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Tuesday
Feb192019

Police looking for 2nd crime scene after woman, kids found dead in Michigan home

Prathaan/iStock(KENT COUNTY, Mich.) -- Investigators are searching for a second crime scene after a woman and three young children were found mysteriously dead inside a Michigan home, authorities said.

The woman and three children -- who were elementary school age and younger -- were found dead from suspected gunshot wounds Monday afternoon at a home in Kent County, Michigan, near Grand Rapids, according to the Kent County Sheriff's Office.

But evidence at the home suggests some of the victims weren't shot at that location, Kent County sheriff's Sgt. Joel Roon told ABC News.

Officers canvased the area Monday night to try to find a second crime scene to no avail, Roon said via email Tuesday morning.

"We are still asking residents to call if they see anything that could be considered a scene of a shooting," Roon said. "People should look for any condition that could be considered consistent with that of a shooting scene, i.e. blood."

There's no indication of a suspect at-large and no indication of more victims, sheriff's officials said.

"It is believed that the situation is contained and there is no current threat to public safety," sheriff's officials said in a statement.

Authorities have not eliminated the possibility of a murder-suicide, Kent County Sheriff Michelle Lajoye-Young said Monday, according to ABC Grand Rapids affiliate WZZM.

"It's always hard when there's deaths in the community, but it's absolutely the most difficult when there are kids are involved," Lajoye-Young told reporters.

"Investigators are asking for the public's help as we try to establish the chain of events leading up to this tragedy," officials said.

Anyone who lives in the area and has surveillance cameras pointing toward the road is urged to call the sheriff's office.

The names of the victims will be released once autopsies are completed, the sheriff's office said.

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Tuesday
Feb192019

Mexican man dies in Border Patrol custody after crossing US-Mexico border

Phototreat/iStock(MCALLEN, Texas) -- A Mexican man died at a McAllen, Texas, hospital Monday while in Border Patrol custody after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas earlier this month, officials said.

The cause of death remains unknown, according to a statement released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Monday night.

The unnamed 45-year-old man died at the McAllen Medical Center where he was admitted on Feb. 3 for what was initially diagnosed as cirrhosis of the liver and congestive heart failure, the release said.

"This loss of life is tragic. Our condolences go out to the family and loved ones. CBP remains committed to ensuring the safe and humane treatment of those within the care of our custody," Andrew Meehan, CBP's Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs, said in a statement.

The agency said that the man requested medical attention when was taken into custody on Feb. 2 for illegal re-entry into the U.S. near the Roma Port of Entry, about 55 miles west of McAllen. The man was returned to the Rio Grande City Border Patrol Station after he "was cleared to travel" by the Mission Regional Medical Center, officials said.

The next day, he was brought to the McAllen Medical Center after a welfare check showed that he needed medical attention, according to the CBP statement.

This man is the third person to die in CBP custody in as many months.

In Dec. 2018, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl and an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy died in CBP custody.

Following the second death, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told ABC's This Week that the deaths were "absolutely devastating for us."

CBP said that in accordance to agency policy, CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility has initiated a review.

The Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General and the Mexican Government have all been notified of the man's death.

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Tuesday
Feb192019

Sailor shown in famous Times Square WWII kiss photo dies at 95

Patrick Raycraft/Hartford Courant/MCT via Getty Images(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) -- Just about everyone's seen the photo. Taken in Times Square on Aug. 14, 1945 -- Victory in Japan Day -- the black-and-while image shows a sailor in a dark uniform and white cap delivering a passionate, celebratory kiss to a woman in a nurse's uniform, holding her in his arms as he dips her backward.

The image came to be known as "The Kiss." Taken by famed photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, it was first published in LIFE magazine and has been reproduced countless times since.

But because it doesn't show the faces of the sailor or nurse, it took over half a century -- and more than a few false claims -- before the couple's identities were confirmed. She was Greta Zimmer Friedman, then a dental assistant. And he was George Mendonsa.

Neither of them had met before the kiss -- which Mendonsa initiated -- and they went their separate ways after, leaving behind that single, spontaneous moment of joyful celebration of the end of World War II.

