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Thursday
Oct182018

UFO seen flying over New Jersey was actually a drone, police say

iStock/Thinkstock(UNION, N.J.) -- It wasn't a UFO -- or bird, or plane -- stalking the skies over northern New Jersey Tuesday night.

The unidentified flying object was actually a police drone being used to search for two suspects who robbed a Home Depot, according to the Township of Union Police Department.

Police received a 911 call around 5:49 p.m. Tuesday and reported that the suspects fled with stolen merchandise after one of them pulled a knife on a store loss prevention employee, the department wrote on Facebook.

The Home Depot employee observed the suspects get into a Lexus and try to flee the scene.

The suspects attempted to allude a marked police car that followed it and abandoned the vehicle after striking the curb twice near the entrance to the Garden State Parkway, according to authorities.

Union Police Sgt. Dan Hanselmann was able to tackle the driver and took him into the custody, but the passenger jumped over a guardrail and headed toward the Kawameeh Swamp, prompting a large-scale search for him, police said.

The man was not found after a search that lasted several hours in the heavily wooded area, police said.

A video posted to Twitter Tuesday around 8 p.m. showed a device with blinking lights hovering over the Garden State Parkway.

People were calling into the News12 New Jersey newsroom to report the possible UFO sighting, the station tweeted.

The driver of the Lexus, identified as 45-year-old Rashon Plant, told Hanselmann that the other suspect was armed with a gun or knife and carjacked him, police said. Investigators determined that the driver was part of the shoplifting plan after reviewing the surveillance video from The Home Depot, police said.

Police found about $2,000 worth of various tools in the truck, police said.

Plant was charged with robbery, eluding police and "various drug charges" for possession of heroin and cocaine, police said.

Investigators are still trying to identify the suspect who got away.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Oct182018

Witches to 'hex' Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh; exorcists pray in response

iStock/Thinkstock(BROOKLYN, N.Y.) -- A group of witches says they plan on placing a hex on newly-appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh this weekend.

The witches will gather at Catland Books, a "metaphysical boutique and occult bookshop" in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday, according to the event’s Facebook page.

The hex is in response to Kavanaugh's controversial confirmation in the wake of allegations from California professor Christine Blasey Ford that he sexually assaulted her decades ago when they were in high school in suburban Maryland. Kavanaugh denied the claim and subsequent allegations which arose in the weeks leading up to his confirmation.

According to its Facebook page, the event is not only aimed Kavanaugh but also at people who the bookstore owners say have committed sexual assault or perpetuate patriarchy.

"Basically, it's all about causing suffering," Dakota Bracciale, co-owner of the bookstore told Newsweek in a recent interview. "And we intend to make Kavanaugh suffer."

First reported by The Guardian, tickets to the event cost $10 and have reportedly already sold out. Half of the event’s proceeds will go to women and LGBT charities. The other half of proceeds will be evenly distributed to the Ali Forney Center and Planned Parenthood the bookstore said on its Facebook page.

There will also be a second ritual after the initial hex called “The Rites of the Scorned One,” a ritual which “seeks to validate, affirm, uphold and support those of us who have been wronged and who refuse to be silent any longer."

A group of Catholics and exorcists has responded to the bookstore's hex plans with plans of their own to “pray and fast, not just for the protection of Kavanaugh, but for those who wish him harm.”

According to the National Catholic Register, a manager at a Catholic apostolate was “inspired” to pray and fast the Rosary for three days straight to “grant spiritual protection” for Kavanaugh and that God have “mercy” on those involved in hexing him and others.

Trump apologizes 'on behalf of the nation' to Kavanaugh during swearing-in, claims he was 'proven innocent'

Father Gary Thomas, the exorcist for the Diocese of San Jose, California, is offering a mass for Kavanaugh on Thursday and Saturday. The Supreme Court Justice is Catholic.

“Conjuring up personified evil does not fall under free speech,” Thomas told the National Catholic Register blog.

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Thursday
Oct182018

Pregnant postal worker missing for over 2 weeks: Police 'suspect possible foul play,' family waiting for answers

USPS Inspectors Unit(CHICAGO) -- Chicago police are now suspecting possible foul play in the case of a missing pregnant United States Postal Service worker.

