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Friday
Dec082017

Teens turns himself in after stealing AR-15 assault rifle from police car

iStock/Thinkstock(PEMBROKE PINES, Fla.) -- A 16-year-old from Florida turned himself in to police on Thursday after he was caught on surveillance video stealing an assault rife and bulletproof vest from a police car.

ABC affiliate WPLG says Christopher Clarke turned himself in at the urging of family and friends after the video was shared widely online.

Police said they were still searching for the items stolen from the vehicle.

Florida police were searching for the teen after he was caught stealing police equipment right out of a cop car, including an AR-15 assault rifle with three fully loaded magazines.

At approximately 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, the suspect was caught on surveillance camera stealing from a marked Opa Locka Police Department patrol vehicle while it sat in a neighborhood driveway, according to the Pembroke Pines Police Department.

In the video, the man walks up to the car, opens the unlocked passenger door and begins stealing equipment, such as a tactical vest with police markings. The suspect is seen making three trips to his car, including one carrying the rifle. He also made off with a Taser and cartridges, and a 16-round, .45-caliber magazine, according to police.

Pembroke Pines police believe the suspect was also responsible for additional vehicle burglaries which occurred around the same area Tuesday morning.

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Friday
Dec082017

Three shootings on Detroit highway may be tied together, Michigan State Police say

iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- Michigan State Police said three highway shootings early Thursday morning in Detroit might have been the work of the same person.

The first call came in before 3 a.m. when officers responded to a shooting on I-96. A driver says he was going home from work when another car pulled alongside and fired shots at his vehicle, according to police. The driver was not hit.

About five minutes later on I-94, police said a second driver said someone pulled up next to his vehicle and opened fire. The driver was hit in the leg and was treated at a hospital and released. He limped into a gas station and asked for the clerk to call police, according to Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ.

Later in the afternoon, a third driver came forward and said he was driving in the same area at the same time as the first report and noticed a bullet hole in his vehicle, police said. The bullet was found in the car.

Authorities said there is no relationship between the three victims, but detectives are treating all three incidents as having the same shooter, or shooters, due to the proximity and timelines of the shootings.

Michigan State Police said it is deploying extra patrols along the Detroit freeway system as a precaution.

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Friday
Dec082017

Winter storm watch in place for Northeast as snowstorm arrives Saturday

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Northeast is about to taste its first snowfall of the season this weekend.

A storm system is developing in the Gulf Coast on Friday morning, and is expected to track northeast into Georgia and the Carolinas by Friday night.

A swath of accumulating snow is expected from Louisiana to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas.

The storm system will move up the East Coast and spread snow from Virginia to New York early Saturday morning.

The heaviest snow should be flying along the I-95 corridor during the late morning on Saturday into the early afternoon as the storm system moves east of New Jersey.

The snow should be moving out of the Northeast Sunday morning.

Snow accumulations will be anywhere from 1 to 3 inches from Alabama to Georgia and into the Carolinas.

Up to 6 inches of snow is possible from southern New Jersey to Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts. Philadelphia should see a couple of inches, while New York City receives 2 to 4 inches and Boston sees 4 to 6 inches.

Santa Ana winds continue

Winds gusted to over 50 mph in San Diego County yesterday, spreading two new wildfires. Winds gusted to 88 mph in the mountains of San Diego County.

The National Weather Service has extended red flag warnings for Southern California through Sunday as the dry, gusty Santa Ana winds will continue.

Relative humidity is expected to be as low as 5 percent in Southern California.

This morning, the winds are a little lighter, but the region could still see gusts near 30 mph in spots.

Gusty off-shore winds are expected to continue Saturday at 20 to 30 mph with local gusts near 60 mph in the mountains.

Santa Ana winds will continue to gust on Sunday near 25 mph along the coast with higher gusts near 60 mph in the mountains.

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Friday
Dec082017

Texas celebrates rare snowstorm from San Antonio to Houston

Image Source/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Accumulations may have amounted to only a dusting to an inch, but Texas celebrated a rare snowstorm on Thursday with super-sized enthusiasm.

