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Tamilisa Miner/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- A man allegedly caught researching acts of domestic terrorism and amassing more than a dozen firearms will spend at least two weeks in federal custody, a Maryland federal judge decided on Thursday.

U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson, 49, was arrested on charges of firearm and drug possession, but Judge Charles Day said that Hasson’s internet search history, as well as previous letters and emails he had allegedly written, were enough to warrant him a danger to the community.

Speaking on behalf of the prosecution, Jennifer Sykes said that the gun and drug possession charges were “just the tip of the iceberg” in terms of the extent of Hasson’s alleged crimes, indicating that they may attempt to charge him as a domestic terrorist allegedly planning to launch a major attack.

According to court documents filed Tuesday, Hasson was described as someone who had "espoused extremist views for years". In a draft email from June 2017 he allegedly wrote, "I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth. I think a plague would be most successful but how do I acquire the needed/ Spanish flu, botulism, anthrax not sure yet but will find something."

He was found to have been studying the writings of previous domestic terrorists and was particularly interested in that of Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian terrorist who killed 77 people in 2011, prosecutors alleged.

The defendant also allegedly compiled a list of prominent Democratic lawmakers as well as journalists from CNN and MSNBC. Names on that list include presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris, as well as MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and CNN's Van Jones.

The documents further showed that since 2017 Hassan had compiled 15 weapons, some of which had the capacity for extra magazines, and over a thousand rounds of ammunition. The weapons were found in his home in Silver Spring, which prosecutors say he had been leasing since 2016. Investigators also found over 30 bottles of HGH, human growth hormone, which followed Breivik’s recommendations to bulk up in order to maximize one’s physical strength during an attack.

At the time of his arrest, Hasson was serving in the Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and had served in that position since 2016. Hasson also served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1988 to 1993 and spent two additional years in the mid-nineties in the National Guard, records showed.

Sykes also revealed that there was video showing Hasson taking those controlled substances while at work.

Hasson’s attorney, Julie Stelzig, sought to characterize the prosecution’s argument as overblown, calling it "histrionic."

"These are very serious words," Stelzig said of the prosecution’s claims that Hasson intended to murder innocent civilians. "Even more extraordinary was the lack of actual substance backing up the assertions."

Stelzig also accused the government of submitting the court filing "in order to bring enormous media attention to the case" and convince the judge that Hasson should be detained and not released.

The defense noted that the charges Hasson was actually facing – possession of a firearm as either an addict or an unlawful user of a controlled substance, and a misdemeanor possession of the synthetic opioid painkiller tramadol, were charges that did not carry the presumption of detention, meaning that the prosecution had the burden of convincing the judge that he deserved to be detained.

Stelzig downplayed Hasson's alleged stockpile of 15 guns and 1,000 rounds of ammunition, which were presented as evidence during the case.

"I can assure Your Honor that there are people in many parts of this country with whom this collection of guns would be modest at best," Stelzig said.

She told the judge Hasson's search history did not reflect that of someone intent on committing an act of terrorism, arguing that he had not gathered home addresses for any of the public officials he had listed.

"We are not yet a country that criminalizes people for their thoughts. Even their darkest thoughts," Stelzig said. "We are not yet a country that detains people for their internet searches."

Day based his decision on four factors: the circumstances of the offense charged, the weight of the evidence, some ancillary factors including his otherwise spotless record and service to the nation as a Marine veteran and member of the Coast Guard and National Guard, and the presumption of innocence relative to the government’s assertion that his internet searches show him to be a danger to the community, "which is where the government is laying its hat," he said.

The judge said both the prosecution and defense had made strong arguments but that he took issue with the defense’s suggestion that the prosecution had filed a motion for detention in order to "drum up media interest and potentially to influence this court."

"I don’t know about the former but I can assure you the second is not accurate," the judge said.

He said his ruling – that Hasson should remain in federal custody for at least 14 days – came with a "caveat" that after those fourteen days, if the prosecution has not yet charged Hasson with any of the other criminal activity they alluded to on Thursday, Hasson’s defense would be allowed to return to court and argue again for his release.

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Chicago Police Dept.(CHICAGO) -- A Chicago judge set Jesse Smollett's bond at $100,000 on Thursday and ordered him to surrender his passport, hours after a remarkable Chicago Police Department press conference in which Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson blasted the 'Empire' star, saying that Smollett's alleged staging of a hoax attack was a "publicity promote his career."

Standing before Cook County Circuit Court Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke, Jr., Smollett appeared to remain steadfast in his refutation of the charge against him. He has repeatedly insisted that the attack was real and that he was merely a victim, not a perpetrator.

When first assistant state attorney Risa Lanier told Lyke that the actor had picked up two brothers who authorities say carried out the staged attack on him at his direction and showed them the location of where he wanted to be attacked, Smollett shook his head in disagreement.

When Lyke told Smollett that the allegations, if true, are "utterly outrageous," the actor nodded his head in agreement -- doing so again when Lyke said the noose detail would be the most despicable part of the alleged scheme.

The judge also ordered pre-trial monitoring of the actor, and ordered him to stay away from the two brothers he allegedly conspired with to stage the hoax attack, according to police.

The tense courtroom appearance followed on the heels of a morning press conference at which a visibly angry Johnson castigated the actor for betraying his race and his city with such an incendiary false claim.

"Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career," a visibly angry Johnson said. “I am left hanging my head asking ‘why?’. Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? ... How can an individual who's been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in the city in the face with these false claims?"

Johnson charged that Smollett, an actor on the hit show 'Empire' who has consistently denied any role in staging the alleged attack, orchestrated it because he was "dissatisfied with his salary."

In addition to staging the attack, officials said, Smollett also sent himself a hate-filled letter to the Fox studio where the hit show is filmed.

Smollett turned himself in at 5:15 a.m. local time and made a statement to police before being taken into custody. His lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, were not present at the time but they released a statement the night before.

"Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."


Police add that Smollett gave no statement to police after turning himself in and that his lawyers had reached out to them Wednesday night to discuss his surrender. Smollett wanted to turn himself in near midnight, but authorities suggested he come in at 5 a.m. instead, to avoid spending the night in jail. Smollett arrived early Thursday morning accompanied by a female lawyer and an entourage of five or six people.

Smollett was silent as he went through the motions of being booked and processed.

By late morning on Thursday, the backlash against the actor began at the top, with an angry tweet from the President of the United States.

".@JussieSmollett - what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA" President Donald Trump wrote in a tweet after the press conference.

In an earlier interview with ABC News, Smollett was asked why he thought he was targeted and he replied that he is a strident critic of the Trump administration.

“I come really really hard against 45," he said. referring to Trump, the 45th U.S. president. "I come really really hard against his administration, and I don’t hold my tongue.”

'I'm offended'

During a press briefing later Thursday morning, Chicago law enforcement officials said that Chicago police detectives interviewed more than 100 people and reviewed dozens of police cameras trying to get to the bottom of Smollett's claims.

Johnson, a well-regarded and popular big city police chief and Chicago native, appeared genuinely aggrieved as he described how, he said, Smollett took advantage of the pain of racism to advance his career.

"Why would anyone use the symbol of a noose" to further his "own public profile," Johnson wondered aloud.

"I'm offended by what happened and I'm angry," Johnson continued. "This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t own and certainly didn’t deserve."

Johnson, who oversees one of the nation's largest police departments in one of its most violent cities, seemed disheartened by all the attention paid to the Smollett affair.

“The accusation within this phony attack received national attention for weeks,” Johnson told reporters during a press conference. “Celebrities, news commentators and even presidential candidates weighed in on something that was choreographed by an actor."

"When you get the opportunity," he said with a mixture of derision and frustration, "the shooting victims and their families? Give them the same amount of attention."

 After the press briefing, 20th Century Fox, the station that airs "Empire," released a statement which read, "We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options."

'Self-inflicted' wounds

Smollett told police he was attacked by two masked men near his apartment in Chicago. The two men, Smollett initially said, shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him as a rope was wrapped around his neck and a chemical compound was poured on him. The alleged assailants yelled "MAGA country," a reference to President Donald Trump's "Make American Great Again" slogan, police were told.

In an interview with "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts, Smollett said he was heartbroken when he found out that people questioned his story.

Asked why he would leave the rope draped around his neck until police arrived because he "wanted them to see."

"I was looking at myself, just like checking myself out," he told Roberts. "I saw the bruise on my neck, you know, like the little -- the rope burn around my neck. So when the police came I kept the clothes on, I kept the rope on me. ... I mean, it wasn't, like, wrapped around. But, yeah, it was around because I wanted them to see."

Asked why he wait until the second interview to tell police that the assailants yelled “MAGA country” at him during the attack, Smollett seemed to take offense at the insinuation.

"For me, the main thing was the idea that I somehow switched up my story, you know? And that somehow maybe I added a little extra trinket, you know, of the MAGA thing," Smollett said on ABC News. "I didn't need to add anything like that. They called me a f----, they called me a n----. There's no which way you cut it."

'Chicago trusted this young man'

Johnson said on Thursday that Smollett's seeming injuries from the incident also appeared to be phony.

“The brothers had on gloves during the staged attack where they -- they punched him a little bit, but as far as we can tell, the scratches and bruising that you saw on his face was most likely self-inflicted."

Police identified and questioned two "persons of interest" captured on surveillance video near the scene around the time of the alleged attack. The men, who are brothers, were arrested on Feb. 13 but then released without charges, with police saying they were no longer considered suspects.

While being questioned by investigators, the brothers claimed that Smollett paid them to help orchestrate and stage the crime after he became upset that a letter threatening him, sent Jan. 22 to the Fox studio where "Empire" is filmed, did not get enough attention, sources told ABC News.

On Wednesday, Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false crime report. By that evening, police officially had classified the actor as a suspect in the ongoing investigation. Detectives subsequently presented evidence to a Cook County grand jury.

"That was a pretty hateful allegation, and it really put a terrible look on Chicago," Guglielmi told ABC Chicago station WLS in a telephone interview Thursday morning. "Chicago trusted this young man. We loved 'Empire,' and we took this very seriously that something this hateful could happen in our city."

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Ildo Frazao/iStock(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- A national wave of teachers' strikes rolled into Oakland, California, Thursday where more than 3,000 public school educators hit picket lines in a fight for higher wages, smaller class sizes and better overall working conditions.

The first teacher strike in Oakland in 23 years came after two years of negotiations between the Oakland Education Association and the Oakland Unified School District failed to produce an agreement.

Teachers agreed to vacate classrooms after rejecting the latest offer from the school district on Wednesday. Bargaining is expected to resume on Friday and teachers said they are prepared to stay on strike until the district gives them a reasonable deal.

"It will take the Oakland Unified School District to listen to the community. So far we have been bargaining for two years ... and have seen very little movement from the district," Keith Brown, president of the teachers' union, told ABC San Francisco station KGO-TV on Thursday.

Schools for Oakland's 37,000 students remained opened Thursday with substitute teachers filling in for the striking educators.

"Students should attend school during the strike as regular attendance policies apply unless an official announcement is shared from the District," OUSD officials said in a statement posted on Twitter Thursday morning.

Many parents, however, kept their children out of classrooms and joined teachers on the picket line.

"As a parent, I want to teach my son to be an active participant in our society," Erica Garber, a parent who marched with her 5-year-old son on the picket line, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "The cutbacks at my son's school have been dramatic. There’s no school nurse, and they’re talking about cutting the librarian."

The teachers were also getting support from Sen. Kamala Harris, who grew up in Oakland and launched her bid for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States there last month.

