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Wednesday
Apr172019

Suspect in motorized shopping cart steals wallet from floor of FL Walmart: Police

Clearwater Police Department(CLEARWATER, Fla.) -- Police are asking for the public's help to locate a suspect in a motorized shopping cart who allegedly stole a Walmart shopper's wallet.

The victim and his girlfriend were inside the Walmart on State Road 590 in Clearwater, Florida, on April 1 when the victim dropped his wallet on the floor inside the store, police said.

Before the man could retrieve his wallet, the suspect approached on a motorized cart and picked up the wallet and left the store on foot, Clearwater police said in a statement.

The victim and his girlfriend followed and soon confronted the suspect.

The suspect, after being called out for allegedly stealing, threw the wallet at the victim and his girlfriend, police said.

But before returning the wallet, police said the suspect removed all of the cash.

Police released cellphone video taken by the victim at the scene and are asking for the public's help to identify the suspect.

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Wednesday
Apr172019

71-year-old Louisiana man charged with 100 counts of rape

Kuzma/iStock(PINEVILLE, La.) -- A Louisiana man was charged with 100 counts of rape for multiple sexual assaults that included children under the age of 13, according to police.

Harvey Fountain, 71, was arrested and charged last week in connection with a string of rapes that allegedly date back to the early 1970s, police said.

Authorities have not disclosed the suspected number of victims, but they said the alleged assaults occurred in and around his hometown of Pineville, Louisiana, located just outside of Alexandria.

Officers with the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office said investigators were made aware of the accusations on April 1, when it received a complaint about sexual misconduct involving children, according to a statement.

"Fountain perpetrated the sexually based crimes upon juveniles while at various locations that he resided in the Pineville area," the statement said. "The crimes allegedly began in the early 1970s and continued through the early 1980s."

Fountain was charged with 50 counts of first-degree rape on April 9 and 50 additional counts on April 12. The sheriff's office said it added the second round of charges after identifying additional victims.

"Through their investigation, detectives were able to gather evidence that supported the original allegations which lead to sufficient probable cause being established," the office said. "As Fountain remained in jail, detectives continued their investigation and additional victims were identified."

Fountain was being held on a $1 million bond as of late Tuesday. It's unclear if he has retained an attorney.

Police said the investigation is ongoing and urged anyone with information about other possible victims to come forward.

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Tuesday
Apr162019

Capital Gazette wins Pulitzer citation for coverage of fatal newsroom shooting

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Pulitzer Prize Board honored The Capital Gazette with a special citation for its “courageous response” to the 2018 fatal shooting in the publication’s newsroom.

The Pulitzer Prize Board honored the Maryland paper “for demonstrating unflagging commitment to covering the news and serving their community at a time of unspeakable grief.”

Five staffers were killed in the shooting. The incident is the largest killing of journalists in U.S. history.

“That each of our teams could deliver such precise, compelling, heartbreaking journalism while their own hearts were breaking demands our awe,” Tim Knight, CEO of Tribune Publishing, which owns the Capital Gazette, said.

The five victims of the shooting were Wendi Winters, 65, Robert Hiaasen, 59, Gerald Fischman, 61, John McNamara, 56, and Rebecca Smith, 34.

The citation comes with a $100,000 prize designated "to further the newspaper’s journalistic mission."

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan congratulated the paper, noting that the journalists who died “will never be forgotten.”

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Tuesday
Apr162019

Marines identify Raider killed in vehicle accident at Camp Pendleton

U.S. Marine Corps(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- The Marine Corps identified Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica, 29, of Sacramento, California, as the service member who was killed over the weekend in a tactical vehicle accident at Camp Pendleton.

The Marine Raider, who was part of an elite special operations team, suffered critical injuries and was medically evacuated for additional care to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California, but died on Sunday night, according to the Marines. Two other Marine Raiders were also injured in the one-vehicle crash, which occurred during a unit training exercise on Saturday.

Braica had served in the Marine Corps for more than eight years and had deployed twice to what is now referred to as the Indo-Pacific Command region. He first deployed with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit in 2011 and later with the 1st Marine Raider Battalion from July 2017 to January 2018, according to the Marines. Braica served as an intelligence specialist with 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, and with Marine Aircraft Group 36, and had received several honors since he enlisted in July 2010.

Braica's identity was announced Tuesday after his relatives were notified. He is survived by his wife and son. An investigation into the accident continues.

"Our thoughts are with his family and teammates," Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command tweeted on Monday.

