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Tuesday
May152018

Undercover FBI operation busts 10 airline employees in alleged drug smuggling ring

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- Ten airline employees at a Texas airport have been indicted for their role in allegedly trafficking nearly 150 pounds of what federal officials believe was methamphetamine.

Nine of the 10 employees have been arrested in the undercover operation at Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport, FBI officials said at a press conference in Texas on Tuesday. One had not yet been apprehended.

Officials would not say what prompted the sting, but an indictment filed in federal court indicates the investigation goes back as far as August 2016.

Officials at the press conference and publicly available court documents did not detail how exactly the defendants used their employment at the airport to smuggle contraband, but they accused them of detailing to undercover officers how they evaded security and distributed a substance that they believed to be methamphetamine to multiple cities, including Newark, Charlotte and Phoenix on commercial flights.

According to the FBI, the persons indicted and their employers are:

Nelson Pabon, 47 - Envoy Air
Jean Loui Vargas-Malave, 28 - Envoy Air
Juan Camacho Melendez, 22 - Envoy Air
Ruben Benitez-Matienzo, 45 - Envoy Air
Jose Luis Gaston-Rolon, 24 - Spirit Airlines
Joshua Israel Pagan Zapata, 21 - Envoy Air
Domingo Villafane Martinez III, 30 - Envoy Air
Luis Javier Collazo Rosado, 21 - Envoy Air
Cristian David Cruz-Rodriguez, 23 - Formerly employed by Spirit Airlines
Michael [last name unreleased] - Unreleased

“At American and Envoy Air, we have an unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our customers and team members," American Airlines, which owns Envoy Air, told ABC News in a statement. "We take this matter very seriously and are cooperating with law enforcement during their investigation.”

The Envoy employees in the indictment have been suspended, ABC News has learned.

Spirit Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During the investigation, defendant Pabon allegedly told undercover officers his organization could transport guns and explosives, including C4, via commercial airlines. According to court documents, discussions about transporting C4 also took place.

Those arrested are expected to appear in U.S. federal court later this week and face charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a schedule II controlled substance. They have not yet entered pleas.

All employees at major airports undergo background checks and the screening of both passengers and airline employees is handled by the Transportation Security Administration.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
May152018

Pharmacist disarms woman who tried to rob him at gunpoint

WSB(ATLANTA) -- Police in Georgia are searching for three women shown on surveillance video attempting to rob a pharmacy before the owner snatched a gun from one of the suspects.

Atlanta-area pharmacist Mba Kalu can be seen helping one of the women, who he said had asked to fill a prescription when she pulled a gun on him.

"I was helping her because she said she wanted a prescription and I was just waiting for her to pull the prescription out and instead of her prescription, she pulled out a gun,” Kalu of PCI Pharmacy told ABC Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV. “So I just had to react.”

Without flinching, Kalu is seen trying to grab the gun away from the woman while another woman sprayed him with what appears to be pepper spray.

He eventually wrestled the gun away from the woman before they all ran out of the store.

“In this field, it's something anticipated because of the ongoing opioid abuse," he told WSB-TV, adding he plans to step up security at his pharmacy by putting in bullet-proof glass and purchasing a gun of his own.

The DeKalb County pharmacy, which has been open nearly a year, had already been robbed once before in December by three men armed men wearing masks, which was also recorded on video.

None of the suspects has been apprehended, the station reported.

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Tuesday
May152018

Sea of blue: Boy escorted back to school by 70 police officers after dad killed in the line of duty

WTHI-TV(TERRE HAUTE, Ind.) -- It was always going to be a tough first day back to school for 5-year-old Dakota Pitts, who lost his dad last week. But thanks to his father's brothers in blue, he didn't go back alone.

Seventy officers from the Terre Haute Police Department and the Vigo County Sheriff's Department came to Sullivan Elementary School in Indiana to welcome Dakota back to school after his dad, Rob Pitts, was killed in the line of duty, ABC Terre Haute affiliate WTHI-TV reported.

