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Tuesday
Jun182019

Utah high school football players could be in trouble for burning pride flag in video

Niklas Storm/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A pair of Utah high school football players found themselves at the center of a police investigation after video surfaced of a player allegedly burning a pride flag while laughing and yelling "all gays die."

The Granite School District in Northern Utah asked police to open an investigation this week as the controversial Snapchat video sparked outrage on social media, school officials told ABC News on Tuesday.

Concerned community members notified school district officials on Monday, demanding action when a football player at Kearns High School in Salt Lake City shared the offensive video on social media. Some called for the incident to be investigated as a potential hate crime.

Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said the district opened an independent investigation immediately and notified local police.

"We are having police look at it to ensure that there is no criminal implications," Horsley told ABC News in an interview on Tuesday. "Looking at the video, whether if it was intended as a joke or as a serious and broad threat against LGBTQ individuals, it's still a reprehensible act. We need to condemn hatred and bigotry wherever we see it."

Horsley declined to offer specific details about the two students involved, but he said they were both associated with the football team. He described the student who initially posted the video as an incoming freshman, thought to be about 15 years old, and said the other player was already a student.

It’s too early to say if either student will face criminal charges, but the district said it reserves the right take its own disciplinary actions. The Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake, which are investigating, did not return ABC News' request for comment.

Horsley said punishment by the school district could range from mandated community service to suspension.

“We want those two individuals to understand the implications of their actions and educate them on why it's inappropriate," he said. "Ultimately, at the end of the day, the goal of our football team, the goal of our schools, is to create respectful, caring, empathetic individuals with high character and moral standards. And obviously, this type of activity is not conducive for that."

Some people have called on the school to expel the students, while others urged the school to cancel its football program over the incident.

Kearns High School's head football coach, Matt Rickards, called it a potential hate crime in an on-camera interview, but he did not say how the students should be penalized.

"There’s no place for that in our program at all, and it won’t be tolerated," Rickards, who took over the program seven years ago, told Salt Lake City Fox affiliate KSTU on Tuesday. "It’s potentially a hate crime, so it sickens me."

“We have one rule in our program and that is not to embarrass yourself, your family or your team and, obviously, that rule was broken. So, there’s got to be consequences for that," he added.

Horsley said the high school and the community had been "dragged through the mud as part of this process," but said the incident does not reflect the community.

The video surfaced during the heart of Pride Month and amid a rash of pride flag burnings and other hate-fueled crimes in major cities like New York City, pointing to a broader trend of increased hate crimes nationwide.

Police are investigating a similar incident in Burlington, Vermont, where Christopher Vaccaro and Jimmie Searle, a gay couple, said a person torched a pride flag on their front porch earlier this month.

“There’s no question that nationally, cities, towns and states are receiving more reports and are connecting more investigations of reported hate crimes," said Julio Thompson, assistant to the Vermont attorney general, told the Burlington Free Press last week. "If we look at the numbers that have been publicly reported by the FBI in terms of voluntary reporting from law enforcement, we’ve seen a rise of reported hate crimes by law enforcement in Vermont over the last couple of years."

Vaccaro and Searle said the city’s police department gifted them with a new pride flag, along with a handwritten note in the wake of the incident -- signaling that the city would stand in solidarity with them.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jun182019

Suspected money man named in attempted hit on Red Sox icon David Ortiz; mystery on motive remains

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images(SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic) -- The man suspected of paying a nearly $8,000 bounty to a team of would-be assassins implicated in the botched hit on Red Sox icon David "Big Papi" Ortiz has been named by authorities, but mystery still shrouds the identify of the person who allegedly ordered the brazen shooting in the Dominican Republic -- and why.

As Ortiz remains in a hospital recovering from being shot in the back in the June 9 attempt on his life at a crowded nightclub in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Attorney General identified Alberto Miguel Rodriguez Mota as "the person who presumably paid" to have 10-time Major League All-Star murdered.

Ortiz's wife, Tiffany Ortiz, released a new statement Tuesday, saying her husband's condition has been upgraded to "good" by doctors and that he is making progress in his recovery in the intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston -- where the retired baseball player was airlifted after undergoing emergency surgery in the Dominican Republic.

"We remain grateful to everyone who has helped David through this ordeal, both in the Dominican Republic and here in Boston," Tiffany Ortiz said in her statement. "David's journey to good health has been bolstered by the many expressions of love that have come to us from across the globe. Your support has lifted his spirits tremendously during this challenging time."

A massive search in the Dominican Republic continued Tuesday for Rodriguez Mota and two other suspects in the alleged attempted hit job -- Luis Alfredo Rivas-Clase, who also goes by the nickname "The Surgeon," and Maria Fernanda Villasmil Manzanilla, authorities said.