Last week, three Marines were killed by a bomb blast outside of Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan. They were identified as Cpl. Robert A. Hendriks, Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, and Staff Sgt. Christopher K.A. Slutman.

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Tuesday
Apr162019

Trio allegedly operating dark web drug storefront arrested in 'largest pill seizure in New Jersey's history'

Moussa81/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Three New Jersey men have been arrested and charged with running a counterfeit drug storefront on the dark web that sold hundreds of thousands of narcotic pills nationwide in exchange for cryptocurrency, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office.

The investigation targeted an operation advertising itself as “Sinmed” on the dark web, or darknet -- an encrypted portion of the internet that is only accessible using anonymity-providing cyber tools like the Tor Browser.

Investigators seized nearly a half-million pills, the largest ever seizure of pills in the state of New Jersey, according to Vance’s office.

“Not only is this the first time state prosecutors in New York have taken down a dark web storefront, this takedown represents the largest pill seizure in New Jersey’s history,” Vance said in a press release on Tuesday. “If you are engaging in illicit activity on the dark web, you are on notice: we know how to find you, we know how to put you out of business, and we know how to hold you criminally accountable.”

Vance’s office was tipped in 2017 to noticeably large ATM withdrawals in Manhattan and across the river in New Jersey and began tracking a trio of men allegedly involved in the scheme.

“When our office received reports of suspicious activity at ATMs in New York and New Jersey, our talented investigators followed the money, using our state-of-the-art Cyber Lab to uncover a dark web counterfeit pill seller whose $2.3 million operation spanned the U.S.”

The alleged drug ring -- which was run in part out of a cell phone repair shop in Asbury Park, New Jersey according to officials -- sold illicit and counterfeit drugs including counterfeit Xanax, ketamine, GHB and steroids, as well as fentanyl-laced heroin and methamphetamine, according to authorities.

In addition to the recovered drugs, authorities also seized drug ingredients, pill presses and other drug-manufacturing equipment.

Undercover investigators for the Manhattan D.A.'s office purchased about 10,000 alprazolam tablets, in addition to ketamine and GHB, from the darknet storefront, according to officials.

Additionally, the Manhattan D.A.’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau "identified more than 1,000 packages that were shipped by the defendants from New Jersey to locations across the country, and seized an additional 8,000 tablets by intercepting several of the packages," officials said in the press release.

Nearly all of the packages had return addresses that falsely identified the sender as a Manhattan business, officials said.

Chester Anderson, 44, Jarrette Codd, 41, and Ronald McCarty, 51 – all of New Jersey – were arrested on multiple conspiracy and money laundering charges, officials said. Anderson was additionally charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance and identity theft.

The trio of suspects laundered more than $2 million in cryptocurrency, officials said.

It was not immediately clear whether any of the three defendants had retained attorneys.

The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office is handling the prosecution of the items seized in New Jersey, officials in Vance's office said.

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Tuesday
Apr162019

Man who threw 5-year-old from Mall of America balcony was 'looking to kill': Police

BanksPhotos/iStock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- A Minneapolis man was looking for a random adult to kill over the weekend before he threw a 5-year-old boy from a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America, authorities said.

Emmanuel Aranda, 24, grabbed the child and tossed him down nearly 40 feet on Friday, leaving the boy with life-threatening injuries, including multiple broken bones and severe head trauma, according to charging documents.

Aranda ran away from the scene, but police apprehended him at a nearby light rail station in Bloomington, about 10 miles south of Minneapolis. Officers said he appeared "calm" as he was arrested and never questioned why he was taken into custody.

Aranda told investigators he was "looking for someone to kill, but it did not 'work out,'" according to a probable cause document released Monday. He said he came up with a plan to "kill someone at the mall" on Thursday and indicated that he was angry because women at the mall had rejected him.

"He said he planned to kill an adult, because they usually stand near the balcony, but he chose the victim instead," the document said. "[He] indicated he had been coming to the mall for several years and had made efforts to talk to women in the mall, but had been rejected, and the rejection caused him to lash out and be aggressive."

Investigators said he repeatedly acknowledged he'd come to the mall with intentions to kill and signaled that he was "aware that what he was doing was wrong," according to the charging documents.

Aranda was previously banned from the mall for throwing water in a woman's face and destroying property. Police said he also had a warrant for his arrest in Illinois on assault charges.

Police said surveillance video from the scene showed Aranda entering the third floor of the mall and looking over the balcony several times before he approached the 5-year-old victim and his mother.