"Dakota asked his mom if one of his dad's friends could take him to school, so she reached out to Rob’s friends and families,” Terre Haute Police Detective Les Hamm told WTHI-TV.

Rob Pitts was a 16-year veteran of the department, and Dakota wore his dad's police badge around his neck to school. The department's SWAT Team presented Dakota with his very own SWAT badge and shirt.

The officers, who came to the school during their time off, wanted Dakota to know that they will always have his back. The family told WTHI-TV that they had never expected this kind of response.

"He will definitely know his dad was a hero,” Kelli Jones, Rob Pitts' sister, told WTHI-TV. “Blood doesn't always make family and I think the blue family went above and beyond.”



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Tuesday
May152018

Parents of 2 girls killed in the Parkland shooting are running for school board seats

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- Two parents whose teenage daughters were gunned down in the Parkland, Florida, high school massacre are running for seats on Broward County's school board, they announced this morning.

Lori Alhadeff and Ryan Petty's daughters, Alyssa Alhadeff and Alaina Petty, both 14 years old, were among the 17 students and staff killed in the Valentine's Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

"My world completely changed" on Valentine's Day, Petty said today, and now he wants to "represent parents all over the district who deserve to have their children come home to them every afternoon."

Alhadeff added that she doesn't want "any other parent to go through the pain and anguish I go through every day," and thinks a position on the school board is the best way she can help implement stronger school safety measures.

"I want to do everything possible to make this school system a model that other districts will look and try to replicate," Alhadeff said.

Besides school safety, Petty said he wants to see more transparency and accountability, citing what he called the "confusing matrix of discipline programs" that allow students like suspected school shooter Nikolas Cruz -- who had a slew of disciplinary problems during his time in Broward County schools -- to fall through the cracks.

Alhadeff said discipline programs in the district have "gone from the complete extremes -- from over-disciplining kids to not disciplining kids, which we have now." She said discipline policies must be "revamped" and to "meet somewhere in the middle."

"There is no better way to ensure that the change this school system desperately needs is achieved than to have a seat at the table," said Alhadeff.



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Tuesday
May152018

Florida woman says she 'went blank' when fighting off gun-wielding intruders

iStock/Thinkstock(ALTAMONTE, Fla.) -- A Florida woman says she "went blank" when she decided to fight off a pair of home intruders who were armed with an assault rifle.

The woman, who asked not to be identified by her real name, said she was thinking of her family's safety when two men, one with an AK-47 assault riffle, stormed into her home in Altamonte Springs, Florida, on Saturday and tried to rob her.

"I went blank. I had no feeling. I wasn't scared. I wasn't brave. I was just -- it's go time. Do or die," the woman told Orlando ABC affiliate WFTV on Monday. “When I seen the barrel of the gun, I swear it felt like a movie."

The victim said she was on her way to her car just before the intrusion, but she turned when she noticed that she had left her phone at home. She said her 13-year-old son and a female relative were the only ones in the house at the time.

Afraid for her safety, the unarmed victim said she wrestled with one of the men until he dropped the firearm. They eventually ran out of the house, with one firing shots, but missing on his way out. No injuries were reported.

"I noticed that the guy started getting nervous -- his fingers getting crazy on the trigger. And I just disarmed it. I just completely took out the magazine from the AK," the woman said. "They just didn't know I was going to fight back. That's what they didn't know.”

Police in Altamonte Springs, located about 10 miles north of Orlando, arrested Angel Delgado Santiago, 30, and Jorge Montanez, 17, on robbery charges in connection with the invasion, according to WFTV.

Officer body camera footage captured the moment when police caught the suspects who police said pointed the AK-47 at the family, WFTV reported.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
May152018

Tulsa mom stabbed 11-year-old daughter, abducted younger sister: Police

iStock/Thinkstock(TUSLA, Okla.)-- Police in Oklahoma are searching for a woman who allegedly torched her home and stabbed her 11-year-old daughter on Monday before taking off with her 7-year-old daughter.

Authorities responded to the home of Taheerah Ahmad, 39, in north Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Monday night after witnesses reported the stabbing. Police arrived to find the home’s kitchen on fire and the 11-year-old in critical condition, suffering from multiple stab wounds, authorities said.

