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Saturday
Apr182015

Take a Tour of the New Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan Museum

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A new museum opens its single door this weekend in Brooklyn, New York, as two comedians-turned-figure skating fans unveil their crowdsourced project to the world.

Viviana Olen and Matt Harkins, friends who live together in Williamsburg, gave ABC News a tour of The Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan 1994 Museum, or as it used to be called, their hallway.

The pair became fascinated by the now decades-old feud between the former figure skaters after watching ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary The Price of Gold, which detailed the attack on Kerrigan before the 1994 Olympics.

The original plan was to blow up a series of pictures of big moments in the athletes’ careers, so Olen and Harkins launched a Kickstarter campaign but were overwhelmed with the response online, finding far more fellow fans than they expected.

With donated fan art projects including a diorama and cross stitches, as well as more than $2,000 in donations, the pair collected enough artifacts to fill their wall space.

Because it is still the apartment where they live, Olen and Harkins will be scheduling the viewings directly with interested parties.

ESPN and ABC News are owned by The Walt Disney Co.



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Friday
Apr172015

At Least 11 People Injured in California Gas-Line Explosion

MattGush/iStock/Thinkstock(FRESNO, Calif.) -- At least 11 people were injured in a gas pipeline explosion near a gun range on Friday in Fresno, California.

Fresno County Fire Chief Kerri Donnis said in a news conference late Friday at least 11 people were injured, three of them critically.

Donnis added that firefighters were quickly able to contain a fire that broke out shortly after the blast.

“There is residual gas, which does cause some flames, but it is contained,” she said.

Fresno County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tonni Botti said a worker struck a gas line around 2:30 p.m. local time, causing the explosion and resulting fire.

 

 

The blast shut down portions of Highway 99, a busy California highway, for several hours.

“Initially when this thing broke out, we were getting reports of flames shooting anywhere from 70 to 100 feet in the air,” Botti said..


 

 


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Friday
Apr172015

Ohio Terror Suspect Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Charges

iStock/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- The 23-year-old Ohio man charged with training with a terrorist group in Syria -- then returning to the U.S. to carry out an attack here -- pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court.

Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, 23, of Columbus, “is certainly scared,” according to his lawyer, Sam Shamansky.

“The charges are serious, and the stakes are high,” Shamansky told reporters at a news conference after his client entered his not guilty pleas.

He said that Mohamud is "in many ways, he is a normal young man,” adding that his client has “zero” record of crime or violence.

Shamansky added that Mohamud’s family had fled from the civil war in Somalia, and was trying to make a new life in America.

Mohamud’s brother, he conceded, had traveled to Syria and had been killed fighting on behalf of the terror group al-Nusra in 2014.

Shamansky said the government indictment included “salacious” allegations designed to “scare people.”

But the U.S. attorney reiterated the government’s allegation that Mohamud had planned to “kill Americans -- military, police, anyone in uniform.”

Mohamud was initially arrested in February on state charges. A federal grand jury had indicted him for attempting to provide and providing material support to terrorists, one count of attempting to provide and providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and one count of making false statements to the FBI.

Mohamud’s trial date was set for June 22.



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Friday
Apr172015

Ohio Officer on Patrol Surprised to Spot Toddler on Roof

Jean-nicolas Nault/iStock/Thinkstock(NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, Ohio) -- A police officer in Ohio was in the right place at precisely the right time earlier this week when a toddler crawled out the second-story window of a home.

Newburgh Heights Officer Mike Marniella was driving on Wednesday when he heard a child crying, and then saw the 18-month-old boy on the roof of a home, according to a report by ABC News affiliate WEWS-TV.

Video from the incident was captured on Marinella’s body camera, where he is heard telling the toddler to stay on the roof as the child is heard crying. The video also captures the moment the child’s mother discovered he was out on the roof.

Marinella told the television station on Friday he radioed for back-up from the fire department and stood guard on the ground until additional help arrived.  

“Whether you're a police officer, fireman, postal worker, I think anybody would have done something in that situation,” he said.

No charges are planned against the mother, who told Marinella she was cleaning and turned her head for “a moment” when the child went out the window, WEWS-TV reports.


