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Friday
Dec152017

Woman charged with laundering money via bitcoin to support ISIS

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A 27-year-old New York City-area woman has been accused of stealing and laundering more than $85,000, using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, to support ISIS, the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday.

Zoobia Shahnaz, who lives in Brentwood on Long Island, was charged with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and three counts of money laundering. The five-count indictment was unsealed Thursday in federal court in Central Islip, New York.

"The defendant defrauded numerous financial institutions and obtained over $85,000 in illicit proceeds, which she converted to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies," the DOJ explained in a statement. "She then laundered and transferred the funds out of the country to support the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham ("ISIS") ... After consummating the scheme, the defendant attempted to leave the United States and travel to Syria. Shahnaz, a U.S citizen, was arrested yesterday."

According to court records, Shahnaz worked as a lab technician at a Manhattan hospital until June of this year Around January of 2016, the government says she volunteered in Jordan with the Syrian American Medical Society.

Part of her volunteer work took her to a refugee camp where prosecutors said "ISIS exercises significant influence."

But Steve Zissou, an attorney assigned by the judge to represent Shahnaz, told Newsday that she never tried to help ISIS. He said she wanted to help Syrian refugees she met while volunteering.

"Whatever she did was for humanitarian purposes only," Zissou said.

Shahnaz is accused of fraudulently obtaining six credit cards and a loan from a Manhattan bank to procure more than $85,000 which prosecutors allege she then converted to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and laundered the money through overseas transfers, all with an intent to financially support ISIS. Prosecutors say the financial institutions she defrauded include American Express Bank, Chase Bank, Discover Bank and TD Bank.

Having never told her family she had quit her job in June, she attempted to board a flight at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport for Pakistan on July 31, with a layover in Turkey.

She was questioned by law enforcement officials at the airport, since her itinerary was suspect. Prosecutors said they believe she was trying to leave the U.S. for Syria and join ISIS.

"Her itinerary included a multi-day layover in Istanbul, Turkey -- a common point of entry for individuals traveling from Western countries to join ISIS in Syria," a court document stated. "The defendant's return ticket had been booked for September 4, 2017 on a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to JFK."

But investigators believe Shahnaz had no plans to return to the U.S. She had allegedly done Internet searches for "one-way tickets to Istanbul" but purchased a roundtrip ticket. Prosecutors point out that ISIS recommends those wishing to travel to join ISIS to buy roundtrip tickets because they might be deemed less suspicious by law enforcement agents.

Agents said she gave false and conflicting explanations about her overseas wire transfers. She was arrested Wednesday. Prosecutors want her held without bail pending trial.

Her next court date is January 5, 2018.

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Friday
Dec152017

Little brother mistakes his sister's wrestling match for real fight

Tori Prendergast/Facebook/ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- An adorable video captures the moment a little brother rushed to the rescue of his older sister as she was in the midst of a wrestling competition after he appeared to believe she was in an actual fight.

The wrestling match between Ruby Lewis, 5, and her opponent took place in Columbia City, Indiana, earlier this week, but was interrupted when Ruby's 2-year-old brother, Jash, rushed onto the mat and attempted to step in and save his sister.

Crystal Lewis, the mother of the siblings, told the Indianapolis Star that Jash "just took off like lighting" when he saw his sister in trouble.

The mother added that she feels happy that the moment between her children is making others smile.

"It's nice to share a laugh, something that can just make you smile instead of be like, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe this is the world that we're living in today,'" she told the Indianapolis Star.

The video was posted on Facebook by the mother of Ruby's opponent, who wrote, "When the girl you're wrestling has a tough little brother, don't mess with his sister."

The heartwarming footage quickly went viral on social media, garnering over 400,000 views in less than a week.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Dec142017

Alleged driver in 'Unite the Right' rally violence in Charlottesville charged with first-degree murder

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) --  The driver accused of barreling a car into a crowd protesting the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia has been charged with first-degree murder.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, appeared in handcuffs and a black-and-white striped jail uniform while during a preliminary hearing in a downtown Charlottesville circuit court Thursday, where a murder charge against him was upgraded from second-degree murder to first-degree murder. A conviction for second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years; first-degree murder carries a penalty of up to life in prison.