"Teachers invest their time and energy to educate the future of our country and they deserve our support," Harris said in a Twitter post on Thursday. "Standing in solidarity with the thousands of Oakland teachers who are striking to demand better pay and classroom conditions."

 To stem the tide of teachers exiting the Oakland Unified School District, the union is asking for a 12 percent raise over three years, smaller class sizes and more support staff, including nurses, counselors and librarians.

The school district is offering a 5 percent raise, retroactive to when the union's contract expired in July 2017.

The union is also asking for a promise from the school district not to close any schools.

The union and the school district began bargaining on a new contract in December 2016. But after 30 negotiating sessions encompassing 200 hours of bargaining, an impasse was declared on May 18, 2018. Both sides agreed to mediation but that failed to break the stalemate.

A state-appointed arbitrator assigned to look into the labor standoff submitted a fact-finding report over the weekend that said the school district can't afford to give the teachers a 12 percent pay hike over three years. The arbitrator, according to the report, recommended giving the teachers a 6 percent raise retroactive to the 2017-2018 school year and continue negotiations on future pay raises.

The arbitrator's report also showed an 18.7 percent annual teacher turnover rate in the school district.

"This is well above the state average," the report said. "Also, the retention is even worse at some high-needs schools, with West Oakland Middle School retaining only 9.1 percent of its teachers over a nine-year period."

Shannon Brandon, a science teacher in Oakland, said she and other educators are prepared to strike for as long as it takes to get a fair deal.

"We are here to send a message that things aren't OK," Brandon told KGO-TV. "And they haven't been OK for a very long time."

The Oakland teachers' job action was launched as West Virginia teachers returned to class Thursday after striking for two days over an omnibus education bill they say was retaliatory for their nine-day strike a year ago this week.

The West Virginia teachers called off their strike after the state House of Delegates voted to indefinitely table the bill, which would have established the first charter schools in the state and provided parents vouchers for private schools.

Last year's West Virginia strike ignited the wave of teachers strikes in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and most recently Los Angeles and Denver.

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Newport Beach Police(NEW YORK) -- The sister of a little girl who was strangled to death in 1973 didn't expect to see a conclusion to the mysterious cold case, she told ABC News hours after a man's arrest was announced on Wednesday.

"I never really thought that they would actually ever find the individual responsible," Cindy Borgeson, a sister of Linda O’Keefe, told ABC News. "After all this time, finding out there is a face and a name...just brings additional closure."

O’Keefe, 11, was abducted on July 6, 1973, as she walked home from summer school, the Newport Beach, California, Police Department said. Her strangled body was found the next day.

Their mother "carried that guilt the rest of her life," Borgeson said.

James Neal, 72, who lived in Southern California and worked in construction in the 1970s, was arrested this week in Colorado, where he had been living, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said at a Wednesday news conference.

DNA recovered from O'Keefe shortly after her death was put into the Combined DNA Index System — the law enforcement database known as CODIS — but there was no hit, said Spitzer.

However, through the genealogical data of his family members, who voluntarily submitted their DNA to genealogy databases, investigators were able to corroborate the DNA from O'Keefe's body and the DNA obtained from the suspect, according to Spitzer. The genealogical hit came in January, officials said.

"I had closure when they found her body," Borgeson said about the fateful day 46 years ago. But she added that she was thankful for the "additional closure" brought to her by the investigators who never gave up, as well as the new technology, which made it possible to process the crime scene DNA.

"I'm astonished at what they were able to accomplish," Borgeson, 64, said. "My hope is that this [case] brings hope to other families who haven't had closure yet."

O'Keefe, who was seven years younger than Borgeson, was "an old soul" with a "go with the flow" personality, Borgeson said.

While their parents did not live to see an arrest, Borgeson said, "I'm sure she [O'Keefe] and my parents are rejoicing."

"I'll get to be with them again," she added.

As for her sister's suspected killer, Borgeson said, "because of my profound faith, I've been able to forgive the individual."

"I couldn't carry that burden in my heart of hating an individual even though he committed this horrible crime," she said. "I hope that he has remorse."

Borgeson said, if she gets a chance to speak to Neal, she would "let him know that I've been praying for him."

Borgeson said she also prayed for Neal's family as his arrest was announced.

"They probably are so shocked," she said. "I'm sure they're going through a lot of grieving of their own."

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Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department(NEW YORK) -- In never-before-seen interrogation tapes, Jason Dalton, the former Uber driver who pleaded guilty to a 2016 shooting spree in the Kalamazoo, Michigan, area that left six dead and two severely wounded, explained in detail how he claimed the ride-sharing app had "guided" him to kill unsuspecting residents.

During the 2016 interrogation, tapes of which ABC News' 20/20 obtained, Dalton told investigators that he'd been working for Uber for less than a week and had noticed something unusual about the mobile app.

"The minute that I logged on, to be honest with you, I don't know what happened," he is heard telling investigators in tapes. "I know you guys are going to have a hard time believing this, but it literally took over (my) mind and body."

Watch the full story on 20/20 THIS FRIDAY, Feb. 22, at 9 p.m. on ABC.

The shootings occurred on the evening of Feb. 20, 2016, as Dalton continued to transport Uber customers to their destinations.

His victims included Tiana Carruthers, 28; Richard Smith, 53, and his 17-year-old son, Tyler Smith; Mary Lou Nye, 62; Mary Jo Nye, 60; Dorothy "Judy" Brown, 74; Barbara Hawthorne, 68; and then-14-year-old Abigail Kopf.

Carruthers and Kopf survived the shootings.

After Dalton was taken into custody, he was interrogated twice, separately by officers with the Michigan State Police and the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.

"He was a white male, salt-and-pepper-colored hair, wearing glasses. ... He was short and heavy-set. ... Besides that, nothing stood out about him," Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety detective Cory Ghiringhelli told 20/20.

Investigators spoke with him over the course of about four hours overnight and the next day. Dalton showed no emotion in the interrogation room, said detective Bill Moorian of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.

