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Friday
Sep302016

Man's Heroic Actions Comforted Gravely Injured Woman in NJ Transit Crash

ABC News(HOBOKEN, N.J.) — An eyewitness to the horrific crash in a busy train station in Hoboken, New Jersey on Thursday that killed one woman and injured over 100 told ABC News about the harrowing moments following the moment of impact.

Many people fled the scene as the train smashed into the station with such force that it was propelled into the air, sending debris flying and causing the roof to partially collapse, but Rahman Perkins rushed to help those inside.

"When everybody started running out, I started running in," Perkins told Good Morning America.

"I just saw the train crash into everything. And I just started trying to help whoever I could," he added.

When asked what made him run in to help, Perkins credited his parents, "they just raised brave kids."

Perkins found Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, who was not a passenger but was stuck and fatally wounded by falling wreckage caused by the accident. Perkins said he attempted to comfort her as much as possible.

"I knew she was in pain. I was like, 'Miss, I'm not gonna leave you. I'm not gonna let you -- if you're gonna die, you're not gonna die by yourself right now. I'm here with you."

De Kroon was an employee for software company SAP, according to SAP North America Head of Communications Atle Erlingsson. SAP is "profoundly saddened and shaken" by the news of the train crash, said Erlingsson, who also confirmed that de Kroon was an employee with its legal department in Brazil but left the company earlier this year.

"We express our deepest condolences to her family, friends, and all those impacted by today's tragic event," Erlingsson said.


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Friday
Sep302016

California Police Shooting Protests Turn Violent, Two Arrests Made

iStock/Thinkstock(EL CAJON, Calif.) — Protests of a police shooting in El Cajon, California turned violent late Thursday night, with groups of people throwing bottles and other objects at police and smashing car windows.

Thursday marked the third consecutive night of protests in the city of about 100,000 in San Diego County.

The unrest first began on Tuesday, when police fatally shot an unarmed black man who they say ignored officers' commands and assumed a "shooting stance," after being confronted in the parking lot of a restaurant.

A group of between 50 and 75 protesters occupied an intersection on Thursday night, police said. Some of the protesters stopped passing vehicles and smashed car windows.

"At one point, an assault took place between the protesters and a motorcyclist who was knocked off of his motorcycle," the El Cajon Police Department said in a statement.

Police said they arrived at the scene and ordered the demonstrators to disperse after they received numerous 911 calls about a disturbance.

People in the group began hurling glass bottles at officers, and the police responded with pepper balls, according to the police statement.

Police said they arrested two males, a 19-year-old and a 28-year-old, both from El Cajon.

In an interview with ABC News, El Cajon's mayor, Bill Wells, defended the city's police department but said he understands the frustrations people are expressing after Tuesday's shooting.

"We have a great police department," Wells told ABC News.

"There are a lot of people who don’t feel heard in this debate," he added. "They feel the system is stacked against them, they feel that justice is not being done. I understand why people don’t accept that. We need a dialogue about this more and more. People are pretty upset ... and I get it."

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Thursday
Sep292016

At Least One Dead in Crash of NJ Transit Train

Pancho Bernasconi/Getty Images(HOBOKEN, N.J.) -- At least one woman is dead, and 114 were injured, some seriously, when a NJ Transit commuter train carrying 250 people and traveling at a high speed crashed into Hoboken's historic train station at about 8:45 a.m. Thursday morning, authorities said.

The train came in fast and crashed through barriers until it hit an interior wall, said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a press conference. The engineer who was operating the train has been treated and released form the hospital and is cooperating with law enforcement investigating the crash, authorities said.

The woman who died was not a passenger on the train but was killed by debris that fell onto the platform after the train crashed into it, Christie said.

"We know what happened," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, referring to the train's speed. "We don't know why it happened."

The historic Hoboken Terminal has structural damage and officials have no estimate on when the NJ Transit section of the station will reopen, Christie said.

The part of the terminal used by PATH trains however is fine, officials said. PATH service to the station was restored at 3 p.m., in time for the evening commute.

Both governors applauded the emergency responders and civilians who assisted rescue efforts, evacuating the train as quickly as possible and helping the injured get medical care.