On Aug. 12, Fields allegedly drove into a crowd of counterprotestors who were demonstrating against the white nationalist rally, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring several others.

Fields was initially charged with second-degree murder in Heyers' death, as well as three counts of malicious wounding, three counts of aggravated malicious wounding, two charges of felonious assault and failure to stop that led to death, court records show.

During the hearing, Fields appeared sullen and hunched over. At one point, a man sitting in the gallery interrupted the hearing, shouting, "F--- this, I'm out of here" before he left the courtroom.

On the day of the rally, a group of white nationalists, which included neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, descended onto Charlottesville, spurred by the city's plans to remove a Confederate statue from a downtown park. Violence broke out as counterprotesters clashed with white nationalists, prompting Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency.

In addition to Fields, three other people appeared in court on charges relating to the rally, including discharging a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school, malicious wounding and felony assault on the day of the rally, according to court records.

About a dozens of protesters were seen outside the courthouse during the hearing, carrying signs that read "White supremacy is evil" and "Love over fear." The city had shut down nearby streets ahead of the hearing in anticipation of crowds.

Fields is being housed in a Virginia jail after he was denied bail in August. He did not enter a plea during Thursday's hearing.

Fields' attorney, Denise Lunsford, declined to provide a comment to ABC News.

A grand jury is scheduled to convene on Monday.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Dec142017

Net neutrality repeal sparks praise and disappointment: 'We cannot let this happen'

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- After the Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday along party lines to repeal net neutrality regulations imposed in 2015, the reaction was swift from technology companies, internet service providers, lawmakers and other stakeholders in both support and opposition to the move.

Critics of the vote believe that internet service providers might take advantage of the freedom to prioritize certain types of web traffic which could ultimately have an effect on speeds or pricing. Supporters have argued that removing the regulations will spur innovation and competition.

ABC News has compiled notable responses to Thursday's FCC vote:

Opposition to the FCC vote:

Google


"We remain committed to the net neutrality policies that enjoy overwhelming public support, have been approved by the courts, and are working well for every part of the internet economy," a spokesperson said. "We will work with other net neutrality supporters large and small to promote strong, enforceable protections."

Netflix

"We’re disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement. This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/ innovators, large & small, to oppose this misguided FCC order."

Twitter

"The @FCC's vote to gut #NetNeutrality rules is a body blow to innocation and free expression. We will continue our  fight to defend the open Internet and reverse the misguided decision."

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer

"Today’s decision from the Federal Communications Commission to end net neutrality is disappointing and harmful. An open internet is critical for new ideas and economic opportunity – and internet providers shouldn't be able to decide what people can see online or charge more for certain websites. We’re ready to work with members of Congress and others to help make the internet free and open for everyone."

New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

"I will sue to stop the FCC’s illegal rollback of #netneutrality. New Yorkers and all Americans deserve a free and open internet."

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.


"Don’t let @AjitPaiFCC fool you. The ONLY people benefitting from the repeal of #NetNeutrality are massive corporations that are already reaping in enormous profits. They want to end the internet as we know it to create a digital oligarchy that serves the wealthy few."

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.


"Today the FCC voted along party lines to repeal net neutrality. It is outrageous that they ruled in favor of multi-billion-dollar broadband companies over the interests of consumers. Americans deserve a fair and open internet. "

Support for the FCC vote:

Comcast


“We commend Chairman Pai for his leadership. Today’s action does not mark the ‘end of the Internet as we know it; rather it heralds in a new era of light regulation that will benefit consumers.” - David Cohen, senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer

AT&T

“For more than a decade, under both Republican and Democratic Administrations, AT&T has consistently made clear that we provide broadband service in an open and transparent way. In short, the internet will continue to work tomorrow just as it always has... We continue to support a legislative solution and will work with any interested members of Congress to achieve that solution.” - Bob Quinn, senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs.