"There was no fluctuation in his voice. He was just sitting there going through the motions that were going on and it was just unusual," Moorian said. "[I] never had anybody like that before."

Investigators say that during the interrogation, Dalton was initially hesitant to talk with the officers, refusing to answer their questions and pleading the fifth. He did speak to them about his beloved dog, a black German shepherd, and even asked to call his wife, though shortly after she picked up the phone and a quick exchange, he hung up, telling officers he'd only wanted to hear her voice.

Finally, however, he began to talk about the Uber app.

Dalton claimed that he'd seen the symbol of the Eastern Star when he initially logged into the Uber app, Kalamazoo detective Ghiringhelli said.

"That started this whole thing," Ghiringhelli recounted from the interrogation.

"I just tapped it and then there was like a devil head that popped up," Dalton told investigators in the tapes. "It was some sort of like horned, horned head like a cow head or something. ... I pressed that button and that's where all the problems went after that."

Dalton told detectives that the Uber app had taken control of him.

"You can drive over a hundred miles an hour and go through stoplights and nothing will, you can just get places. ... When I tapped that, it said that I could say whatever I wanted to. ... There would be no repercussion," he said.

Dalton said the app would start off red and then switch to black.

"When it's in that black mode, it literally has control of you," he said. "It would do a little blink at me."

Ghiringhelli said that according to Dalton, the app gave him an assignment and he had to complete the assignment.

"It was like he was a puppet," Ghiringhelli told 20/20.

The phone communicated with him, Dalton told investigators, instructing him on what to do. "One ding" meant "yes" and "two dings" signaled "no."

Dalton also told investigators that when officers pulled him over around midnight, ending the shooting spree, he'd almost reached for his gun but the phone had returned to red. Dalton said that's why he did not shoot at the officers.

"I was no longer being guided. ... I mean, that's not my nature to be that way," he told detectives. "The minute that the app went from black to red. ... I had my presence."

"I wasn't believing any of it but if it's something that's gonna make him talk, you're not going to shut him down," Moorian said. "So, we just let him talk about it and we tried to encourage him."

Dalton also told investigators that prior to the shootings, he had not been sleeping and that was "not normal" for him.

"I've mainly just lied down a few times," he said. "I've been going for a long time. ... I think I've been going for probably more than 24 hours."

He told them he had no idea how many people he'd shot and said that shootings had been totally random. He also revealed that he remembered shooting a child.

Michigan State Police detective Sgt. Kyle Gorham said Dalton's voice had changed "dramatically" when he spoke of shooting Kopf.

"He felt badly for the child and the family of the child but he didn't express any remorse for anybody else," Moorian said.

Kalamazoo County prosecutor Jeff Getting said that as far as they know, Dalton had no marital trouble, emotional trouble, criminal record or financial problems. Getting said there was also no evidence of Dalton's being an extremist.

On Jan. 7, nearly three years after the shootings, Dalton pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree premeditated murder and two counts of assault with the intent to commit murder.

The decision was a surprise as attorneys were preparing to select a jury for his criminal trial. A judge sentenced him on Feb. 5 to life in prison without the possibility of a parole.

When reaching out to Uber for comment, a representative referred 20/20 to a 2016 call with reporters about the Kalamazoo incident, during which Uber's then-chief security officer, Joe Sullivan said, in part, “I want to reiterate how devastated we are by these murders, and that our thoughts are with the victims' families and the broader community in Kalamazoo. As the local police have made clear, the perpetrator had no criminal record, and if there's nothing on someone's record, then no background check is going to raise a flag. As this case has shown, past behavior may not accurately predict how people will behave in the future. This is where technology can help ensure safety before, during and after a ride in ways that was not possible a decade ago.”

“We're deeply committed to the safety of everyone on our platform, as well as the communities we serve, and we have a clear policy that prohibits having firearms in the vehicle,” he added.

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Kuzma/iStock(SALT LAKE CITY) -- A Utah man who allegedly attacked three men with a metal pole after shouting that he wanted to "kill Mexicans" has been charged with federal hate crimes, authorities said.

A federal grand jury in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday indicted Alan Covington on three counts of hate crimes. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Covington is accused of entering a Salt Lake City tire shop on Nov. 27 and yelling that he wanted to "kill Mexicans" before striking a man in the head with a metal pole. The grand jury indictment alleges that the attack was "an attempt to kill." Covington then allegedly struck another man with the pole. Both men suffered bodily injury.

Covington is also accused of swinging the pole at a third man in an attempt to injure him.

The indictment alleges Covington attacked the three men, who are employees at the tire shop, because he believed they were Mexican.

The FBI is investigating the case with the help of the Salt Lake City Police Department.

It's unclear whether Covington, who is also facing state charges, has retained an attorney to represent him on the federal charges.

He is being held at the Salt Lake County jail on $100,000 bond, according to booking records. The alleged incident renewed calls for Utah to strengthen its state hate-crimes law, which currently doesn't name protected groups.

"This attack sowed fear into our community," Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said in a statement Wednesday, applauding the indictment. "It is time Utah adopt comprehensive hate crime legislation to give law enforcement and investigators the tools they need to prosecute these types of crime."

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- One of the most confounding high-profile criminal investigations in recent memory finally found its mark on Thursday, when Chicago police investigators charged Empire star Jesse Smollett with a felony charge for filing a false statement.

The beloved, gay black actor said that he was beaten, battered with racial and homophobic epithets and left lying on an icy Chicago sidewalk in the middle of the night, covered in a powdery substance and with a noose-like rope around his neck.

It was such a vicious attack that to some it seemed unthinkable.

The weeks-long investigation into the incident –- an alarming account that sizzled with a spectrum of hot button issues ranging from race, sexuality and politics to crime and celebrity -- riveted and distressed a deeply-divided nation.