The victim's mother said she noticed the suspect getting "very close to them" and asked if she and her son should move, the documents said. Aranda remained silent as he lifted the boy up over the balcony, "without warning," and threw him down to the first floor, according to the charging documents.

Aranda didn't appear to know the victim, said police.

Aranda was being held on felony charges of premeditated murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Aranda made a brief court appearance on Tuesday where bail was set at $2 million. His next court appearance was set for May 14.

Meanwhile, the little boy was in critical condition on Tuesday and beginning his long journey toward recovery, a family attorney told reporters.

The 5-year-old was described on a GoFundMe page as a "full of energy" child who enjoys playing hockey with his brother and sister.

A statement from the Mall of America on Friday said, "This was a senseless act and words cannot truly express our profound shock and sadness. Our immediate and only concern is for the well being of the family and the child, as well as for any individuals who may have witnessed the incident."

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Tuesday
Apr162019

Remains found in Utah canyon believed to be woman who went missing in 2018

Utah County Sheriff's Office(NEW YORK) -- Human remains found in a remote ravine in Utah's American Fork Canyon are believed to be those of a 24-year-old who went missing early last year, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

A 70-year-old local man was hiking American Fork Canyon on April 14 when he contacted deputies about finding the skeletal remains believed to be Jerika Binks, who went missing on Feb. 18, 2018, according to Sergeant Spencer Cannon, public information officer for the Utah County Sheriff's Office.

Cannon told ABC News that there were a few personal items at the scene that were consistent with the description of the property Binks was said to have with her on the day she went missing. He also said that, at first glance, there was evidence the victim had sustained injuries and that it was unlikely she was brought there by someone else before or after her death.

“It would be a strenuous hike or climb to get where the remains were found — very steep, very rocky, difficult terrain," he said. "It’s entirely possible this person had an accident [or] a fall of some kind."

Based on the evidence they collected, there was no evidence to suggest foul play was involved, Cannon said, but he also noted that a deeper analysis is necessary.

Binks was last seen on both surveillance video and trail camera footage jogging near the area, Cannon said.

“She was an aggressive runner, she liked hiking in the mountains," he said. "We don’t know if she’s been before but it wouldn’t be a shock that she has taken a challenging hike like this."

The Utah County Sheriff's has informed the family of the possible discovery of Binks’ remains.

The man who found the remains told deputies that he lives nearby and that, despite spending a lot of time in the canyons, he hadn't been to the ravine yet, which is why he chose to visit Sunday night, Cannon said.

The man also said that on his way up the ravine, he saw some items scattered around and assumed they were trash left by other hikers. It wasn't until he was on his way back down that he spotted the skeletal remains, according to Cannon.

It took authorities around 40 minutes to get to the scene, Cannon said, because it was an area that they hadn’t responded to before.

“My reaction was, 'Wow, this was a rough canyon. I can’t imagine anyone coming up here,'” said Cannon.

The remains were recovered on Monday morning and taken to the Medical Examiner's office in Taylorsville, where they will be identified and a cause of death will be determined.

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Tuesday
Apr162019

Two Big Bear bald eagle chicks hatch on livestream

(KGrif/iStock) Eagle's nest FILE photo.(BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif.) -- After weeks of patiently waiting and nesting, a pair of bald eagles welcomed their first chick on Sunday and their second on Monday -- in front of the eyes of many excited livestream viewers.

Eagle couple Jackie and Shadow of Big Bear Lake, Calif., painstakingly cared for their two eggs over the past five weeks, switching off duties like good parents. The typical gestation period for an eagle egg is 35 days and the pair's eagle nest is being livestreamed by Friends of Big Bear Valley, which initially installed a camera in 2015.

Friends of Big Bear Valley began suspecting one of the eggs had a "pip" -- meaning a chick was beginning to break through -- on Friday, the nonprofit's Facebook updates show.

By Sunday morning, it was clear a chick was on its way. On duty, Shadow, the dad, was "very antsy" and couldn't "seem to relax," Friends of Big Bear Valley wrote on Facebook. "Nervous first time dad!" the group added.

With Shadow still on watch, the chick was born Sunday and in clear view of the camera, much to viewers' delight.

But the excitement wasn't over yet for the young parents or their human fans. While Shadow and Jackie fed their newborn, who is already getting stronger, viewers spied a pip on the second egg.

By Monday afternoon, the second chick had emerged.

Friends of Big Bear Valley reported on Facebook the first chick was "less of a bobblehead" Monday night, meaning it was getting stronger, while the second chick was "still a rollypolly," getting used to existing outside of an egg.