Kierra Coles, a 27-year-old employee of the U.S. Postal Service, was last seen on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

Her two-week disappearance and "the fact that she has fallen off the grid" prompted officials to consider foul play, the Chicago Police Department said in a statement Wednesday.

Coles was last seen on surveillance video in her neighborhood on Oct. 2 dressed for work and walking past her car even though she had called out sick, ABC station WLS in Chicago reported.

Coles' mother, Karen Phillips, told WLS that she last spoke with her daughter on Oct. 2. Coles was saying how happy and emotional she was to hear her baby's heart beating, Phillips said. Cole is about three months pregnant and has a boyfriend.

"She wouldn't go this long without talking to me. We talk every day," Phillips told WLS. "She wouldn't have me worrying like this."

"I'm just clueless. I don't have an idea where my sister could be," Coles' sister, Keisha Phillips, 30, told WLS.

Keisha Phillips said she's had many sleepless nights over his sister's disappearance.

"We don't know if she's warm, if she's hungry," she said.

As they wait for answers, family members are passing out flyers in the South Side neighborhood.

"Maybe somebody knows something," Keisha Phillips said. "We just want her home. We love her, we miss her. All we can keep doing right now is praying, looking. We're not going to give up until we get answers."

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of its employee.

Police said Wednesday that the investigators "continue to get leads and are following up diligently on those leads."

Coles is described as having black hair and brown eyes. She stands at 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 125 pounds.

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Thursday
Oct182018

US Army officer-turned-terrorist thought attack would save mom's soul

Bell County Sheriffs Office(FORT LEAVENWORTH, Texas) -- Newly published excerpts of jailhouse letters from U.S. Army officer-turned-terrorist Nidal Hasan show that he is almost completely without remorse for the 13 lives he took during the Fort Hood attack in 2009, the culmination of a twisted jihadist quest that he hoped would somehow save his mother’s soul.

Asked if he believed he was committing a “good deed” by murdering his fellow soldiers that day, former Army Maj. Hasan responded in one letter to a terrorism researcher, “Of course!”

“I considered those who were trying to help the U.S. undermine the Taliban’s attempt to establish Sharia (God’s) Law as the supreme law of the land and replace it with something else like a democracy that doesn’t rule by God’s law the enemies of God, and thus worthy of fighting/killing,” Hasan wrote in a letter to the researcher Katharine Poppe in November 2017, portions of which were published by the George Washington University’s Program on Extremism on Thursday.

In doing this “good deed,” Hasan hoped to balance what he saw were his own mother’s sins — namely selling alcohol for years at their secular Muslim family’s store — to save her from literally burning for all eternity.

In a new study Poppe, a relative of one of Hasan’s former defense attorneys, traces Hasan’s life from his birth in 1970 in Virginia, through his Army training and his slow embrace of violent radical Islamic ideas. It identifies the 2001 death of his mother as a spiritual and psychological breaking point, eight years prior to the Ft. Hood massacre and more of an influence on his actions than his much-reported correspondence years later with Al Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki.

“There’s usually some trigger event which causes somebody to go down that path,” GWU Program on Extremism Deputy Director Seamus Hughes told ABC News. “His mother’s death was one of them – it was the event.”

Before Hasan’s own radicalization, his family was moderate, and his parents ran a convenience store that sold alcohol. When his mother became sick with cancer and later died, Hasan was overtaken by fear that the selling of alcohol was forbidden by the Qur’an and that she would therefore burn in hell.

“This religious interpretation was one he believed to be entirely literal – his mother would spend an eternity burning in a pit of fire,” the study said. “[But] her sins, as he saw them, could be outweighed by good actions he did on her behalf.”

Over the following years, Hasan devoted himself to the study of Islam and slowly attached himself to more and more radical interpretations — largely overlooked by the Army even as he became radicalized while attending a military medical school — until he convinced himself that he would have to undertake a dramatic attack on his fellow American soldiers in hopes of saving his mother.

During this period, the study also provides a more nuanced view on the role that Al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a CIA drone strike in Yemen in September 2011, may have played in Hasan’s radicalization.

Al-Awlaki happened to preside over Hasan’s mother’s funeral there, but beyond that the two had little contact. In fact, Hasan later said he didn’t realize Awlaki had been the voice of the fiery sermons Hasan listened to in his car as part of his religious “study.”