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Friday
Apr172015

Watch California Water Cop Patrol for Wasters in Drought-Stricken State

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- Save water or face the consequences: That’s Rick Silva’s message to the Los Angeles communities he patrols.

Silva is a water cop, or more formally a water conservation supervisor with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

ABC News followed Silva around recently to get a feel for what it’s like patrolling the community for water wasters.

“We want to get the idea [out there] that you don’t need a green lawn for your house to look good,” Silva said. “See this home here took out their lawn completely and put in decomposed granite.”

Californians have been facing more water restrictions since Gov. Jerry Brown ordered mandatory water conservation measures on April 1 because of the state’s severe drought.

For the first time in California's history, measures were implemented across the state in an effort to cut back on water use by 25 percent.

Silva’s job is to patrol the neighborhood and make sure residents are only watering during the appropriate days and hours. He says he likes talking to people in person at their front door.

"I prefer for them to be home. I'd rather keep it conversational," Silva said. "We find that's very effective, no need to be confrontational."

The first warning for a resident misusing water is verbal, Silva said. The second warning is a $100 fine, the third warning is a $200 fine and it continues from there.

“We try to educate people,” Silva said. “Some changes may seem small, like turning off the water when you brush your teeth, but when you get a million people doing that it makes a difference.”

 
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Friday
Apr172015

Kent State Professor Defends Alleged Road Rage Behavior Caught on Camera in Ohio

Alex_Schmidt/iStock/Thinkstock(KENT, Ohio) -- A "road rage" incident caught on cell phone video at Kent State University has left an assistant professor at the school injured and facing charges, a university official said.

The professor contends he was protecting a student against a man who was texting and driving.

On Wednesday evening, police at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, responded to an incident near the campus' recreation center, according to a university spokeswoman speaking on behalf of the school's police department.

Witnesses told ABC News affiliate WEWS-TV that the confrontation began when a minivan appeared to cut off a car.

In the video, a man stands at the driver's-side window of the minivan. He screams, "What kind of a moron are you?" and curses.

The video shows Linden Adkins, an assistant professor at Kent State's College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology, appearing to try to grab a wiper blade on the minivan, then captures the van starting to move forward and Adkins falling to the ground.

See the video by clicking here

Adkins said he was in his car when he saw another driver with his left hand on the wheel and his right hand holding a cell phone. He said the other driver -- who has not been identified or charged, according to the university -- was looking down and texting.

"As with all of those kinds of cell phone videos, they only captured a small portion of it. They missed the three minutes ahead of that," Adkins told ABC News on Friday.

"He completely ran the stop sign," Adkins said. "I had to swerve to get out of his way."

"The part that really angered me was that a student was crossing the street and she had to leap backwards to get back on the sidewalk -- and he didn't even see that," Adkins added. "I got out of my car and I went to him. ... He didn't even see me coming towards him."

"Then you heard all the things I said ... and I swore," Adkins said. "I didn't threaten him, I didn't do anything physical to him. ... I just made it very clear that what he did was really stupid."

However, the summons issued to Adkins said he "did knowingly cause another to believe he would cause physical harm."

Adkins said he may have inadvertently leaned on the windshield wiper so he could see the minivan driver through the front windshield, rather than trying to look through a tinted side window. As the minivan moved, he said, the van's mirror knocked him down and dragged him.

Adkins suffered scrapes from the fall, the university said, and he was treated at the scene. No other injuries were reported.

Witnesses told WEWS-TV the minivan driver stayed at the scene.

Adkins was charged with menacing, the university spokeswoman said. Adkins, who confirmed the charge, said he does not have a lawyer.

While Kent State does not know how the confrontation started, the incident is classified as a road rage incident, she added. The case remains open, according to the university.


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Friday
Apr172015

Colorado Teacher Shares Heartbreaking Notes From Third Graders

Kyle Schwartz(DENVER) -- Kyle Schwartz teaches third grade at Doull Elementary in Denver.

Although she says her students are a pleasure to look after, the educator of three years adds that many of them come from underprivileged homes.