Witnesses described a scene of horror, with one NJ Transit worker who saw the crash saying the train hit the edge of the station platform so hard that it flew up onto the platform and didn't stop until it ran into the wall of the station's waiting room.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing," NJ Transit worker Michael Larson told ABC News station WABC.

All of the injured are receiving care at local hospitals, Christie said. One area trauma center, the Jersey City Medical Center, reported earlier in the day Thursday that it was treating three people who sustained critical or serious injuries in the crash.

Dozens of people are being evaluated or treated at various area hospitals.

ABC News/Google EarthThe train, on NJ Transit's Pascack Valley line, started in Spring Valley, New York, at 7:23 a.m. Eastern time, with a scheduled arrival in Hoboken of 8:38 a.m. It struck the terminal building on track 5 at approximately 8:45 a.m, according to NJ Transit.

Both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railway Administration are investigating the crash. As is standard, investigators will be looking at all possible causes, including human failure and mechanical problems; they will also look at the possibility of sabotage or foul play, although they suspect neither, officials said.

The Hoboken Terminal was evacuated and all service there was suspended, including boht NJ Transit and PATH train service.

“There is heavy structural damage to the terminal, which is why it was evacuated," said Jennifer Nelson, the director of media relations for NJ Transit. "It is not safe to go in there right now.”

Corey Futterman was riding in one of the last cars of the train and was not injured. He told ABC News that this was "something I've never seen before."

"We had just left Secaucus, and that's where about half or, if not, more than half of the train gets off the car to transfer to New York. We were approaching Hoboken, and the train did not seem to be slowing down whatsoever, and then all of a sudden, everything just crashed and shook," he said.

William Blaine, who said he is a freight engineer and was in the Hoboken Terminal near the track where the crash happened, estimated that the train may have been going 30 or more miles per hour, when it should have been going half that speed as it approached the station.

"I just heard kaboom, and everything just went down," he said. "Your body just shook. I swear, it sounded like a bomb. And I am sure that's probably what people were thinking, because this is what it sounded like."

Blaine told ABC News he guessed the train may have been traveling at "30 to 40 miles per hour" when it struck the station platform.

NJ Transit's Larson said he was standing about 30 feet away when he saw the train coming into the station "at a high rate of speed."

"It went over the bumper block [at the edge of the platform], basically through the air, traveled about another 40 feet and came to a rest when it hit the wall of the waiting room," he said. "It was initially just a horrendous, horrendous exploding noise."

He said he was among those who rushed over to help passengers. The first car sustained the worst damage, he said.

"There were a lot of people kicking out windows trying to exit the train," Larson said. "The second half of the first car was completely destroyed, to where they were crawling on their hands and knees" to try to exit, he said.

Passengers in cars farther back were able to walk off the train, officials said. The train's engineer is among those hospitalized.


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Thursday
Sep292016

Nick Hillary's Daughter Says Race Was 'Definitely' a Factor in Garrett Phillips Murder Case

ABC News(POTSDAM, N.Y.) -- Nick Hillary, one of the small number of black men in the small upstate New York village of Potsdam, was found not guilty Wednesday morning in the murder of his white ex-girlfriend's 12-year-old son. While Hillary is now a free man, to his eldest child, 19-year-old Shanna, race "definitely [did] play a factor" in the murder accusation that turned Hillary's life upside-down.

The village of Potsdam was nearly 90 percent white and less than 3 percent black in 2010 -- the year before 12-year-old Garrett Phillips' murder in October 2011.

"For anyone to say, 'Oh, if, you know, even if your dad was white, they would have questioned him' -- I don't think they would have gotten as far as it was, like, if he was white," she said. "Doesn't matter where you are, with everything going on, race is always a factor."

But Shanna, who describes her father as loving, caring and easygoing, told ABC News' "20/20" during the trial that Hillary is "a really strong person," adding that she's "leaning on him more than him leaning on me" during the trial.

"He doesn't really, like, burden anything on me," she said, "but from what I can see from the outside, he's still strong, so doesn't matter what they throw at him, he's going to come out on top."

It was late 2010 when Hillary and Garrett's mother, Tandy Cyrus, became a couple, and when they moved in together, Shanna moved in with them, too. Altogether, it was a household of five, including Cyrus' children, then-fifth-grader Garrett and his younger brother Aaron.

