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Thursday
Apr192018

Oklahoma wildfire conditions remain critical, flames reaching up to 70 feet

ABC News (NEW YORK) -- Western Oklahoma wildfire conditions remain critical, despite unrelenting efforts to contain.

Fire danger remains high to very high, with flames reaching up to 70 feet, the Oklahoma Forestry Services reports. The Rhea Fire in Dewey County continues to be the most active, having burned over 283,000 acres in a week span.

The combination of strong winds and dry vegetation, particularly the eastern red cedar trees, have caused the fires to burn faster than usual, Oklahoma Forestry Services told ABC News. The oil of the cedar trees also increases flammability.

With a lack of rainfall in Oklahoma for over 150 days, dry terrain creates an environment for rapid consumption.

In total, more than 350,000 acres have burned, and though evacuation centers have closed, additional fires remain active in Woodward County, Beaver/Harper County, and Texas County.

The fires continue to be more critical in the western region.

The fires are currently not expected to move as quickly as the wind has gone down and the humidity has increased, Oklahoma Forestry Services said.

A burn ban remains in effect for 36 counties in western-central Oklahoma due to the fire danger. The fires have killed two people thus far, but with the chance of precipitation ahead, firefighters remain hopeful.

Oklahoma Forestry Services encourages the public to assess their property’s vulnerability to approaching wildfires by visiting www.firewiseusa.org.

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Thursday
Apr192018

Detective saves choking baby at Police Academy graduation

WABC(NEW YORK) -- Police officers have to be prepared for anything but Det. Mark Rubins did not anticipate putting his training to the test during this week’s New York Police Academy graduation ceremony.

With recruits gathered at Madison Square Garden Wednesday, Rubins heard a commotion from the family of one of the graduates, Officer Leonardo Escorcia, because his 1-year-old son had started choking.

Rubins, who is also a paramedic, and Lt. Greg Besson rushed to the child.

“It was just, grab the kid and kind of do anything you could at that point,” Rubins told ABC News. “You saw him limp, you knew as you were going up the stairs what the game plan was. You just kind of go with your training and it kicks in.”

Rubins said he was running on adrenaline in the seconds it took him to reach the child, grab the boy and clear his airway by patting the child’s back, successfully dislodging what turned out to be popcorn stuck in his throat. The whole ordeal lasted less than two minutes.

“I'm just happy that he was in good hands when this happens and that Det. Rubins was there,” Escorcia said. “He just jumped into action.”

Officer Escorcia’s wife, Lillian, said she now plans to take CPR classes, something Rubins said every parent should do.

"Everyone should be learning CPR. It can happen anywhere, any time. It's certainly something that anyone who's going to be around children should take, especially for choking hazards. People should learn from that,” Rubins said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Apr192018

Model gets engaged on the runway during Bridal Fashion Week

Masato Onoda for Watters(NEW YORK) -- A Bridal Fashion Week model stole the show when her then-boyfriend dropped to one knee in the middle of the runway.

Nicole Kaspar was the finale model in bridal fashion company Watters' Spring 2019 show last week in New York City. And for the Dallas-based model, it started off like any show.

"It was crazy and chaotic backstage," she told ABC News. "I was supposed to escort [designer] Elias [Gutierrez] out for a final bow and when I turned to leave and go back to our place for pictures, he grabbed me and didn’t let me go."

Kaspar, 27, thought she had made a mistake on the runway. But soon, she'd realize that her boyfriend of two years, Chad Stapleton was actually proposing.

Stapleton, who's a dentist based in Dallas, told ABC News he had been trying to plan the perfect proposal for eight months.

"I wanted to propose to Nicole related to something she loves and that’s traveling and modeling," he said.

And after meeting a Watters' designer at their annual model search, the idea was born. He invited their parents to join him at the fashion show to witness it in person. And after Gutierrez's final bow, Stapleton, 26, dropped down to one knee, proposing in front of family, models and press.

Kaspar, who's been modeling since age 15, said her now-fiancé pulled it off perfectly.

"When Chad stepped out into the lights, I was just like in shock," she gushed. "I kind of blacked out. Elias had to push me go move."