Ten other suspects are in custody, including Gabriel Alexander Perez Vizcaino, who surrendered to police on Friday and made his first court appearance on Monday in the Dominican Republic. Also in custody is 25-year-old Rolfy Ferreyra Cruz, who authorities say confessed to being the one who shot Ortiz.

While Dominican investigators suspect Rodriguez doled out the money to the suspects who stalked the 43-year-old Ortiz to the Dial Bar and Lounge, where he was shot, they have not publicly pegged him as the ringleader.

In a statement released Monday, officials in the Dominican Attorney General's office said police continue investigating the motive and “intellectual authors” of the alleged attempted hit on Ortiz.

Surveillance video that captured Ortiz's shooting shows a gunman police identified as Ferreyra Cruz walking up behind Ortiz, who was sitting at the bar, and opening fire before running away. In the footage, Ortiz appears to grab his stomach before collapsing.

Ortiz was rushed to a hospital in Santo Domingo and underwent an operation in which doctors removed parts of his liver and small and large intestines, officials said.

The Red Sox team chartered an air ambulance jet to fly Ortiz to Boston, where he underwent a second surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In a statement last week, Tiffany Ortiz thanked the doctors and medical staff at the Abel Gonzalez Clinic in Santo Domingo for saving her husband's life.

"Without you, our story could have had a tragic ending," she wrote. "You will forever be our guardian angels."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jun182019

Luis Tiant discusses path to MLB, hardships, and Hall of Fame

Scott Clarke/ESPN Images(BOSTON) -- Luis Tiant recalls taking the mound at Fenway Park. Every fifth day, it was more than a start. It became an event. The energy with which he pitched brought fans to their feet before the ball even left his hand.

They called him, "El Tiante."

"My delivery--nobody can do that. And people come to see me... The day I pitch, I got maybe ten, twenty thousand people than the day before."

Before "El Tiante," however, there came a steep uphill climb to the majors.

The popular right-hander details his illustrious 19-year MLB career in his new autobiography, Son of Havana: A Baseball Journey from Cuba to the Big Leagues and Back, and hopes to give readers a deeper sense of the hardships he endured on his path to stardom.

"People would say, 'You're lucky, you're lucky, you played baseball. You need luck, but you have to work for it. And I had to work... Nobody gave me anything. "

In a conversation with ABC News, Tiant talks about coming to the United States from Cuba, and the racism and bias he faced from his days in the minors through the rest of his time in baseball. One of the biggest obstacles: communicating with teammates.

"[For today's baseball players] it's a piece of cake compared with what I had to go through. You come here, you're speaking the language. I remember the players used to tell me, 'Speak English, you're in America...' It was a tough time. I remember the manager used to go to the mound and talk to me, and the only thing I would do is move my hands up and down and say, 'OK, OK, OK.' I don't know what he said. He might've called me a lot of stuff I don't want to hear."

Tiant further describes the racial tension he faced in the Deep South and being separated from his family for almost two decades. He highlights memorable moments from his playing days as well.

Tiant finished his MLB career with 229 wins and a 3.30 earned run average (ERA). The former All-Star is hopeful his on-field accomplishments will be honored one more time with a plaque in baseball's Hall of Fame.

Previously on the ballot for over a decade, Tiant, now 78, told ABC News it would be an honor earn a spot, but if he gets there posthumously, he does not want his family to attend the ceremony:

"I told my family, if they put me in there after I die, don't go... I see these guys, they miss it by one vote, then they die then get in... I just don’t get it."

Tiant now spends much of his time in New England with his family and wife, who he credits as greatly helping him endure the hardships he faced during his career.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jun182019

Gunfire injures four at Raptors parade in Toronto

Yu Ruidong/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images(TORONTO) -- Four people were injured in Toronto Monday after gunfire erupted during a celebration for the NBA champion Toronto Raptors.

Footage from the scene shows thousands of fans running after the gunshots began.

More than one million people were said to have crowded the streets of downtown Toronto Monday as the city hosted a parade for the team, which defeated the Golden State Warriors last week to win their first NBA championship.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said none of the injuries were life threatening.

