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Entries in Nebraska (10)

Wednesday
Aug222012

Police Accuse Nebraska Woman of Faking Anti-Gay Hate Crime

City of Lincoln Police Department(LINCOLN, Neb.) -- A Nebraska woman was arrested for faking an anti-gay hate crime in which she claimed three masked men bound her, cut words into her skin and spray-painted slurs on her wall before setting her house on fire.

Charlie Rogers, 33, had told police that the three assailants broke into her Lincoln, Neb., home on July 22.

Rogers, a lesbian and a former University of Nebraska women's basketball star, became a face for anti-gay hate crimes after the alleged attack.

Reports of the alleged assault outraged the gay community, and hundreds of people participated in rallies outside the Nebraska capitol building, and at a park in Omaha.

But now police have charged Rogers with false reporting, disclosing evidence that contradicts her story and points to a faked attack.

Police found white gloves, a box cutter and zip ties in Rogers' home. She had originally told investigators that the gloves were the only item left behind by her attackers, and that they did not belong to her.

But Lincoln police learned that Rogers had visited Ace Hardware in Lincoln on July 17 and purchased the same three items. When confronted about the supplies, Rogers admitted to buying all of them except the gloves, which she said were not hers, according to police.

But DNA evidence suggested otherwise.

"The University of Nebraska Medical Center found DNA evidence that matched Ms. Rogers' inside the gloves that were left at the scene of the crime," Lincoln Police Chief Jim Peschong said at a news conference Tuesday.

"There were no male DNA markers found inside the gloves," he said.

Peschong said that Rogers had no explanation for why her DNA would be in the gloves.

The day after her visit to the hardware store, Rogers posted the following message on her Facebook page: "So maybe I am too idealistic, but I believe way deep inside me that we can make things better for everyone. I will be a catalyst. I will do what it takes. I will. Watch me."

Peschong also said that the circumstances surrounding the cuts on Rogers' body aroused suspicion.

"The cuttings on Ms. Rogers arms were either self-inflicted or she had allowed someone to do them," he said. "The lines were too straight to be accomplished during a struggle, and ... the cuts were all in areas where the victim could have inflicted them herself."

The cuts produced some blood, Peschong said, but that investigators found no blood on Rogers' bedspread. He also said that Rogers had told police that her two dogs were passive during the alleged attack, but Peschong said that the dogs were "fairly aggressive" toward officers investigating the scene.

Police arrested Rogers on Tuesday afternoon and charged her with false reporting. She pleaded not guilty and was released on her own recognizance, or in lieu of bail.

Rogers' attorney, Brett McArthur, did not respond to a request from ABC News for comment Thursday.

Peschong said that the case would not affect the police department's trust in crime victims.

"Criminal incidents, especially hate crimes, are unique and viewed as such," he said. "We do not want crime victims to hesitate reporting crimes in the future."

Rogers' next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 14. The false reporting charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul242012

Nebraska Lesbian Mutilated in Anti-Gay Hate Crime

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LINCOLN, Neb.) -- Nebraska cops are hunting three masked men who carved derogatory epithets into the body of an openly gay woman.

"Three men wearing masks, that's all the victim was able to provide," said Officer Katie Flood of the Lincoln Police Department.

"Derogatory terms associated with her sexual orientation were painted inside her home," the officer said.

Flood would not comment on what was carved into the victim's body.

The woman, who is 33, was bound, gagged and mutilated early Sunday and the three attackers splashed the victim's home with gasoline and tried to set it on fire, scorching a floor, police reports state. The attack is being classified as a hate crime.

"According to our policy any offense is classified as a hate crime when it appears biased regarding someone's sexual orientation," Flood said.

The officer refused to divulge additional details, telling ABC News, "We are not releasing any further details."

A neighbor of the woman was appalled by the attack.

"When someone takes the time to handcuff someone with a zip tie and carve derogatory comments or words into somebody else's body, that's sheer hate and at this point, this is a hate crime," a neighbor who declined to be identified told ABC affiliate KLKN.

The victim is openly homosexual, said her friend Erin Thompson who spoke with the Omaha World-Herald. She said that the attackers slashed the word "dyke" among two other epithets into the victim's stomach and arm.

Hundreds of Lincoln residents came out to show their support for the victim, holding a vigil in front of the State Capitol Building Sunday evening. "Hate crimes are despicable and appalling to me and to all Lincoln residents," the city's mayor said in a statement.

Among those present at the vigil were members of Lincoln's gay and lesbian community.

"Someone hurt someone in my family -- my LGBT family," one person told ABC's KLKN.

Some residents fear this may be a setback for the local gay and lesbian community, one that that only two months prior saw local officials approve a measure that would ensure fair treatment of gay and transgendered residents in housing and job applications.

"Another reason it's difficult to come out in Lincoln," wrote one commenter on Outlinc's Facebook page, a local non-profit organization that supports the city's LGBT community.