Shanna called her relationship with her father's then-girlfriend "strained at best."

"This situation wasn't like, 'Hi, this is so and so. Nice to meet you,' it was more like, 'OK, I have to meet you,'" she said. "Did we have, like, girl nights where we were up all night watching movies and eating popcorn and doing our nails? No.

"I think it was a mutual thing," she continued. "I didn't necessarily participate in the whole family gathering type of stuff."

And of adapting to living with two energetic young boys, Shanna said, "It was like, 'Oh, meet your new siblings,' and now you have to get to know them and, like, not step on each other's toes and, like, figure out how to coexist in the same place."

Garrett "definitely had a lot of energy," Shanna said. "He was always on the go."

Hillary and Cyrus broke up in the summer of 2011, and soon after, they stopped living together.

"I was happy that my dad and I lived in our own place together 'cause it gave me a lot more freedom to just relax," Shanna said. "It was like I don't have someone breathing down my neck all the time."

Garrett, his mother and his younger brother had been in their new apartment for just a few months when Garrett was murdered on Oct. 24, 2011. Two days later, Hillary was taken in for questioning. He was not arrested.

But for Shanna, the suspicion that plagued her father gave her a "very short window at the time to be sad" over Garrett's death, she said.

"When it first happened, I was sad, I was really sad about it 'cause I've known him for about a year ... but I didn't get to be sad for long," she said. "When I think of his passing away, instead of ... trying to remember good times, everything in my face now is them trying to hunt my dad down for it."

To Shanna, the investigation into Hillary felt like "they picked what they wanted to happen and they tried to find ways to make it fit, even though that's not what happened."

Shanna, now a junior studying biology at Clarkson University, where Hillary used to coach soccer, took time off from school to come to court as her dad's alibi witness. She told ABC News she's "eager for the whole ordeal to be over."

"It's been going on for so long, and every time you think that you're done, something else comes up," she said. "I'm ready to, like, move on. ... It's in every part of my life. So, when I'm supposed to be enjoying myself in college, I have all of this other stuff behind me, worrying."

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Thursday
Sep292016

Firefighters Rescue Dog Trapped at Bottom of 40-Foot-Deep Well

Monkey Business Images/iStock/Thinkstock(MCDONOUGH, Ga.) -- Firefighters saved the life of an elderly dog after he somehow fell down a 40-foot-deep well in McDonough, Georgia, according to county officials.

The yellow Labrador retriever named Bama was "desperately trying to keep [his] head above water," when animal control officers found him on Monday afternoon, according to a post on the Henry County Animal Care and Control Department's Facebook page.

The officers "realized that an extraction of this sort was beyond [their] capabilities," so they immediately contacted the Henry County Fire Department for help, said a spokesperson for the county's animal care and control department.

"We affectionately call them the 'Batman Department' because they have all the 'cool toys' and specialized equipment for situations like this that animal control departments don't have," the spokesperson told ABC News.

The fire department's Technical Rescue Team shortly arrived on the scene and worked for over three hours to rescue Bama, according to Capt. Michael Black, public information officer for the Henry County Fire Department.

The rescue team first pumped oxygen down the 40-foot-deep well before lowering a firefighter to get Bama back up, Black told ABC News today.

"The dog was really friendly, and when he was out, he even seemed like he was going around to thank everyone," Black said. He added that Bama was determined to be OK and turned over to his owner without further incident.

It appeared that the dog had accidentally fallen into the well, which is located in the backyard of his owner's neighbors' house, while "hanging out" there that afternoon, Black said.

Bama's owner, James House, told ABC affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia, that he "didn't even know" Bama had fallen in the well "until they had already got him" out.

"I know it must have been scary for him," House said. "I brought him home and hugged him -- mud and all."

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Thursday
Sep292016

6-Year-Old 'Fighting for His Life' After South Carolina Elementary School Shooting, Official Says

monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Thinkstock(TOWNVILLE, S.C.) -- A 6-year-old boy is "fighting for his life" after being critically wounded in the shooting at an elementary school in Townville, South Carolina, according to the city's fire chief who spoke at a news conference on Thursday

Jacob Hall, a kindergarten student at Townville Elementary School, was shot in the leg by a suspected 14-year-old gunman who opened fire at the school's outdoor playground during recess on Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

A "bullet ripped through little Jacob's femoral artery," a major artery located in the thigh, wrote South Carolina Rep. Alan Clemmons on his Facebook page Wednesday. Clemmons noted that Jacob was a nephew of "dear friends" of his.