Many major cities saw snow on Thursday, including San Antonio, Austin and Houston. The snowfall came even before Northeast cities like New York and Boston have seen the white stuff this season.

It has snowed just 35 times in Houston since 1895, according to KTRK, with the last measurable snow (just an inch) falling in December 2009.

A winter weather advisory was in effect for Houston through Friday morning where 1 to 2 inches of snow were possible.

Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt, no stranger to snow in his time growing up in Wisconsin, reveled in the snow in his adopted hometown on Thursday.
The snow turned Kyle Field in College Station -- home of the Texas A&M Aggies -- into a "winter wonderland."

At the Alamo in San Antonio, a conveniently dressed Santa Claus greeted tourists as flakes fell. The precipitation was mostly mixed in the area, but a freeze warning was issued by the National Weather Service through Friday morning.

San Antonio ended up with just shy of 2 inches on the ground, according to the National Weather Service. Austin received about half an inch to 1 inch.

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Friday
Dec082017

Indiana cop discovers reindeer in back of van pulled over for traffic violation

Indiana State Police(INDIANAPOLIS) -- On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer and Vixen, on Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and ... 2014 Dodge cargo van?

One Indiana state trooper got a Christmas surprise Thursday morning when he pulled over a van with a special, living passenger in the cargo hold.

Indiana State Police said that Master Trooper Don Farris stopped a white 2014 Dodge van Thursday for a minor traffic violation just west of Indianapolis.

The driver, Christopher T. Hansen of Indianapolis, was issued a warning for the violation.

But before driving off, police said Hansen also asked Farris if he wanted to look at his passenger in the rear of the van.

Farris opened the back to find none other than an adult reindeer.

Hansen explained he has a business, Silly Safaris Shows Inc., and he was on his way to Attica, Indiana to put on a show at an elementary school.

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Friday
Dec082017

Scenes of devastation and hope in Ventura County as fires continue to rage

iStock/Thinkstock(VENTURA COUNTY, Calif) -- The fire department chief in California's Ventura County told ABC News Thursday that he expected the number of structures destroyed by fires -- at least 150 -- to increase as assessment teams continued to survey the damage into the night.

"Homes, barns, apartment buildings," Ventura County Fire Department Chief Mark Lorenzen told "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir. "We expect that number's going to go up significantly."

The Thomas fire, raging across Ventura County, has scorched more than 150 square miles so far. The largest of the blazes ravaging the state, the Thomas fire started Monday night as a 50-acre brush fire in foothills east of Santa Paula and grew to 10,000 acres in just four hours, authorities said.
Lorenzen said the winds were his greatest concern Thursday night.

"Mother Nature really decides when we're gonna be able to actually put the fire out," he said. "Right now what we're doing is just trying to stay ahead of it, make sure we evacuate and protect structures."

Lorenzen said firefighters were experiencing gusts of 40 to 60 mph coming out of the East that were pushing the fires hard in a westerly direction.

He said that in the absence of rain, he could see this active, multiple-fire situation "easily going to Christmas."

Parts of Southern California are now facing some of the most critical fire conditions on record. Fierce flames are threatening ranches. Videos have captured frightened horses being led to safety.

ABC News witnessed Rachel Lipscomb, 11, of Ventura, walked through the wreckage of her family's home with her father, Jeff, and older brother, Gabriel. Her precious books were all gone.

But there were scenes of hope as well.

As Muir spoke with Lorenzen and visited with firefighters, there was an unexpected delivery from two girls -- Hannah and Haley Thompson -- whose home had survived the fires.

The two sisters said they'd wanted to do something for the firefighters risking their lives to evacuate residents and extinguish the raging blaze. So, they came with sandwiches.

"We brought ham and cheese, turkey and cheese," the girls said.

They said it was their way to say thanks.

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Thursday
Dec072017

Suspected Tampa serial killer Howell Donaldson III indicted in Seminole Heights murders, prosecutors say

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- A Florida grand jury has indicted the suspected Tampa serial killing with four counts of premeditated murder with a firearm, according to state prosecutors.