One of Ahmad’s other children, a 9-year-old who managed to escape to a relative’s home, told police that her mother had “duct taped their hands, put socks in their mouths” and began stabbing her older sister, police said.

She said she broke free to call for help, but her mother had already fled the scene with her 7-year-old sister, Hafsa, by the time help arrived, according to police.

“The story that we received was that the 7-year-old helped the 9-year-old escape the residence,” a police spokesperson told reporters Monday. “This is very fluid. It's moving very fast and we have a traumatized witness who has given us information.”

The 11-year-old was taken to a local hospital and was listed in critical condition, according to the spokesperson, who said the child “was stabbed so many times that the officers” couldn’t count the number of wounds.

It was unclear of where Ahmad may be headed, but authorities noted that she has lived in Tennessee and Texas in the past. Police have issued an Amber Alert for the missing young girl, urging anyone who sees her to call 911 immediately.

The police spokesperson said Ahmad may be suffering from mental health and/or drug-related issues.

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Monday
May142018

Mom of 10 kids found living in squalor calls charges against her, husband 'appalling'

KGO-TV(FAIRFIELD, Calif.) -- After 10 children were found "living in squalor," their mother and her husband were arrested and the children were taken into protective custody, police said Monday.

The children were first found inside the Fairfield, California, home on March 31, after police responded to a missing persons report, the Fairfield Police Department said in a statement.

The missing 12-year-old was found and taken back to the home, where police discovered "nine more children, ranging in age from 4 months to 11 years old, living in squalor and unsafe conditions," the statement said.

Police said their investigation revealed "a long and continuous history of severe physical and emotional abuse of the children," the statement read.

Inside the home, officers found "garbage and spoiled food on the floor, animal and human feces and a large amount of debris making areas of the house unpassable,” said Fairfield police Lt. Greg Hurlbut.

Hurlbut said the children described puncture wounds, burns and "injuries consistent with being shot with a pellet gun."

The children's mother told reporters that police have the wrong idea and that she tore apart her own house looking for her missing 12-year-old son, ABC station KGO-TV reported.

"I was afraid that I could not find him. Once that fear sets in, you don't know what to do," she said.

She denied that either she or Allen had abused the children.

"Not only do I have 11 children and I'm 30 years old, but I also homeschool all of my children and people don't agree with that lifestyle and so I've had many people question my right to parent and I just feel like this whole situation was exploded," she told reporters.

Rogers has 11 children, she said, KGO-TV reported. The oldest, a 14-year-old, did not live at home, according to KGO-TV.

"This is absolutely appalling," Rogers said. "I strive, I thrive on being a good parent to my children. My husband has a lot of tattoos. He looks like a scary individual, and that's why people are so quick to judge him. But my husband is an amazing person. I am an amazing mother."

The 10 children were initially placed in the care of Solano County Child Welfare Services, but are now staying with Rogers' sister and mother in the Bay Area, according to KGO-TV.

Allen is being held on $5.2 million bail, KGO-TV reported.

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Monday
May142018

New fissure opens up on Hawaii's Big Island in wake of dangerous volcano eruption: Hawaiian Civil Defense

U.S. Geological Survey via Getty Images(HONOLULU) -- Another fissure has opened up on Hawaii's Big Island, ripping through the ground in the wake of the dangerous eruption of the Kilauea volcano, the Hawaiian Civil Defense said on Monday.

This marks the 19th fissure since May 3, when the volcano first erupted.

The eruption has destroyed homes and forced evacuations. Fissures have caused lava to shoot into the air and leave behind steam that can be seen rising through cracks in roadways.

The Hawaiian Civil Defense said the latest crack opened in the Lanipuna Gardens subdivision between the 15th and 16th fissures.

Lanipuna Gardens residents are urged to be cautious of active volcanic eruption and gas emissions, the Hawaiian Civil Defense said.

President Trump has declared a major disaster in Hawaii following a request by the state's governor. The order will make federal funding available to supplement state and local recovery efforts.

