under fire for allegedly posting pictures of nude women on Facebook has been shut down for three years.

The move by university officials comes after Kappa Delta Rho was suspended in March by a student-led council for allegedly posting nude and partially nude photos of women online. The women were often sleeping or unconscious in the images.

“We base this decision on the sum of misbehaviors exhibited by various members of Kappa Delta Rho," said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs at Penn State. "Not every member of the chapter was equally culpable for violation of the University’s expectations for recognized student organizations,” 

The university found evidence of hazing, sexual misconduct and harassment at the fraternity. According to the university’s investigation, pledges were required to create stories with pornographic images and a “sex position of the day.” The investigation into the fraternity was spurred by a member who reportedly flagged the fraternity’s private Facebook page, called “2.0,” to local police.

Sims overturned the March decision by the Interfraternity council (IFC), a student-led group, which suggested the fraternity be suspended for one year and attend sexual assault and bystander intervention trainings. Sims said the fraternity's behaviors "compel a stronger response."  

In a letter to the IFC, Sims also said the investigation uncovered physical and emotional abuse of fraternity members in routine hazing, and also “brought to light the persistent harassment of two female students, who were degraded through multiple postings to the organization’s private site over an extended period.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
May272015

Georgia Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIS

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- A Georgia man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to attempting to provide material support to ISIS.

The U.S. Attorney General for the Southern District of Georgia announced the plea in a press release Wednesday. The FBI says Leon Nathan Davis, 37, attempting to join ISIS for more than a year. Davis was arrested at an Atlanta airport in October 2014 on a parole violation after having purchased a plane ticket to Turkey.

Davis could face up to 15 years in prison, a lifetime of supervised relief and a $250,000 fine. He will be sentenced after the U.S. Probation Office conducts a pre-sentence investigation.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
May272015

Flash Floods Leave Apocalyptic Scenes Across Texas

File photo. (iStock/Thinkstock)(HOUSTON) -- A flash flood warning was issued for parts of six counties in Texas that include Houston, and parts of the city remain underwater after a weekend of torrential rain.

The warning was issued by the National Weather Service at 6:14 a.m. local time and was expected to last for three hours.

City officials have confirmed Wednesday that another body was discovered near a vehicle after water pumps were brought in to drain a portion of a highway. This death marks the sixth storm-related death in Houston since last week. The statewide death toll blamed on the weather has now reached 16 people.

More rain is the last thing the region needs. In addition to the flash flood threat from rain, a dam southwest of Dallas appears on the brink of breaking.

Photos from the most-affected areas show muddy, brown water filling the streets, with the tops of cars visible in some of the most-flooded roadways.

Drivers stuck in rainwater accounted for at least two of the three deaths that Houston Mayor Annise Parker confirmed on Tuesday following a rain storm Monday night into Tuesday morning. She did not identify the victims but said one person was found inside their vehicle and another was outside and appeared to have suffered a heart attack while trying to push a car out of the flooding.

One of the grimmest discoveries came on Tuesday morning when a biker found a casket on a roadway in southwest Houston.

Walter Rubio told ABC News affiliate KTRK that he saw the casket just laying in the middle of a street, and police opened it and found a dead body inside.

Investigators believe the casket was unearthed from a nearby cemetery during the flooding and determined that it was used to bury a woman who died in 2007. Police have not yet identified the body inside the casket.

Officials have urged residents to avoid touching any objects in the water and to report debris that they find.

Wednesday's rain has already led to partial closures of I-45 because of flooding.

On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott added eight counties to the list of 13 that he had already declared disaster areas.


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