"Ninety-two percent of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch," Schwartz tells ABC News. "As a new teacher, I struggled to understand the reality of my students' lives and how to best support them. I just felt like there was something I didn't know about my students."

In a bid to build trust between her and her students, Schwartz thought up a lesson plan called "I Wish My Teacher Knew."

For the activity, Schwartz's third graders jot down a thought for their teacher, sharing something they'd like her to know about them.

"I let students determine if they would like to answer anonymously," she says. "I have found that most students are not only willing to include their name, but also enjoy sharing with the class. Even when what my students are sharing is sensitive in nature, most students want their classmates to know.”

"Some notes are heartbreaking like the first #iwishmyteacherknew tweet which read, 'I wish my teacher knew I don't have pencils at home to do my homework.' I care deeply about each and every one of my students and I don't want any of them to have to suffer the consequences of living in poverty, which is my main motivation for teaching."

Blown away by her class' honesty, Schwartz shared some of the notes on Twitter using the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew, encouraging fellow teachers to employ the same lesson with their own students.

The tweets and photos of notes from other schools came pouring in from around the world.

"I think it caught on so fast because teachers are highly collaborative and freely share and explore resources," Schwartz says. "In the end, all teachers want to support their students, and #iwishmyteacherknew is a simple and powerful way to do that.

"Building community in my classroom is a major goal of this lesson. After one student shared that she had no one to play with at recess, the rest of the class chimed in and said, 'we got your back.' The next day during recess, I noticed she was playing with a group of girls. Not only can I support my students, but my students can support each other."

Schwartz says she also hopes her lesson can help her connect students and their families with the proper resources they need to live comfortably.


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Friday
Apr172015

Reserve Deputy Robert Bates' Weapons Training in Question After Shooting

ABC News(TULSA, Okla.) — An Oklahoma newspaper is alleging that Robert Bates, the volunteer reserve deputy now charged with killing an unarmed man, may not have been fully trained to handle his weapons.

Bates, 73, turned himself in at the Tulsa, Oklahoma, County Jail on Tuesday on a second-degree manslaughter charge in connection with the deadly April 2 shooting of suspect Eric Harris.

Bates, an unpaid volunteer reserve deputy, "shot the victim with a Smith & Wesson Revolver which at the time he shot it he believed it to be a Taser gun," according to court filings.

Tulsa World reported that, according to sources, the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office had falsified "training records,” including "firearms certifications." The newspaper also alleged that "supervisors were transferred after refusing to sign off."

Ziva Branstetter, an editor and reporter for Tulsa World, told ABC News she was "extremely confident" in the newspaper's sources and that the newspaper had worked on the story for two weeks.

"They're all very solid sources," she said Friday. "They're people who have been concerned about Deputy Bates and his lack of training for quite a while and came forward."

The April 2 shooting happened after a sting operation, when Harris, 44, ran from police after allegedly selling drugs and guns to an undercover deputy.

Video released by the sheriff's office showed Harris getting into a car and pulling a gun out of his backpack. Less than a minute later, a car pulls up, and when deputies get out, Harris runs. A second video shows officers pursuing the suspect and then appearing to struggle to subdue him.

After a single gunshot, someone says, "I shot him! I'm sorry." According to the sheriff's office, the words were spoken by Bates just after he fired his weapon, when he realized that he hadn't shot his Taser.

Both the sheriff's department and Bates' attorney say he was well-trained. The sheriff's department Friday refused to respond to the allegations to the contrary because the newspaper used unnamed sources.

"The media outlet that is putting this information out is using unconfirmed and identified sources and also relying on anonymity," said a public information officer Friday. "We don't respond to rumor."

Branstetter said Friday that there was a lot of public outrage in Tulsa.

"They want accountability," she said. "They also want the FBI to step in. ... No one has confidence in the sheriff's department."


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Friday
Apr172015

Science Experiment in Arizona High School Literally Blows Up

iStock/Thinkstock(MESA, Ariz.) -- A video captured the moment a science experiment went frighteningly wrong inside a classroom at an Arizona high school Thursday.

