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Tuesday
Aug152017

School-bus driver shortage across the US sparks growing concern

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As a new school year nears for more than 50 million U.S. students, many districts worry how they will get children to school.

The country has a shortage of school-bus drivers which 22 percent of private bus contractors call "severe," according to a recent survey by School Bus Fleet Magazine.

Five percent of school-bus contractors are "desperate" to find drivers, the survey found.

"We're seeing some school districts having to cut school-bus routes or consolidate them, having fewer stops," said Thomas McMahon, the magazine's executive editor said.

The director of transportation for the Douglas County school district in Colorado said bus driving is not as attractive a job as it may have been recently.

"The economy's better so people are going back to jobs that they had done previously, or they find the need to stay at home," Donna Grattino told ABC News Denver affiliate KMGH.

The Denver-area district still needs at least 40 more school bus drivers and is considering enlisting stay-at-home parents to help fill the gap by allowing them to bring preschool-age children with them on the route, Grattino said.

"As long as they can walk up on a bus, we can get them into a car seat and make sure they're safe," she said.

But becoming a bus driver can take time.

The process to get a commercial drivers license, including obtaining a permit, training time and taking the test can in many states take up to 12 weeks, according to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. Drivers also often have to undergo extensive drug tests and background checks.

Average starting-pay at the 50 largest school-bus companies rose to $16.90 an hour in 2017, up from $16.24 in 2016, School Bus Fleet said.


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Tuesday
Aug152017

Police officer is on paid leave after 'violent struggle' during traffic stop arrest caught on video

ABCNews.com(EUCLID, Ohio) -- A police officer in Euclid, Ohio, is on paid administrative leave as authorities continue to investigate an incident in which he was captured on cellphone video as well as dashcam footage punching a man repeatedly in the head during a traffic stop arrest.

According to a Euclid Police Department media release, around 10:30 a.m. Saturday, officers stopped a 2011 silver Hyundai being driven by Richard Hubbard III because of an alleged traffic violation.

"During the process of the traffic stop, police ordered Hubbard out of the car and to face away in order to take Hubbard into custody. Hubbard ignored the order to face away and as the officer attempted to take Hubbard into custody he began physically resisting," the release said. "A violent struggle lasting over three minutes ensued and additional officers were needed to eventually take Hubbard into custody."

A bystander across the street released cellphone video of the incident Saturday. Afterward, the Euclid Police Department released six-minute dashcam footage taken from the officer's vehicle.

In the dashcam video, an officer pulls over the Hyundai and can be heard telling Hubbard that the registered owner of the car shows a suspended license. The officer asks for a license and whether Hubbard has a warrant out for his arrest.

Hubbard appears to protest the traffic stop and a female passenger in the vehicle can be heard telling him, "Stop arguing."

Moments later, the officer opens the car door and tells Hubbard to exit and face away from him. According to police, that is when Hubbard ignored the order and started to resist. As the officer attempts to arrest Hubbard, the two end up on the ground. A second officer, who was on the passenger side of the vehicle, attempts to help in the arrest.

In both the cellphone video and dashcam footage, the arresting officer can be seen punching Hubbard.

The female passenger, who was not identified, gets out of the car as well and appears to speak to Hubbard. She later tapes the incident on her phone.

According to the police release, Hubbard was medically examined after his arrest at the Cuyahoga County Jail Euclid Annex. The arresting officer was treated and released from a hospital.

Hubbard posted bond on charges of driving under suspension and resisting arrest. Police said he is due in court Aug. 24. The arresting officer, whom the department did not identify, was put on paid administrative leave pending investigation.

In a statement, the Euclid Police Department said: "It is the mission of the Euclid Police Department to provide professional and transparent service to the residents, business owners, and visitors to the City of Euclid. This entire incident will be reviewed, in detail, so that the public can have a full and open understanding of the series of events that eventually led to this violent encounter."

And today, Euclid Mayor Kirsten Gail released a statement to ABC News, saying the City of Euclid and the Euclid Police Department are committed to providing a safe community and to treating "all justly and with dignity and respect."