Three people have been arrested so far and an investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jun182019

Scoreboard roundup -- 6/17/19

iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Monday's sports events:

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

INTERLEAGUE

Cincinnati 3, Houston 2

AMERICAN LEAGUE
NY Yankees 3, Tampa Bay 0
LA Angels 10, Toronto 5
Texas 7, Cleveland 2
Boston 2, Minnesota 0
Oakland 3, Baltimore 2
Kansas City 6, Seattle 4

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Atlanta 12, NY Mets 3
St. Louis 5, Miami 0
San Francisco 3, LA Dodgers 2
San Diego 2, Milwaukee 0
Philadelphia at Washington 7:05 p.m., postponed

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun172019

10-year-old Selah Schneiter climbs Yosemite's El Capitan, youngest person to do so

Mike Schneiter(NEW YORK) -- This 10-year-old just made rock climbing history.

On June 12, Selah Schneiter became the youngest climber on record to make it to the top of "The Nose" route on El Capitan -- one of the most challenging and infamous vertical rock formations, in Yosemite National Park, California.

"Our big motto was 'How do you eat an elephant?' Small bites," she told ABC affiliate KFSN. "One pitch at a time, one move at a time, one day at a time."

She was joined by her dad, Mike Schneiter, and longtime family friend Mark Regier, and their attempt to climb the full route took place over five days, including camping overnight on the slab.

Her dad, an American Mountain Guides Association-certified rock guide and instructor, told ABC News that after coming down from the high of her feat, Selah told him she'd "love to inspire other girls to just go be active" -- just like the climbers who inspired her, including Margo Hayes and Lynn Hill.

"She's all about wanting other kids to be more active, whether it's biking, climbing, skiing -- she always wants more kids to be active and not be on their phones, and I think that's ultimately some of our motivation to talk about it, because it's really near and dear to her," he said.

The nearly 3,000-foot route has 31 pitches -- sections of a climbing route -- and is "really wild" because it gets steeper and more challenging at the end, Schneiter said.

"It's really overhanging in spots, you're looking down and you can see 3,000 feet down where you started and you're just thinking, 'Oh my gosh it's so big,'" he said.

When they got to the end of the route, Schneiter was leading with their ropes, so he was ahead of her. But he got so "excited," he said, that he rappelled down to watch her finish it.

"Once she topped out, she was the first one to go up to this tree, that is a symbolic thing for climbers, and she just broke down in tears," he said. "She said it was her 'first happy tears she's ever had."

Selah, who stands a mere 4-foot, 2-inches tall was "just really in shock once we got to the top," her dad said. "We were tired after a long five days and camped out that night, but she was like a little kid again and wanted to check everything out exploring almost like it was nothing."

Schneiter said his daughter's name literally means "to stop and reflect," which is exactly what they did throughout the route and after her epic finish.

"She just kept saying 'I can't believe I did that,' and I was like, 'Yeah I can't believe it either," he added, laughing.

Selah began getting "pretty serious" about climbing El Capitan last year, Schneiter said, and so he got to work with her in training.

While they worked on technique and 500-foot climbs, Selah did her own research, and because of that, during the climb, her dad said "she always knew what was coming up along the way and was excited to see all these features" she'd read so much about.

Going into the actual attempt, though, Schneiter made sure his daughter kept an easygoing mindset about the reality of finishing the ambitious climb.

"I just thought, 'We'll just see how it goes, it might just be too big for her.' But every day we'd get a little closer to the top and we thought, 'It's actually harder to go down than up, so I think we're gonna pull this off,'" he said.

"Our mindset was never just, 'Oh we got this' -- it was more of, 'We just gotta keep on it and keep going.' So to finally get that moment we were all really blown away," he said.

Rock climbing has been a huge part of Mike and Joy Schneiter's lives as they "met and fell in love climbing El Capitan," their first climb together.

Once the couple got married and had children, Schneiter said they took their kids to their favorite northern California spot and have made it an annual tradition to visit Yosemite.

"El Capitan and Yosemite has always been in our family's story," he said.

Scott Cory had been the youngest to climb the same route on El Capitan in 2011 on two occasions when he was 11, and Tori Allen was 13 when she climbed The Nose in 2001.

Professional climber Alex Honnold, 33, made history in 2017 when he became the first (and so far only) person to free solo El Cap -- by himself, without ropes, in one go -- in a feat made popular by an Oscar-winning documentary.

Prior to Selah's completed El Cap climb, she scaled over 5,000 feet to the top of Independence Monument in Colorado for her seventh birthday.

She was unable to comment to ABC News as she was at a sleepover.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun172019

Captain Carli Lloyd leads US to 3-0 win over Chile in World Cup

Catherine Ivill - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images(PARIS) -- The U.S. women's national team celebrated another big World Cup win on Sunday, beating Chile 3-0 in a group-stage match in Paris' Parc des Princes stadium.

With the shutout victory, the U.S. secured a spot in the round of 16.

Team captain Carli Lloyd, 36, led the U.S. with two goals, becoming the first player ever to score in six consecutive World Cup appearances. Julie Ertz scored the third goal.

