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Saturday
Jan182014

Laser Pointer Injures Air Ambulance Medic, Causes Emergency Landing

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- A medical evacuation helicopter on an emergency mission had to make an emergency landing on Friday after a medic was blinded by what is believed to have been a green laser pointer.

Federal officials are looking for the individual who shined the light, severely burning the medic. Michael Pruit, 30, suffered a "severe burn to his right eye."

ABC News' John Nance says that pilots are helpless in such situations, as "there is nothing that you can wear that's going to flash closed, so to speak, when it sees one of these things and then not let your eyes see it."

"You wouldn't think of a little green laser as having the power to bring down an airplane," Nance said, "but if you get the eyes of the pilot flash blinded at the wrong moment, you could end up killing 400 people."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan172014

Two Students Shot at North Philadelphia High School

iStock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Two students were shot at a high school in northern Philadelphia Friday, police said.

The suspected shooter, a fellow student, has been taken into custody, police said, while authorities search for at least one additional suspect.

A boy and a girl, both 15, were shot by at least one fellow student shortly after 3 p.m. in the gymnasium at Delaware Valley Charter School at 5201 Old York Road in the Olney section of the city, police said.

The high school is reportedly in lockdown while police are surveying camera footage of the inside of the school.

Both victims were shot in the arm and are in stable condition after being rushed to Albert Einstein Medical Center, a block away from the school, authorities said. It is unclear how many shots were fired and the same bullet may have struck both victims, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.

Commissioner Ramsey also confirmed there were seven students inside the gymnasium at the time of the incident, which was caught on the school's surveillance video.

Authorities believe the gunman is also 15 and it remains unclear whether the gun went off accidentally. Police said they identified the suspect from video footage and captured him not far from his home after looking up his address in the school's records system. The unidentified alleged shooter is currently being held for questioning.

All students have been evacuated from the building, while some teachers remain inside, police said.

Parents should not go to the school but can pick up their children at Fisher Ave. and Old York Road, police said.

Police have not recovered the gun, and said the suspect may have left it in the building. There are metal detectors at the school, and police say they are investigating how the student managed to get the gun into the building.

Delaware Valley Charter School has more than 600 students from grades 9 to 12. The school did not immediately respond to calls from ABC News.

This is the second report of a school shooting within a week. On Tuesday, a seventh-grade student at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, N.M., used a shotgun to fire three times in the gym before classes started, critically injuring an 11-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl.

Mason Campbell, 12, has been charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for Tuesday's shooting, according to documents filed Wednesday at the Chaves County Fifth Judicial District Court. The charges are third-degree felonies.

Last month, a teenage gunman shot and killed a classmate at a Colorado high school. Karl Pierson, 18, initially arrived at Arapahoe High School on Dec. 13 looking for school librarian Tracy Murphy. He was carrying a 12-gauge shotgun, two Molotov cocktails and 125 rounds of ammunition. Instead, Murphy shot classmate Claire Davis, 17, soon after entering the school before trying and failing to shoot Murphy, police said. Pierson then turned his weapon on himself and was later found dead from a gunshot wound. Davis died on Dec. 21 from her injuries.

The Arapahoe shooting took place on the eve of the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which 27 people -- most of them first-graders -- were killed.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan172014

Two Children Dead, Others Wounded in Mysterious Incident

ABC News(GERMANTOWN, Md.) -- Authorities in Maryland are investigating a double homicide discovered this morning in which two young children were found dead and two other children wounded at a townhouse that police described today as a "very bloody" crime scene.

Police in Montgomery County have taken into a custody a 28-year-old mother of the four children believed to be the sole suspect in the case, they said Friday.

The turmoil in a Germantown, Md., neighborhood began Thursday night, when police responded to a 911 call by a neighbor reporting a child left unattended in a vehicle, Montgomery County Police Captain Jim Daly told ABC News.

By the time police arrived, two women exited the townhouse, retrieved the child, and re-entered the home. Police investigated and arranged for child protective services to visit the home of the child.

Friday morning, around 9:30 a.m., police received another 911 call from a resident of the same neighborhood reporting blood on the outside of a vehicle and a knife lying outside of the vehicle, prompting police to enter the residence. When they entered, the 28-year-old woman fled out of the back of the home and was apprehended by police, authorities said.

The woman's name has not been released. Identities and ages of those involved will be released following next of kin notification.

Police found two children dead in the upstairs part of the home, as well as two children and one 21-year-old woman who suffered injuries. She is not believed to be a family member but is believed to have lived at the residence, police said.

Two of the children, along with the 21-year-old woman, were transported to local hospitals for treatment.