"We have made great strides in building a bond between the community and its police department. Violence and use of force in any situation is disturbing and difficult to watch. The videos of the incident on Saturday morning raise some very serious concerns. We have policies and procedures in place to ensure that all use of force by police are both lawful and justified. I can assure you the incident will be reviewed thoroughly and appropriate action will be taken. We certainly do not want this incident to erase all of the good work that has happened and continues to happen every day in Euclid or to define who we are as a community. We will continue to work with residents, our faith leaders, and community partners to improve our community and ensure Euclid remains a community where we all can be proud to live, work and visit," Gail said.

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Tuesday
Aug152017

Confederate statue toppled at North Carolina rally

ABCNews.com(DURHAM, N.C.) -- Activists and protesters who attended a rally Monday night to coax officials to remove a Confederate statue that's been moored in front of Durham, North Carolina's old courthouse since 1924 decided to do it themselves.

The toppled statue depicts a Confederate soldier wielding a muzzle rifle and lugging a canteen and bedroll, and is dedicated "in memory of the boys who wore gray."

As Monday evening's demonstration went on, protesters surrounded the base of the erected soldier. Video circulating online showcased the swelling protesters, many in chorus shouting: "We, we are the revolution!" followed by "You can't stop the revolution."

Some demonstrators held up handwritten, charged screeds on cardboard that read "Stop Calling the Cops" and "Fight your Local Nazis," and one bluntly: "F--- yo statue” as they closed in on the the cast metallic Confederate monument.

Some protesters rested a ladder and looped a rope around the statue before yanking the soldier from its concrete perch.

While dragged it to the ground, the angry demonstrators began stomping on the statue repeatedly, as seen on video footage captured by a reporter with ABC station WTVD.

The Durham Police Department released a statement late Monday night regarding the incident.

"The Durham Police Department (DPD) is aware that a Confederate monument was toppled at the old Durham County courthouse. Because this incident occurred on county property, where county law enforcement officials were staffed, no arrests were made by DPD officers," the statement reads.

Gov. Roy Cooper quickly came out against the statue takedown on Monday night, tweeting: "The racism and deadly violence in Charlottesville is unacceptable but there is a better way to remove these monuments #durham - RC"

The desecration of the Confederate soldier comes two days after a gathering of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia turned into a melee that culminated in 20-year-old James Alex Fields allegedly plowing his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring at least 19.

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Monday
Aug142017

What we know about James Alex Fields Jr., the suspect in the Charlottesville car crash

Abermarle Charlottesville Regional Jail(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- James Alex Fields Jr., the 20-year-old Ohio man police say deliberately accelerated his car into a crowd of counterprotesters on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a young woman, appeared in court on Monday for the first time and was denied bail.

Heather Heyer, 32, an activist who was protesting against a white nationalist gathering that was taking place in the city that day, was killed in the crash. At least 19 others were injured.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions told ABC News on Monday that the incident "does meet the definition of domestic terrorism" under U.S. law, and confirmed that the Department of Justice is pursuing what Fields allegedly did "in every way that we can make a case."

Here's what we know about Fields, his background, and the alleged crime he perpetrated:

An alleged admirer of Hitler and concentration camps

Fields "thought Nazis were pretty cool guys" in the words of Derek Weimer, who told ABC News that he taught World History to Fields, as well as a course called America's Modern Wars, when Fields was a student at Randall K. Cooper High School in Union, Kentucky.

Weimer described Fields as being "fairly quiet" and "smart" and also claimed Fields was an open admirer of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

He said that he challenged Fields' point of view as a teacher, and that the two had many private discussions on the subject of Nazis.

Two of Fields' classmates told ABC News about a trip to Europe that a group of students took after graduation in 2015, when they visited the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. When they arrived at the concentration camp, Fields allegedly said, "This is where the magic happened," according to the two students.

At least 28,000 people, including countless Jews, died at the Dachau complex and its "subcamps" located elsewhere in Germany, according to the U.S. Holocaust Museum. Horrific experiments were conducted on many of the prisoners who were kept there.

From an area of the country lacking in diversity


Weimer said that Fields had little interaction with non-whites at school, at least as far as he could tell.

"We had between 1,200 and 1,300 students at that time," Weimer told ABC News. "Maybe 4 percent were black. There were only a handful of Jews. The school was just about 6 percent Latin-American."

