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Sunday
Jun152014

Scholarship Named for Hero of Seattle Pacific University Shooting

Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- A scholarship has been created in honor of the hero student who helped take down a gunman at Seattle Pacific University during a deadly shooting earlier this month.

Jon Meis, a senior at SPU who heroically tackled and pepper-sprayed the gunman, graduated from SPU this weekend. He reportedly took down the gunman while he stopped to reload a shotgun.

SPU President Daniel Martin announced that a scholarship had been created to honor Meis, according to ABC News affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle.

"In recognition and honor of Jon's quick thinking, selfless act and brave response, we are establishing the John Meis scholarship," Martin announced to the graduating class on Saturday.

Meis, who was an engineering major, received two standing ovations during the graduation ceremony. The scholarship will go toward an engineering student in future years.

The class wore ribbons on their graduation gowns to commemorate the victims of the shooting, including one student who was killed and two who were injured.

"We grieve the loss of our student, your classmate, Paul Lee. We continue to pray for those who are hurting physically and emotionally," Martin said at the graduation.

The suspect in the shooting, Aaron Ybarra, has been charged with murder and is being held without bail. Police believe he walked into the engineering building with a shotgun and opened fire on classmates before stopping to reload, which gave Meis the chance to tackle him.

SPU graduated 900 students in this year's class.

"I would not feel OK going up there if there wasn't something that we all agreed to be wearing and doing together," student Anastasia Munshell said.


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Sunday
Jun152014

Fire Crews Battling Southern California Wildfire

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WOFFORD HEIGHTS, Calif.) -- Fire crews are working to contain and extinguish a wildfire burning a little less than 50 miles northeast of Bakersfield, Calif.

The fire had grown to endanger 1,800 acres of land and was just 10 percent contained as of Sunday afternoon, according to a report by InciWeb, which provides the Incident Information System and compiles information from government agencies. Fire crews are using helicopters and a large air tanker in conjunction with other assets to attempt to stop the fire from spreading.

According to information from the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, about 500 residences were evacuated -- though fewer than half of those are occupied year-round.

The fire has been powered by prolonged drought and dry fuel conditions, InciWeb's report indicates.


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Sunday
Jun152014

Cannon Blast at Utah Parade Injures Three Children

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OREM, Utah) -- Three children remain hospitalized after being injured when a cannon blast at a summer parade in Utah turned into a fiery explosion.

The children were attending the Orem Summerfest Parade in Orem, Utah, on Saturday when a Civil War reenactment group fired the cannon.

A spark from the cannon landed on a pouch containing additional explosive charges that were then ignited, causing a fiery blast, according to Orem police Lt. Josh Adams.

Two of the children appeared to be engulfed in flames from the explosion, Adams said. Bystanders helped rip off the children's clothes, douse them in water, and wrap them in blankets.

The children were treated at the scene of the parade and transported to the hospital, where they are in stable condition.


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Saturday
Jun142014

JetBlue Flight Diverted Due to Unruly Passenger

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS, Nev.) -- A JetBlue flight was diverted to Detroit on its way from New York to Las Vegas on Saturday morning due to an unruly passenger.

According to a statement from JetBlue, the flight's captain opted to divert the plane to Detroit "in an abundance of caution." After departing New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport at about 7 a.m., the flight landed in Detroit at about 8:30 a.m.

Once on the ground in Detroit, the passenger was removed from the plane and taken to Oakwood Hospital in Wayne, Mich. by airport fire department personnel. The individual was also placed under police custody.

It was not immediately clear what sparked the incident. The flight landed in Las Vegas at about 11:30 a.m. local time.


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Saturday
Jun142014

Parrot Mistaken for Child in Distress in Connecticut

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FAIRFIELD, Conn.) -- When a Fairfield, Conn., woman heard a voice saying "Daddy, daddy, daddy," from a tree, police responded to the call to find a surprising runaway.

The unidentified woman told police she heard someone screaming and beagn searching for the person, Fairfield Police told local TV station WFSB-TV.

