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Saturday
May282016

Officials to Lift Plane Wreckage From Hudson River in Crash Investigation

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Investigators were expected on Saturday to lift the wreckage from the World War II-era single-seat fighter plane that crashed in the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey Friday evening, killing the pilot.

The Coast Guard said the Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to conduct salvage operations of the aircraft today.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, the Coast Guard added.

The plane, which took off from an airport on Long Island, went into the water around 7:30 p.m., about two miles south of the George Washington Bridge. A distress signal was issued.

The pilot, identified by police as 56-year-old William Gordon of Key West, Florida, died from the crash. His body was subsequently recovered by divers, police said.

 The FAA said that the P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft was one of three that had departed from Republic Airport on Long Island. The two other aircraft returned to the airport safely, the FAA said.

The plane had been based at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale, New York, on Long Island, for the past 16 years and was scheduled to participate in the Jones Beach Air Show on Saturday.

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Saturday
May282016

Video Shows NJ Police Officer Narrowly Avoiding Being Pinned by Massive Tree

WABC(NEW YORK) -- A 33-year-old New Jersey police officer was almost pinned under a giant tree as he responded to a call of a large branch blocking a road Friday morning.

As Officer Douglas Faber of the Ringwood Police Department tried to remove the enormous branch from the road at around 6:45 a.m., another part of the tree came crashing down, nearly pinning him under it, said Ringwood Police Chief Joseph Walker.

Dashcam video shows Faber running as soon as he hears sounds of the tree cracking, but its top branches strike his legs on the way down, causing him to fall to the ground. A fellow officer is seen coming to his aid.

In the video, it appears as if Faber escaped unscathed, but he sustained a head wound requiring 13 stitches and fractured his wrist, Walker said. He was treated at a local hospital.

Faber has been a Ringwood police officer for seven years, the department told ABC News.

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Saturday
May282016

Cops Search Sonoma County in Case of Abducted California Teen Pearl Pinson

Courtesy of Pearl Pinson's family(NEW YORK) --  Authorities in California are "very concerned" a missing 15-year-old girl may be hurt after she was allegedly abducted by an older acquaintance this week, and are searching for her in Sonoma County.

While the suspected abductor has since been killed in a shootout with police, the teen remains missing and the subject of an Amber Alert.

The Solano County Sheriff's Office said this afternoon it was working with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office to search an area near the town of Jenner in connection with the abduction of 15-year-old Pearl Pinson.

Pinson was abducted in Vallejo, a city near San Francisco, on Wednesday, allegedly by 19-year-old Fernando Castro, the Solano County Sheriff's Office said. She may have been walking to the school bus stop at the time, according to ABC station KGO-TV in San Francisco.

Castro and Pinson were believed to be acquaintances but authorities don't believe she went with Castro willingly, the sheriff's office said.

Some blood was found at the scene, Deputy Christine Castillo of the Solano County Sheriff's Office told ABC News.

"We are very concerned she may be injured," Castillo told ABC News Friday.

The investigation took a turn Thursday when authorities spotted Castro driving without Pinson in Santa Barbara County, which is about 300 miles south of Vallejo. Castro allegedly engaged police in a shootout, fled into a mobile home and stole a truck, before engaging police in another shootout that left him dead, the sheriff's office said.

"Detectives are currently going through tips and leads that have come in overnight and are working to refocus our search efforts for today," Castillo said in a statement.

Deputies were on alert Thursday in Marin County -- near where Pinson was kidnapped -- after Castro's car was seen on surveillance there before the shootout further down the coast.

"This case spans from northern to southern California," Castillo's statement said. "Our main focus continues to be finding Pearl and reuniting her with her family."

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Saturday
May282016

WWII-era Small Plane Crashes in NYC's Hudson River, Body Recovered

NYPD(NEW YORK) -- A World War II-era single-seat fighter plane crashed in the Hudson River Friday evening, and a body believed to the pilot was recovered by divers, police officials said.

The NYPD said the plane, which took off from an airport in Suffolk County, went into the water around 7:30 p.m. A distress signal was issued.

The NYPD said that it has located the plane, which was secured to a harbor launch. New Jersey State Police initially said that the pilot suffered minor injuries and was en route to the hospital, but the agency said later it could not confirm that.

According to police, the body recovered was the pilot, identified as William Gordon, 56, of Key West, Florida.

He was removed from the water and declared deceased by the EMS, the NYPD said.

The investigation is ongoing.

The exact circumstances of the crash, about two miles south of the George Washington Bridge, were not clear.

The FAA said that the World War II-era P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft was one of three that had departed from Republic Airport on Long Island. The two other aircraft returned to the airport safely, the FAA said.

The plane had based at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale, New York, on Long Island, for the past 16 years and was scheduled to participate in the Jones Beach Air Show on Saturday.

On Friday, the aircraft flew twice before the crash.

“It certainly has a solid performance history,” American Airpower Museum spokesman Gary Lewi said of the plane. He added that the craft showed "no sign whatsoever, or any suggestion of a problem" and if it had, it wouldn't have been allowed to make a third flight.

