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Thursday
Dec062012

Pat Down Missed Gun on Handcuffed Texas Teen Who Shot Himself

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Police are investigating how officers failed to find a gun after searching and handcuffing an agitated Texas high school senior who shot himself in the head while riding in a police car.

Capt. Jon Moore with the Harris County Precinct 3 constable's office told ABC News that while the deputies did a pat down on the boy, they did not do a complete search.

"The intent was not to arrest. The intent was to get him help," said Moore. "They just missed it, and I wish I could say different."

The 17-year-old student at North Shore Senior High School in Galena, whose name has not been released, is in critical but stable condition at Ben Taub Hospital in Houston, Harris County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Christina Garza said.

"There have obviously been some questions that need to be asked," said Jonathan Frey, interim director of communications for Galena Park Independent School District. "How did the boy get the gun after the search?"

Frey said the boy had sent messages to a friend indicating that he was going to hurt himself on Wednesday. She reported it to an administrator, who immediately contacted a deputy on campus, he said.

The district has a contract with the Harris County Precinct 3 constable's office to provide security at the school, said Frey.

"[The deputy] went down, found where the boy was, restrained him and took him to the police car," Frey said. "He was handcuffed and put in the back. As they were leaving, somehow, he pulled out a gun and shot himself."

Moore said the deputy found the student in a restroom on campus alone. The deputy who responded could not get the student to comply with verbal commands, and called for assistance, he said.

Moore said deputies handcuffed the student and were able to get him outside the school, into the police car and in the back seat.

The deputy driving the vehicle was taking the boy to an ambulance on school grounds when he heard a pop, said Moore. When the deputy got out of the vehicle to check on the student, he saw that the teenager had shot himself.

"We didn't know what the situation was. The deputy and the school felt it was better to be safe," said Moore of the ambulance's presence. "He was threatening to harm himself, but we didn't know if he took pills."

Now, the Harris County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident.

"All indications at this time are that he had threatened to hurt himself in the past, based on witness testimony, and friends and family," said Garza. "At this time, [the investigation] points to it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. "

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov142012

Los Angeles Officials Suspend Search for Girl Dragged Away by Hair

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Steep terrain and rough conditions dangerous to K-9 units forced the suspension of a search for a girl or petite woman seen being struck and dragged away by her hair Monday night, officials said.

The victim may have been kidnapped by a man at the El Sereno Recreation Center on the 4900 block of Klamath Street in El Sereno, Calif., located in eastern Los Angeles, according to a 911 caller reporting the incident at 8 p.m. Monday.

Witnesses saw the victim and her alleged assailant arguing, according to reports.

"That argument escalated to the point where the male struck the female at least once in the face and then began to drag her up into the brush area by the hair," police Lt. Andy Neiman said, according to The Associated Press.

Soon, police launched a thorough search, Los Angeles Police Department Public Information Officer Luiz Garcia told ABC News.

"Helicopters, K-9 units, urban search and rescue, and mounted police officers searched a 350-acre radius around the center, and we involved up to 250 officers to search for the missing victim," Garcia said.

"We found clothing items including shoes, a shirt and pants that we believe belong to the girl," Garcia added. "The fact that we found these items made us suspect that the victim may have been sexually assaulted."

During Monday's incident, witnesses heard the victim screaming and saw the suspect drag her into the bushes by her hair, Garcia said.

"The girl looked petite to them, so they estimated that she might have been between 13 and 15 years old," he added.

The witnesses did not interfere with the suspect, but decided to call the police instead, Garcia said. They did not have a cellphone with them so they ran to grab one to call 911.

When they returned to the scene, "they had lost contact with the victim and the suspect," Garcia said.

So far, the LAPD hasn't received any reports of missing persons that matched the description of the victim.

El Sereno Recreation Center serves the East Los Angeles community. It is a bustling center with a pool, a public community room, a baseball diamond, basketball and tennis courts, and other amenities.

"It's very shocking that such an incident would happen at this park given that it's a really nice and safe place," said Patricia Solis, a neighborhood resident. "This is a very safe neighborhood and people look out for each other."

Garcia said that the suspect was described as a Hispanic male between 18 and 20 years old, 6 feet tall, weighing 200 pounds with clean-cut dark hair. He was reported to be wearing a gray shirt and blue jeans at the time of the incident.

Even though the full-scale police search that followed was suspended on Tuesday, the investigation to find the girl and her assailant continued. A command post established next to Wilson High School, located half a mile away from the recreation center, was still operating.

Garcia urged anyone with information about the case to call the Los Angeles Police Department at 1-877-527-2477.