Daly would not say what types of injuries the children or woman sustained, but police characterized the crime scene as very bloody. All of the children are believed to be no more than 10 years old. Police have not given any information about a possible motive.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan172014

Arapahoe Death Threats, Warnings Ignored, Says HS Security Guard

Craig F. Walker / The Denver Post(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) -- A security guard says he warned administrators for months that Karl Pierson, a teenage gunman who shot and killed a classmate at a Colorado high school last month, was dangerous and had threatened to murder the teacher he targeted on the day of the shooting.

Pierson, 18, entered Arapahoe High School on Dec. 13 armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, two Molotov cocktails and 125 rounds of ammunition, and announced that he was looking for school librarian Tracy Murphy. Soon after entering the school, Pierson fatally shot classmate Claire Davis, 17, before firing on Murphy and missing, according to police. Pierson was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Cameron Rust, a security guard and athletics coach at Arapahoe High School currently on administrative leave, posted to Facebook on Thursday a long list of accusations, charging administrators with  disregarding security reports that labeled Pierson a threat.

“Karl Pierson was a known threat for a long time, he should have gotten the necessary help and appropriate resources should have been involved,” Rust wrote on his Facebook page. “The fact of the matter, people are dead. The decisions that were made did not help to prevent the shooting.”

According to Rust, Pierson was sent home from school on Dec. 12 after a threatening “outburst” aimed at a teacher. Pierson had been caught by security guards “looking up guns, on his computer, in the school cafeteria” and had previously issued Murphy a “death threat.”

Administrators, Rust said, did not welcome the reports about Pierson.

“When the security team documented certain activity and issued [it] to school administration, we were reprimanded and told not to put things in writing. We were told not to bring so many problems or issues to the assistant principals as they are too busy,” Rust wrote.

Several calls to the Littleton department of public schools were not returned. When asked specifically about Rust’s comments at a school board meeting on Thursday night, Superintendent Scott Murphy said he would not comment on a pending investigation.

“I have such a belief in the positive good will and good intentions of all people. Trauma affects all individuals, including myself, in different ways, and our perceptions of the past and our hopes for the future are embedded in our experiences,” Murphy said according to the Denver Post. “I want to allow the Arapahoe County sheriff the right to investigate. I have always respected that.”

Police told ABC News that Rust was interviewed by authorities and will be again as part of the investigation.

“From the initial stages of the on-going investigation, Mr. Rust was the subject of interviews conducted by the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office. Our investigators plan to re-interview him in the future, as well as numerous other individuals, as part of the on-going investigation into the tragedies associated with the December 13, 2013 incident,” Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said in an email.

Rust says he was put on administrative leave and “banned from the campus” because “I would not hug and walked away from principal [Natalie] Pramenko” during a staff meeting and at the memorial for Claire Davis. The school also would not respond to questions about Rust’s leave.

Rust could not be reached for comment Friday.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan172014

Remains Found in New York River Could Be Missing Autistic Teen

Marc Hermann/NYC Transit(NEW YORK) -- Human body parts found on a beach in Queens late Thursday likely belong to missing autistic teen Avonte Oquendo, New York City authorities said Friday.

Oquendo was last seen on surveillance video leaving his school in Long Island City, Queens, in the middle of the day 15 weeks ago on Oct. 4.

David Perecman, an attorney for the family, said the boy’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, is awaiting DNA test results to confirm whether it is indeed her son.

“She is not going to be convinced this is her son until there is enough to convince her,” Perecman told reporters Friday gathered at the waterfront area where police were searching.

Authorities recovered a pair of size five and a half Nike Jordan sneakers, and size 16 jeans, which are what Oquendo was wearing the day he went missing, according to Perecman.

The decomposed remains, including a human arm and legs, were found on a rock in the water near the College Point Yacht Club around 7 p.m. Thursday, authorities said.

Police said they responded to a 911 call after a 14-year-old girl said she saw the limbs.

The remains were moved to the Queens County Morgue as Harbor Patrol divers and helicopters searched the cold, dark waters for more body parts, police said.

Due to rising tide, the search had to suspended but it resumed at daybreak, police said. A medical examiner is set to perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Over the past few months, volunteers and police searched New York’s expansive subway system for the 14-year-boy, who liked to ride trains. Authorities said they also concentrated efforts toward New York City waterways as autistic children are often drawn to water.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan172014

Fire Near Los Angeles Damages 1,700 Acres

KABC-TV(LOS ANGELES) -- Three men were arrested Thursday in connection with a brush fire that destroyed close to 2,000 acres of land 25 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

County fire officials said that the suspects were camping in the Angeles National Forest and that one of the men admitted they had been burning paper in a campfire Thursday morning, which quickly got out of control.

Clifford Eugene Henry, Jonathan Carl Jarrell and Steven Robert Aguirre, all in their early 20s, were charged with recklessly starting a fire.  The three are each being held on $500,000 bail.