Friedman passed away in 2016 in Richmond, Virginia at age 92. And according to Rhode Island's Providence Journal, Mendonsa died last Sunday at an assisted living facility in Middletown, where he lived with his wife of 70 years. 

Mendonsa passed just two days shy of his 96th birthday after falling and suffering a seizure.

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Monday
Feb182019

NYPD probe launched into alleged threat by police commander against rapper 50 Cent

Steven Ferdman/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A New York City police precinct commander is under investigation for allegedly telling officers to shoot the rapper 50 Cent, officials said.

The New York Police Department launched an internal probe of Deputy Inspector Emanuel Gonzalez, commanding officer of the 72 Precinct in Brooklyn, who allegedly told officers during a roll call meeting last June to shoot 50 Cent if they spotted him at an NYPD-sanctioned boxing match the rapper was said to have planned to attend, according to police.

"The matter is under internal review," a police department spokesman told ABC News on Monday.

 The alleged threat last summer came a month after Gonzalez filed an aggravated harassment complaint claiming the 43-year-old rapper, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, threatened him on social media after the owners of one of the rapper's favorite Brooklyn nightclubs filed a notice of claim against the city alleging Gonzalez was trying to shake them down.

The owners of Club Love & Lust in Brooklyn filed a lawsuit against the city in December 2018, claiming that shortly after opening in 2014, Gonzalez and others began a "campaign of harassment to close the business due to the race and/or national origin of the business owner, its patrons and other stakeholders."

The suit additionally claims that a campaign of "selective enforcement" continued through the fall of 2017, requiring the club to face a court challenge to its liquor license. Around the same time, according to the lawsuit, Gonzalez requested 11 "free" round-trip tickets on charter flights to Puerto Rico and a generator for a doctor who lives in Puerto Rico and was dealing with the destructive aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

The lawsuit is yet to be resolved and the city has denied the allegations made by the club owners.

Roy Richter, the NYPD Captains Endowment Association President, previously told the New York Post that Gonzalez is being unfairly accused and described him as an "outstanding commander."

The Daily News first reported on Gonzalez’s alleged threats against 50 Cent.

Citing an unnamed source with knowledge of the case, the Daily News has reported that during a roll call at the Brooklyn precinct station house on June 7, 2018, Gonzalez, a 30-year NYPD veteran, allegedly told officers to "shoot him on sight" if they saw 50 Cent at the match, which the rapper attended.

"The inspector just said that at roll call," the source told the newspaper.

Gonzalez has since reportedly tried to pass the comment off as a joke, but the incident, which was not recorded, was reported to NYPD headquarters and prompted the internal probe.

Gonzalez could not be reached for comment.

On Sunday, 50 Cent took to Twitter, accusing Gonzalez of "abusing his POWER."

"The sad part is this man still has a badge and a gun," the rapper wrote.


50 Cent said that he was consulting with his lawyers "regarding my next options moving forward."

 

The rapper called Gonzalez a "Gansta with a badge" and made a direct appeal to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, tweeting, "Deputy Inspector Emanuel Gonzalez has to be dealt with."

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Monday
Feb182019

Police find 3 children, 1 adult dead of gunshot wounds at Michigan home

aijohn784/iStock(NEW YORK ) -- Three children and one adult female have been found dead of gunshot wounds at a home in Kent County, Michigan, according to police.

Investigators are currently interviewing witnesses who called 911 to report the shooting, Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young told reporters Monday afternoon. She did not reveal any information about the callers or the victims.

LaJoye-Young did not identify the victims and would not give any information as to their ages. She asked anyone in the public with video showing traffic to and from the scene to provide it to investigators.

Authorities do not believe there is a threat to the public or a suspect at large at this time, LaJoye-Young said. Murder-suicide is one of the possibilities they are reviewing for the case, she added.

LaJoye-Young described the scene as a "horrific thing to be called to."

 

Additional details were not immediately available.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Monday
Feb182019

Brothers tell police 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett paid them to orchestrate and stage attack: Source

Theo Wargo/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The two brothers who were interrogated by police investigating the alleged Chicago street attack on actor Jussie Smollett claim they helped him concoct the assault after he became upset that a letter threatening him, sent to the "Empire" show's studio, did not get enough attention, sources told ABC News on Monday.

Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo have also told investigators that Smollett paid them to help him orchestrate and stage the Jan. 29 attack that he said occurred near his Chicago apartment, sources said.

A letter threatening Smollett was sent Jan. 22 to the Fox studio in Chicago where "Empire" is filmed, police said. The letter contained threatening language and was laced with a powdery substance investigators believe was likely crushed-up Tylenol, police said.

 The Osundairo brothers told the investigator that Smollet allegedly decided to stage an attack on himself because he felt the letter didn't get enough attention, the sources told ABC News.

Detectives are trying to corroborate the account of Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, but thus far police have not independently verified the allegations, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told ABC News.

The Osundairo brothers agreed to cooperate with authorities after detectives confronted them with evidence that they bought the rope -- allegedly used in an attack that Smollett described to police as laced with racial and homophobic slurs -- at a Chicago hardware store, sources said. Smollett also claimed the attackers shouted "MAGA country," an apparent reference to President Donald Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again."

No one has been charged in connection with the case.

"We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens," Osundairo brothers said in a statement to CBS Chicago affiliate WBBM that has been confirmed by ABC News.

Detectives have now shifted the investigation towards determining whether Smollett made up the entire story, sources said.

Anne Kavanagh, a spokeswoman for Smollett and his legal team, said the actor had no plans to meet Monday with Chicago police, who said they are "eager" to speak with him again about the latest developments in the investigation. Kavanagh said Smollett's attorneys are keeping an active dialogue going with Chicago police on behalf of the actor.

The latest twist in the probe came after Smollett hit back at the suggestion that the incident was a hoax, and expressed disbelief that the brothers could have been involved.

“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with," Smollett attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said in a statement Saturday. "He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.

“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video," the statement continued. "It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity."

“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video," the statement continued. "It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity."

The attorneys said that Smollett has been cooperating with the police throughout the investigation.

After initially being considered persons of interest, the Osundairo brothers were detained and became potential suspects, police said. When they were threatened with battery and hate crimes charges, they agreed to work with detectives, sources told ABC News.

The dramatic shift in the probe is the latest in the fast-changing story that started with Smollett reporting to police that he was attacked in the early morning hours of Jan. 29.

 

 

By Saturday evening, however, Chicago police said they were "eager to speak to Jussie Smollett" after the interrogation of the Osundairo brothers, who police said are U.S. citizens of Nigerian descent.

"We have been in touch with Smollett's attorneys," Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told ABC News Sunday afternoon, adding that investigators "are waiting on whether they’re going to get a response from his attorney.”

Guglielmi said the department contacted the actor's lawyers Friday night.

"We made our intentions clear," he said.

On Sunday afternoon, Guglielmi posted a statement on Twitter, saying, "While we are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what's been unofficially released, there are some developments in this investigation and detectives have some follow-ups to complete which include speaking to the individual who reported the incident."

A spokesperson for Fox, which broadcasts "Empire," declined comment on Saturday night.

Early Saturday, after the brothers were released, police said they had new information that “could change the story entirely.”

Police confirmed that Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo were the two men seen in surveillance images from the night of the alleged incident. They were taken into custody on Wednesday night and interviewed by detectives in the following days.

Based on the video evidence that police discovered, it did not indicate anyone else was there at the scene of the alleged incident, police said.

But on Saturday, after their release the night before, police said the brothers were no longer potential suspects and again persons of interest, saying that they may still have information that is helpful to the investigation.

Smollett told police that on Jan. 29, he was walking on a street near his apartment when he was attacked by two men. The attackers allegedly shouted racist and homophobic slurs before hitting him, pouring “an unknown chemical substance” on him — possibly bleach — and wrapping a rope around his neck, he told detectives.

Police confirmed phone records show that during the attack, Smollett was on the phone with Brandon Moore, his music manager. Both claimed that the alleged attackers yelled "MAGA country."

