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HEAR THIS HOUR'S UPDATE

Wednesday
Jul232014

FAA Extends Travel Ban to Israel for Another 24 Hours

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Aviation Administration announced  Wednesday that it has not lifted its ban against travel to or from Tel Aviv's airport and will prohibit air travel to Israel for an additional 24 hours.

"The agency is working closely with the Government of Israel to review the significant new information they have provided and determine whether potential risks to U.S. civil aviation are mitigated so the agency can resolve concerns as quickly as possible," the FAA said in a statement.

This comes a day after the agency barred all American air carriers from flying to or from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv following a rocket attack within a mile of the airport.

The order was issued at 12:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday, with the FAA saying it would hold for up to 24 hours until an update on Wednesday.

Dozens of flights and hundreds of passengers were affected.

The list of airlines that chose to follow the FAA's guidelines extended outside of the U.S., with Air Canada, Lufthansa, German Wings and Air France canceling their scheduled flights in addition to US Airways, Delta and United.

British Airways and Russian carrier Rossiya continued their flights to Ben Gurion, as did Israel's commercial airline El Al, whose planes have their own missile detection systems.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg flew into Tel Aviv on an El Al flight Wednesday morning as a show of support for Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the ban will be seen as a victory by Hamas.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul232014

Jury to Decide Whether Michigan 'Porch Shooting' Was Self-Defense

iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- Where Renisha McBride was before she was fatally shot on a Detroit man's porch -- and the screen door through which the fatal bullet was apparently fired -- will be crucial evidence in the man's murder trial.

Theodore Wafer, 54, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of McBride, 19, after she showed up on his porch in the early morning of Nov. 2, 2013.

Wafer's defense attorney said Wednesday during opening arguments that his client had "never been this scared in his life, ever" after hearing a series of booms, and then seeing a shadowy figure outside his home.

"He hears metal breaking on his front door. Ted hears it. He's thinking, 'They're coming in. They're breaking into my house,'" defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter said.

The prosecution, however, argued that McBride had played a drinking game with her friend earlier that night, crashed her car and may have been seeking medical help for a cut on her head.

The defense said there was damage to Wafer's screen door -- damage caused by a bullet, and not by McBride or someone else trying to break-in to Wafer's home.

During testimony, Monica McBride, the teen's mother, broke down on the stand as she identified her daughter's photo and explained how she found her watching television when she came home from work on the last night of her life. McBride also said that when her daughter was drunk, she would often fall asleep.

McBride told the jury she told her daughter she was not allowed to leave the house because she had stayed home all day but hadn't finished her chores.

An autopsy released by the Office of the Wayne County Medical Examiner ruled that McBride died of a large gunshot wound to the face. The shot that killed McBride showed “no evidence of close range discharge," according to the report.

In a 911 call released by police, Wafer could be heard saying: “Uh yes ... I just shot somebody on my front porch. With a shot gun. Banging on my door.”

When the police asked him what city he was in, Wafer said thank you, and hung up.

Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in. Otherwise, a person must prove his or her life was in danger.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul232014

People Keep Trying to Sneak Guns into US Capitol

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A man was arrested Wednesday morning attempting to enter the Cannon House Office Building with a firearm, U.S. Capitol Police said.

“A firearm was recovered as a result of an administrative search at the rotunda door of the Cannon House Office Building,” police spokesman Shennell Antrobus confirmed, adding that the incident occurred at about 9:20 a.m.

Wednesday’s incident follows a similar one on Friday when a congressional staffer attempted to enter the same building and was charged with carrying a pistol without a license. Last week’s event occurred at the South East Door of the Cannon House Office Building at about the same time in the morning.

The defendant arrested Wednesday is not a congressional staffer and is being processing at Capitol Police headquarters, Antrobus said.

He was unable to say whether the officers involved in Wednesday’s arrest were the same ones who last week snagged a Smith & Wesson 9 mm pistol and magazine from Ryan Shucard, press secretary to Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul232014

Missing Marine Wife May Have Been Having Affair with Neighbor

Courtesy Corwin Family(TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif.) -- Authorities are investigating the possibility that a missing California woman -- the wife of a Marine -- was having an affair with her married neighbor and was pregnant with his child, according to a search warrant.