The fire, which burnt at least 1,700 acres by late afternoon, forced the evacuation of close to 900 homes in Glendora and Azusa.  Five houses were reported destroyed and 17 structures damaged.

At least 700 firefighters and 100 engines struggled to contain the blaze in the area but managed to stop its forward progress.  The drier-than-usual winter contributed to the brush fire.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan172014

Supreme Court to Consider Cellphone Privacy

trekandshoot/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Behind closed doors Friday, the Supreme Court will consider taking up two cases concerning whether police, after seizing a cellphone during a lawful arrest, can search the phone’s data without a warrant.

Lower courts have divided on the issue. Those courts upholding the warrantless searches have relied at times on a 1973 Supreme Court precedent that privacy advocates say doesn’t contemplate modern-day technology.

In that case -- United States v. Robinson -- a man was arrested for driving with a revoked license. While police officers conducted a pat-down, they found a cigarette package filled with heroin. The court upheld the warrantless search, explaining that police can conduct a full search of a person incident to a lawful arrest.

But privacy advocates say things have changed since that case was decided.

“The search of a cellphone incident to arrest is far beyond the limited type of search the Supreme Court authorized in Robinson,” says Hanni M. Fakhoury, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Indeed, in May, a majority of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit wrote that years ago the Supreme Court “could not have envisioned a world in which the vast majority of arrestees would be carrying on their person an item containing not physical evidence but a vast store of intangible data-data that is not immediately destructible and poses no threat to the arresting officers.”  The appeals court said that allowing a search of the data without a warrant would create a serious and recurring threat to the privacy of countless individuals.

During their private conference, the justices will consider two cases with slightly different circumstances.

One case involves Brima Wurie, a Boston man linked to a 2007 drug sale in the parking lot of the Lil Peach convenience store.

At the police station, police officers noticed that Wurie’s Verizon LG phone (a flip phone that is considered old technology by today’s standards) kept receiving a call from a number identified as “my house” on the external caller ID screen on the front of the phone. The officers opened the phone and accessed its call log. They took the number and ran it through a reverse directory to obtain an associated address. Officers went to the house and eventually, with a warrant, found 215 grams of crack cocaine. Wurie was later sentenced to 262 months in prison.

Wurie appealed his conviction, arguing that the evidence obtained as a result of the warrantless search of his cellphone should have been suppressed. The government argued that the search of the cellphone was necessary in part because Wurie or others might try to remotely wipe the contents of the phone.

The appellate court ruled in Wurie’s favor.

It said that police can prevent the wiping by turning the phone off, removing its battery, placing it in a special bag that blocks it from receiving signals, or copying its contents without accessing them.

The other case involves a much more sophisticated phone -- a Samsung smartphone -- capable of accessing the Internet, capturing photos and videos, and storing voice and text messages, among other functions.  The search was much more extensive than in the Wurie case.

In 2009, David Leon Riley was stopped by police for driving a car with expired tags.  When police learned he was driving with a suspended license, they impounded the car.  While conducting an inventory search of the vehicle, the officers discovered concealed and loaded weapons.  They arrested Riley and seized his cellphone.

A warrantless search of the smartphone yielded videos and photographs showing Riley’s affiliation with a gang, and linked him to a recent gang shooting. Riley was convicted for his role in the shooting and received an enhanced sentence because of his gang affiliation. He argued that the search of his cellphone violated the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable search and seizure because it was performed without a warrant and there were no exigent circumstances to justify the search.

The California Court of Appeal affirmed his conviction, and the California Supreme Court declined to take up the case. In his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Riley’s lawyers argue that “cellphones are capable of storing a virtually limitless amount of information in a single, compact device.” They call the phone a “mini, yet powerful, computer that happens to include a phone.”

They write, “the Fourth Amendment should require the detached scrutiny of a neutral magistrate before allowing the police to rummage through the digital contents of such a device.”

According to the Pew Research Center, 56 percent of American adults now own smartphones. The phones send emails, store text conversations, create a roadmap of an individual’s schedule and also store financial information.

We could learn as early as Friday whether the Court will hear one or both cases.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan172014

Cop's 'Heart Sank' on Realizing Shots Fired at Minivan Full of Kids

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A former New Mexico state police officer who fired shots at a minivan during a chaotic traffic stop last year had no idea the vehicle was full of children and his "heart sank" when he finally realized it, he told ABC News in an exclusive interview.

Elias Montoya, 53, was terminated in December after he fired three shots at the vehicle carrying a mother and her five children ranging in ages from 6 and 16.  Montoya fired the shots after a routine traffic stop evolved into an intense encounter that included a high-speed chase.