Jacob "died twice, and was revived, during medical transport and again during surgery," Clemmons said.

The state representative added in an update today that the "shot that severed Jacob's femoral artery required immediate chest surgery to staunch the blood flow."

Jacob remained in critical condition at Greenville Health System Children's Hospital as of Thursday afternoon according to Sandy Dees, Greenville Health System senior media relations coordinator.

"We appreciate the community’s support, especially the Townville Rescue Squad who treated Jacob onsite and brought him to the hospital," Jacob's parents, Rodger and Renae Hall, said in a statement. "We appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers and ask for privacy during this difficult time."

During a news conference, Townville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Billy McAdams asked for prayers for all those involved in Wednesday's shooting, "especially for little Jacob," who he said was "still fighting for his life."

McAdams was one of several first responders who tended to Jacob and his teacher during the shooting. He noted that the teacher told him and other emergency personnel to "take care of Jacob first" and not worry about her.


The fire chief also read a statement prepared by Townville veteran firefighter Jamie Brock, who has been credited as the hero who took down the suspected gunman.

In the statement, Brock said that "the true heroes of yesterday's senseless tragedy" were the teachers and principal who "put their lives on the line to protect the students."

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Thursday
Sep292016

US Tried Twice to Deport Man Killed by Police in California: Officials

El Cajon Police(EL CAJON, Calif.) -- Federal officials tried twice to deport Alfred Olango, a 38-year-old man who was shot by police in Southern California on Tuesday. But his native country of Uganda refused to take him back, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Olango's history with federal immigration authorities came to light in the wake of his being killed Tuesday by an El Cajon police officer after emergency dispatchers received a 911 call from his sister saying that he was "not acting like himself."

The shooting spurred protests Tuesday and Wednesday nights in El Cajon, about 16 miles northwest of San Diego.

Olango arrived in the U.S. in 1991 as a refugee from Uganda, but was ordered to be deported after he was convicted for transporting and selling narcotics, the U.S. immigration agency's western regional communications director, Virginia Kice, told ABC News in a statement. He was later released from immigration custody in 2003 after multiple requests were to the Ugandan government to obtain travel documents for Olango.

Olango was then placed under an order of supervision, directing him to report to the agency on a regular basis, the immigration agency said. He was placed in immigration custody again in 2009 after serving prison time for a firearms charge conviction in Colorado. ICE tried again to obtain travel documents from Uganda for Olango, but their attempts were again "unsuccessful," Kice said.

He was released from custody for a second time and reported to the agency as required until February 2015. He has not been in the contact with the agency since then, Kice said.

On Tuesday night, the caller to 911 in El Cajon said Olango was walking in traffic, endangering himself and motorists, according to police.

When police arrived, Olango refused multiple instructions to remove his hand from his pocket, causing one officer to draw his firearm, police said. At one point, Olango "rapidly drew an object from his front pants pockets, placed both hands together and extended them rapidly toward the officer, taking up what appeared to be a shooting stance," police said Tuesday.

The El Cajon Police Department disclosed Wednesday evening that the object Olango pulled from his pants pocket was a vape smoking device.

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Thursday
Sep292016

Dispatch Calls Reveal NJ Train Crash Horror as It Unfolded

Pancho Bernasconi/Getty Images(HOBOKEN, N.J.) -- Internal police and EMS calls reveal the horror at the scene of Thursday morning's train crash at Hoboken Terminal in northern New Jersey that killed one woman and seriously injured dozens more.

“We have a train that has gone through the station,” according to one dispatch between New Jersey State Police and Warren County Fire and EMS. “Hoboken Terminal, we will be checking for injuries.”

Officials scrambled for backup after realizing the magnitude of the situation. "All units, Hoboken track number 5," a dispatcher said.

The New Jersey Transit commuter train carrying 250 people crashed into Hoboken's historic train station a little after 8:30 a.m., according to authorities.