While Guglielmi said on Saturday that he could not speak on what the new information was, he said that detectives had “shifted the trajectory” of the investigation. Though he did not say whether Smollett spoke to the men that night — one of them had previously appeared on “Empire” — he said it will also be central to the investigation whether they spoke to or saw Smollett.

Police raided the home of the Osundairo brothers Wednesday night to search for possible evidence and retrieved shoes, electronic devices, bleach and a red hat, among other items, according to photos of an inventory log confirmed to ABC News. The inventory log, first reported by a local CBS station, also contained a description for an item that said "Script-Empire."

It’s unclear whether forensic results have come back on any of the seized items on the inventory log.

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Monday
Feb182019

'Get off my dog!' Owner fights hawk that attacked her Yorkie puppy

Obtained by ABC News(LAS VEGAS) -- Dramatic home surveillance video shows the moment a hawk brazenly attacked a puppy in its Las Vegas backyard, causing its owner to swoop in and save her.

The hawk can be seen flapping its wings excitedly as it grabs hold of the tiny dog. The hawk attempts to fly away with its prize but the owner soon comes out and tries to shoo it away.

The hawk didn't give up that easy. It held onto the dog as the owner hit it multiple times with a patio chair cushion.

The bird finally flew away empty-handed after another blow from the cushion made it lose its grip and the dog scurried away. The owner then scooped up the dog and ran inside.

Another video shows the hawk perched on the roof of a nearby home, surveying the ground below it, after losing its potential meal.

Cecilia Celis told Fox Las Vegas affiliate KVVU that she had just let her dogs outside and turned away when the attack began.

Once she realized what was happening, Celis said she began to scream.

"And I was yelling at it, 'Get off my dog, get off my dog!'” she said.

Lulu and the other pup, Heidi, weigh just 2 pounds.

The hawk was gone by the time animal control showed up, KVVU reported.

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Monday
Feb182019

Man who survived 2 nights in blizzard learns he has stage 4 cancer

shaunl/iStock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- A man who miraculously survived two nights inside his car during one of the Midwest's worse storms this winter learned while recovering in the hospital that he has stage 4 kidney cancer.

William Mendoza, 59, was driving on Interstate 94 just west of Fargo, North Dakota, looking for a hotel on Feb. 6 when blizzard conditions began, he told ABC Saint Paul, Minnesota, affiliate KTSP-TV.

To add to the danger, William Mendoza then began feeling disoriented, and when his car got stuck in a snowdrift, he couldn't call for help because his phone was dead, he said.

"You’re mostly thinking survival. 'OK. How am I gonna get through this?' You know? 'I got no heat, no light, how much gas do I have?'" he said.

The first night came and went with no rescuers, and in the second, temperatures dropped below zero. Also without food or water, William Mendoza described the time spent in his car those nights as excruciating.

"All I could remember was just shivering uncontrollably," he said. "You know, with the teeth shattering, the knees knocking."

Meanwhile, his wife was about 250 miles southeast at their home in Scandia, Minnesota, unable to sleep or eat over the stress of not knowing where her husband was.

"Your heart just sinks," Vicki Mendoza told KTSP. "It's panic. It's worry."

On the third day, a telephone repairman who happened to be driving by spotted William Mendoza in his car.

"I'm not lost anymore," he recalled thinking after he was rescued.

When he was taken to the hospital, he had frostbite on his toes, and after doctors brought him out of severe hypothermia, they told him he was going to survive.

But on Feb. 10, his 59th birthday, doctors gave him the opposite kind of news, informing him that he had been diagnosed with advanced cancer.

"It’s like a cruel twist of fate," Vicki Mendoza said. "We see the God-given miracle that he’s alive through this snowstorm to find out he has this cancer.”

William Mendoza plans on battling the cancer the same way he battled the cold: head-on.

"I am determined to do whatever I have to do to fight this," he said. "It was something they found while treating me for the hypothermia, and I guess it is better to know and get on with fighting it than to not know."

The family has created a GoFundMe campaign called "Jim Mendoza: Midwestern Miracle" to help pay for his medical expenses.