From nearly the start, when news of the incident first surfaced, an amorphous suspicion of Smollett's story took hold on social media and elsewhere, but over time skepticism bled into disbelief for some, while Smollett's fans and friends doubled-down again and again on their support for him. As days passed without a resolution to the investigation, the actor's account of the alleged attack was picked apart, questioned, defended and debated.

Through statements and his attorneys, Smollett has consistently denied staging the attack.

Yet throughout, Smollett was relentless in his defense of his account and the fact of the attack.

Two days after the alleged assault, Smollett’s family issued a statement calling it a hate crime and insisting that the actor’s story is consistent.

“We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime," the family wrote in the statement to ABC News. "Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning. His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice."

The next day, Smollett issued his own statement, again reiterating that “I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level.”

.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery.

This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2019

The following day, Feb. 2, Smollett gave his first performance since the alleged attack at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, California. "Regardless of what anyone else says, I will only stand for love," Smollett said. He became emotional and began tearing up before beginning his set. "We hope that you all stand with us."

Shortly after the attack was reported in the media, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) released a statement praising the openly-gay actor for always “using "his voice and talent to create a better world."

"Our hearts are with Jussie Smollett as he recovers from a hate-motivated and repugnant attack in Chicago. Jussie has always used his voice and talent to create a better world, and it is disgusting that anyone, especially someone who has done such good for so many, would be targeted by undeniable hatred," the statement read in part.

Two weeks later, with a widening skepticism about -- and virulent defenses of -- his story surging through social media, Smollett sat down for an exclusive interview with Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, during which he addressed public suspicion about a number of details in his account to police.

There is no such thing as “racially charged.”

This attack was not “possibly” homophobic. It was a racist and homophobic attack.

If you don’t like what is happening to our country, then work to change it. It is no one’s job to water down or sugar-coat the rise of hate crimes.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 30, 2019

Why did he initially decline to turn over his cell phone to police, who were interested in corroborating his contention that he was on his cell phone with his music manager when the attack unfolded?

"They wanted me to give my phone to the tech for three to four hours. I'm sorry but -- I'm not gonna do that," the singer said. "Because I have private pictures and videos and numbers: my partner's number, my family's number, my castmate's number, my friends' numbers, my private emails, my private songs, my private voice memos."

But the day earlier, apparently unbeknownst to Smollett, Chicago police investigators had been quietly tracking the two "persons of interest" learned that these two men were returning to Chicago on Feb. 13 from Nigeria and moved in. The pair were detained at the airport, placed under arrest and taken in for questioning.

Those two individuals had been captured on a grainy surveillance video image near the scene and around the time of the alleged attack. The two men turned out to be brothers, with a connections to Smollett, who were ultimately released without charges, despite Smollett insisting in an exclusive interview with ABC News that he was certain those two men were his assailants.

"I don't have any doubt in my mind that that's them," Smollett said. "Never did."

It turns out that, if police are to be believed, it may have been the most truthful statement Smollett made all month.

By Feb. 16, news began to leak out that brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo had agreed to cooperate with authorities after detectives confronted them with evidence that they bought the rope -- allegedly used in an attack that Smollett described to police as laced with racial and homophobic slurs -- at a local hardware store, sources said.

In response, Smollett hit back again at the suggestion that the incident was a hoax, and expressed disbelief that the brothers could have been involved.

“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with," began a statement from Smollett attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson. "He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."

“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video," the statement continued. "It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity."

As news surfaced of Smollett's potential culpability in staging the attack, civil rights leaders including New York's Rev. Al Sharpton adjusted their views of the whole affair.

“I, among many others when hearing of the report, said that the reports were horrific and that we should come with all that we can come with in law enforcement to find out what happened and the guilty should suffer the maximum,” Sharpton said Sunday night show on MSNBC.

“I still maintain that,” he continued. “And if it is that Smollett and these gentlemen did in some way perpetuate something that is not true, they ought to face accountability to the maximum.”

With Smollett officially charged with a felony for allegedly concocting a hoax, local law enforcement officials were anything but jubilant.

"That was a pretty hateful allegation, and it really put a terrible look on Chicago," Guglielmi told ABC Chicago station WLS in a telephone interview Thursday morning. "Chicago trusted this young man. We loved Empire, and we took this very seriously that something this hateful could happen in our city."

On Thursday, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson blasted Smollett in an emotional press conference in which he said that Smollett's alleged staging of a hoax attack was a "publicity promote his career."

"Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career," Johnson said. "Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? ... How can an individual who's been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in the city in the face with these false claims?"

Johnson charged that Smollett, an actor on the hit show Empire who has consistently denied any role in staging the alleged attack, orchestrated it because he was "dissatisfied with his salary."

In a new statement on Thursday, officials from 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said that "[w]e understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options."

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ogolne/iStock(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) -- Nearly a year after they went on strike and inspired educators nationwide to do the same, West Virginia teachers wielded their power again and this time politicians were quick to listen.

Just hours after West Virginia teachers went on strike for the second time in a year, the state House of Delegates voted, 53-45, to indefinitely table an omnibus education bill the educators saw as retaliation for the job action they took last February.

The vote prompted the teachers' unions to announce they would return to classes on Thursday.

While Senate Bill 451 -- loathed by teachers because it proposed establishing the state's first charter schools and funds for private school vouchers -- appeared dead, the state's three biggest teachers' unions continued the strike for a second day on Wednesday to "make sure this is a dead deal."

"We believe that there is still a minute opportunity for something to happen," Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said at a news conference at the state capital building in Charleston Tuesday night.

Despite calls from Gov. Jim Justice and Steven Paine, the West Virginia superintendent of schools, for teachers to go back to work on Wednesday, the teachers' unions instructed educators to return to the state Capitol building instead to make sure the state Senate leadership knows they mean business.

"We cannot trust the leadership in the Senate," Fred Albert, president of the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said at the news conference. "We are staying out one more day to ensure that this is a dead bill."