'A car careening through a crowd'

Tommy, an organizer for the Richmond, Virginia, chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a socialist organization that claims to have seen a major surge in membership following the election of Donald Trump, was there when Fields allegedly rammed his car into the crowd of people.

Tommy, who asked ABC News not to use his last name to protect his identity, said he and other activists were in a celebratory mood until a car careened through the crowd, sending people scrambling.

Kristin Adolfson, a graduate of the University of Virginia who works as a graphic designer at a nonprofit, told The New Yorker that she experienced a "sudden movement through the crowd, sound, bodies in the air" at the scene.

The incident was captured on video from both the front and back of the accelerating car, and the tapes appeared to show the vehicle ramming wildly into the back of other cars, sending the bodies of activists flying through the air.

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Monday
Aug142017

Timeline: What led to the violence that unfolded in Charlottesville

Twitter/VSPPIO (WASHINGTON) -- The aftermath of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly on Saturday after a 20-year-old Ohio man allegedly accelerated his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and wounding several others.

Conflict in the college town, however, has been brewing for months. Here's a brief timeline of the events this year that led to this weekend's deadly crash:

February and March

The Charlottesville City Council voted in February to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from what was then called Robert E. Lee Park.

May 13

A group of at least 100 white nationalists carried torches in Charlottesville while protesting the removal of the Lee statue, provoking anger and frustration from politicians, and an outcry on social media from those who viewed the display as an attempt to intimidate minorities.

Mike Signer, the city's mayor, expressed his disgust with the protest in an interview with ABC News.

"I think it's horrific," he said. "We're a city that proudly values our diversity."

Prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer was among the marchers that day.

June 5

Signer announces that Robert E. Lee Park has been renamed Emancipation Park.

Aug. 11

White nationalists holding tiki torches marched through the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville ahead of the so-called "Unite the Right" rally, a gathering of white supremacists staged in part to demand protection for the statue of Lee.

The men chanted "white lives matter," "you will not replace us," and the Nazi-associated phrase "blood and soil." Some white nationalists brawled with counter-protesters at the scene of the rally.

Police arrived on campus, declared it an unlawful assembly, and ordered the crowds to disperse. But the skirmishes, as well as images of the marching that were posted on social media, contributed to an atmosphere of tension that opened up into violence the next day.

Aug. 12: Morning

Although the "Unite the Right" rally was scheduled to start at noon, violence between white nationalists and counter-protesters began in the morning.

State police reported injuries, and soon after, the city declared an unlawful assembly at Emancipation Park.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency shortly before noon.

Aug. 12: Afternoon

At 1:42 p.m., an Ohio man allegedly rammed a car into a crowd of people who were demonstrating against the white nationalist gathering.

About an hour and a half later, Signer confirmed in a tweet that at least one person had died in the day’s violence. It later emerged that a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, was killed when the car hit the crowd. At least 19 others were injured.

Hours later, President Trump appeared from his Bedminster Golf Club to denounce the violence, but was quickly assailed for not admonishing white nationalist and Nazi groups immediately.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides — on many sides," the president said. "It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It's been going on for a long, long time."

Aug. 12: 5 p.m

Two Virginia State Police troopers, Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, died while lending air support to respond to the deadly violence unfolding in Charlottesville. Their helicopter crashed seven miles southwest of the city.

Aug. 12 to 13

Vigils and marches of solidarity are held throughout the country in remembrance of Heyer and against white nationalism.

Aug. 14

James Alex Fields Jr. of Maumee, Ohio, was charged with one count of second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit-and-run for allegedly plowing into the crowd. The Department of Justice also opened an investigation into the incident.

Beckoning to criticism for failing to denounce white supremacists or label the Charlottesville car ramming as an act of terrorism, two days after the incident Trump made a strong statement against groups he believed were responsible for Saturday's bloodshed.

"Racism is evil," Trump said. "And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the [Ku Klux Klan], neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans."

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Monday
Aug142017

Mother of UVA student injured in Charlottesville attack calls daughter 'my hero'

Twitter/ VSPPIO (CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- The mother of a young woman injured when a car plowed into a group of people protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday, called her daughter "my hero."

Natalie Romero, 20, had just completed her freshman year at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, her mother, Ericka Chaves, said at a news conference Monday in Houston, Texas.