"The voice kept saying 'daddy,' 'daddy,' 'daddy,' then said 'what,'" Fairfield police Lt. James Perez said. "Almost as if the child was talking to someone else."

Police said the woman believed the voice was coming from a child in distress.

"As she was looking for the source of the voice, she kept following it and brought her to a tree near the school where she looked up and saw it was a parrot," Perez said.

Animal control was unable to retrieve the parrot, which was up 25 feet in the tree. The fire department eventually retrieved the bird and brought it to an animal shelter.

The Fairfield police and fire department did not respond to requests from ABC News for comment.

The parrot was eventually returned to its owner, Christopher Gerbasi, of Fairfield, had reported the parrot missing for days. The woman located the bird about a mile from his home, WFSB-TV reported.

"We're just happy there were no children that were hurt and that it wasn't a child at all, but in fact a bird just yearning for its father or its daddy, and we got it back to him," Perez said.

Gerbasi did not respond to a request for comment.


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Saturday
Jun142014

Questions About Where Miss USA Really Lives

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images(RENO, Nev.) -- Critics are questioning Miss USA Nia Sanchez's eligibility in the beauty pageant, claiming that she did not really live in Nevada so she shouldn't have been allowed into that state's pageant.

After three consecutive failed attempts to win the Miss California USA crown, in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Sanchez, 24, won the Miss Nevada competition in January. There was some speculation that Sanchez met minimum residency requirements to compete in the Nevada pageant, but that she did not live in the Silver State.

Despite concern, the Miss Universe Organization told ABC News there is "no reason to question her residency."

Sanchez said in a statement, "Nothing could have been more thrilling for me than to have won the Miss USA title. I have lived in Nevada since the fall of 2012 and it was an honor for me to represent the state at Miss USA."

This is Sanchez's second brush with controversy as Miss USA, after she suggested self-defense for women to combat sexual assault on college campuses during the pageant.

She was posed with this question, "Nineteen percent of U.S. undergraduate women are victims of sexual assault in college. Why has such a horrific epidemic been swept under the rug for so long, and what can colleges do to combat this?"

"I believe some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation, and that may be a reason it could get swept under the rug," Sanchez answered. "I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. As a fourth-degree black-belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself, and that's something that we should start to implement for a lot of women."

Online critics accused her of blaming the victims.


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Friday
Jun132014

Counselor Helps Foil Teens’ Alleged Plot to Shoot Up Tennessee School 

iStock/Thinkstock(CHURCH HILL, Tenn.) --  A tip from a Tennessee counselor helped authorities prevent a possible school shooting, officials announced Friday.

An investigation into the whereabouts of two students had been sparked by the disturbing information from one of the teenagers’ therapists.

“This wasn’t just a threat,” Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said of the allegations. “It was a plan of attack.”

Authorities said a counselor treating the younger of the two students at a youth center called police in October. The teen’s parent had reportedly discovered massacre plans in a journal and sought help.

The counselor revealed to authorities that the student had shared plans for shooting up his high school during a therapy session, officials said.

“If we have a concern that a youth may be a risk or harm to another individual, we make efforts in the moment to notify the individual who is at risk, as well as to contact authorities,” Kandi Shearer of Youth Villages Counseling Services in Johnson City, Tennessee, said.

Authorities said the teenagers, now 16 and 17, had planned to shoot up Volunteer High School in Church Hill, Tennessee, and kill as many people as possible. The teenagers’ names have not been released by authorities because they are juveniles.

During a search of the younger student’s home in December, police said, they found several guns, firecrackers, a plastic bag full of gunpowder and floor plans to the high school, as well as journals.

“There was a detailed plan of attack, studies of maximum amount of students in the lunchroom and hallways, where to block the exits,” Lawson said.

Both teens were charged Thursday with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, conspiracy terrorism and possession of explosives. Neither teen had entered a plea.

The school system said that while individuals at Volunteer were never in danger, it was wake-up call to students everywhere.