The model's engagement ring, which has a cathedral setting, features an inverted ruby stone in the lower band. Stapleton said there's a reason for it.

"About six months into dating, we took a six-week European trip together, which is pretty fast for just dating," the future groom shared, "but that’s how much we knew each other and liked each other."

Stapleton continued that he included a ruby in Kaspar's engagement ring because it's "the birthstone for July. That’s the month we fell in love."

The two are now looking forward to planning a wedding in Texas.

"And I’m looking forward to starting a family," Stapleton added.



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Thursday
Apr192018

Family welcomes 14th son: 'I can't imagine not doing this'

Courtesy Jay Schwandt(ROCKFORD, Mich.) -- For many parents, the idea of 14 children might seem too overwhelming. But one Rockford, Michigan, family, says they were "destined" to have the family they do.

Jay and Kateri Schwandt welcomed a son -- their 14th -- to their family on Wednesday. And Dad could not be more proud.

The family, with boys ranging in age from 25 years to 2 days, did not know the baby's gender prior to the birth, In fact, Jay Schwandt said, the couple has never known ahead of time. "That's like opening your Christmas presents on Thanksgiving."

The 13 older boys were "pretty split" on whether they wanted to have another brother or a little girl. And even though this was his 14th time experiencing the birth of a child, it was "just as exciting the 14th time around."

"We really savored this one," he said, noting that the high school sweethearts are realistically at the end of their baby-making days. "Every little kick, every moment felt special."

As for a name, baby Schwandt doesn't have one -- yet. "We've narrowed it down to just a couple," Schwandt said. "After 13 boys, we've really had to start getting creative." He said the baby's names would ultimately be left up to a vote of the older boys. They're all coming today to meet their little brother, including the ones who are living on their own and off to college.

"I'm kind of the leader of this pack and it's very rewarding," he said. "It's times 14 to set a good example, be a good role model. I'm very proud."

Today, there's 11 Schwandt boys still living with the parents. Jay Schwandt said though that it's his wife who is the "glue that holds the family together. She's an awesome mom."

Kateri Schwandt herself is one of 14 kids -- seven boys and seven girls.

And since the five older boys all have girlfriends, there are females around that "feel like part of the family," said Jay Schwandt. The whole clan 13 boys, two parents and five girlfriends recent;y took a vacation prior to baby's birth. That's not unusual, Jay Schwandt said, noting that the family does many activities as a group.

"There's plenty of attention to go around," Jay Schwandt said when asked what advice he would give to a couple who wants a larger family than is seen as typical.

"We love this," Jay Schwandt said. "I can't imagine not doing this."

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Thursday
Apr192018

Woman's scream scares 1-year-old granddaughter more than the bear scurrying through their backyard

Amanda Massie/Instagram(ALTADENA, Calif.) -- A grandmother in Altadena, California, will be on the lookout for bears this spring after she and her 1-year-old granddaughter had a too-close-for-comfort encounter with one in their backyard.

Missy Hawes and little Blake were on the back porch around 6 p.m. Monday when Hawes noticed Blake’s staring at something behind her, home security video shows.

Hawes then turned around and saw the bear less than 10 feet away before screaming and hustling Blake into the house as the brown bear romped through the yard and out of sight.

“I think she [Blake] was more frightened when I screamed than actually seeing the bear, because the bear made no noise whatsoever,” she told a local TV station, adding that she had seen a bear picking through her trash a couple weeks ago.

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Thursday
Apr192018

Alex Rodriguez's 'nephew' briefly held against his will in New York City, police sources say

iStock/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- The self-described "nephew" of former New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was briefly held against his will in a New York City hotel, according to New York Police Department police sources.

Norberto Susini, 29, met with two men at the Mariott Marquis hotel in Times Square on Wednesday to facilitate the sale of a Lamborghini, NYPD police sources told ABC News. Susini is a distant relative of Rodriguez's, but likes to call himself Rodriguez's nephew.

The prospective buyers -- Lamin Vucetovic, 33, and Anthony Gilkes, 30 -- demanded their $30,000 deposit back from Susini, according to police sources. When Susini hesitated, the men held him in his hotel room against his will, police sources said.

Vucetovic and Gilkes then attempted to ransom Susini's business partners, who instead called police.