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct292012

Two Missing Oregon Teen Hikers Found Safe

ABC News(MOLALLA, Ore.) -- Two West Linn teenagers who went missing on Saturday while on a hike in southeast Molalla, Ore., have been found safe, rescuers reported Monday.

Jackson Chandler, 17, and 16-year-old Bradley Nelson went on a day hike in the Table Rock Wilderness area. When they did not return, their parents called Clackamas County Search and Rescue, who’d called on the the Oregon Army National Guard to help in the search for the missing high school students.

A Clackamas County Sheriff’s office spokesperson said the two teenagers did not need medical attention when they were found, reported ABC affiliate station KATU in Portland.

Once there was a break in the rain, the Oregon Army National Guard flew out a helicopter to locate the hikers “from the air,” said spokesman Deputy Nate Thompson, who’d deployed 50 searchers in the area.

Chandler and Nelson both go to West Linn High School. They are active Eagle Scouts and are experienced and trained hikers. But constant rain, rough terrain and the possibility that they were stranded in the middle of the wilderness were a cause for concern once they did not return from their hike.

"It was very unlike them not to return from their hikes. This is why their families reported them missing,” Thompson said.

Chandler and Nelson did not contact anyone for help once they set out on the hike. “The last time anyone heard from them were their parents before they took off for their hike. They didn’t text or call,” said Thompson.

West Linn High School, where Chandler is a senior and Nelson a junior, had been preparing an administrative meeting to update school staff and students on the status of the rescue efforts.

Lou Bailey, principal of West Linn High, told ABC News that many of Jackson and Bradley’s friends had gathered at the rescue scene with their families to show support.

The school could not help out in the rescue because the public is not allowed in the area where the pair had been hiking, as it’s very treacherous, Bailey said.

Search crews had made some progress in their pursuit after they found the hikers’ truck on Sunday afternoon. “It was locked and the boys were not inside,” Thompson said.

Attempts to reach the parents of Chandler and Nelson by ABC News were not successful.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct292012

Oregon Army National Guard Searches for Teen Hikers

Pixland/Thinkstock(MOLALLA, Ore.) -- The Oregon Army National Guard is helping Clackamas County rescuers in their search to find two West Linn teenagers who went missing on Saturday while on a hike in southeast Molalla, Ore.

Jackson Chandler, 17, and 16-year-old Bradley Nelson, went on a day hike in the Table Rock Wilderness area Saturday, but when they did not return, their parents called Clackamas County Search and Rescue which set out to find them.

“We have a break in the rain now and the Oregon Army National Guard are flying out a helicopter hoping to locate them from the air,” said spokesman Deputy Nate Thompson. “We already deployed 50 searchers in the area, trying to locate them.”

Chandler and Nelson both go to West Linn High School. They are active Eagle Scouts and are experienced and trained hikers. But constant rain, rough terrain and the possibility that they’re stranded in the middle of the wilderness have been causes for worry.

"If they have the right amount of equipment and training, it should keep them safe for a period of time. But we don’t know where they are now. … They are very deep in the wilderness and coming in contact with someone else directly is difficult,” said Thompson. “They are experienced hikers, and it was very unlike them not to return from their hikes. This is why their families reported them missing,” he said.

Chandler and Nelson did not contact anyone for help once they set out on the hike. “The last time anyone heard from them are their parents before they took off for their hike. They didn’t text or call,” said Thompson.

West Linn High School, where Chandler is a senior and Nelson a junior, is preparing an administrative meeting to update school staff and students on the status of the rescue efforts.

“We have news that many of Jackson and Bradley’s friends are gathering out there at the rescue scene with their families to show support,” Lou Bailey, principal of West Linn High, told ABC News.

“Like everyone else involved in the search, we are in limbo waiting to hear any updates from the crews out there,” said Bailey. “The school cannot help out in the rescue because the normal public is not allowed out there. The area that Jackson and Bradley are at is very treacherous,” he said.

Search crews made some progress in their pursuit after they found the hikers’ truck on Sunday afternoon. “It was locked and the boys were not inside,” Thompson said.

The parents of Chandler and Nelson were not available for comment when contacted by ABC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct152012

Cops Search Sea for Missing UNH Student, Believed Strangled

Comstock/Thinkstock(PORTSMOUTH, N.H.) -- A New Hampshire martial arts instructor was held without bail Monday, accused of strangling or suffocating college sophomore Elizabeth Marriott, whose body remains missing, and which authorities believe was dumped at sea.

Seth Mazzaglia, 29, of Dover, N.H., appeared in court via video conference Monday to be charged with second degree murder.

"You caused the death of Elizabeth Marriott," Judge Stephen Morrison read in a description of the case. "The circumstances that manifested in an extreme indifference to human life by strangling her and/or suffocating her."