Hasan did reach out to al-Awlaki prior to the 2009 attack, but as investigators knew at the time behind closed doors, the email correspondence shows al-Awlaki barely responded to Hasan and did not encourage or advise him to carry out violent attacks. (Investigators were later criticized for not realizing the importance of Hasan’s side of the conversation, in which he asked questions about the religious justifications for violence.)

“The conventional wisdom is that al-Awlaki played an oversized role in Hasan’s decision-making,” Hughes said. But the study showed that in this case Hasan had already decided to act on his own and al-Awlaki was more like “the background noise.”

More troubling were what Hughes called the “numerous” warning signs about Hasan’s radicalization that the military and law enforcement missed, including multiple presentations during Hasan’s medical training in which he obsessed over a “War against Islam” he felt was being waged by the U.S.

The study said that by 2009 Hasan had already decided to commit some act of violence but wasn’t sure what to do. Then he got word he was being ordered to deploy to Afghanistan. Hasan said he decided that getting his orders from the U.S. military was really “a task from God to speed up his actions,” the study said, citing a sanity board report prepared during court proceedings later.

From then, Hasan’s only hesitation was over breaking the oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution he pledged when he joined the military – another sin. In the end, he went ahead anyway.

Hasan killed 12 soldiers and one civilian on Nov. 5, 2009, and wounded 32 others before he was shot, severely wounded and arrested.

While in prison Hasan fasted for a period of time, on the off chance that he was incorrect in his belief that his massacre was justified. But for the most part, he stood by his deadly attack.

Prior to being sentenced to death in 2013, the study said Hasan planned to apologize for his actions – but only for breaking his oath to the military. Hasan never read the statement in court.

“In his own words, he believed that what he had done was correct and that the people he had killed were religiously permissible because, in his mind, they posed a direct threat to Islam and his fellow Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the report said.

After his conviction and sentencing, Hasan was sent to a military detention center at Fort Leavenworth in Texas, where he’s currently incarcerated.

Hughes said he hopes the study of Hasan’s life and radicalization will shed more light on the “lone attacker” and help counter-terrorism officials reevaluate how to defend against them.

“I you want to understand the phenomenon of lone actor attacks, one of the best places to start is to study Nidal Hasan and the attack at Fort Hood,” he said.

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Thursday
Oct182018

Flooding concerns stretch into another day in central Texas

ABC News(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Rain hasn't stopped all week in Texas and flooding concerns are stretching into another day in center of the state.

The Colorado River, near Lake Travis outside of Austin, is still in a major flood stage, and will continue to be, according to the National Weather Service.

The Trinity River north of Houston will continue to rise and be in a major flood stage this weekend.

Unfortunately, more rain is in the forecast for central Texas. Flood watches and warnings remain in place for central and northern Texas on Thursday due to more rain in the forecast.

Central and northern Texas could see as much as 4 inches of additional rain through Saturday.

Coldest air of the season

The coldest air of the season has arrived in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest and Ohio Valley.

Frost and freeze alerts stretch over 17 states from Missouri to Vermont on Thursday morning.

Not only is it chilly Thursday morning, but it is also windy in the Northeast. The wind chill temperatures are dropping into the 10s and 20s for some regions.

Another blast of cold air is on the way this weekend for the Midwest and the Northeast. The coldest air mass will arrive in the Midwest on Saturday and Sunday and move into the Northeast on Sunday into Monday.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Oct172018

Harvey Weinstein prosecution suffers second significant blow in a week

Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images For TWC(NEW YORK) -- The Manhattan District Attorney’s office this afternoon issued a pre-emptive notice to Harvey Weinstein’s defense team, alerting them to yet another potentially serious problem connected with the investigation that led to criminal charges against the disgraced movie mogul.

The assistant district attorney handling the case told Weinstein’s team that one of the alleged victims was told by NYPD Detective Nicholas DiGaudio, the lead detective in the case to delete from her phones any information she didn’t want prosecutors to see when she turned the devices over to them.

According to the letter, the detective said “we just won’t tell Joan,” referring to Manhattan assistant district attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon.

The district attorney's office insists that the case is still moving forward, and provided no comment beyond the letter.