"My heart sank when they finally stopped and I was at the passenger side at that time seeing them get out at gunpoint again," he said.  "I couldn't believe it that there were that many children in there."

Video from a police cruiser's dashboard camera taken during the Oct. 28 traffic stop showed Montoya shooting at the minivan three times in Taos, N.M.  The video garnered national attention.

Montoya says it was the first time he had fired his gun on duty during his 12 years as a state cop.  At the time, Montoya said, he didn't know the majority of the people inside the vehicle were children.

New Mexico State Police will not comment on Montoya's termination, but say he violated the department's policy regarding the use of deadly force. 

The incident began when motorist Oriana Farrell, 39, of Memphis, Tenn., fled from an officer who initially pulled her over for speeding, according to police.  That same officer caught up to Farrell and pulled her over a second time, according to dash-cam video, and that's when things escalated.

During the second stop, Farrell refused to get out of the van.  She eventually agreed to exit, but jumped back into the driver's seat as an officer tried to restrain her.

Her son, 14, confronted the officer and a scuffle ensued.  The boy eventually ran back into the minivan after the officer aimed a Taser.

As back-up arrived, which included Montoya, Farrell and her family locked themselves inside the minivan.  An officer broke the vehicle's back windows with a baton as the children screamed in the backseat.

Montoya, a father of three, says dispatch only told him to respond to an unruly driver on a highway near Taos.

"I'm approaching the van on the left-hand side," he said.  "All I see is silhouettes of heads.  A bunch of silhouettes of heads and what went through my mind is that we're outnumbered."

He says the minivan's tinted windows prevented him from seeing who was inside.  When the driver started to flee for the second time, he lined up with the white line in the road and shot at the tire to immobilize the minivan.

"I'm not shooting at a human being. I'm shooting at a tire," Montoya said.

Montoya missed the tire as Farrell took off down the highway.  After a chase that reached speeds of nearly 100 mph, Farrell and her teenage son were arrested in front of a Taos hotel.

Farrell was later released on bond and faces charges of child abuse, fleeing and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia for a pair of marijuana pipes that authorities say were in the van.  Farrell has since said she was protecting her children.

Montoya later bought the entire family food from McDonald's during the booking process, according to a police report.

"If I knew that there was even one child in that vehicle," he said, "I wouldn't have done it."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan172014

Condemned Killer Executed with New Drug Combo

Андрей Бортников/Thinkstock(LUCASVILLE, Ohio) -- The state of Ohio used a new combination of lethal drugs to execute a convicted murderer-rapist on Thursday.

According to the press pool of journalists who watched the execution, it took Dennis McGuire more than 15 minutes to die with some reporting that he appeared to be in pain.

McGuire was found guilty in 1994 of the rape and murder of Joy Stewart, who was eight months pregnant when she was killed.

Normally, three drugs are administered during an execution but due to a shortage of some of the chemicals used, Ohio gave McGuire a lethal dose of the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone in the first-of-its-kind experiment.

When the two-drug combo was challenged in federal court beforehand, Ohio’s assistant attorney general, Thomas Madden, defended the method, telling a judge, “You’re not entitled to a pain-free execution.”

A Dayton Daily News reporter, who witnessed the execution, wrote, "At 10:29 a.m., his eyes rolled back as if he were going to sleep, and at 10:35 a.m., McGuire, who appeared to be unconscious, was convulsing, gagging and struggling to breathe."

McGuire was pronounced dead at 10:53 a.m. local time.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan162014

1 Killed, 2 Injured in Army Night Stalker Helicopter Crash

iStock/Thinkstock(SAVANNAH, Ga.) -- One soldier was killed and two others were injured Wednesday night in the hard landing of their Special Operations Blackhawk helicopter at Hunter Airfield in Georgia.

The crash victims were members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as the “Night Stalkers.”

Night Stalker pilots are known for being some of the most highly skilled helicopter pilots in the Army and fly dangerous special operations missions. Some of the unit’s pilots flew the helicopters involved in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

The 160th SOAR is headquartered at Fort Campbell, Ky., but the MH-60 Blackhawk helicopter belonged to the unit’s third battalion, which is based at Hunter Airfield in Savannah, Ga.

Allen Hill, a spokesman for the 160th SOAR, said the helicopter was returning from a training flight and was on final approach to land when the hard landing occurred. Hill added, “the pilot was in control of the aircraft until it hit the ground and it did roll on its side.” 

An investigation is ongoing.

Aviators from the 160th SOAR “are specialized in nighttime operation, they are highly skilled pilots,  the most highly trained and most skilled pilots capable of operating in hours of limited visibility,” said Hill.

Hill added that there were clear weather conditions at the time of Wednesday night’s crash.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio







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