Erin Corwin, 20, has not been seen since June 28, vanishing from the city of Twentynine Palms without a trace. Investigators say her husband, Lance Cpl. Jonathan Corwin, reported her missing one day after she was last seen leaving for Joshua Tree National Park in southeastern California.

Her Toyota Corolla was found not far from the military base where her husband is stationed.

Authorities say the circumstances surrounding Corwin’s disappearance are suspicious.

“At this point we’re trying to investigate each and every person who has been an acquaintance with Erin,” San Bernardino County Sheriff Randy Naquin said.

That includes Christopher Lee, a Marine rifleman who was recently honorably discharged. According to the search warrant, Lee initially denied knowing Corwin well, but investigators say Corwin’s friend told them she might have been pregnant with Lee’s child.

Additionally, Lee was worried that his wife would divorce him and keep him from his child with her if she found out about the affair and pregnancy, the friend said, according to the search warrant. It's unclear who and what the warrant targets.

Lee, 24, says he went hunting in the national park the same day Corwin told her husband she was going there, according to the search warrant. But Lee has said he denied seeing her that day.

Investigators are searching the park for clues.

“We’re looking for a crime scene,” Naquin said. “We're looking for something that is going to give us an indication that something has or has not happened to her.”

Lee has not been named a person of interest or suspect. ABC News has been unable to reach him.

Police have not ruled out the possibility that Corwin may be voluntarily missing, but, at this point, her whereabouts remain a mystery.

“It is highly likely that Erin could have been harmed by an unknown firearm,” police said in the search warrant.

Lee was arrested July 4 on an unrelated weapons charge for possessing a destructive device and is reportedly out on bail.

ABC News Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams said authorities will continue to focus on Lee, but need to definitively prove that a crime occurred.

“In a situation like this, where a woman who disappeared was possibly having an affair, you look first at two people: the husband and the boyfriend,” Abrams said. “As of now, it doesn’t seem the authorities are considering the husband as a person of interest.”

“It’s clear they now suspect very strongly there was foul play. And as time passes, it will become clearer and clearer that a crime was committed,” he added.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul232014

Video Could Hold Clues in Brooklyn Bridge White Flag Mystery

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Police are looking for five people seen on surveillance video before bleached-white American flags were added to the poles atop the Brooklyn Bridge.

The group was seen walking on the bridge after 3 a.m. Tuesday. At around 3:30 a.m., the lights that illuminate the U.S. flags on either side of the bridge could be seen flickering and then going out completely. At 5:30 a.m., construction workers noticed that the seemingly-white flags had replaced the American flags, police said.

Officers later made their way up the bridge’s main cables, finding aluminum pans -- secured with zip ties -- covering the lights. The bleached flags were removed, and the traditional American flags were returned.

Police admitted they don’t know who committed the security breach or how they accomplished it.

“I’m not particularly happy about the event,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said Tuesday.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller, who also oversees intelligence and counter terrorism, said tests were being conducted on the two flags.

"At this time, there is no sign of any particular nexus to terrorism or even politics," Miller said. "It could be someone's art project or a statement, but it's not clear what that statement is."

The perpetrators may have had some experience climbing in construction or bridgework, or have previously been up to the bridge’s flag platforms, Miller said.

Either way, authorities said, whoever pulled off the breach was able to scale 276 feet, somehow making it past the locked gates that sit atop the bridge’s steel cables.

Eric Adams, Brooklyn’s borough president, is offering $5,000 for information leading to an arrest.

“This is the Brooklyn Bridge, and the only person who should surrender at this time is the person responsible for the desecration of this flag,” Adams said.

The famed bridge, one of the country’s oldest suspension bridges, was completed in 1883 and connects Brooklyn and Manhattan over the East River.


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Wednesday
Jul232014

Last Washington State Mudslide Victim Reportedly Found

Hemera/Thinkstock(OSO, Wash.) -- Four months after an enormous mudslide wiped out an entire Washington state community, recovery teams believe they have finally located the body of the 43rd and last victim.

Molly Kristine "Kris" Regelbrugge was among those who drowned in a literal sea of mud near Oso last March 22. The remains of her husband, Navy Cmdr. John Regelbrugge II, were found last April when crews initially called off the search for victims.

However, Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said as excavation crews continued working, they turned up the Regelbrugges' garage under 18 feet of debris.

That's where they believe they turned up the body of Kris Regelbrugge.