The Tampa Police Department previously charged Howard Donaldson III with four counts of murder in connection with the four shooting deaths that occurred between Oct. 9 and Nov. 14 in the Seminole Heights neighborhood after his arrest last week.

The grand jury has returned the indictment officially charging Donaldson, said State Attorney Andrew Warren in a press conference Thursday.

"The indictment means that the grand jury has found that probable cause exists, that the defendant committed each of these four murders," he said.

Warren promised that the Hillsborough County State Attorney's office will be "as transparent as possible every step of the way during the prosecution." The prosecutor's office has reached out to the families of the victims to inform them that the charges were filed, he said.

"My office continues to work to prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law," he said. "I'd like to remind everyone, please keep your thoughts and prayers for the victims and families at this time."

Donaldson was arrested on Nov. 28 after his manager at an Ybor City McDonald's alerted police to a McDonald's bag containing a firearm, which authorities later matched to the weapon used to kill all four victims.

On Thursday, a Hillsborough County judge ordered his parents, Rosita Donaldson and Howell Donaldson Jr., to show cause on why they should not be held in contempt for refusing provide testimony to state prosecutors Tuesday, despite being served with a subpoena ordering them to do so, according to court documents. They would not answer questions relating to their son's background, developmental history, mode of transportation, gun possession or state of mind, the motion states.

The Donaldsons were "fully advised" on their actions and are "ready to take the consequence," their attorney, Ralph Fernandez, told ABC News on Wednesday.

Donaldson is currently being held without bond in a Hillsborough County jail. His arraignment has been scheduled for Dec. 12, and he has not yet entered a plea.

It is unclear whether Donaldson has obtained a defense attorney.

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Thursday
Dec072017

Widower, children sue estate of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock for $45M

eccolo74/iStock/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- The family of a California woman who died in the Las Vegas mass shooting is suing the estate of gunman Stephen Paddock for $45 million, court documents show.

Thousand Oaks resident Keri Galvan was survived by her husband and three children. Each is named in a creditor's claim electronically filed Wednesday in Clark County district court in Nevada, the court documents state. The court filing was provided to ABC News by The Blast.

Each requests $10 million from Paddock's estate, but Galvan's husband, Justin Galvan, requests an addition $5 million due to the emotional distress he suffered because he was "physically present at the Route 91 Harvest Festival" when the shooting took place, according to the claim.

The figure represents the value of Keri Galvan's lost wages and financial support as well as loss of her "love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection and emotional support," among others, the court documents state.

Keri Galvan had worked for Mastro's Steakhouse near her home for almost a decade, her employer, Landry's Inc., said in a statement after she was killed. A GoFundMe campaign created by her sister, Lindsey Poole, describes Keri Galvan as a "devoted wife and mother." Her children were ages 10, 4 and 2 at the time of her death.

The mother of three was "enjoying a night out with her husband and friends" when she was "senselessly murdered," Poole wrote. She died in her husband's arms, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

On Oct. 1, 58 people were killed and hundreds more injured when police say Paddock, 64, opened fire on thousands of concertgoers from the 32nd floor of his suite in the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.

After the shooting, Paddock's brother, Eric Paddock, described him to ABC News as a "wealthy guy who lived to play video poker."

Police found Stephen Paddock dead when they breached his hotel room after the shooting had stopped.

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Thursday
Dec072017

LAPD posts sweet message after officer rescues cat from wildfire

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- As multiple wildfires sweep through the Los Angeles area, both people and pets have been put in dangerous situations.

The Los Angeles Police Department posted a sweet message accompanying a photo of one of its officers carrying a cat away from smoke and flames.

"For some it might just be a cat," the LAPD wrote on Twitter Wednesday. "But to others it’s a friend, a loved one, a companion."

The police department wrote that this is one example of its officers representing their motto "To Protect and Serve" during the devastating fires.

The message has been re-tweeted more than 5,000 times and people online have chimed in responding to the photo, thanking officers for putting themselves at risk to save residents and their pets.