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Monday
May142018

Widespread severe weather expected from Texas to Virginia

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Severe weather this weekend brought more than 100 damaging storm reports from western Texas to the mid-Atlantic. Storms are expected to continue in the eastern U.S. for the next few days.

Winds of more than 60 mph produced damage in Pennsylvania Sunday, uprooting trees and destroying some buildings. Meanwhile, hail the size of baseballs covered the ground in Texas Panhandle. Earlier this morning, an EF-0 tornado, with winds up to 80 mph tore through Palm Beach County, Florida.

A stormy pattern from the Great Plains to the Northeast will continue for the next couple of days as a stalled frontal boundary remains in place. Several atmospheric impulses will move along this frontal boundary over the next two days increasing the chance for severe thunderstorms.

A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for parts of the Mid-Atlantic, including Washington, D.C., and Baltimore through 9 p.m. EDT. Strong to severe storms will quickly evolve into a squall line that will progress east, then southeast, across the Central Appalachians toward the Chesapeake Bay. Widespread damaging wind gusts of up to 75 mph will be the primary hazard with this line of storms. Isolated large hail or a brief tornado is also possible, but the threat is lower. A severe thunderstorm watch has also been issued for parts of Kansas and Missouri, including Wichita, Kansas City and St. Louis through 10 p.m. CDT. Primary threats will be scattered storms capable of severe wind gusts and large hail.

Forty-eight million Americans are in the severe storm zone tonight from Texas to Virginia, including cities such as D.C., Baltimore, Chicago and Kansas City. Severe storms are possible Monday across this area. A few strong winds gusts, isolated large hail and flash flooding are all possible. The tornado threat is pretty low, but can’t be ruled out any time there is a severe weather threat.

On Tuesday, more severe storms are expected for the Northeast. This includes Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and into Southern New England in the afternoon and evening. Again, the main threat with these storms will be damaging wind gusts, with the highest probability of widespread wind damage in the Hudson Valley and southern New England, where an enhanced risk has been issued for Tuesday.

Watching the tropics

Even though the official start to the Atlantic hurricane season is not until June 1, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center is monitoring a disturbance in the eastern Gulf of Mexico for possible development into subtropical or tropical cyclone over the next several days.

An area of low pressure developed southwest of the Florida Panhandle on Monday morning, bringing heavy rain to the central and southern parts of the state. Gusty winds, localized flash flooding and lightning are expected Monday in the state.

Over the next several days, this low pressure will slowly drift north through the eastern Gulf of Mexico and continue to bring heavy rain to Florida, as well as most of the Southeast by Tuesday and Wednesday.

A wide area of 2 to 4 inches of rain is forecast through Thursday for most of eastern Florida with localized areas getting more than 4 inches of rain. Flash flooding is possible.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May142018

Mother says she chased off bear that attacked daughter in emotional 911 call

ABC News(DENVER) -- 911 calls capture a mother's desperation as she phoned police for help after her 5-year-old daughter was attacked by a bear on Sunday.

"My daughter was just attacked by a small brown bear," the mother says in the call. "I had to chase it through the yard."

The child, identified by her father as Kimberly Cyr, had gone outside of her home in East Orchard Mesa in the predawn hours to investigate noises she believed were coming from a dog, her mother told authorities.

The mother heard screams about 2:30 a.m. outside her home, which is above the Colorado River Corridor in Grand Junction, and went outside to investigate, according to a news release by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW).

That's when she saw a bear dragging Kimberly, according to the release. The mother screamed at the bear, which then let her daughter go, the release said.

Kimberly was initially rushed to St. Mary's Medical Center with serious injuries, but was later upgraded to fair condition, according to CPW.

The girl underwent a nearly three-hour surgery to repair soft tissue injuries caused by the bear's teeth, according to Dr. Charles Breaux, the pediatric surgeon at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction, Colorado. She has "hundreds" of stitches, but no fractures, Breaux said.

Breaux said Kimberly has been the "calmest person in the room" all day.

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