Her family members said Tuesday that they were awaiting the results of DNA tests to positively identify the remains of the missing 44-year-old.

The site where 49 homes were buried under millions of pounds of mud and debris was declared a federal disaster area, and the cleanup is expected to take years.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul232014

Trial Begins in 'Porch Shooting' of Unarmed Woman

iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- A jury has been selected and opening arguments are expected Wednesday in the trial of a suburban Detroit man charged with second-degree murder after he allegedly shot an African-American teen in 2013.

Fourteen jurors (which includes two alternates) -- four African Americans and 10 whites -- will determine whether Theodore Wafer, 54, who is white, shot Renisha McBride, 19, in self-defense on his front porch in Dearborn Heights on Nov. 2, 2013.

Wafer said he heard McBride pounding on his door at around 4:30 a.m. when he fired his shotgun through the locked door. He later called 911.

An autopsy released by the Office of the Wayne County Medical Examiner ruled that McBride died of a large gunshot wound to the face. The shot that killed McBride showed “no evidence of close range discharge,” according to the report.

A toxicology report showed that McBride had alcohol and marijuana in her system. She had crashed her vehicle into a parked car before being shot, a witness testified in a hearing on Dec 18, 2013.

She was unarmed, according to prosecutors.

In a 911 call released by police, Wafer could be heard saying: “Uh yes...I just shot somebody on my front porch. With a shot gun. Banging on my door.”

When the police asked him what city he was in, Wafer said thank you, and hung up.

Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in. Otherwise, a person must prove his or her life was in danger.

The case has caught the attention of civil rights activists because of its resemblance to the George Zimmerman trial.

Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense after the teenager knocked him to the ground, punched him and slammed his head repeatedly against the sidewalk.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul222014

Official: Gun Shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Played Greater Role in Bombing and Aftermath

FBI(BOSTON) -- The handgun used by one of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers in a violent firefight with police and to allegedly murder an MIT police officer was given to the Tsarnaev brothers by a local alleged heroin dealer who was taken into custody late Tuesday, several law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Stephen Silva, a Cambridge Rindge and Latin classmate of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, appeared in federal court Tuesday on drug and gun possession charges.

In addition to charges related to alleged heroin dealing, the Eritrea native, "knowingly received and possessed a firearm…a Ruger model P95 9mm pistol, which had the importer's and manufacturer's serial number removed, obliterated, and altered," according to court documents obtained by ABC News. Silva is alleged to have had the gun in Feb. 2013, just months before the marathon blasts.

Law enforcement sources said that gun was the same as the Ruger P95 described in other court documents as used by Tamerlan Tsarneav, Dzhokhar's older brother, in a gun battle with police three days after the marathon bombing in April 2013. Tamerlan emptied the gun when firing at police and then threw the empty weapon at the officers before he was killed, the documents say. Dzhokhar was injured, but survived the firefight and would be apprehended hours later. He has pleaded not guilty to a litany of charges related to the marathon bombing.

Hours before the police engaged the brothers, the same gun was also allegedly used in the murder of MIT security officer Sean Collier.

Defense attorneys for Dzhokhar have filed papers and have said in open court that Tamerlan was the architect of the marathon attacks that left three dead, 260 wounded, and that Dzhokhar came under the "stronger influence of his older brother."

However, a high-ranking law enforcement official said that while Tamerlan may have used the Ruger last, it was Dzhokhar who was friends with Silva and in the end, "it was Dzhokhar's gun."

"The defense is trying to paint Tamerlan as the mastermind [of the Boston attacks], but they were working in concert and we have evidence that Dzhokhar secured the weapon," the official said.

Though the serial number was damaged, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was able to use what was left to track it to a gun to a store in Maine where it had been purchased legally, law enforcement sources said.

The original buyer told investigators he gave it to a Portland, Maine drug dealing gang. The alleged leader of that gang has been identified in federal court records as Biniam "Icy" Tsegai, also from Eritrea. Tsegai and others were indicted by federal prosecutors in Maine last year and in recent weeks several of those charged with drug-related crimes have pleaded guilty or been sentenced, according to FBI releases and court records.

It is unclear what connection "Icy" or his associates may have had with Silva or the Tsarnaevs. But Silva was described by investigators as a longtime friend of the younger Tsarnaev – who today turned 21 in jail where he is awaiting trial. Silva told U.S. Magistrate Court Justice Marianne Bowler Monday that he attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin, the same school as Dzohokhar, and graduated in the same year, 2011.