Chaves said that Romero, one of the many injured in the Saturday crash that killed one person, was left with a fracture in her skull, a badly damaged lip and a gash on her forehead.

Chaves said Romero's injuries are non-life-threatening and she is getting better but is not yet able to talk.

Chaves said she told her daughter, "I love you. I want you home. Don’t cry."

The crash that killed a young woman and injured people including Chaves took place at a Unite the Right rally protesting Charlottesville's plan to remove a Confederate statue from a local park.

The rally was attended by neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members, and the white nationalists were met with hundreds of counter-protesters, which led to street brawls and violent clashes.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, is accused of plowing into counter-protesters, including Chaves. He has been charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count related to leaving the scene. He was denied bail this morning as he secures an attorney.

Chaves said her daughter told her she was going to protest the rally and she warned her to be careful. She said Romero sent her Snapchats while there.

On Friday night, Romero and her friends were at the university when people started throwing torches at the group, Chaves said. Romero and her group were also confronted on Saturday while marching and singing, Chaves said, claiming that police did not intervene.

Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer on Monday defended the police response, telling ABC News, "We had a thousand law enforcement personnel on the ground, in a city of 50,000 people, to deal with, thousands of people coming here. I am not going to criticize or second-guess our police."

After President Donald Trump was criticized this weekend for not labeling the ramming an act of terrorism or denouncing the white supremacists, instead calling the incident "violence on many sides," the president on Monday condemned hate groups, including white supremacists, saying, "racism is evil."

Chaves said Monday at the news conference, “I don’t want President Trump’s words. I want actions.”

Chaves said she is hoping Monday or Tuesday to learn if her daughter is well enough to travel via medical ambulance to Houston.

Chaves said her family is reaching out to government officials to help facilitate her daughter's travel back to Texas as the family does not have the funds to do so.

Signer told ABC News on Monday while this weekend was "painful," "we’re not going to let them define us."

"They’re not going to tell our story," he said. "We’re going to tell our story. And outsiders -- their time has come and gone. This city is back on their feet and we’re gonna be better than ever despite this weekend."

Signer compared his hopes for Charlottesville's recovery to the aftermath of Charleston church shooting in June 2015 that killed nine people. The gunman in that attack wanted to start a race war, but the tragedy instead united the city.

"There’s a memorial right now in front of Charlottesville City Hall that’s flowers and a heart that talks about the love that we have here. Those are the images that are going to replace these horrific ones from this weekend. That’s the work that we have as a country," Signer said. "That’s what happened in Charleston. There were those horrible images of those people bloodied and killed and weeping from the church. But they were replaced quickly, steadily, by the work that started to happen. By people who said, 'You’re not going to tell our story for us. We’re going to tell our story.'

"And that’s what’s happening in this community. That’s my work as the mayor here -- is not to allow these hateful people who just don’t get this country to define us," he said. "And they’re not going to define us."

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Monday
Aug142017

What we know about deadly shooting at Wisconsin car racing track

iStock/Thinkstock(UNION GROVE, Wisc.) -- A suspect is at large after three men were shot and killed Sunday at a car racing track in Wisconsin.

Here's what we know about the investigation:

The shooting

The deadly shooting was reported at the Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove at 6:59 p.m.

No additional injuries were reported beyond the three people shot and killed, Sergeant Mark Malecki of the Kenosha Sheriff’s Department told ABC News.

Kenosha Sheriff’s Department said it was estimated that over 5,000 people were at the Great Lakes Dragaway event "known as 'Larry’s Fun Fest' which in the past has attracted persons from Milwaukee, Chicago and other surrounding areas."

The motive

Malecki told ABC News on Monday the shooter remains at large and that the motive is believed to be gang-related.

Malecki said all indications are that the victims were targeted and this was not a random act of violence.

The victims

The victims were all men from Illinois, Malecki said: two 30-year-old men and one 26-year-old man.

The sheriff is expected to release the victims' names at a news conference this afternoon, Malecki said.

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Monday
Aug142017

Charlottesville attack suspect denied bail

ABC News(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- The man who allegedly drove into a group of people who were protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday, killing a woman and injuring several others, was denied bail Monday morning as he secures an attorney.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, is charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count related to leaving the scene.