"We need electricians here as well, at this time we’re not sure if anything is still alive," a dispatcher said.

"We’ve got multiple walking wounded, we’ve got serious structural damage here in Hoboken Terminal," according to another dispatch. "I need you to contact rail operations. We need no further trains to Hoboken Terminal. Hold everything at Secaucus.”

Dispatchers went on to say they have "PD, FD, EMS, and ALS responding" to the scene.

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Thursday
Sep292016

Fire Chief Describes How SC Firefighter Took Down Suspected Gunman

iStock/Thinkstock(TOWNVILLE, S.C.) -- The fire chief of Townville Volunteer Fire Department in Townville, South Carolina, described to ABC News Thursday how a veteran volunteer firefighter heroically took down the suspected teen gunman who opened fire at Townville Elementary School's playground during recess on Wednesday.

Fire Chief Billy McAdams said he was in his personal vehicle with 30-year veteran firefighter Jamie Brock when they heard the call about shots fired at the school. The chief was especially concerned because he had a son at the school, he said.

After arriving at the scene, the two split up, McAdams told ABC News Thursday. Brock went off to look for the shooter despite being unarmed, while McAdams tended to a seriously wounded child.

Brock was able to tackle the 14-year-old suspected shooter, who was armed with a handgun, McAdams said. Meanwhile, the fire chief said he had been applying a tourniquet to stop the bleeding in the wounded child's leg.

The suspected teen gunman was taken into custody with incident at the school, officials said at a news conference on Wednesday. A county EMS official noted that Brock wanted to remain humble and quiet.

It was not immediately clear how the suspected teen shooter got into the school on Wednesday, according to officials. They did note, however, that all schools in the district have undergone active shooter training.

Three people were injured in the shooting -- including a student shot in the leg, another student shot in the foot and a teacher shot in the shoulder -- officials said.

The suspect, who officials did not identify by name, was described at the news conference as the son of 47-year-old Jeffery Dewitt Osborne, who was found dead in his home on the same day of the shooting.

Authorities said that the suspected teen shooter's grandparents received a phone call from the teen early afternoon. The shooter was crying and upset, according to the grandparents, who then went to the home of their son, Jeffery Dewitt Osborne. The grandparents found the teen's father dead and called 911.

An autopsy is expected to be conducted on Osborne Thursday, according to officials.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley asked on Wednesday "that everyone across South Carolina join" her and her husband, Michael Haley, "in praying for the entire Townville Elementary School family and those touched by today's tragedy" as "we work together with law enforcement to make sure they have the support they need to investigate what happened."

The family of the suspected teen shooter said in a statement Thursday that they "were absolutely shocked and saddened by the senseless actions of our son."

They added that they were praying for "the two precious children who were wounded" and for "their courageous teacher."

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Thursday
Sep292016

Passengers Describe Harrowing Scene at NJ Transit Crash

Pancho Bernasconi/Getty Images(HOBOKEN, N.J.) -- Witnesses described the harrowing scene Thursday morning after a New Jersey Transit commuter train crashed into a platform at Hoboken Terminal in northern New Jersey, killing at least one person and seriously injuring others.

Officials said at least 100 people were wounded in the crash.

Corey Futterman was riding in one of the last cars of the train but was not injured in the crash. He told ABC News that this was "something I've never seen before."

"We had just left Secaucus and that’s where about half or if not more than half of the train gets off the car to transfer to New York [Penn Station]. We were approaching Hoboken and the train did not seem to be slowing down whatsoever and then all of a sudden everything just crashed and shook," Futterman said.

There was no indication that something was wrong before the crash, according to Futterman.

"We were just going a little quicker than expected," he said. "We were not slowing too much."

Futterman said his train car was not severely damaged in the crash.

"But when you got out, I immediately saw like the roof caved in and the car was on top of the platform and it was wires everywhere and total destruction inside. And chaos," he told ABC News. "People were freaking out and crying. People’s faces were bloody."

Another witness, who was identified only as Jamie, described the moment of the crash to ABC News station WABC-TV in New York.

"We're panicking, because I believe those people in the front were very badly injured. So they started yelling, because they saw the blood," she said, adding, "[the train] was super packed."

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