United States Telecom Association

“Today, the future of our open, thriving internet has been secured. The nation’s top consumer protection agency now has jurisdiction over fairness and neutrality across the internet, ensuring consistent rules apply to all players, including the most powerful online companies... It’s a great day for consumers and our innovation economy.” - Jonathan Spalter, CEO

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation


“Now that the FCC has acted to reverse an ill-conceived regulatory scheme, Congress must take the lead... I favor Congress enacting net neutrality protections and establishing sensible limits on the power of regulators. I call on Democrats and Republicans who want to preserve a free and open internet to work together on permanent consumer protections.”

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., chairwoman of the Communications and Technology subcommittee


“The FCC’s vote today will preserve the open and dynamic Internet the American people have known since the early 1990s. Now, the table is set for Congress to provide clear, permanent rules through a bipartisan legislative solution."

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Thursday
Dec142017

Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity indicted for hazing after 2016 incident at University of Houston

iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- The Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was indicted on Thursday for a 2016 hazing incident in which pledges were allegedly deprived of adequate food, water and sleep, according to prosecutors.

A grand jury in Harris County, Texas, indicted the Tennessee-based Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity Inc. following concurrent investigations by the Harris County District Attorney's Office and the University of Houston. The indictment does not charge any individual criminally, but it subjects the fraternity to a fine of up to $10,000 as well as conviction for hazing, including mental and physical abuse.

An official representative for the fraternity will have to be present for court hearings, prosecutors said.

“Brotherhood and collegiate good times should be safe and hazing is not,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement announcing the charge. “It is also illegal and that should be recognized by the dozens of fraternities and sororities on college campuses all over the Houston area."

In a statement, Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity Inc. said it "does not tolerate hazing, maltreatment of members, or any activities that do not treat individuals with dignity and respect."

Pi Kappa Alpha emphasized that the hazing allegations outlined in the indictment occurred within the former Epsilon Eta chapter, whose charter was suspended in August after the international fraternity learned of the alleged misconduct.

"Epsilon Eta Chapter was a separate, unincorporated association composed of adult male undergraduate students attending the University of Houston," the statement read. "The Fraternity does not control any chapter or its members or their activities; however if a chapter violates the Fraternity’s Standards or any rules or regulations from the host school or any applicable local, state or federal agency, the Fraternity retains the right to suspend a chapter’s charter."


Thursday's indictment focuses on the treatment of one student at the University of Houston who was allegedly abused, like others, during a "brutal three-day rite" while pledging the fraternity in November 2016, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the pledge was forced to roll around in vomit, spit and feces and go without food, drink and sleep throughout much of the ordeal. At one point, the pledge was ordered to run across a rural stretch of land in the darkness while holding a glow stick in what was apparently known as a "green light game," prosecutors said.

The pledge was then unexpectedly tackled by fraternity members, who were dressed in dark clothing and lying in wait, prosecutors said. He was later hospitalized for a lacerated spleen.
 
In July, the University of Houston placed the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity under interim suspension pending an investigation. In October, the university suspended the fraternity for activities that violate the school's hazing policy after a months-long probe revealed violations that occurred off campus.

"Today we are grateful that our county partners have delivered a stern message through the grand jury’s decision against the fraternity, that such behavior, which jeopardizes the well being of our students, will not be tolerated," the University of Houston said in a statement reacting to the indictment Thursday.

The Harris County district attorney praised the university's efforts in the wake of the 2016 incident.

“The University of Houston showed resolve in conducting a thorough investigation and holding the fraternity accountable,” Ogg said.

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Thursday
Dec142017

Beverly Hills anesthesiologist charged with murder in patient's overdose death

iStock/Thinkstock(BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.) -- A anesthesiologist in Beverly Hills has been charged with murder in connection with a patient's fatal overdose, Los Angeles prosecutors announced Thursday.

Stephen Kyosung Kim, 53, was working at the Rodeo Drive Plastic Surgery Center on Sept. 26 when he allegedly administered the medicine to the patient, 71-year-old Mark Greenspan, to help sedate him, according to a press release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Proseuctors accuse Kim of injecting himself with drugs during the procedure and then later giving Greenspan a lethal dose of Demerol, a narcotic used to treat pain, while he was in the recovery room.

Greenspan then went into cardiac arrest and died, according to the district attorney's office.