Marriott, a 19-year-old marine biology major at the University of New Hampshire, was last heard from Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Her body has yet to be discovered and authorities have not yet disclosed how they know the cause of death.

Authorities said Marriott knew Mazzaglia and believed her body had been deposited in the murky, choppy waters near Pierce Island, N.H.

"Marine patrol continues to search the waters, specifically looking at Lookout Point at Peirce Island. Given the eddies and current, there have been many challenges. The search may last several more days. They have not exhausted that search," Associate Attorney General Jane Young told reporters following Monday's hearing.

Young said investigators were using sonar and underwater cameras as well as cadaver dogs to search the water and along the coast.

"I can tell you [Marriott and Mazzaglia] were familiar with one another and this was not a random incident," she said.

Mazzaglia did not enter a plea, and is next expected in court on Oct. 29 for a probable cause hearing.

"She was a very good student with a pleasant personality," Anthony Hanna, Marriott's uncle told ABC News, soon after her disappearance.

"She volunteered at the aquarium and wanted to be a marine biologist. She's a sweet kid and a very pretty girl with a lot of enthusiasm and was excited about earning her degree," said Hanna, with whom she lived while she was attending school.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct112012

Body Found in Jessica Ridgeway Search 'Not Intact'

The Ridgeway Family(ARVADA, Colo.) -- The investigation into the disappearance of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway took a grisly turn Thursday when police said that a body found during their search for Jessica is "not intact."

The condition of the body is delaying identification.

"It's not intact," Westminster Police Department spokesman Trevor Materasso said at a news conference Thursday. "This is extending the length of time it's taking for investigators to positively identify who that body is."

The body was found in an Arvada, Colo., park a few miles from where Ridgeway disappeared last week.

"We've released the information and contacted the family to let them know this information is being released publicly," Materasso said, seeming to refer to the revelation that the body was dismembered.

Police haven't officially tied the crime scene at the Pattridge Park open space in Arvada to the missing girl. But investigators have reasons to believe it is the body of the girl who vanished Friday on her walk to school, stressing that a positive identification will take time, according to three sources.

Materasso said authorities expect to have a news conference on Friday to release more information.

Police worked overnight under the floodlights of a fire truck as the body was carried out after dark on a stretcher. The body was found about seven miles from Jessica's home and close to where her backpack was discovered.

Police were alerted to the body hours after they said that Jessica's parents were not suspects in her disappearance and they believed she had been abducted. Police say they still don't have any suspects.

"At this point in the investigation, after thoroughly looking at the parents, we're confident that they're not involved in the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway," Materasso said on Wednesday. "The focus shifts to an unknown suspect, as we think that she was abducted."

Surrounded by 10 family members, including Jessica's father, Jeremiah Bryant, Jessica's mom, Sarah Ridgeway, said early Wednesday, "I know I didn't do anything. Everybody that's here knows I didn't do anything. Nobody in this room did anything to harm her or a tiny hair on her little head."

Bryant lives out of state and was in a custody battle with Sarah Ridgeway.

Ridgeway told police she last saw her daughter in Westminster, Colo., Friday morning when Jessica left for school. The fifth-grader never showed up at a nearby park where she was supposed to meet friends for the one-mile walk to her elementary school. It was a route she took every day, but this time she never arrived.

The school called to report Jessica absent, but Sarah Ridgeway told police she was asleep during the day because she works overnights and did not get the call until eight hours later, when she called police.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep142012

Earthquake First Responders: Cockroaches?

iBionicS(NEW YORK) -- Move over search-and-rescue dogs.  First-responding cockroaches might be the next big thing in disaster response.

Researchers at North Carolina State University in Raleigh hope the unsightly pests can be put to good use, saving lives in disasters like earthquakes, fires and chemical attacks.

“Our research is basically to turn insects into beasts of burden as we did with larger animals: horses and camels,” Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor at N.C. State’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, told ABC News.

The bugs carry “backpacks” equipped with sensors that could potentially carry microphones to transmit audio or low-grade video cameras for video from their environment.

They are steered around in tight crevices and rubble -- say from an earthquake -- using their antennas that interpret low-grade electrical pulses as an obstacle the bug needs to avoid.

A video released at the iEEE Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society conference in San Diego last month shows the cockroaches successfully being steered along a curved line drawn by researchers.

“We are interested in finding people after the earthquakes, under the building,” Bozkurt said. “The first sensor one can envision could be tiny microphones to listen to the help calls.”

The advantage of using the tiny creatures lies in both their size -- they are smaller than humans and dogs -- and their strength.

Bozkurt’s research uses the Madagascar hissing cockroach, one of the largest species of cockroach, which are small enough to slip into small cracks between rocks, but large enough to carry their potentially lifesaving loads. The bug can grow up to 3 inches long.