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Monday
Feb182019

Arizona man rescued at Zion National Park after getting trapped in quicksand 

benedek/iStock(NEW YORK ) -- An Arizona man was rescued at Zion National Park after his leg got stuck in quicksand while hiking during a winter storm on Saturday.

The National Park Service told ABC News it nearly two days to rescue the 34-year-old male. He and his female companion had hiked three hours up the Left Fork of the North Creek, also known as the Subway route, at Zion National Park before he got swallowed by the quicksand. Neither the man nor the woman's name was released publicly and details of how the man got trapped in quicksand were not immediately available.

After an unsuccessful attempt to free his leg from the quicksand, the woman hiked three hours back to find phone service and call for help, park officials said.

Rangers with the Zion Search and Rescue found the female companion close to the trailhead and treated her for hypothermia.

After several hours of searching, NPS located the man, who was suffering from exposure, hypothermia and extremity injuries. It took rescuers two hours to free his leg.

Rangers spent the night in freezing conditions tending to the male. The park reported four additional inches of snow overnight.

A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter responded to the Search and Rescue team the following morning. It took DPS until Sunday afternoon to safely land due to extreme weather conditions.

The NPS advises hikers to use extreme caution during this winter season.

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Monday
Feb182019

Charlottesville rally lawsuit to proceed despite Nathan Damigo's bankruptcy filing

Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images(NEW YORK ) -- Bankruptcy is no shield for a white nationalist targeted in a lawsuit concerning the 2017 violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to a recent ruling from a federal judge.

Nathan Damigo, one of the organizers of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, filed for bankruptcy protection to protect his assets from a civil lawsuit, which is moving toward trial this summer.

The suit was filed by 10 plaintiffs from Charlottesville who said they were injured by the same car attack that left counterdemonstrator Heather Heyer dead.

The plaintiffs can "proceed with litigation" against Damigo, federal bankruptcy court judge Ronald Sargis wrote last week.

"As our plaintiffs argued, Nathan Damigo should be held accountable -- and remain liable -- for the harm he caused in Charlottesville. We’re glad the court agreed,” Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First America, the nonprofit organization backing the lawsuit against Damigo, Richard Spencer and organizations like the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, said in a statement to ABC News.

The lawsuit accused the defendants of an unlawful conspiracy and sought damages for the violence in Charlottesville over two days in August 2017.

"It's going to be very clear what the defendants planned for, foresaw and executed," Karen Dunn of Boies Schiller Flexner, one of the high-profile attorneys representing the plaintiffs, told ABC News.

In November, the judge allowed the plaintiffs access to the defendants' electronic devices, and Dunn claimed there is evidence of premeditated harm.

"There's discussion of vehicles into crowds of people and how to defend that legally afterwards," Dunn said.

The case was brought under the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 that was meant to protect the civil and political rights of millions of freed slaves from vigilante groups during Reconstruction.

"This lawsuit is not seeking to prevent them from speaking or believing anything that they want," Robbie Kaplan of Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, who is representing the plaintiffs and is known for winning the landmark Supreme Court case that laid the groundwork for marriage equality, told ABC News. "While their views are odious to us, they are not the issue. The issue is, motivated by those views, that they agreed to engage in an illegal conspiracy to commit violence."

The defense has said the lawsuit lacks specifics.

"Plaintiffs complaint is long on coarse internet language regarding non-whites and short on allegations of racial violence perpetrated by any moving defendant," defense attorneys said in a motion to dismiss that was later denied.

They also said the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a conspiracy.

"Plaintiffs have failed to make any credible allegation that any moving defendant came to any agreement with anybody, to do anything, other than march and chant in Charlottesville," defense attorneys said in a filing.

Despite those arguments, the judge recently ruled the lawsuit can proceed. Trial is scheduled for July.

"The larger statement here is going to be, we hope, that our American system of justice protects and defends our values and stands against those who do things that are contrary to our values," Dunn told ABC News.

Aside from damages the plaintiffs aimed to "ensure that nothing like this will happen again at the hands of the defendants," the lawsuit said.

"Certainly we want to hold these guys to account," Kaplan told ABC News. "But the legal system in our country also serves another purpose and that is to send a message."

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