Weinstein’s lead defense attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said Wednesday's admission is more evidence of what he described as a "deeply flawed" case against his client.

"This new development even further undermines the integrity of an already deeply flawed Indictment of Mr. Weinstein," Brafman said in a statement emailed to ABC News.

Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and denied all allegations of rape and sexual assault that have been made against him both in court and in the media.

Less than a week ago, the judge in the case dismissed one of six counts against Weinstein -- at the district attorney's request -- after prosecutors discovered a written account from alleged victim Lucia Evans which suggested her sexual encounter with Weinstein was consensual. Evans has accused Weinstein of forcing her to perform oral sex on him in 2004.

Wednesday's letter refers to one of the two remaining accusers in the case, given that Evans accusation against Weinstein was dropped last week with the dismissal of the sixth count.

Both Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's office and the New York Police Department (NYPD) are reviewing the detective’s work on the case.

In court last Thursday, Illuzzi-Orbon told the judge that the case against Weinstein is still moving forward.

The Manhattan prosecution of Weinstein represents the only criminal case to be filed against him to date. Investigation elsewhere –- including in Los Angeles and London –- have not led to criminal charges.

Last week, after Illuzzi-Orbon informed the court that she would drop count six of the indictment against Weinstein, Evans’ lawyer blasted the move, saying in a statement that the district attorney's office made the decision to “abandon” her client.

"Let me be clear: the decision to throw away my client's sexual assault charges says nothing about Weinstein's guilt or innocence," said attorney Carrie Goldberg.

"Nor does it reflect on Lucia's consistent allegation that she was sexually assaulted with force by Harvey Weinstein," he continued. "It only speaks volumes about the Manhattan DA's office and its mishandling of my client's case."

Prosecutors said in a Sept. 12 letter to the defense unsealed last week that they discovered an account after Weinstein's arrest that could suggest the encounter was consensual.

"According to the Witness...the Complainant [Evans] told the Witness that...the Complainant had gone to the defendant's office, where the Defendant told her, in substance, that he would arrange for the Complainant to receive an acting job if she agreed to perform oral sex upon him," the letter said. "According to the Witness, the Complainant told her that she thereupon performed oral sex on the defendant."

The letter goes on to say that during this discussion Evans "appeared to be upset, embarrassed and shaking."

Weinstein defense attorney Benjamin Brafman accused Evans of committing perjury when she testified to the grand jury.

“Sexual assault is a serious crime but falsely accusing someone of sexual assault is also a serious crime,” Brafman said outside court last week.

Brafman said prosecutors discovered Evans’ written account about her encounter with Weinstein from a fact-checker with The New Yorker, and said he would subpoena the magazine.

“When you do your homework after the arrest, bad things happen,” Brafman noted.

In a statement, a spokesperson for The New Yorker said that the magazine stands by their reporting and fact-checking process, adding that "[a]ny assertion by lawyers for Harvey Weinstein that The New Yorker had information that contradicted Lucia Evans’s account is patently incorrect."

Weinstein’s defense team called the case “permanently and irreparably damaged” and Brafman said he would use the development to seek the dismissal of the whole case.

Illuzzi-Orbon, however, said last week that the rest of the case is “full steam ahead.”

“Nothing in the disclosure relating to count six impacts the strength of the remaining case and the remaining counts in the indictment, all five of them, including predatory sexual assault,” she said.

Evans is one of three women whose allegations form the backbone of the criminal case.

Defense attorneys also said they would subpoena police interview records after claiming that an NYPD detective “may have unfairly tainted these proceedings” when he prepared Evans for her testimony.

The detective has been removed from the case, Brafman said.

NYPD officials have said they stand by the criminal case against Weinstein, but have not to date directly addressed the alleged conduct of the investigator, Detective DiGaudio.

But the president of the NYPD detectives union vigorously defended the embattled DiGuardio.

"The Manhattan DA’s office needs to enter the 21st century," Detectives Endowment Association president Michael Palladino said in a statement. "This is the age of technology. People keep loads of personal info on their phones that they prefer remains confidential."

"A woman should not have to surrender confidential intimate information that’s immaterial to the case to defend herself against a sexual predator," Palladino continued in the statement. "That’s being victimized twice. Detective DiGaudio was sensitive to that.