Fields, who attended his arraignment via closed-circuit video, apparently has no ties to Charlottesville.

Monday he received a court-appointed attorney who could ask for another bond hearing before Fields' next scheduled court hearing Aug. 25.

The Saturday crash that killed Heather Heyer took place at a Unite the Right rally spurred on by Charlottesville's plan to remove a Confederate statue from a local park.

The rally was attended by neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members, and the white nationalists were met with hundreds of counterprotesters, which led to street brawls and violent clashes.

Fields is accused of driving into the counterprotesters.

A former high school classmate of the suspect told ABC News that Fields had proclaimed himself a neo-Nazi and white supremacist.

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Monday
Aug142017

17 immigrants found locked inside hot tractor-trailer in Texas

ABC News(EDINBURG, Texas) -- Seventeen immigrants were rescued from a stifling tractor-trailer in Texas on Sunday after being locked inside for as many as eight hours.

The undocumented immigrants were driven across the Mexican border before the tractor trailer stopped in Edinburg, Texas, according to police. Edinburg is about 20 miles north of the border.

Edinburg police said they received a call from Mexico reporting a relative was locked inside the trailer at about 11 a.m. on Sunday, ABC affiliate KRGV reported. Police said they found the trailer at a Flying J truck stop, knocked on the outside and heard a response. The immigrants had been inside the trailer for as long as eight hours, according to police.

The immigrants were from from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Romania, KRGV reported.

None of the 17 people rescued from the truck required medical assistance, according to KRGV. Temperatures reached 102 degrees in Edinburg on Saturday.

Two suspects were taken into custody, according to police.

In a similar case, 10 illegal immigrants died in the back of a tractor trailer which was found parked at a San Antonio Walmart on July 23.

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Monday
Aug142017

Scott Peterson breaks his silence on his murder conviction: 'I had no idea it was coming'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Scott Peterson, who was found guilty of murdering his pregnant wife and unborn child nearly 15 years ago, is breaking his silence for the first time since the conviction, saying, "I was staggered by it. I had no idea it was coming."

Peterson spoke out from death row in an interview for an upcoming A&E documentary series, "The Murder of Laci Peterson," which premieres Tuesday. The series takes a new look at the case that riveted the nation, after Laci Peterson disappeared on Christmas Eve in 2002, while eight months pregnant. Her body and the body of her unborn child were later found in San Francisco Bay.

John Marks, one of the Executive Producers of the documentary, said Scott Peterson may have decided to speak out for the first time since his conviction now, more than a decade later, because he is in the process of appealing his sentence.

"There's an appeals process that's ongoing, so his case is under appeal," Marks told ABC News. "So it felt like a moment, I think, for him, and for his lawyer to step up and ... say something about the case."

In the documentary, Peterson also described the moment he found out about his guilty verdict.

"It was crazy, just this amazing, horrible, physical reaction I had," Peterson said, adding that he "couldn't feel my feet on the floor. I couldn't feel the chair I was sitting in. My vision got a little blurry."

The documentary series revisits most of the key players in the case, including Scott Peterson's former mistress, Amber Frey.

Frey recalls how scared she was when she learned Scott Peterson was actually a married man with a missing wife, and when she had to pretend everything was fine as Scott Peterson continued calling her after Laci Peterson vanished.

In a never-before-broadcast audio recording from 2004, Scott Peterson addresses why he decided to talk to Frey after his wife had gone missing, saying, "The overriding reason throughout it all was she starts giving media interviews, there is no more search for Laci and Conner," referring to the unborn child they had planned to name Conner.

"I'd seen what had happened to the search for Chandra Levy with Gary Condit as soon as it was revealed that he had sex with her, there was no more search for her," Scott Peterson added.

Marks told ABC News that even as the 15-year anniversary of the case approaches, the new documentary reveals details that many have never heard before.

"I think when you listen to the witnesses who say they saw Laci in the park, I think that will be really ... that will be kind of a surprise," Marks said.

Marks, who maintained that the documentary is not an exoneration piece, also opened up about what he is hoping to accomplish with the series, telling ABC News, "I just want people to say, 'What actually happened here?'"

"The Murder of Lacie Peterson" premieres on the A&E Network on Tuesday, August 15 at 10 p.m. ET.

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