Kim was arrested Wednesday by the Beverly Hills Police Department and booked into a Los Angeles County jail, court records show. He was released after he posted a $1 million bail.

Kim is expected to be arraigned today at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles, prosecutors said. It is unclear whether he has entered a plea or retained an attorney.
If convicted, Kim faces 25 years to life in a state prison.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Dec142017

Harvard admissions investigation prompts mixed reactions from Asian-American students

iStock/Thinkstock(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) --  To achieve an exceptional college application has become seemingly more and more difficult -- at least for certain groups of students.

Ben Huynh, a Vietnamese-American born to immigrant parents and raised in Chicago, received a 2400 on his SAT, had perfect grades, held leadership positions and was very involved in his passion for music, all elements of an impeccable application by most standards.

With his outstanding résumé, one would expect him to get into at least one of his top schools, but was rejected from most of them, including Harvard.

“I was a little disappointed,” Huynh said, adding he never once blamed under-represented minorities as part of the problem.

Despite his initial frustration, he said he remains a firm advocate of affirmative action. Though flawed, he said, the policy provides a level of balance that plays only a part in what is a complex and multifaceted admissions process.

Huynh ended up accepting a full ride to University of Chicago and is happy with how things turned out.

“I don’t think I’d do anything differently," he said. "I didn’t see the point to racialize myself, there are other more important factors to address.”

Huynh’s response is one of many mixed reactions from the Asian-American community to the ongoing debate about college admission practices, an issue brought back to light when the Department of Justice launched an investigation into the use of race in Harvard University’s admissions practices.

In November, the DOJ demanded Harvard to turn over admissions records as part of its investigation to examine whether Harvard is in violation of Title VI, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin” in Federal funded programs.

The investigation began as the national conversation about the controversial practice of affirmative action continues. The concern that top universities like Harvard may be limiting the numbers of Asian-Americans it admits in favor of other minorities as a way to create a diverse student body is mirrored by other lawsuits like the one filed by the Student for Fair Admissions in 2014.

That suit alleges Harvard intentionally discriminates against Asian-Americans by limiting the number of Asian students who are admitted.

Edward Blum, president of Student for Fair Admissions and the legal strategist behind the 2014 lawsuit, formed the non-profit organization with the goal to eliminate racial preferences in college admissions.

Blum praised the investigation as a “welcomed development,” in a statement.

“In order to create true diversity there are far better ways to go about it without raising the bar for some and lowering for others,” Blum told ABC News.

However, some Asian-American students don't see it that way. As a Chinese-American student at Harvard, Raymond Tang said he understood the need for policies like affirmative action and the innate selectivity in elite colleges, especially Ivy League schools.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t get into Harvard, because I expect it to be hard to get in,” Tang told ABC News.

With a 2340 SAT score, six Hong Kong national medals in figure skating and numerous other successes in academia and the arts, Tiffany Lau is also a student with impeccable qualifications.

Now a 20-year-old History & Literature and Theater, Dance & Media major at Harvard, she too, emphasized the expected competitiveness in college admissions. Lau said she believes any applicant, regardless of race, should be expected to have “more than just great scores and impressive resume.”

In order to examine a person as a whole, she said, one must evaluate the components that make up the person’s identity. And that’s why she would not support a race-blind admissions process, “as an individual’s race is a central part of how they navigate the world, how they grew up and who they are,” said Lau.

Similarly, Tang said he believes schools are justified to accept students for different reasons.

“If there wasn’t a way to accommodate different experiences, they’ll end up with a homogeneous pool of students,” he said.

Others hold similar opinions to Blum and accept the current system as an ugly truth.

Michael Paik, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania who scored over 2300 on the SAT and was a straight A student, remembered consciously shaping his application to differentiate himself from other applicants who may be perceived as more “traditional” Asian-American students.

Paik said it’s a “commonly known thing” among Asian American households, since as a group, children tend to be raised in a culture where academic excellence is prioritized, making their application pool more competitive.

Even his non-Asian friends, some who are at the opposite end of the affirmative action spectrum, admitted that his applications will have to be much stronger to be considered, Paik added.