Weinstein is due back in court on Dec. 20.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Oct172018

Salmonella outbreak tied to raw chicken products sickens 92 people in 29 states: CDC

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An outbreak of salmonella connected to raw chicken products and resistant to some antibiotics has infected 92 people in 29 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said on Wednesday that 21 people had been hospitalized but no deaths had yet been reported.

An investigation into the outbreak indicated that raw chicken products from “a variety of sources” had been contaminated with salmonella, according to the CDC.

The CDC identified the particular strain as salmonella infantis but said it had not yet linked the raw chicken products or live chickens to one lone supplier.

The salmonella infantis was present in live chickens and in many types of raw chicken products, the CDC said.

People who got sick reported eating different brands of chicken products purchased from many different locations, leading the CDC to say that the outbreak "might be widespread in the chicken industry" in a statement.

The agency said the outbreak strain had been identified in samples "taken from raw chicken pet food, raw chicken products, and live chickens."

New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have had the most reported cases of salmonella, according to a chart released by the CDC.

The agency said antibiotic-resistance testing on the salmonella bacteria isolated from ill people showed the outbreak strain was resistant to multiple antibiotics.

The CDC said it was working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and representatives from the chicken industry to discuss steps that they might take to reduce Salmonella contamination.

In the last several months, several outbreaks of salmonella linked to turkey, beef and eggs have been reported across the U.S.

Earlier this month, at least 57 people in at least 16 states reported salmonella infections after consuming some of more than 6.5 million pounds of contaminated beef produced by an Arizona company.

In September, the CDC said that a multistate outbreak linked to eggs from an Alabama farm was even larger than expected, with 135 people infected across 36 states.

In July, a salmonella outbreak that infected 90 people across 26 states was connected to raw turkey products.

According to the CDC, there are four quick steps that can help keep people safe from food poisoning at home when it comes to preparing food: “clean, separate, cook and chill.”

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Wednesday
Oct172018

Pennsylvania authorities warn residents of possibility of more hidden explosives after mysterious booms

Bucks County District Attorney's Office(PHILADELPHIA) -- Amid an ongoing investigation into a spate of mysterious explosions that shook northeastern Pennsylvania earlier this year, authorities warned residents there could still be explosives in the area.

The warning comes after investigators learned some explosive devices allegedly deployed by a couple across a rural part of Bucks County several months ago may have failed to detonate and could still be live.

"This is more an FYI than an SOS," Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said in a statement Tuesday. "Nonetheless, we will continue to do our best to protect you by working hard to find any unexploded devices that may remain. If you find something suspicious, please do not investigate it on your own. Call 911."

The Bucks County District Attorney's Office released images of devices that authorities have seized thus far in the investigation, including one that looks like a small, black round bomb with a long, green wick. Others appeared to be contained in white or dark-colored bottles, also with long, green wicks.

The multi-agency probe remains active as authorities, including the Pennsylvania State Police, the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, continue searching for any and all devices allegedly crafted and distributed by David Surman Jr. and his girlfriend, Tina May Smith.

Surman and Smith, both 31, face a slew of criminal charges stemming from the investigation into reports of about 30 explosions within a five-mile radius of upper Bucks County from early April to late June, many of which occurred near the couple's home in Milford Township, authorities said.

The investigation has largely focused on the greater Quakertown area, especially Milford Township, as well as near Ottsville and Upper Black Eddy.

Upper Black Eddy resident Nick Zangli said he first heard the loud booms on May 12 before dawn, causing him to jump out of bed.

"I happened to be awake and it scared the heck out of me," Zangli told ABC owned-and-operated station WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. "It was definitely a very large explosion."

Surman, who owns a Quakertown-based chemical company, was arrested June 28 and charged with making or possessing bombs, as well as several related offenses, after authorities discovered four bombs at his residence, along with suspected methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

Ten firearms and an array of chemicals used in the assembly of bombs were also seized from Surman's home, according to charging documents.

The largest of the bombs "was over 18 inches in length, had four fuses all twirled together and was ready to be detonated," Weintraub told reporters at a press conference that day.

Forensic analysis of the seized materials has since linked Surman to evidence collected at several of the blast sites, according to the district attorney's office.