"Many in our community are understandably experiencing a great deal of sadness, anger, and confusion," said Tyler Richard, President of Outlinc, in a statement on the organization's homepage.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

Michelle Obama: ‘I’m Strong, Smart and Bold’

Leon Neal/WPA POOL/Getty Images(OMAHA, Neb.) -- First lady Michelle Obama was in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday for an address to women and girls, aimed at boosting their confidence as advocates for themselves.  She also appealed for campaign cash at a fundraiser hosted by Warren Buffet in Omaha, which could be key to President Obama’s re-election.

Mrs. Obama delivered the keynote speech at an annual luncheon for Girls Inc., a nonprofit advocacy group for which she is an honorary board chair, exhorting the women not to “be afraid to dream big.”

“You have to see yourself in a place. You have to be able to see yourself as that scientist, as the next president of the United States. You can be first lady if you want to, but there’s also the presidency,” she said.

Asked by 12-year-old Aviera Pittman whether she believes she’s “strong, smart and bold,” the first lady answered unequivocally.

“Yes, absolutely, right? I’m strong, smart and bold,” Obama told the crowd.

“Believe what people are saying about you.  Believe that.  Take in that good energy.  Own it.  Hug it.  Accept it,” she said. “Put the negative things aside, because that’s always going to be there.  There’s always going to be -- what do we call it, girls?  There’s always going to be haters out there? Don’t focus on that.”

The first lady later spoke to more than 225 paying supporters at a fundraiser at the Omaha Hilton, where she framed the November election as a decision that will “impact our lives for decades” to come.

“Will we continue all the change we’ve begun and the progress we’ve made?  Or will we allow everything we’ve fought for to just slip away?” she said.

“What you have to know is your president, Barack, he knows this.  He knows this all too well.  He understands these issues because he’s lived them,” she said. “And we are blessed to have him.”

The fundraiser, Mrs. Obama’s 25th of the year, raised at least $56,000 for the Obama Campaign, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties, according to figures provided by the Obama campaign.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr142012

Forecasters Warn of Violent,' Life-Threatening' Storms for Midwest

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Midwest is bracing itself for an outbreak of violent weather Saturday that could be "life-threatening," according to forecasters.

Baseball-sized hail and damaging 70 mph winds are expected to whip through a handful of states.

A warning was issued Friday for parts of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

Oklahoma and Kansas are expected to be the hardest hit, according to a rare high risk warning issued Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center.

Paul Walker, an Accuweather senior meteorologist, told ABC News that a warning two days in advance of a storm was unusual and cautioned that the weekend "should be particularly dangerous."

Oklahoma had its first brush with the severe weekend weather on Friday when at least one tornado ripped through the town of Norman, where the University of Oklahoma is located, leaving 19 people hurt with "bumps and bruises" and a trail of property damage.

One patient was hospitalized and in fair condition Friday, said Norman Regional Hospital spokesperson Kelly Wells.

Residents began assessing the damage today before preparing for another day of wild weather. A brick storefront was decimated by the storm. One resident told ABC News a woman lost the roof on her house.

"Fortunately, the portion of the roof that's left is right over our bedroom. I mean, it was there and gone before we could even get out of bed," she said.

The National Weather Service is urging residents in the danger zone to heed its strongly-worded warning.

The storm system was moving toward the Rockies and energizing a warm, moist flow of air from the Gulf of Mexico, according to Accuweather.

Those conditions, plus differing wind directions in the atmosphere and on the surface, will increase the likelihood of tornado-spawning storms today, Accuweather senior meteorologist Paul Walker said.

“All the pieces of the pie are coming together to make a particularly dangerous situation.”

California also dealt with severe weather on Friday when thunderstorms, hail and fierce winds pummeled parts of the state.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug262011

Amtrak Train Derails in Southwest Nebraska

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(MAX, Neb.) -- An Amtrak train carrying approximately 175 passengers derailed in southwest Nebraska on Friday after hitting what the company described as an agricultural vehicle that obscured the tracks.

Some passengers were taken to a local hospital but there were no reports of life threatening injuries, Amtrak said.

“We are saddened by any injury and appreciate the emergency response by local and state agencies,” the company said in a statement Friday.

The train -- which left the San Francisco area on Wednesday -- was traveling from Emeryville, Calif. to Chicago.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun272011

Flood Waters Breach Berm at Nebraska Nuclear Power Plant

ABC News(MINOT, N.D.) -- A berm at a nuclear power plant in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska collapsed early Sunday morning, allowing Missouri River flood waters to reach containment buildings and transformers and forcing the shutdown of electrical power.

As of Sunday night, backup generators were cooling the nuclear material at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station.  The plant has not operated since April, and officials say there is no danger to the public.

Nevertheless, federal inspectors are on the scene, and the federal government is so concerned that the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is headed to the plant.

Meanwhile, there was no protecting thousands of homes in Minot, North Dakota, where massive flooding of the Souris River hit its peak Sunday, flooding more than 4,000 homes.