Between the myriad of variables at play and the limited spots available he recognized the complexity the issue warrants; however, he said although the process “is difficult and unpredictable” he still felt like “it’s unfair” at times.

His mother, Michelle Paik, felt more strongly about what she saw as “an unjust system,” especially having five children with two of her eldest sons in college and three more on their way.

“I was absolutely shocked when both of my sons got into their top choices, even though they were both top of their class,” said Mrs. Paik. She said it wasn’t for the lack of confidence in their abilities, but the unfortunate reality she and all of her children were acutely aware of -- that Asian Americans are held to a higher standard.

She didn’t want to discourage her children but she did warn them, “you may have all the qualifications but you are an Asian boy so there’s a big possibility you’ll be denied.”

Instead of what is in place now, Mrs. Paik supports preferential policies based on socio-economic background. When a group of students of similar backgrounds and received the same private education “why should someone receive so much more benefits just because of their last name and skin color?” she questioned.

As a mother of five, she often discussed the issue with other parents in the community who she said “share the same sentiments.” When they see certain unexpected college acceptances or rejections “they just roll their eyes, it’s an understood norm, which is sad,” Mrs. Paik told ABC News.

“At this point there’s nothing you can do, this is the system in place, in a way you do have to accept it and just try your best,” a mentality she has tried to instill in her children’s minds.

A Gallup poll taken in 2016 reflects the viewpoints of Mrs. Paik and that of many others, showing 65% of Americans are opposed to the consideration of race in admissions and support decisions that are based solely on merit.

Citing the poll as one of the evidence of Americans’ desire to end racial preference, Blum said the students and families involved in the lawsuit were replete with relief and gratification when they realized they had a channel to voice their frustration in a significant way.

The families were hopeful that the younger generation “will not be subject to the same kinds of discrimination,” the kind of quota system Harvard imposed on Jewish students back in the 1920s, Blum added.

Policies akin to affirmative action has been on the nation’s center stage for decades and as the Justice Department’s investigation and pending lawsuits move forward, the country is certain to continue to debate the merits behind admission practices that take race into consideration.

“It’s like a lottery," Mrs. Paik said. "You may have everything, but it’s not a guarantee at all."

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Thursday
Dec142017

FCC votes to roll back net neutrality rules

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to repeal the so-called net neutrality rules that govern the way internet service providers treat different types of content and data.

The five commissioners of the FCC voted along party lines — three Republicans to two Democrats — to roll back the rules, imposed in 2015 under President Barack Obama. The public debate over the rules had been heated at times and Thursday's decision came after a brief delay when, on the "advice of security," FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced that they would need to take a recess and the hearing room was evacuated.

Repeal supporters claimed the rules unnecessarily regulated the industry and impeded upon the free market.

Under the rules rescinded Thursday, internet service providers were prohibited from influencing loading speeds for specific websites or apps. The vote rolled back the policies that treated the internet like a utility and could potentially lead to the creation of different lanes of speeds for websites or content creators willing to pay for them. Critics worry that those costs could be passed along to consumers.

Internet service providers will have to disclose whether they engage in certain types of conduct, such as blocking and prioritization, following Thursday's decision. They must further explicitly publicize what is throttled and what is blocked, with the information posted on an easily accessible website hosted by the company or the FCC.

Repeal is a hallmark victory for the FCC's Republican chairman Ajit Pai whose 11-month tenure has seen him strongly advocate for reduced regulation. Pai was named FCC chairman in January by President Donald Trump, who has made no secret of his interest in reigning in Obama-era business regulations.

Eighteen state attorneys general made a last ditch effort to delay the vote by claiming they have uncovered more than a million public comments on the motion using fraudulent identities.

"The FCC must delay its vote until we get to the bottom of this massive fraud," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Pai ignored requests for a delay.

An additional bipartisan request to halt the vote came from Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine and Angus King, I-Maine, this week, who argued that Congress and the FCC should hold public hearings "in order to investigate the best way to ensure citizens, and our economy have strong net neutrality protections that guarantee consumer choice, free markets, and continued growth."

More than a hundred House Republicans sent a letter to the FCC on Wednesday applauding the agency's plan to repeal its net neutrality rules.