Surman was released from jail after posting 10 percent of his $750,000 bail, WPVI-TV reported. But he was arrested again on Oct. 10 and charged with possessing child pornography after a search of his seized computer uncovered dozens of illicit images and videos, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Surman was released after posting 10 percent of his $500,000 bail, WPVI-TV reported.

Last Friday, Surman's girlfriend was arrested and charged as a co-conspirator. Smith allegedly drove while Surman threw the improvised explosive devices out the window of the vehicle. Smith told authorities she was with her boyfriend on three such occasions, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Smith was released from jail after posting 10 percent of her $1 million bail. She and Surman are awaiting their next court appearance.

A trial date has not been set at this time, according to WPVI-TV.

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Wednesday
Oct172018

Woman defends herself after video shows her refusing to let black man into his own apartment building

Courtesy D'Arreion Toles(ST. LOUIS) -- A white woman in St. Louis dubbed "Key Fob Kelly" by social media users is defending her actions in a new interview after videos of her trying to block a black man from entering his own apartment building went viral.

Hilary Mueller told a local St. Louis TV station that she was merely trying to follow the condo’s guidelines for residents.

“My only intent was to follow the direction I had been given by our condo association board members repeatedly,” Mueller said. “And that is to never allow access to any individual that you do not know.”

D'Arreion Toles recorded his attempts to enter his apartment complex, the Elder Shirt Lofts, after returning home late from work on Saturday. Mueller can be seen standing in the doorway asking what unit Toles lives in and to see his key fob.

"It's not your building, you're not the owner," Toles says in the video before getting past her. Mueller continues to follow Toles up to his fourth-floor loft and demands to find out who he's "going to see" and “why he's there."

Mueller claims Toles was trying to enter the building. She said she had the main door cracked open because she was taking her dog for a walk.

“I do not think that I did anything wrong,” Mueller said. “I upheld the ask of me to its fullest extent.”

Toles asked her to stop following him but she continued as he used his keys to open his door.

Toles told ABC News on Monday that Mueller had called 911 after the encounter. Sgt. Keith Barrett of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department confirmed a 911 call was made but that no report was written.

Toles posted the videos to his Facebook page and they've been viewed almost 8 million times. He wrote that the videos show what it's like "to be a black man in America" and "this is America in 2018."

Mueller has been called a “racist” repeatedly on social media, a claim she vehemently denies.

“That is absolutely false and heartbreaking,” Mueller said. “Those are words that truly cut deep.”

Mueller's employer, Tribeca-STL, which manages real estate properties, said in a statement on its website that the company was aware of the video and that she had been terminated.

"The Tribeca-STL family is a minority-owned company that consists of employees and residents from many racial backgrounds," the statement continued. "We are proud of this fact and do not and never will stand for racism or racial profiling at our company."

This is the latest video that has gone viral of a white person threatening to call the police on a black person for performing daily tasks.

Internet users were quick to link the story line to "Permit Patty," who threatened to call 911 on an 8-year-old black girl for selling bottled water without a permit in California.

ABC News reached out to the Elder Shirt Lofts for a copy of the condo's guidelines. The president of the luxury building responded, "My attorney has advised me to not make any statements or share any documents at this time."

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Wednesday
Oct172018

State trooper, an 11-year veteran, shot dead during traffic stop in North Carolina

NC Highway Patrol(COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C.) -- A veteran state trooper in North Carolina was shot dead while making a traffic stop early Wednesday, authorities said.

The deadly confrontation unfolded when Kevin Conner, an 11-year veteran, stopped a pickup truck for speeding in Columbus County just after midnight, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety said.

The driver pulled onto the shoulder, and when Conner approached, the driver allegedly fired several shots, authorities said.

The suspected shooter then fled the scene and led police on a car chase, authorities said.

His car became stuck while trying to drive over a railroad crossing, authorities said, so he then fled on foot.

The suspect as found after an "extensive search" and taken into custody without incident, authorities said.

"The Highway Patrol family is mourning the loss of a hero," State Highway Patrol commander Colonel Glenn McNeill Jr. said in a statement.

The department "will forever be changed by the tragic events," he said. “We ask everyone to please keep Trooper Conner’s family and all who knew him in your thoughts and prayers.”

The suspect has not yet been identified, authorities said, adding that charges are pending.

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