Of course, where there are newborns, there are need for names, and so Friends of Big Bear Valley announced a contest to name them. Fans can submit suggestions on the group's website until April 21. From there, 25 names will be randomly drawn and third grade classes in Big Bear Valley will get to vote.

Parents Jackie and Shadow are both 5 years old, per Friends of Big Bear Valley, and Jackie has laid eggs before. Two of her chicks were born in 2018, but only one, named Stormy by a group of third graders, survived to live outside of the nest.

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Tuesday
Apr162019

New body cam video shows deadly North Carolina police shooting of 27-year-old

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Newly-released body camera footage reveals the dramatic and deadly police shooting of a 27-year-old man who authorities say was armed in a North Carolina parking lot.

A judge granted the release of the tense body camera footage on Monday. But the shooting unfolded on the morning of March 25, after the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said two 911 calls came within minutes reporting an armed man at a business.

"The first caller frantically said she needed police quickly" because a suspect went behind the counter with a gun and pointed it at an employee, police said in a statement on Monday. "The second caller frantically said she needed police because an individual had approached her vehicle while she was waiting for food in the parking lot of the business and pulled out a gun."

When two officers reached the parking lot, they saw Danquirs Franklin squatting next to an open car door, said police.

Both officers pointed guns at Franklin, who was black, and repeatedly told him to "put the gun down."

Franklin remained crouched on the ground of the parking lot, next to an open car door, facing the inside of the car.

When one of the officers "perceived an imminent, deadly threat," she fired her gun twice, hitting Franklin, said police. The 27-year-old was taken to a hospital, where he died, said police.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said the video showed "the instant where a mother lost her son, children lost their father and a young man had his life end much too soon."

"It's another really sad moment and reminder that the responsibilities of law enforcement are and will always be immense," she said Monday. "In the blink of an eye, their jobs require an instantaneous decision and that it something none of us should take lightly."

Just before the video was released, Lyles told reporters Monday, "I believe it's the duty of responsible leaders to get out in front of an event like this, to ensure everyone in our city that we are dedicated to the pursuit of truth and justice."

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney described the video as "like a punch to the gut. It's hard to watch ... because a life has been lost. "

But Putney added there is "clear and compelling evidence" Franklin was armed.

The mayor and police said they are prepared for peaceful protests.

"I call on all of Charlotte to come together respectfully," Lyles stressed. "How we respond as a community will reflect how we honor the memory of Danquirs Franklin."

"I hope you’ll do what we're doing and pray for Miss Franklin and her family. Pray for our officers, whose lives have been destroyed, as well," Putney said. "And come together as a community and be heard. But be lawful.”

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police's homicide unit is investigative the shooting, and once that is completed, the evidence will be turned over to the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office for review, the department said Monday.

Wende Kerl, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer who shot Franklin, was placed on paid administrative leave, the department said in March. Kerl has been with the department for over 20 years.

The department's internal affairs bureau "will conduct a separate but parallel investigation to determine whether CMPD [Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department] policies and procedures were adhered to," the department said in March.

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Tuesday
Apr162019

Florida teenager arrested after being filmed wrestling fake alligator at mall

DNY59/iStock(MIAMI) -- A Florida man was arrested after being filmed wrestling with a fake alligator in a mall.

Gianny Sosa-Hernandez was charged with criminal mischief after damaging the display alligator at The Falls Shopping Center in Miami-Dade County, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

In the video, Sosa-Hernandez, 18, is seen removing his sweatshirt and running to the side of the display. He then jumps over the barrier, throwing the fake alligator off a rock and into the display's pond. Sosa-Hernandez picks up the alligator before performing a wrestling move on it that police identified as an R.K.O, a move popularized by WWE wrestler Randy Orton. He then pretends to pin the gator.

Police said the manager of the mall confirmed that the alligator, which was valued at $3,690, was damaged from the March 30 incident. A witness identified Sosa-Hernandez after watching the video and Sosa-Hernandez confessed to the incident and apologized after he was arrested, according to police.

It was unclear if Sosa-Hernandez had a lawyer.

Police said Sosa-Hernandez was taken to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami-Dade County.

Sosa-Hernandez was involved in a separate incident a week earlier where he allegedly performed a wrestling move on his high school principal, police told ABC News.

He allegedly performed the same RKO wrestling move on the principal of Miami Southridge Senior High School on April 10 and was charged with battery on a specified official/employee and interference with an educational institution, according to an arrest report from the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department. ABC affiliate WPLG reported that he appeared in court and was released without bond in that incident.

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