Susini was identified by police sources as Rodriguez's nephew.

Vucetovic and Gilkes were arrested and were expected to be arraigned Thursday afternoon, police sources said.

Vucetovic is charged with kidnapping, while Gilkes is charged with unlawful imprisonment.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office will now determine if they will prosecute this case.

Further details were not immediately available.

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Thursday
Apr192018

Philadelphia police commissioner apologizes for how he handled Starbucks arrests of 2 black men

ABC News (PHILADELPHIA) -- Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross has apologized to two black men who were arrested at a local Starbucks last week for how he handled the press surrounding the incident.

Ross said the he "failed miserably" at how he addressed the incident last week when he said the arresting officers "did absolutely nothing wrong."

"I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law and not that they didn’t do anything wrong," Ross said during a press conference Thursday. "Words are very important."

On April 12, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested at a downtown Philadelphia Starbucks and accused of trespassing and disturbance after a manager called 911, telling dispatchers that two men had refused to make a purchase or leave.

The longtime friends, both 23, had just sat down at a table for a business meeting, they told ABC News on Thursday.

Cellphone video of two Philadelphia police officers handcuffing the men and escorting them out of the store caused outrage on social media after it was viewed more than 10 million times.

In a video testimonial released Saturday, Ross also accused Nelson and Robinson of being disrespectful to the officers and said they were both given several chances to leave, but refused.

Ross admitted today that he "played a significant role" in making the situation worse in his initial reaction to the "unfortunate incident."

Before the arrest, Ross was not aware of the Starbucks business model, in which people "spend long hours in Starbucks and aren't necessarily expected to make a purchase," he said, adding that it is reasonable to believe the arresting officers didn't know that either.

While Ross said the issue of race is not lost on him, he also defended the actions of his officers, saying that the fact that they were at the scene for well over 10 minutes suggests that they were trying to resolve the situation.

At the time, the department did not have a policy for dealing with similar situations, Ross said. A guideline has since been created and will be released soon, the police commissioner said.

After they were put in a squad car, Nelson and Robinson were taken to the police station and later freed.

Robinson told ABC News that police never read them their Miranda rights and that they were held in custody for eight hours.

"There was no reasoning," he said. "They had nothing. They just kept using ‘defiant trespassing’ as their excuse for putting us behind bars."

The store manager who called police is no longer working there, a Starbucks spokeswoman confirmed to ABC News.

Starbucks will close 8,000 company-owned stores on May 29 to train is staff on how to avoid "racial bias," Starbucks said in a statement.



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Thursday
Apr192018

Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg calls for boycott of investment firms with stakes in gun makers

Paul Morigi/Getty Images for March For Our Lives(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- David Hogg, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student who has become a nationally-known anti-gun violence advocate in the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at the school, has urged his more than 750,000 social media followers to boycott a pair of investment firms with indirect stakes in gun companies.

Hogg announced the boycott on Twitter, where he has established an influential activist presence following the Parkland, Florida, shooting that killed 17 people.

"Blackrock and Vanguard Group are two of the biggest investors in gun manufacturers," Hogg tweeted. "If you use them, feel free to let them know."

The tweet has received nearly 4,000 retweets.

Blackrock, a major hedge fund that indirectly owns shares in gun makers, had said in a previous statement following the Parkland shooting that it "will be engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events," and offers packages that allowed investors "to exclude from their portfolios weapons manufacturers or other companies that don’t align with their values."

The Vanguard Group offers a choice of investment packages excluding gun manufacturers, the fund said in a statement to ABC News.

"Vanguard is also meeting with the leaders of gun manufacturers and distributors," the fund said. "We want to know how they will mitigate the risks that their products pose and how they plan to help prevent such tragedies from happening again. We believe that boards and managements of gun manufacturers should disclose and reduce the risks associated with gun violence and the ongoing national debate on gun safety and control."

Hogg has previously proven effective at leveraging his growing social media presence to pressure major corporations into action. Two weeks ago, he launched a boycott of advertisers on Fox News host Laura Ingraham's show after comments she made mocking his college rejections.