The P-47 was the heaviest single-engine fighter in WWII, according to the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island.

"Despite its size, the P-47 proved to be one of the best performing fighters to see combat," the Cradle of Aviation Museum's website said. "Produced in greater numbers than any other U.S. made fighter, the story of how it came to exist is at least as interesting as its many accomplishments."

"The mighty Thunderbolt broke the back of the Luftwaffe and pounded the Wehrmacht without mercy," the museum added.

Lewi said that some 9,000 of the plane were built on Long Island during WWII, but that there were very few that were left.

“It’s a legend," he said. "There are not that many left flying in the world.”

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Friday
May272016

Kate Steinle's Family Sues Federal Agencies After Alleged Murder By Undocumented Immigrant

Courtesy of Steinle Family(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The family of Kate Steinle, the woman who was allegedly shot and killed by an undocumented immigrant on a San Francisco pier last summer, has filed a lawsuit against two federal agencies and a San Francisco sheriff for not preventing her death.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in a federal court in San Francisco, seeks to hold the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the City and County of San Francisco and Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi of the San Francisco Sheriff's Department for providing "the means and opportunity for a repeat drug felon to secure a gun and kill" the 31-year-old, the complaint reads.

The alleged shooter, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, is also named in the lawsuit.

The case ignited a firestorm at the time because of the suspect's immigration history and San Francisco's status as a sanctuary city -- notifying ICE about suspected undocumented immigrants only in the case of violent crimes.

"Kate's death was both foreseeable and preventable had the law enforcement agencies, officials and/or officers involved simply followed the laws...which they swore to uphold," the complaint said.

Steinle's parents, James and Elizabeth Steinle, are seeking unspecified damages for wrongful death and deprivation of federal civil rights.

"The Steinle Family hopes that their actions today will serve to highlight the lax enforcement of gun safety regulations among the law enforcement agencies involved and bureaucratic confusion so that this will not happen to others," said Frank Pitre of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, the law firm representing the Steinle family, on Friday.

The gun used to kill Steinle was stolen from an unsecured car, according to the complaint. The gun was government property and belonged to a Bureau of Land Management enforcement ranger, who was on "official government travel" at the time of the theft, June 27, the agency said at the time.

Steinle was killed on July 1 while walking with her father on Pier 14 of San Francisco's picturesque Embarcadero waterfront when Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant and career drug felon, allegedly shot her with a .40 caliber government-issued firearm, according to the complaint. She had a "thriving career" in medical sales when she died, the complaint stated.

On March 26 of that year, Sanchez finished serving a 46-month sentence at a Los Angeles federal prison and was released to SFSD custody, the complaint said. Led by Mirkarimi at the time, the SFSD did not honor an immigration detainer for Sanchez from ICE, saying it had no "legal basis" to hold him because they did not have an active warrant for him.

That same month, ICE had issued a memo creating an official policy to eliminate all communication regarding undocumented immigrants in "direct contravention" with federal and state law, according to the complaint. Despite this memo, ICE specifically asked the SFSD to be notified of Sanchez's release.

Sanchez was released the next month, and no notification was provided to ICE, according to the complaint.

Gonzalez, did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

ICE told ABC News it was unable to comment on the lawsuit due to pending litigation. The Bureau of Land Management did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

ABC News could not immediately reach Mirkarimi for comment.

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Friday
May272016

Rescuers Save Trapped Woman from Fast-Moving Floodwaters

iStock/Thinkstock(CONROE, Texas) -- A group banded together to rescue a trapped woman from fast-moving floodwaters in Conroe, Texas, in a dramatic moment caught on camera.

The woman was trapped in a van Thursday off of Interstate 45 in Conroe -- about 40 miles north of Houston -- when the group of rescuers, struggling to stay standing in the rushing waters, extended a ladder towards her.

As the rescuers held up the ladder, they also held onto each other so no one would be washed away.

The ladder successfully reached the woman, who crawled out of the van and was then carried to safety.

The Texas flooding has proved to be damaging and deadly. At least one person died from the flooding in Brenham, a city located about halfway between Austin and Houston.

And the threat is not over -- flash flood warnings are in effect this afternoon in Texas counties including Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and San Jacinto.

The severe weather also extended beyond southeastern Texas, with much of the Plains and the South suffering from flash flooding.

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Friday
May272016

Hurricane Outlook for 2016 Atlantic Season

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- U.S. meteorologists are predicting more tropical activity this year compared to recent years but expect the summer hurricane season to be near-normal levels.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said there is a 70 percent likelihood that there will be 10 to 16 named storms this season (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which four to eight could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher). In a "normal" year, there are 12 named storms, six hurricanes and two to three major hurricanes, NOAA said.

This is one of the toughest hurricane season outlooks ever made due to the abundance of atmospheric variables, said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

The most influential variable would be the AMO (Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation). This pattern is characterized by cooling and warming of water temperatures in the Atlantic and intensity of the monsoon season over West Africa. If the Atlantic water temperature is warmer than normal and the monsoon season in West Africa is active, this pattern tends to produce more tropical systems in the Atlantic Basin. If the reverse happens, it tends to yield toward below-normal hurricane season. These patterns can last over 20 years.