Some internet service providers, including Comcast, while supporting the repeal, have promised never to throttle speeds or block websites.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Dec142017

Suspects who allegedly shot 2 police officers shot near St. Louis taken into custody after hours-long standoff

ABCNews.com(ST. LOUIS) -- Two police officers were shot in the chest Thursday morning in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, but their bulletproof vests appeared to have saved their lives, officials said.

The uniformed members of the Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department were injured in an encounter with a gunman around 7:15 a.m. local time, but expected to survive, McGuire said.

In the wake of the shooting the suspect ran down the street and barricaded himself in the house where he was believed to live, Sgt. Shawn McGuire of the St. Louis County Police Department said in a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Tactical teams arrived to the home around 9:30 a.m. and tried to make contact with the suspect, McGuire said. About an hour later, the suspect yelled something at police officers, confirming that he was indeed in the home.

Around 11:12 a.m., the suspect fired one round at officers through the back door of the home before retreating back inside, McGuire said. No officers were struck by the gunfire, McGuire added.

By 2:45 p.m., the suspect was apprehended inside the residence after officers made entry, McGuire said. The suspect sustained one gunshot wound to the upper chest and was taken to a local hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries, McGuire said.

The suspect did not put up a struggle when he was apprehended, and officers recovered two handguns from the home, McGuire said.

McGuire said the incident began when the department received a call Wednesday night about shots fired in the suburb. Police were unable to locate the person related to the report, but they remained in the area overnight near a residence where they thought the shots potentially came from.

In the morning, police received a call from a neighbor who saw someone leave the house. Two officers located the individual, a 37-year-old man, walking down the street and tried to have a dialogue with him, according to McGuire.

The officers ultimately attempted to take the man into custody and a scuffle ensued. At some point, the man took out a firearm and shot the officers, McGuire said.

Ballistic vests worn by the officers blocked the rounds of gunfire but they still suffered some injuries. Both were hospitalized for treatment and evaluation, according to McGuire.

St. Louis County Police Department spokesman Benjamin Granda said the vests appear to have been "instrumental" in limiting the officers' injuries.

One of the officers is a 44-year-old sergeant with 22 years of law enforcement experience who has been a member of the Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department for eight years. The other is a 25-year-old woman who has served with the department for three years, according to Granda.

The firearm used to shoot the officers has not yet been recovered, McGuire said. The St. Louis County Police Department was on scene assisting with the barricaded suspect.


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Thursday
Dec142017

Deployed Army soldiers return home in time to spend holidays with loved ones

WHAS(FORT KNOX, Ky.) -- Fort Knox, Kentucky was a scene filled with emotional reunions Wednesday as deployed soldiers returned home in time to spend the holidays with their loved ones.

The Army soldiers with the 1st Sustainment Command had spent six months away while they were deployed in Kuwait providing food, fuel, water, transportation and other materials for military personnel there, ABC Louisville affiliate WHAS reported.

On Wednesday, family members looked on eagerly as they waited for a glimpse of the U.S. service members.

"There he is right there," one mother told her young son once she spotted her husband. "Look at Daddy! Look!"

The official homecoming ceremony was cut short so families did not have to wait for their long-desired reunions, according to WHAS.

"Family members, find your soldiers," a woman's voice instructed those sitting in the crowd via intercom.

Soldier Chris Campbell returned home after his first deployment since becoming a father.

"It's great to be back," he said. "Things have changed, but the little luxury is still being able to see them on the camera every couple days."

Campbell's wife told WHAS that the reality of him being home is "really just started setting in."

"Now he gets to enjoy his kids," she said. "It's a feeling I can't even describe."

After soldier Kevin Howse first reunited with his wife, there was another young lady he had to make sure to see.

Howse conducted his tear-filled reunion with his young daughter at her daycare.

"Daddy, I missed you," Howse's daughter told him. "I missed you too, Daddy."

Howse said it's "difficult" for service members to be away from loved ones when they're deployed.

"We're used to it, but it doesn't get any better," he said. "Even though we're accustomed to it, still a little difficult at times. That's the life we chose, so that's what we do."
 
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