The boycott campaign, conducted largely on Twitter, led Ingraham to lose a large swath of her advertisers -- many of which announced the decision by responding to Hogg's tweet. Ingraham took a week off from the show amid the backlash, before returning to condemn the efforts against her.

It's one of several of Hogg's activist efforts, in which he's been joined by other vocal Parkland students. The students spearheaded last month's nationwide protest against gun violence called the March for Our Lives, publicized town halls to pressure lawmakers over gun control reforms, and are working toward a national school walkout on Friday, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.

However, in the 24 hours since Hogg pushed the boycott, it has thus far generated significantly less interest than his efforts following Ingraham's comment. #BoycottBlackrock and #BoycottVanguard have only been tweeted about 1,300 times, per the online data service Spredfast, a number that indicates muted interest.



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Thursday
Apr192018

Relative of victim killed by woman on alleged crime spree 'afraid' she'll kill again

Lee County Sheriffs Office(NEW YORK) -- The ex-stepdaughter of a Florida woman shot dead -- allegedly by a woman seeking to steal her identity -- said she was "in total shock" to learn what happened to her beloved family member.

Lois Riess, 56, is wanted for allegedly fatally shooting her husband in Minnesota and then killing and stealing the identity of 59-year-old Pamela Hutchinson in Florida.

With Riess still on the run, Hutchinson's former stepdaughter, Robin Barry, told ABC News she feels very nervous.

"I'm just afraid she's gonna get desperate," she said of Riess. "Because she might feel the need for another person's identification ... and hurt someone else, somebody else's family or loved one."

Barry said Hutchinson and her father had been married for 20 years. They divorced two years ago, she said, but "my dad never stopped loving her."

Barry was about 25 years old when Hutchinson came into her life, she said. She remembers Hutchinson "as a loving, caring, vibrant person," with a memorable laughter and smile.

"She was so good to my girls," Barry said of Hutchinson's relationship with her daughters, now ages 21 and 19.


Hutchinson had "been around since the day they were born," Barry said. "She was just fabulous and loved my girls to pieces."

Barry said Hutchinson had moved from Virginia to Florida a year ago after the divorce.

"She really liked doing a lot for charity work," Barry said. "Trying to make things better in the world."

After Riess allegedly killed her husband in Minnesota, she allegedly stole his money and then drove to Fort Myers Beach, Florida, authorities said. There, Riess met Hutchinson and then allegedly killed her and stole her ID, credit cards and car, said the Lee County, Florida, Sheriff's Office.

Barry said she's now constantly checking her phone "looking for an update, hoping she's been caught."

"I don't understand why somebody who's not a professional can evade the law for this amount of time," she said. "It's just mind-blowing."

After allegedly killing Hutchinson, the Lee County Sheriff's Office said Riess used her victim’s ID to withdraw $5,000. On April 6, Riess arrived at a Hilton hotel in the Ocala, Florida, area, where authorities claim she used a stolen credit card to pay for her room, the sheriff's office said.

Riess was later spotted in Louisiana and the Corpus Christi, Texas, area, but remains at large, the sheriff's office said.

She is expected to continue targeting other women who look like her to steal their identities, authorities said.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office said Mexican authorities and border patrol are on "full alert" that Lois Riess may try to get into Mexico.

Lois Riess is described as having brown eyes and light blonde hair. She is 5-foot-5 and weighs 165 pounds.



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Thursday
Apr192018

Navy sailor, 24, goes missing in Connecticut

Groton Police Department(NEW LONDON, Conn.) -- A United States Navy sailor has been reported missing in Connecticut after police say he left home and vanished.

Jacob Tyler, 24, was last seen leaving his home in Groton Tuesday morning, the Groton Police Department said Wednesday.

Taylor is an ensign serving aboard the submarine USS North Dakota homeported at the Naval Submarine Base in New London, Connecticut, a Navy spokesperson told ABC News.

Police said he left his home on his blue 2014 Honda CBR motorcycle with Connecticut license plate 00KSVK.

The Navy is working closely with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and local authorities in support the search, the Navy spokesperson added.

Tyler has blonde hair and blue eyes and stands at 5-foot-11 and weighs about 220 pounds, police said.

It's not known what he was wearing when he went missing, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Groton Town Police Department at (860) 441-6712.



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