With little warning and a lot of anger, Mountain State teachers went on strike Tuesday, prompting school administrators in 54 of 55 counties to cancel classes for more than 200,000 students.

The strike was called Monday evening in protest of state Senate Bill 451.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- As one storm leaves, a new one will cross the country through the weekend.

The departing storm, which wreaked havoc on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Wednesday, brought up to 6 to 11 inches of snow for the Plains into the Great Lakes. Just a few inches fell from Washington, D.C., north to Boston, but it snarled travel throughout the day.

This latest snowstorm pushed many cities in the Upper Midwest into the snowiest February on record, from Minnesota to Wisconsin. In the South, more than 4 inches of rain produced flash flooding from Arkansans to Tennessee and down to Alabama and Georgia.

As the new storm gathers strength in the Southwest, 11 states are under snow and wind alerts.

The storm already brought some rare snow to Las Vegas overnight. Snow also fell in the mountains outside of Los Angeles and San Diego, slowing down traffic.

By Friday, the storm will move east, joining with moisture in the Gulf of Mexico and spreading snow and heavy rain from the Gulf Coast into the Upper Midwest once again.

The western storm becomes a powerful low pressure in the Plains by Saturday with possible severe weather for the mid-Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley and Tennessee Valley. Tornadoes, hail and damaging winds are all possible. Very heavy rain is also likely in the South with flooding possible again in Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

To the north, heavy snow will fall once again from Kansas to Iowa and into Wisconsin.

By Sunday, the storm system moves into the Northeast and the entire East Coast, with heavy rain from Atlanta to New York City and Boston. Some snow and ice is possible in New England.

One to two feet of snow is possible in the Arizona and Colorado mountains, with up to a foot in the Midwest and the Great Lakes. Heavy rain will fall in the South, on top of all the rain that fell this week, making flooding likely. There could be 4 to 5 inches of rain from Louisiana to Kentucky.

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Newark Police Department(NEWARK, N.J.) -- A bus driver is under arrest after she allegedly passed out behind the wheel from a heroin overdose and rolled through an intersection and into a tree. There were 12 children on the bus at the time, all with special needs, but none were injured.

Lisa Byrd, 57, was charged with 12 counts of endangering the welfare of a child, driving while impaired and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The crash took place in Newark, New Jersey, as she was driving children home on Wednesday at about 1 p.m. Video obtained by New York ABC station WABC-TV showed the bus rolling at a slow rate of speed through an intersection -- covered with snow from an ongoing storm -- and hitting a small tree by the side of the road.

"Driving while impaired is dangerous enough, but adding children to the situation is particularly irresponsible and heinous," Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose said at a press conference Wednesday.

Police sources told WABC the woman is suspected to have been on heroin. It is not clear when she took the drug.

Byrd had to be revived on the scene with Narcan by medics, police said. Narcan, the brand name for the drug naloxone, is used to treat an opioid overdose, including heroin.

She was taken to University Hospital in Newark for further treatment.

"Endangering the lives of Newark children is something we will not tolerate," Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. "We are grateful that none of the students were injured and that no other residents were harmed due to this incident."

The 12 children on the bus, ages 5 to 13, were from the 14th Avenue School, police said. They were assessed on scene by paramedics, but none suffered injury.

Officials said Byrd's driver's license was suspended from 1996 to 2006, though they did not specify why it was revoked.

F&A Transportation, which employed the driver, did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

The bus and towing company is located in East Orange, New Jersey.

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WABC-TV(NEW YORK) -- A New York man was arrested Wednesday after he intentionally drove his car into a family of eight, killing a woman and injuring multiple children, police said.

Jason Mendez, 35, was charged with murder after he allegedly crashed into the family after getting into an argument with one of them, police said.

A 32-year-old woman was killed as the remaining family members, including six children, were injured, police said. A 35-year-old man and three of the children were listed in serious condition, but none of their injuries appeared life threatening.

Mendez faces one count of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder, but police may file additional charges.

The deadly crash happened outside of a 7-Eleven in Haverstraw, New York, about 35 miles north of Manhattan, around 2 p.m. The suspect allegedly got into an argument with the 35-year-old male victim.

"The male suspect had a verbal altercation with a member of the family moments earlier. The suspect then proceeded to enter his vehicle, which was parked in the 7-Eleven parking lot, and drove the vehicle forward striking eight family members," the Haverstraw Police Department said in a statement. "The suspect then reversed the vehicle and drove forward again, striking the family members for a second time."

Witnesses said the children ranged in age from an infant to about 10 years.

"She was laying on the ground," Allison Rodriguez, a witness, told ABC New York station WABC-TV, referring to the woman who was killed. "Nobody was around her. We just kinda knew she wasn't gonna make it."

Police said they found the suspect waiting in his vehicle when authorities arrived at the scene.

"The suspect was brandishing a knife and failed to comply with the responding officers' verbal commands to drop the knife," the department said in a statement. "The suspect was subsequently tased, subdued and taken into custody without further incident."

Mendez, of Washingtonville, New York, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday night and is due back in court next week, according to WABC.

"The investigation is still ongoing and it is anticipated that several additional charges will be filed," Haverstraw Police Department said. "The names of all involved parties are being withheld at this time due to the ongoing investigation."

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amphotora/iStock(HOUSTON) -- The Harris County District Attorney's Office in Houston said Wednesday it would review at least 1,400 criminal cases with ties to Houston Police Department officer Gerald Goines, who allegedly lied about using a confidential informant to justify a botched "no-knock" home raid on Jan. 28.

Twenty-eight of the cases under review are open, according to the office.

"Although the criminal investigation of Officer Goines is ongoing, we have an immediate ethical obligation to notify defendants and their lawyers in Goines' other cases to give them an opportunity to independently review any potential defenses,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement Wednesday. “Our duty is to see that justice is done in every case."