Another important variable this upcoming hurricane season is the fading El Nino and forming La Nina. El Nino tends to suppress tropical activity in the Atlantic and La Nina does the opposite. This year, there is a 70 percent chance that La Nina will form by the end of this summer and early fall. Coincidentally, August, September and October happen to be the average peak of hurricane season, with 90 percent to 95 percent of tropical storms forming during this period.

Finally, even if a tropical system forms in the Atlantic Basin, small scale atmospheric conditions and patterns have to be just right for it to make landfall in the United States. Last time a major hurricane (winds 111 mph, Category 3 or higher) made landfall in the United States was in 2005. During 2003, 2004, and 2005 seasons, there was a persistent area of high pressure over the Southeastern U.S. pushing any formed storms in the western Atlantic toward the US's East and Gulf Coasts. But in the recent years, we had a persistent area of low pressure pushing storms away from the U.S. These small scale, short term patterns can be only forecasted a couple of weeks in advance, making the entire hurricane season forecast that much more difficult.

ABC News

Hurricane season doesn’t officially start until June 1, but we are already tracking a tropical system that could affect parts of the Eastern U.S. It is likely to become the named storm “Bonnie” over the next 24 hours, if not sooner. Even though this system is forming before the official start to the Atlantic Hurricane season, it does not mean that this has never happened before or that is unusual. NOAA officials are warning anyone that lives or is traveling to Georgia or the Carolinas this Memorial Day weekend to monitor the forecast for updates.

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Friday
May272016

Woman Accused of Smuggling Drugs Across Border Inside a Burrito

U.S. Customs and Border Protection(NOGALES, Ariz.) -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have arrested an Arizona woman who they say attempted to smuggle a pound of methamphetamine inside burritos through a Nogales, Arizona, entry port.

 

 

The woman, 23, was crossing from Mexico into the U.S. She was referred for further inspection after crossing through the Morley Pedestrian Gate, the agency said this week.

A narcotics-detection canine led officers to slightly more than a pound of meth, disguised as a bag of burritos.

The tortilla wrapped drugs were reportedly worth upwards of $3,000.

Officers seized the drugs and turned the suspect over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.

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Friday
May272016

At Least One Killed in Severe Flooding in Southeast Texas

iStock/Thinkstock(BRENHAM, Texas) — At least one person is dead in Southeast Texas after heavy rains and extreme flooding barreled through the area, officials said.

The death was reported in Brenham, located about half-way between Austin and Houston. Two people are also missing there, the Brenham Fire Department said.

Brenham recorded its wettest day ever Thursday with 16.6 inches of rain.

Brenham schools are closed Friday and fire officials said several homes suffered damage.

Thirty-six water rescues were reported Thursday in Washington County, Texas, which encompasses the city of Brenham.

At least two people were reported missing in Travis County after getting trapped in a car in high waters, according to Angel Flores, spokesman for the Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. And at least 12 people in Travis County were rescued from high waters, Flores said.

The severe weather extended beyond southeastern Texas with much of the Plains and the South suffering from flash flooding.

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Friday
May272016

Feds Arrest Virginia Woman for Unique Million-Dollar Handbag Scheme

iStock/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) — Federal authorities arrested a Virginia woman on Thursday for a unique handbag-related scheme that targeted several major department stores and involved brands such as Gucci, Burberry and Fendi.

The scheme was so prolific that at one point she was a major department store’s top online customer in the entire world, an agent from Homeland Security Investigations says in court documents.

For years, Praepitcha Smatsorabudh would allegedly buy high-end handbags — many costing more than $2,000 apiece — from department stores online. She would then allegedly return the bags and receive refunds in-person at stores across the country. But what she really was returning were fake handbags that she ordered from suppliers in China and Hong Kong, according to federal authorities.

Smatsorabudh would then sell the authentic, high-end handbags to unwitting customers online, usually through eBay or an Instagram account, federal authorities say.

In a September 2014 email to one fake handbag supplier, she allegedly wrote: "The best fake bag I’ve ever seen! Can you send me more ... from this factory. They make bag IMPaCABLE!!!!" [sic]

She allegedly traveled to at least 12 different states to return fake bags at various locations of one department store in particular, though authorities would not identify the store.

Over the past two years, she allegedly received more than a million dollars in refunds from the one department store alone – an alleged windfall that doesn’t include the money she then allegedly made from selling the authentic high-end handbags online.

Federal authorities were able to build a case against her with help from the department store’s fraud investigators, the Arlington County Police Department and an undercover Homeland Security Investigations agent, who posed as a customer and purchased an authentic handbag from Smatsorabudh, court documents show.

In March, federal authorities raided her home in Arlington, Virginia, and found 572 handbags, many of them fake, according to court documents.

Smatsorabudh, who is in her early 40s, has been charged with one count of wire fraud. If convicted, she could face 20 years in prison. She will be arraigned next week in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

She was born in Thailand, but her immigration or citizenship status was not immediately known.

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