“Insects are self powered,” he said.  “It’s like riding a horse, as long as you feed the insect it will keep going.”

The radio that sends a signal back to rescuers waiting outside will be powered by tiny batteries.

Researchers are continuing to perfect the technology, looking for more ways to make tiny circuits even smaller, exert more precise control over the insect and move them around in a 3-D environment.

But Bozkurt expects that their work could make a huge difference after disasters in densely populated urban areas.

“It’s a huge mess and somewhere in the middle your kid is crying, asking for help and you want to help them as soon as possible,” Bozkurt said.  “So the only help would come from huge machines which dig through the rubble and it’s not very efficient.  So we’re trying to make this process more efficient.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul022012

75th Anniversary of Amelia Earhart's Disappearance Prompts New Search

New York Times Co./Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In honor of the 75th anniversary of Amelia Earhart's disappearance, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) is setting out to search for Earhart's plane, the Electra, at Nikumaroro, an island in the western Pacific Ocean where they believe Earhart was stranded and later died.

Seventy-five years ago on July 2, 1937, Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, mysteriously vanished somewhere over the Pacific Ocean during her attempted flight around the world.  Her two-engine plane, Lockheed Electra, was never found and neither was Earhart or her navigator, Fred Noonan.

TIGHAR, with the help of FedEx, plans to travel from Honolulu on Monday to Nikumaroro.  There, they will use advanced technology to search underwater off the west coast of the island for signs of manmade objects.  They hope to find wreckage of Earhart's plane.

"That's what should be down there based on the research and clues we have," Ric Gillespie, TIGHAR's executive director, said.  "We think it should be down there, whether it thinks so is another question."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun082012

L.A. Home Searched for Missing Studio Exec Gavin Smith

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- The search for missing Hollywood executive Gavin Smith took a twist Friday as detectives searched the home of a family in the San Fernando Valley in connection to his disappearance.

Smith, a 57-year-old father and husband who worked in film distribution in Hollywood, went missing on May 2 from the house of a female friend at around 10 p.m.

Friday’s search of a house in the San Fernando Valley began around 7:30 a.m. as authorities served a search warrant on the home.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the home belonged to a family of four on a quiet cul-de-sac. When SWAT cars arrived Friday morning, a woman and two children emerged from the home to allow the search to be completed. The family was not identified.

Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore confirmed the details of the search to ABC News Friday but would not say what authorities found.

“Our hope is that we find him safe and sound,” Whitmore said. “There is no indication of any wrongdoing, but we are not ruling anything out.”

Smith’s  family has not said why Smith was staying with the friend on the night he disappeared, but was adamant that he would not have left the family without saying a word.

“He would never do anything like that. He’s a great father. My dad had no reason to leave. No reason at all,” Evan Smith, Gavin’s eldest son and a star basketball player at USC, told ABC News.

Smith allegedly left his female friend’s home on the night of May 2 wearing purple exercise pants and driving a black Mercedes. He left his belongings at the friend’s house, and promised his wife he would drive their youngest son to school the following morning. When he did not show up, the police were notified.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May242012

Searchers Follow Bike Route Where Missing La. Student Was Last Seen

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(LAFAYETTE, La.) -- Dozens of people gathered Thursday to ride the route presumably taken by missing Louisiana college student Michaela "Mickey" Shunick when she vanished on her bike last Saturday.

Friends and searchers took to the route at dusk, following the path on which Shunick set out in the early hours of Saturday morning.  FBI, U.S. Marshals and local police are involved in the search that they are treating as a missing person case, but have not ruled out foul play.

Shunick, 22, a senior anthropology major at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, left friend Brettly Wilson's house on her bike just before 2 a.m. Saturday after a night out, and hasn't been heard from since.

"I asked her to be safe ... I saw her get to the driveway and that was the last time I saw her," Wilson said.

Friends and family held a candle light vigil Tuesday night, and announced a reward of $20,000 for tips leading to her whereabouts.  Searches by K-9 units, police and volunteers have turned up no hints of what happened, but her family remains hopeful.

"I think she's OK, I think she's alive.  I think she's out there," Shunick's sister, Charlene, told ABC News affiliate KATC-TV in Lafayette, La.

The FBI, state and local police, and nearly a thousand volunteers are searching Thursday morning, but have found no trace of the young woman.  Friends say she wasn't drinking, and that Shunick was an avid cyclist, so riding her bike at that hour was not unusual.

Shunick is 5-foot-1 and 115 pounds.  She was last seen wearing a pastel multi-colored striped shirt, light-wash skinny jeans and gray shoes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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