Goines was relieved of duty in the wake of the raid and is under criminal investigation, according to the statement.

Dennis Tuttle, 59, and Rhogena Nicholas, 58, were killed during the raid and five officers, including Goines, were wounded. The officers entered the home without warning and were met with gunfire "immediately upon reaching the door," according to the Houston Police Department.

The FBI said it opened a civil rights investigation into the officers involved on Wednesday and the Houston Police Department said it would largely end the use of "no-knock" search warrants.

"We as a police department have uncovered some malfeasance, we've taken it seriously, and we're not just looking at what's front of us, not just what's at the end of our nose," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a press conference Wednesday. "We have cast a wide net to make sure we identify any problems, most importantly procedures and methods so we can avoids things like this in the future."

The department also announced a new policy mandating undercover officers wear body cameras during raids.

"We have to very critically look at our actions," Acevedo said. "From adversity comes opportunity and I think the opportunity that it's provided me as your police chief is to really do a gut check with our department."

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Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false report after allegedly staging the attack against himself in Chicago, police and the state attorney's office confirmed to ABC News.

The charge of felony disorderly conduct carries a penalty of one to three years in jail, according to the criminal statute.

 "Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest," Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter.

Thus far, "they have no communication from him to do that," Guglielmi told ABC News.

While police are not actively looking for Smollett because "this is not a violent crime," he said, "the longer this goes, the more we have to do what we have to do" and "then we have to take a different approach."

"We want to do this as peacefully and respectfully as possible," Guglielmi added.

Police do not currently know where Smollett is and "his attorneys have not shared where he is at this point," he said.

"In the end, this is only a class 4 felony. He will get through this and we want to make it as easy as possible for him to do it. But again, it is about accountability," Guglielmi said.

Smollett will appear for a court hearing in a Cook County courtroom Thursday at 1:30 p.m., officials said.

Smollett's attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, released a statement following the announcement saying they intent to "mount an aggressive defense."

"Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense," the statement read.

 After weeks of investigation into Smollett's claim of being attacked last month by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs while physically beating him and leaving him with a rope tied around his neck, the Chicago Police Department on Wednesday afternoon officially classified Smollett as a suspect in an ongoing criminal investigation for filing a false report.

The announcement, in a tweet from the Chicago Police Department's verified account, represents another stunning twist in an investigation that has seen more than its share of such developments.

The tweet also announced that detectives are presenting evidence to a grand jury.

Meanwhile, in yet another development in the case, video of what appears to be two brothers -- who are cooperating with authorities and have told police that Smollett paid them to buy materials including masks and rope, and stage the attack, according to sources -- purchasing the items at an area hardware story has been obtained by Chicago ABC station WLS. News of the video was first reported by CBS Chicago station WBBM.

While Chicago police officials confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday that authorities are maintaining a dialogue with Jussie Smollett's attorneys, they remain anxious to re-interview the actor himself.

"We are hopeful that we’ll have a chance to ask the questions that we have," Guglielmi said.

"It doesn’t matter what the investigation shows," Guglielmi said. "If you have information that's helpful to law enforcement, it behooves you to contact authorities and share that information. We have been very diplomatic and have been working with him and his attorneys. We got information, and that's what we want to run by him."

If Smollett does not come in to speak with police, he said, "We’re going to go with other methods to create a culture of accountability.”

 Later Wednesday, an official briefed on the Smollett investigation confirmed to ABC News that attorneys representing Smollett met with police and prosecutors in Chicago today. Lawyers and police would not immediately detail the substance of the discussion.
(MORE: Feds investigating whether Jussie Smollett played a role in sending threatening letter sent to 'Empire' studios addressed to him)

The CPD's latest public stance comes after two federal officials confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday that the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating whether Jussie Smollett played a role in sending a threatening letter addressed to him at the Chicago studio where "Empire" is filmed, prior to the alleged Jan. 29 attack.

The letter, which was sent Jan. 22, is currently in an FBI crime lab for analysis, one of the sources said.

The allegation concerning the alleged attack and the letter -- made by brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who are cooperating with investigators in the probe -- has not been officially confirmed.

The Osundairo brothers have also told investigators that Smollett paid them to help him orchestrate and stage the Jan. 29 attack that Smollett said occurred near his Chicago apartment, sources said. Police have not independently verified these allegations and no one has been charged in connection with the case.

“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with," Smollett attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said in a statement Saturday. "He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."

Smollett told police that on Jan. 29, he was walking on a street near his apartment around 2 a.m. when he was set upon by two men. The attackers allegedly shouted racist and homophobic slurs before hitting him, pouring “an unknown chemical substance” on him —- possibly bleach -— and wrapping a rope around his neck, he told detectives.

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Fedorovekb/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Federal authorities have arrested a Marine veteran and U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant who they said was stockpiling weapons and "espoused extremist" and racist views for years as he sought to launch a major attack.

"The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country. He must be detained pending trial. ... The defendant is a domestic terrorist," prosecutors said in a court document filed in Maryland federal court Wednesday, arguing that Christopher Paul Hasson should be detained.

 Hasson allegedly compiled a list of prominent Democratic congressional leaders, activists, political organizations, and MSNBC and CNN media personalities, including apparent references to Joe Scarborough, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Kamala Harris, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, according to court documents.

Hasson was arrested by agents of the FBI Baltimore Field Office and the Coast Guard Investigative Service on Friday on gun-related charges.

"The criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland charges Mr. Hasson with possession of firearms and ammunition by an unlawful user or addict of controlled substances, and with possession of tramadol, the Justice Department said.

Hasson, 49, is currently assigned to Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C. He'd been living in his Silver Spring, Maryland, apartment since June 2016, when he signed his lease, authorities said.

A source familiar with the matter said the Coast Guard tipped the FBI off to Hasson, and then the FBI and Coast Guard jointly investigated him.