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Friday
Jun132014

New Orleans Family Hosts Funeral 'Party,' Corpse Sits at Table  

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) -- A New Orleans woman gave her final farewell in style, sitting in a chair with cigarettes and a case of beer as her loved ones paid their respects -- at her funeral.

Miriam Burbank, 53, was a "party girl," according to her family. Relatives asked the funeral home to set up a bar-themed send-off, complete with Burbank propped up in sunglasses donning black and gold fingernails in honor of her favorite football team, the New Orleans Saints.

A bottle of Jack Daniels was also in the background, as she was said to have frequented her neighborhood bars.

"I didn't want her to just go, just go," daughter Zymora Kimball told ABC affiliate WGNO. "So I had to do something amazing, so she's never forgotten."

Lisa Moore, a family friend, said the funeral director did a great job capturing Burbank's spirit.

"I think it's amazing, for him to capture someone's actual life, their lifestyle, the way they lived," Moore said.

It's not the first time the funeral home held a themed service, according to employee Lyelle Bellard.

"We celebrate life.  We celebrate the passing.  We celebrate the home-going of people," Bellard said.


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Friday
Jun132014

Deployed Soldier Sends Pizza Home to Husband

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Even when separated by thousands of miles, one deployed U.S. soldier managed to keep the tradition of a weekly pizza night with her husband alive.

The soldier's husband, Reddit user Robswampthing, posted photographic evidence of his wife's love on the social media site this week.

"My wife is deployed right now, and we always used to get pizza on Wednesday nights," he wrote. "I sent her a message telling her how much I missed doing that with her, then Papa Johns showed up."

The message from his wife above the hot and cheesy Papa John's pizza was sweet and simple.

"I love you. I miss you. And I will be home soon," it read.

The Reddit user, who did not reply to ABC News' requests for comment, went on to explain that his wife had been deployed for "a few months" and would be back home towards the end of 2014.

"Here's to eating this by myself :/," wrote Robswampthing, noting that he is also an active duty soldier.

"We both absolutely love it, granted this is the longest we've been separated [sic]," he wrote.


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Friday
Jun132014

LA Kings vs. NY Rangers: The Best of the West Coast-East Coast Feuds 

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- In honor of the Los Angeles Kings facing off against the New York Rangers Friday night for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, check out a list of some of the other great West Coast-East Coast rivalries:

Rap Music: Tupac vs. Biggie

The most famous and devastating East Coast-West Coast feud involved rappers Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur, representing East Coast hip-hop and West Coast hip-hop, respectively. Biggie's Bad Boy Records feuded with Tupac's Death Row Records for years, with the feud ultimately ending when each rapper being shot and killed. Both deaths remain unsolved.

Burgers Shake Shack vs. In 'N Out

The most famous rivalry in burgers may be that of Shake Shack, based in New York, versus California's In 'N Out burger. Californians pride themselves on their Animal Style burgers at In 'N Out, while East Coasters wait in crazy long lines for Shackstyle burgers with Shack sauce.

Commuting: Subway vs. Traffic

Commuting is a pain in any state, but the East Coast and West Coast get to complain about different things. Is the subway running late in New York? That's the worst. But is it worse than being stuck in traffic on the 405 in L.A.? Toss up.

Largest Google Office: Mountain View vs. NYC

Google's Mountain View campus is world-famous for its cafeteria, private buses and on-site laundry. But Google's New York City offices have ladders that allow you to climb between floors, a full-service cafeteria comparable to California's, Ping-Pong tables, and other fun stuff -- plus a city outside the front door.

Weather: Seasons vs. No Seasons

It's always sunny in Los Angeles. Or at least, almost always. California's temperate climate spans most of the state, while the East Coast enjoys all the seasons, including crunchy leaves in the fall and the chance of a white Christmas each year.

Beaches: Malibu vs. Hamptons

California's temperate climate allows for beach-going much of the year, but the chilly temperatures in the Pacific can sometimes be a deterrent to swimming. The beaches on the East Coast, including in the famed New York resort community of the Hamptons, are best in the warm-weather months when the Atlantic is perfect for a swim.


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