There is some good news: The river in Minot peaked two feet lower than expected.  However, it is nearly 13 feet above flood stage and it is expected to stay near that level for days.

"It could be two to four to six weeks, or more, before the water actually goes back into it's banks ... [and] before [residents] get to come and see their houses," Brig. Gen. Bill Seekins of the North Dakota National Guard told ABC News during a tour through the flooded areas.

Seekins described the scene as "almost apocalyptic."

Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman said the devastation may be even greater than expected.

"I think we're going to reach probably 4,500 [homes] before this is all done, where we've got a lot of water on these homes," Zimbelman said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Apr102011

Wild Weekend Weather Across the Nation

Comstock/Thinkstock(MAPLETON, Iowa) -- Reports of wildfires, tornadoes and even heavy snowfall highlight some of the severe weather conditions being experienced across the country.

In Iowa, there have been several reports of tornadoes in different parts of the state, including a devastating twister that hit the Western Iowa city of Mapleton and prompted the state’s governor, Terry Branstad, to declare a disaster area. The tornado tore through Mapleton on Saturday night, damaging between 50 to 60 percent of the city, according to the Sioux City Journal. Officials say there have been some reports of injuries, but no reports of fatalities. Although there have been multiple tornado reports, the National Weather Service (NWS) is yet to confirm the exact number of tornadoes that have passed through Iowa.

Meanwhile, residents in some parts of Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado are bracing for some wintry weather, even though the calendar says it’s currently spring. According the NWS forecast, a storm system is set to pass through parts of those states Sunday, and is expected to dump 4-7 inches of snow in the Colorado mountains.

While some are bracing for the cold, authorities in Texas are feeling the heat from a wildfire raging in West Texas. The Texas Forest Service said on Saturday that crews were battling the largest wildfire in the nation and the largest in the state for 2011. The fire has consumed over 71,000 acres in Stonewall, King and Knox counties, and on Saturday showed no signs of slowing down. Officials say the weather does not appear to be cooperating with firefighters, as Sunday’s conditions were expected to be among the worst wildfire weather conditions in state history.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan052011

Son of Omaha Police Detective Shoots Principal and Assistant Principal, Turns Gun on Himself

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(OMAHA, Neb.) -- A high school student and son of a police detective shot two school officials at Millard South High School in Omaha Wednesday and then shot himself, police said.

The shooter was identified as 17-year-old Robert Butler Jr., son of Omaha Police Det. Robert Butler. He was a senior at the school.

The two people wounded in the shooting were the principal, Curtis Case, and an assistant principal, Vicki Kaspar. Kaspar later died. Case is in stable but serious condition at Creighton University Hospital, according to the hospital.

Butler's body was found in a red Honda about a mile from the school. Police said he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

According to Omaha.com, Butler had posted an update to his Facebook page that read:

"Everybody that used to know me I'm sry but Omaha changed me and (expletive) me up. and the school I attend is even worse ur gonna here about the evil (expletive) I did but that (expletive) school drove me to this. I wont u guys to remember me for who I was b4 this ik. I greatly affected the lives of the families ruined but I'm sorry. goodbye."

No other students were wounded during the shooting.

A recorded message from the school said that students are safe and police are in control of the school.

Other schools in the district were also dismissed.

The high school sits on the west side of Omaha, within city limits, and has about 2,100 students.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct052010

Nebraska Toddler Duct-Taped to Wall by Mom, New Photos Show

Photo Courtesy - Gage County Attorney(BEATRICE, Neb.) -- Photos of a teen mother and her boyfriend duct-taping her two-year-old son to a wall have been made public by Nebraska prosecutors, weeks after they were convicted for the incident in which they took pictures of the toddler for fun.

The child, temporarily removed from his mother's custody, is again living with the mother, an 18-year-old admitted drug user.

Sentenced late last month, Jayla Hamm, who was 17 at the time of the abuse, received 10 days in jail and two years probation. Her boyfriend, Corde Honea, 19, an ex-convict, was sentenced to three to five years for child abuse and received an additional 12 to 24 months on felony possession of stolen firearms.

High on drugs, Hamm held the boy in place while Honea taped his body to the wall of their Beatrice, Neb., home using bright-green duct tape, authorities said. In some of the photographs, the boy, dressed in a red onesie, is seen hunched over, unable to escape, his wrists firmly taped to the wall behind his back and above his shoulders.

State health officials are monitoring the home, said Randall Ritnour, the Gage county attorney. Prosecutors, he said, were investigating a separate case to determine whether she should continue to retain custody.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep292010

Officer-Involved Shooting at Omaha, Neb. Medical Center

Photo Courtesy - KETV/Omaha(OMAHA, Neb.) -- An officer-involved shooting inside the Creighton University Medical Center has left two injured and a suspect in critical condition, Omaha Police Department confirmed on Wednesday. Witnesses tell ABC News they heard multiple gunshots in the cafeteria. The two officers are said to have suffered only minor injuries. Police have not confirmed the identity of the suspect or what may have led to the shooting.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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