The U.S. will next play Sweden on Thursday as they continue their quest to defend their World Cup title.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jun172019

Scoreboard roundup -- 6/16/19

iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Sunday's sports events:

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

INTERLEAGUE

Cincinnati 11, Texas 3

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Boston 8, Baltimore 6, 10 Innings
Tampa Bay 6, LA Angels 5
Cleveland 8, Detroit 0
Toronto 12, Houston 0
NY Yankees 10, Chi White Sox 3
Kansas City 8, Minnesota 6
Seattle 6, Oakland 3

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Pittsburgh 5, Miami 4
St. Louis 4, NY Mets 3
Atlanta 15, Philadelphia 1
Washington 15, Arizona 5
San Diego 14, Colorado 13
Milwaukee 5, San Francisco 3
LA Dodgers 3, Chi Cubs 2

WOMEN'S NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Connecticut 81, Seattle 67
Las Vegas 80, Minnesota 75

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Jun162019

Why US soccer star Megan Rapinoe doesn't sing the national anthem

iStock/artisteer(PARIS) -- As the national anthem played before the U.S. women's national team took on Thailand in the FIFA Women's World Cup last week, the team stood in a row on the field.

A camera panned down the line of players during the broadcast, showing each with her hand over her heart, mouthing along to the song.

At the end of the line was Megan Rapinoe, the co-captain and one of the biggest stars of the team. She stood impassively, hands at her sides, not singing along.

Rapinoe's silent observance of the anthem is part of a years-long protest by the athlete.

In September 2016, Rapinoe was one of the first athletes to follow then-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick's lead in kneeling during the anthem to protest racial oppression and police brutality against black people.

"Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it," she said at the time, according to The Associated Press. "It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful."

She further explained her demonstration in an October 2016 piece for The Players' Tribune, where she cited "over-policing, racial profiling, [and] police brutality."

U.S. Soccer, the governing body of the sport and national team, while not naming her, did not support her kneeling, according to reports at the time. "As part of the privilege to represent your country, we have an expectation that our players and coaches will stand and honor our flag while the National Anthem is played," the group said in a September 2016 statement, according to a tweet from sports reporter John D. Halloran.

Months later, U.S. Soccer added a policy requiring players to "stand respectfully during the playing of the national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented." U.S. Soccer declined to comment to ABC News.

Since then, Rapinoe has followed that rule, standing during the anthem, but she regularly does not put her hand to her heart nor does she sing along like her teammates.

"I'll probably never put my hand over my heart," she told Yahoo! Sports in May. "I'll probably never sing the national anthem again."

She told Yahoo! Sports she's still driven by inequality and injustice and added that she believes under the presidency of Donald Trump -- who she called "sexist," "racist" and "not a good person" -- she is "a walking protest." (Trump for his part has said he's the "least racist" person and insisted that he respects women.)

In the Yahoo Sports interview, Rapinoe did not back down from criticizing U.S. Soccer, who she is also suing -- along with her 2015 World Cup teammates -- for gender discrimination, which the organization has denied.

She called U.S. Soccer's references to patriotism to stop her protest "pretty cowardly," likening it to the NFL.

"We can actually have a conversation, instead of just telling me that it's a privilege to pull on the jersey," Rapinoe added. "Like, of course it's a privilege for me to pull on the jersey. Part of that privilege is representing America, and representing America is representing all of America."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jun152019

ESPN: Los Angeles Lakers agree to trade for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis

Photo by Joshua Gateley / ESPN Images(LOS ANGELES) -- After months of waiting, the Los Angeles Lakers have acquired superstar Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, ESPN reports.

Davis, a six-time All-Star, requested a trade in January. He has just one season left on his contract, but he has privately indicated that he would sign a long-term extension in Los Angeles.

In return, the Lakers sent young players Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart to the Pelicans. The Lakers also sent three first-round draft picks, including the fourth overall selection in Thursday's draft.

Davis will join LeBron James to form a dynamic duo in Los Angeles. The team will also have payroll flexibility to try to build up the roster around the pair.

New Orleans, meanwhile, will rebuild their roster around the young players acquired in the deal, as well as two of the top four picks in this year's draft. They are widely expected to choose Duke star Zion Williamson first overall. They could use the fourth pick in the draft to select another young player, or trade it in the coming days.

It remains to be seen when the team will make the deal official. If the trade call is held on July 6th, the earliest possible date, the Lakers would retain $27.8 million in cap space. If they wait until July 30th, LA would have $32.5 million to use in free agency.

Waiting would also increase New Orleans' cap space from $15 million to $19 million.

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