Details of his case were laid out in a court document filed Tuesday, seeking his detention until trial.

Court documents -- which don't include any actual attack plan -- alleged that in a draft email Hasson wrote on June 2, 2017, making reference to Olympic park bomber Eric Rudolph, he said, "I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth. I think a plague would be most successful but how do I acquire the needed/ Spanish flu, botulism, anthrax not sure yet but will find something."

He then allegedly discussed an "interesting idea" of "start[ing] with biological attacks followed by attack on food supply."

"Liberalist/globalist ideology is destroying traditional peoples esp white. ... No way to counteract without violence... Much blood will have to be spilled to get whitey off the couch," Hasson allegedly wrote.

According to court documents, he allegedly said he was, "Looking to Russia with hopeful eyes or any land that despises the west’s liberalism. Excluding of course the muslim scum" and had to "take serious look at appropriate individual targets, to bring greatest impact. Professors, DR’s, Politian’s [sic], Judges, leftists in general."

Months later, court document said, in September 2017 -- about seven weeks after the Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally -- he allegedly sent himself a draft letter, which he apparently wrote for a known American neo-Nazi leader.

In the letter, he allegedly wrote: "I am a long time White Nationalist, having been a skinhead 30 plus years ago before my time in the military. I have served in 3 branches currently serving as an Officer (never attended college) with 2 years till I hit mandatory retirement at 30." He said he "fully support[s] the idea of a white homeland ... We need a white homeland as Europe seems lost."

From January 2017 to January 2019, he conducted online searches and made thousands of visits online for pro-Russian, neo-fascist and neo-Nazi literature, court documents said.

Investigators said Hasson lived in "a cramped basement apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland," and when the FBI raided it, they found a total of 15 firearms and "conservatively" more than 1,000 rounds of mixed ammunition.

Investigators also found more than 30 bottles labeled as HGH (human growth hormone), which authorities said were intended "to increase his ability to conduct attacks."

On Dec. 27, 2018, court documents said, Hasson performed an internet search for “joe Scarborough” (“Scarborough”), after viewing a headline claiming that Scarborough referred to President Trump as “the worst ever.”

The Coast Guard released a statement late Wednesday.

"An active duty Coast Guard member, stationed at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC, was arrested last week on illegal weapons and drug charges as a result of an ongoing investigation led by the Coast Guard Investigative Service, in cooperation with the FBI and Department of Justice. Because this is an open investigation, the Coast Guard has no further details at this time," according to a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Hasson is due in court Thursday for a detention hearing in Maryland, the Justice Department said.

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Prathaan/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The number of hate groups in the U.S. has reached an all-time high, even as membership in the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi outfits have fallen, according to a report by a legal advocacy organization that tracks them.

The Southern Poverty Law Center's annual "Year in Hate and Extremism" report counted 1,020 hate groups in the nation, an increase of 7 percent from the 954 tallied in 2017.

The previous record for hate groups in the country was in 2011, when 1,018 were counted at the "height of a backlash" against the first black president of the U.S., Barack Obama, said Heidi Beirich, director of intelligence for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

This year's report showed that the number of hate groups has grown for four straight years.

"This time period dovetails with [Donald] Trump's campaign and then his presidency, a period that has seen a 30 percent increase in the number of these groups," Beirich said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center defines a hate group as an organization that in its principles or statements from its leaders attacks or maligns an entire class of people typically for their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Several groups on the list have blasted the organization for political bias and exaggerating the threat of hate. Some organizations have also sued to have the hate-group label removed. In 2018, the SPLC publicly apologized and paid out $3.4 million to political activist Maajid Nawaz for including him on its anti-Muslim extremist list in 2016.

California, the country's most populous and solidly Democratic state, had the most hate groups with 83; followed by Florida with 75 and 73 in Texas, according to the report.

The report also showed the number of white nationalist groups climbed 48 percent from 100 in 2017 to 148 in 2018.

"These are basically racists who wear suits, khakis, and polos who argue for a white ethnostate, a white political space controlled by whites," Beirich said.

She said the number of black nationalists groups also jumped 13 percent from 233 in 2017 to 264 in 2018.

"These are groups that are typically anti-Semitic, anti-LGBT and anti-white. They are very different than some of the white hate groups that we talk about often and track since they have virtually no supporters or influence in mainstream politics, much less the White House," Beirich said of the black nationalist groups.

The center's report also found that for the third straight year, the number of Ku Klux Klan groups fell from 130 in 2016 to 51 in 2018, and the number of neo-Nazi groups fell 7 percent from 121 in 2017 to 112 in 2018.

"The Klan has begun to be a part of the white supremacist movement that just isn't attracting many folks to its message," Beirich said. "It's simply becoming less important, which is a big change."

The report shows as the number of hate groups has risen, so has the number of hate crimes.

The FBI shows the number of hate crime incidents reported increased about 17 percent in 2017 compared with previous year.

She pointed to a two-week period around the midterm elections in November when the country saw suspects professing to be white supremacists go on shooting rampages.

On Oct. 27, Robert Bowers, 46 -- who authorities said "made statements regarding genocide and his desire to kill Jewish people" -- shot and killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Bowers is believed to have posted his intent to commit the massacre on the social media platform Gab, which is popular with white supremacists and the alt-right, investigators said.

On Oct. 26, Cesar Sayoc, 56, was arrested on charges of mailing more than a dozen pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, other high-profile liberal figures and CNN. Sayoc called himself a white supremacist and was found in a van plastered with pro-Trump stickers, investigators said. He has pleaded not guilty to charges.

On Oct. 24, Gregory Bush, 51, allegedly shot and killed two African-Americans at a Kroger market in Louisville, Kentucky. A grand jury charged him with murder and hate crimes because he allegedly targeted his victims based on their race, prosecutors said. Bush pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Beirich said a total of 40 people were killed in hate crimes in the U.S. and Canada in 2018.

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