The LAPD declined to comment to ABC News.

Four fires in the Los Angeles area are threatening homes in Ventura, Santa Barbara County, Sylmar, Bel Air and Santa Clarita.

The blazes together have burned more than 116,000 acres.

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Thursday
Dec072017

Judge orders parents of suspected Tampa serial killer to appear in court after their refusal to testify

ABCNews.com(HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla.) -- A Florida judge has ordered the parents of a suspected serial killer to appear in court next month to explain why they shouldn't be penalized for refusing to speak to investigators.

In a Hillsborough County courtroom Thursday morning, Judge Margaret Taylor ordered Howell Donaldson Jr. and his wife, Rosita Donaldson, to return to court next month to show cause for why they should not be held in civil contempt of court.

Their 24-year-old son, Howell Donaldson III, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in connection to the recent slayings that terrorized Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood.

State prosecutors say the Donaldsons have willfully refused to provide testimony and answer questions about their son, despite a subpoena that ordered them to do so. Florida state law does not allow for parent-child privilege.

“We are seeking to conduct a thorough investigation of the matters involving the violent loss of four lives. And as our statutory obligation, our ethical obligation dictates us to exhaust every lawful investigative avenue," assistant state attorney Jay Pruner told the judge Thursday morning. "We are seeking testimony that would only be within Mr. and Mrs. Donaldson’s access of knowledge. That’s the purpose of this motion ultimately; that’s our intent and our hope they would comply and answer our questions."

Howell Donaldson Jr. and Rosita Donaldson were subpoenaed to speak with investigators Monday. The couple appeared at the state attorney's office Tuesday but refused to answer any questions related to the investigation of their son's alleged involvement in the killings, according to court documents.

Defense attorney Ralph Fernandez told the judge the Donaldsons are "devastated" and have received death threats since their son's arrest last week.

“Admittedly, they knew when they went they were not going to answer questions that would lead to the execution of their son,” Fernandez told the judge Thursday morning. “That’s why this is a difficult cause because of the fact that from the inception that’s why the Donaldson’s have been devastated. Not only the personal tragedy, but they have extended their condolences repeatedly to the victims that suffered greatly."

Prior to Thursday's hearing, Fernandez told ABC News that the Donaldsons were "fully advised" on their actions and are "ready to take the consequence." He described their situation as "tough" and "complex."

"I think it shocks the conscience of Americans to be part of a system of justice that is identical on this issue as North Korea, Cuba, Syria and Iran, where parents are compelled to testify against their children and children against their parents," Fernandez told ABC News Wednesday.

Howell Donaldson III was arrested Nov. 28 after his manager at a McDonald's restaurant in Tampa's Ybor City neighborhood alerted police to a McDonald's food bag containing a handgun. Investigators later matched the firearm to the same weapon used in a string of fatal shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood between Oct. 9 and Nov. 14.

The first three victims were killed within 11 days in October. Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was killed Oct. 9, and the body of 32-year-old Monica Hoffa was found Oct. 13, half a mile from where Mitchell was killed. Anthony Naiboa, a 20-year-old man authorities described as having mild autism, was killed Oct. 19 after taking the wrong bus home from work, according to police.

The fourth victim, 60-year-old Robert Felton, was fatally shot from behind in the early hours of Nov. 14.

Howell Donaldson III, a Tampa native and graduate of St. John’s University in New York City, is being held in a Hillsborough County jail without bond. A pretrial detention hearing scheduled for Tuesday was canceled because the case has not yet been assigned to a division. He has not yet entered a plea.

Investigators are still unsure of a motive behind the four killings and do not yet know of a connection between Howell Donaldson III and the neighborhood where the killings took place. Police do not believe there are any other suspects in the case.

The Donaldsons held a news conference last Friday, stating their "devastation" at the news of their son's arrest and how they prayed for the families of the victims.

"I prayed for those families when it first started," Rosita Donaldson said, holding back tears. "And then when they arrested my son, devastation, because I love my son and it was disbelief that this was happening to our family. And we question why."

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