Students in a chemistry class at Westwood High School in Mesa were watching their teacher, identified as Lisa Tozzi, conduct an experiment on combustion with a five-gallon water jug containing ethanol.

The first video, sent anonymously to local ABC News affiliate KNXV, shows the normal reaction to the experiment: a small combustion inside the container.

The second video, also sent to KNXV, shows the moment the experiment went awry, with an explosion sending flames and plastic everywhere.

Students can be heard in the background screaming out their teacher’s name.

“When she lit it, instead of just making like a whoosh, it exploded,” a student who was in the classroom at the time told KNXV.

The student, who asked to remain anonymous, added his first thought after the explosion was, “Oh crap.”

Tozzi was treated at a local hospital for burns to her upper body and released, a Mesa Public Schools official told KNXV.

One of the students inside the classroom suffered a minor cut, according to KNXV.


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Friday
Apr172015

West Virginia Justice Challenged over Controversial Learjet Deal

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A West Virginia businessman has filed a formal complaint against state Supreme Court Justice Robin Jean Davis with the state’s Judicial Investigation Commission, alleging she had a conflict of interest with a lawyer who bought a jet from her husband as he prepared to argue a $90 million case before her.

“The fact is, an attorney appearing before Justice Davis with a $90 million judgment in hand paid some $1.3 million to the Segal-Davis family, clearly creating a perception that the Justice’s ability to hear the case with complete impartiality could have been impaired,” wrote Bill Maloney, a Republican coal industry veteran from Morgantown who ran unsuccessfully for governor and now runs a conservative think tank.

The complaint is the latest challenge to Davis, the state court’s senior justice, following an ABC News investigation that discovered a lawyer appearing before her had purchased a Learjet from Alpine Air, the holding company solely owned by Davis’ husband, Scott Segal. The airplane sale took place just weeks after the Mississippi lawyer, Michael J. Fuller, had won a $90 million judgment for a client who was suing a nursing home for helping cause the death of his elderly mother.

Davis found for Fuller’s client in the appeal and wrote the majority opinion in the decision that cut the award by $40 million but enabled Fuller to collect a $17 million fee.

Maloney is not involved in the nursing home case, but in a statement indicated he filed the new complaint because he’s interested in protecting the reputation of the state’s judicial system so as to not scare off economic investments for the state.

Since the ABC News report aired, lawyers arguing cases against Fuller before the state supreme court have twice challenged her to recuse herself, and she has twice declined.

In a lengthy response to the first such request, Davis issued a 29-page opinion, saying that she was the victim of sensationalized press coverage by the national media -- an apparent reference to the ABC News report.

“There are those who may argue that, even if the motion has no legal merit, I should step aside from the case in order to spare this Court and our great State from being assaulted by the outrageous fabrications that the national media will continue to heap upon our oft-maligned State,” Davis wrote. “This I cannot do. Courts are governed by law, not by media hype, and if I were to step aside in order to protect this Court from vicious and mean-spirited yellow journalism, I would in all likelihood encourage such tactics in the future by those who seek to use the media in order to manipulate the courts.”

Furthermore, Davis wrote that the “Petitioners' bare bone statements that I have a personal relationship with Mr. Fuller is a clear example of an abuse of the motion to disqualify.”

The Judicial Investigation Commission is an independent, nine-member panel established to look into complaints of judicial misconduct, and to insure the ethical conduct of judges. Maloney filed the complaint this week, a copy of which was obtained by ABC News. In his complaint, he argues that Davis should have disclosed both the Learjet transaction, and subsequent political fundraising that Fuller did on Davis’s behalf.

Davis has repeatedly argued the opposite. She said she does not know the identity of her campaign donors, and was unfamiliar with the details of the airplane sale while she was adjudicating the case. When approached for comment about the matter in December, the then-Chief Justice told ABC News she had no need to disclose the $1 million sale of the aircraft, which she said was handled by a broker. She said she had no involvement in the deal.

“Why should I?” she told ABC News cameras.

Davis has not responded to an after-hours request for comment made by ABC News through the West Virginia courts after the complaint was made public.


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