Silva's attorney, Jonathon Shapiro, did not respond to requests for comment. Silva will return to federal court next month for a bail hearing.

The FBI has doggedly built cases against four other Tsarnaev friends.

Another Cambridge Rindge and Latin classmate, Robel Phillipos, will go on trial this fall for lying to federal agents.

On Monday, Azmat Tazhayakov, who was with Tsarnaev every day after the bombings, according to court testimony in his trial, was found guilty of obstruction charges and faces twenty years in prison.

The FBI dug through a dump for ten days to recover a backpack with spent fireworks that Tazhayakov and roomate Dias Kadrybayev are accused of disposing of the night of Collier's murder.

Kadrybayev was also charged with obstruction and is slated for trial this fall. He has pleaded not guilty.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul222014

Lightning Kills 1, Injures 2 on Florida Beach

iStock/Thinkstock(FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla.) -- A lightning strike on a Florida beach Tuesday afternoon killed one person and left two others injured.

The three people were hit at around 2:10 p.m., while they were walking on the beach a short distance from the Lani Kai resort in Fort Myers Beach.

The strike, which was part of a storm so fierce that emergency workers were reportedly hesitant to go out on the beach when they arrived, horrified onlookers.

"The blood was rolling, just floating down to the water's edge and the water was turning red right there. It was really terrible," witness Robert Gustafson told ABC affiliate WZVN-TV in Fort Myers.

"I'm shaken up. Three people hit by lightning ... at the same time, that's -- that's terrible," Alice Lynch told WZVN-TV.

Emergency workers performed CPR on a young man who was hit, and he was unconscious when he was taken was taken from the scene, according to reports.

A teenage girl who was also hit was reportedly conscious when she was taken by ambulance to a hospital.

Lee County Sheriff's officials have not yet identified the three victims, but according to WZVN-TV they were all from Lehigh Acres.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul222014

FAA Orders US Air Carriers to Suspend All Flights to Israel

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- American air carriers have suspended flights from the United Stated to Israel "for a period of up to 24 hours" after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning in response to a rocket strike Tuesday morning near Tel Aviv's main airport, officials said.

In a statement, the FAA said, "The notice was issued in response to a rocket strike which landed approximately one mile from Ben Gurion International Airport on the morning ... [and] applies only to U.S. operators, and has no authority over foreign airlines operating to or from the airport," according to the statement.

Delta Air Lines Flight 468, which was flying over the Mediterranean at the time, was en route from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv when a rocket fired from Gaza hit Yahood, a Tel Aviv suburb close to the airport.

The rocket escaped interception by the Iron Dome, which Israel has used to intercept missiles launched by Hamas.

The inbound Delta flight was eventually diverted to Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

Most international carriers that fly to Tel Aviv have also suspended flights. This is the first time this has happened since 1991, amid the first Gulf War. At that time, all airlines except for El Al and the now-defunct Tower Air cancelled flights to and from Tel Aviv.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken with Secretary of State John Kerry and has asked him to effort the resumption of flights of U.S. carriers to and from Israel, according to Netanyahu’s office.

International airlines still flying to Tel Aviv at this time are British Airways, Ukrainian International, Belavia and El Al, Israel's national carrier.

El Al said there "is no chance we will stop operations," according to a spokesman, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said that he will fly to Israel on El Al Tuesday to prove that it is safe and "to show solidarity with the Israeli people."

"Ben Gurion is the best protected airport in the world and El Al flights have been regularly flying in and out of it safely," he said. "The flight restrictions are a mistake that hands Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately. I strongly urge the FAA to reverse course and permit US airlines to fly to Israel."

On Monday, the State Department updated its warning for Americans traveling to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza due to ongoing hostilities. The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens consider the deferral of non-essential travel to Israel and the West Bank.

Passengers have also been jittery about travel safety since last Thursday, when a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over Ukraine by a missile, killing all 298 people.

Delta and other airlines had already issued a travel waiver for customers holding tickets to Tel Aviv. The waiver is good through July 31 and allows customers to make a one-time change to their ticket. The other U.S.-based carriers not allowed to fly to Israel -- United and U.S. Airways -- have a similar policy.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio