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Convicted murderer Robert Durst diagnosed with COVID-19, attorney says

Etienne Laurent/Pool/Getty Images

(LOS ANGELES) -- Robert Durst has been diagnosed with COVID-19, his attorney confirmed Saturday, two days after the real estate heir was sentenced to life in prison on a first-degree murder conviction.

Durst, 78, was sentenced Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2000 killing of Susan Berman, his close confidant. The wheelchair-bound Durst appeared in the courtroom for his sentencing, looking frail and wearing a face mask.

His attorney, Dick DeGuerin, did not share any additional details on Durst's condition.

The high-profile trial has been plagued by a series of delays due to the pandemic. After two days of testimony, the trial was delayed for 14 months after the coronavirus shuttered courts, with testimony resuming in May.

In August, testimony was briefly paused again after a courtroom observer tested positive for COVID-19. There was another holdup in June, when Durst was hospitalized for an unspecified health issue.

Durst did not appear in the courtroom when the verdict was announced in September because he was in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 by one of his sheriff drivers. Jurors found him guilty after deliberating for about seven hours over three days.

The New York real estate scion was accused of killing his best friend, Berman, who was shot in the back of the head in her Los Angeles home in 2000. Prosecutors alleged Durst killed Berman to prevent her from telling police she helped him cover up the unsolved murder of his wife, Kathleen Durst, in 1982. Durst has never been charged in his wife's disappearance.

Durst pleaded not guilty in 2018 to the murder charge for Berman's death. His attorneys have unsuccessfully sought a mistrial, arguing the lengthy delay impeded his chances of a fair trial.

Durst was also charged in the 2001 killing of a neighbor in Galveston, Texas. He claimed self-defense and was acquitted.

ABC News' Cassidy Gard contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Dramatic video shows Amtrak train slamming into semi-truck car hauler

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(THACKERVILLE, Okla.) -- A dramatic video captured the moment an Amtrak train slammed into a semi-truck hauling several cars in Oklahoma, sending vehicles and debris flying and injuring several people on board.

The incident occurred Friday around 7 p.m. local time in Thackerville, near the Oklahoma-Texas border. Minutes before Amtrak Train 822, which operates daily between Fort Worth, Texas, and Oklahoma City, was scheduled to pass through, the car hauler tractor trailer got stuck on the train tracks, Love County Sheriff Marty Grisham told ABC News.

"The tracks are built up a little bit higher" at that crossing, Grisham said. "He had a lot of cars on the trailer. When he tried to cross over the tracks, the trailer high-centered on the tracks, causing him to be stuck and not able to move his tractor-trailer rig any further off the track."

"Everything was just stuck," he said.

A bystander who captured the video of the collision called 911, according to the sheriff. Authorities attempted to contact the railroad network operator, but the train couldn't be stopped in time, Grisham said.

The video showed the railroad crossing gates partially lowered, unable to move past the cars on the upper deck of the double-decker car hauler trailer. The train's horn blared before the locomotive collided with the trailer, sending debris on both sides of the crossing.

The driver and his dog were "shaken up" but uninjured in the collision, the sheriff's office said. Five people on board the train were transported to two area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, the sheriff said. All patients involved in the incident have been treated released, a spokesperson for the hospitals told ABC News Saturday afternoon, though couldn't confirm how many there were total.

There were 110 passengers and crew members on board, according to Amtrak.

"This train was canceled north of the incident scene and northbound customers were provided substitute transportation," Amtrak said in a statement.

The Love County Sheriff's Office warned travelers to avoid the area Friday night, as the crash scene would take "several hours" to clean up.

The site was cleared early Saturday morning "and we have resumed operations through the area," the railroad operator, BNSF, told ABC News.

A traffic investigation is underway by local and state authorities, an Amtrak spokesperson said.

The video of the incident was captured by local Brandon Sampson, according to video licensing agency Storyful. ABC News was unable to reach him.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Suspect charged with attempted murder in alleged hate crime shooting of Black man

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(STOCKTON, Calif.) -- A week after a Black man was shot seven times by an assailant who was allegedly hurling racial epithets while firing at him, prosecutors said a suspect has been charged with attempted murder with a hate crime enhancement in the attack.

Michael Hayes, 31, was arraigned Friday in connection with the Oct. 8 shooting in Stockton, California. In addition to attempted murder, he has been charged with assault with a firearm with a hate crime enhancement, and carrying a loaded firearm while in a public space.

Prosecutors said, based on police reports, Hayes was "driving erratically and speeding" through a parking lot when the victim, 45-year-old Bobby Gayle, "told the driver to slow down."

"The defendant then stopped, exited the vehicle, used racial epithets, and shot the victim seven times," the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office said in a statement Friday following the arraignment.

Bobby Gayle, whom family said had just finished a construction job at a restaurant when the shooting occurred around 11:30 p.m., was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

From his hospital bed Thursday following Hayes' arrest, Bobby Gayle told Sacramento ABC affiliate KXTV he holds no hatred for the shooter.

"I can't have hatred living in my heart," the father of five told the station, struggling to talk due to his injuries.

"We come from a family, we just love everybody, there's no hatred over here. One-hundred percent, that's not me," he said.

Bobby Gayle said he was shot twice in his face, as well as his neck, shoulder and legs. One of the bullets is lodged in his head and "is going to stay there because they can't remove because it will do more damage," his brother, Marlon Gayle, told KXTV.

The family expressed gratitude at news of the arrest.

"By God's grace the guy is found and he's arrested," Marlon Gayle told KXTV. "We'll let justice take its place."

In an interview with ABC News earlier this week, Marlon Gayle said his brother spoke up after the shooter's pick-up truck purportedly nearly hit him and a friend.

"According to my brother and the guy who was with him, his friend, the guy gets out of the truck, the white guy, and he has a gun, and he starts saying the n-word over and over again and started shooting my brother," Marlon Gayle said.

The Stockton Police Department shared photos of the suspected shooter's truck on Facebook Wednesday, describing it as a late-model Chevrolet Silverado, while asking the public for tips. A reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest was also offered.

On Thursday, police announced they had arrested Hayes the day prior. In a statement, Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones thanked the "anonymous tipster and the hard work of our detectives for bringing a quick resolution to this case for the victim and his family."

Hayes has been remanded in custody and is scheduled to next appear in court on Oct. 28 for further arraignment, prosecutors said. ABC News has reached out to his attorney.

"The terrible actions of one is not a representation of who we are as a community. No one should be victimized because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation," District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said in a statement Friday. "My office takes these crimes very seriously. It is our goal, in collaboration with our law enforcement partners, to rid the community of hate and unnecessary gun violence."

ABC News' Adia Robinson contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


COVID live updates: One region seeing highest hospitalizations in nearly 10 months

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(NEW YORK) -- The United States has been facing a COVID-19 surge as the more contagious delta variant continues to spread.

More than 721,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.8 million people have died from the disease worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Just 66.2% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the CDC.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Oct 16, 1:54 pm
Unvaccinated people had over 11 times greater risk of dying from COVID-19 in latest delta surge

The CDC updated its website with data previously released last month that shows vaccines still dramatically reduce the risk of testing positive or dying from COVID-19, even amid the latest delta surge.

In August, unvaccinated people had an over-six times greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 and over 11 times greater risk of dying from the virus, compared to the vaccinated, according to federal data pulled from 16 states and jurisdictions.

In every age group, the death rate was higher for COVID-19 among unvaccinated populations. Americans 80 and older had the highest rate of deaths among fully vaccinated people per capita, though their risk of death was about 5.7 times lower than their unvaccinated counterparts in the same age group.

-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Oct 16, 10:30 am
Death toll in Russia tops 1,000 for 1st time

The daily death toll in Russia topped 1,000 for the first time, The Associated Press reported.

There were 1,002 deaths as of Saturday, up from 999 Friday, Russia's national coronavirus task force reported.

About 29% of the country is fully vaccinated, according to its government and there are currently 754,162 active cases, Russian news agency TASS reported.

Oct 15, 9:26 pm
Undefeated Cardinals to be without head coach for Browns game

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury will miss Sunday's road game against the Cleveland Browns after he tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced Friday night.

Kingsbury, 42, has led the hottest team in the NFL this season. Arizona (5-0) is the only undefeated team left in the league.

Sunday's game figures to be one of the biggest of the week, with the 3-2 Browns suffering only two narrow losses coming off a playoff appearance last year and expectations to contend for a title.

The Cardinals will also be without quarterbacks coach Cam Turner and defensive lineman Zach Allen, who each tested positive Friday. Star outside linebacker Chandler Jones was put on the COVID list earlier this week and won't play.

Kingsbury told reporters exactly three weeks ago that 100% of the Cardinals' roster was vaccinated.

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers will split head coaching duties against Cleveland.

Oct 15, 3:46 pm
CDC updates holiday guidance

The CDC has updated its holiday guidance, urging people to get vaccinated and to wear masks in public indoor places.

The CDC said in a statement: "We fully expect that families and friends will gather for the holidays this year and we have updated our guidance on how to best to stay safe over the holidays. The best way to minimize COVID risk and ensure that people can safely gather is to get vaccinated or get the booster if you’re eligible.”

-ABC News' Anne Flaherty

Oct 15, 1:52 pm
FDA panel votes to authorize booster shots for J&J vaccine

An independent FDA panel has voted to move forward with Johnson & Johnson vaccine boosters.

The panel’s decision on J&J was broader than for Moderna and Pfizer as it applies to all J&J recipients 18 and older. The timing is also different: The J&J booster can be administered two months after the initial shot.

The 19-person panel voted unanimously.

Johnson & Johnson's one dose has shown to be 85% effective against severe illness, but adding a second dose boosted that to 100%.

Penny Heaton, a J&J executive, acknowledged Friday that J&J’s efficacy is below the mRNA vaccines but said they would be on par if they used a booster.

-ABC News' Anne Flaherty, Cheyenne Haslett, Sasha Pezenik

Oct 15, 11:17 am
Cases creeping up in some Midwest, Northeast states

In recent weeks, cases have been creeping up in several states in the Upper Midwest and Northeast. Colorado, New Hampshire, Vermont, Montana, Michigan and Minnesota have seen their case rates jump by 20% or more in the last month, according to federal data.

Alaska currently has the country's highest infection rate, followed by Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Idaho and West Virginia, according to federal data. California currently has the nation's lowest infection rate.

Since the beginning of September, the U.S. has seen a drop of more than 42,000 COVID-19 patients in hospitals. Daily COVID-19-related hospital admissions are also down by 8.8% in the last week, and by more than 40% in the last month, according to federal data.

West Virginia currently has the country's highest death rate, followed by Idaho and Georgia. Texas alone is reporting thousands of deaths each week.

Oct 15, 9:54 am
Vaccine requirement for foreign travelers to begin Nov. 8

Beginning Nov. 8, foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. by air and nonessential travelers crossing land borders must show proof of full vaccination to enter the U.S., the White House announced Friday.

Essential workers crossing via land, like those who come for work or school, have until January to become fully vaccinated.

Air travelers will still be required to show proof of a negative test within 72 hours of departure, in addition to their vaccination status.

Oct 15, 9:12 am
FDA panel hours away from vote on J&J boosters

The independent FDA advisory panel is meeting Friday and will hold a nonbinding vote on whether the Johnson & Johnson booster shot should be used.

Officials with the National Institutes of Health will also present data Friday on whether it's safe and effective to mix-and-match vaccine booster doses.

Oct 14, 7:18 pm
CDC advising states to preorder Pfizer's vaccine for young children

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising states to order Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine doses for children ages 5 to 11 ahead of a vote on its authorization.

An independent Food and Drug Administration advisory panel is scheduled to discuss the vaccine on Oct. 26, and a vote is expected soon after. In planning documents posted by the CDC, the agency is advising states to order their doses in advance of the meeting, with preorders starting Oct. 20.

This is meant to "ensure that vaccine can be placed in many locations nationwide, making it easier for children to get vaccinated" and "allow for a manageable and equitable launch," the CDC said.

A decision from the CDC on recommending the vaccine is not likely until early November; the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3.

Oct 14, 3:17 pm
FDA panel votes in support of authorizing Moderna booster

The independent FDA advisory panel on Thursday voted unanimously to authorize Moderna vaccine boosters for Americans 65 and older, anyone 18 and older with underlying conditions and those frequently exposed to the virus through work or home life.

The recommendation is in line with what the FDA and CDC authorized for Pfizer booster shots last month.

The FDA panel will meet on Friday on J&J boosters. Following next week's meetings from the CDC’s independent advisory group, Moderna and J&J boosters could be authorized and recommended for specific populations as soon as Oct. 22.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Deputy fatally shot, 2 injured in 'ambush' at Houston nightclub: Police

Houston Police Department

(HOUSTON) -- A Texas constable deputy was fatally shot and two other deputies were wounded in what police are calling an "ambush" early Saturday morning outside a Houston nightclub.

The incident unfolded around 2:15 a.m. at the 45 North Bar and Lounge in the 4400 block of the North Freeway near Crosstimbers, Houston Police said.

Three Harris County Precinct 4 constable deputies were working an extra job at the club when they went outside to address "a disturbance" that "may have been a robbery," Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief James Jones said during a press conference.

When they were wrestling with the suspect to either arrest or detain him, "we believe they were ambushed, shot from behind, by a suspect with a rifle," Jones said. In total, three constable deputies were shot.

The suspected shooter was described as a Hispanic male in his early 20s. No futher information was made available.

Constable for Precinct 4 Mark Herman said one deputy was shot in the back and underwent surgery, another was shot in the foot who was to go into surgery, and a third was deceased at the hospital.

He described the incident as "Probably one of the toughest things I’ve done in my career."

“We hope to have a suspect in custody soon and I hope for swift and quick justice for that individual because he ambushed my deputies,” Herman added.

The Houston Police Department is investigating the shooting.

One person of interest is in custody, but Jones said officials were not sure if he was a witness or a suspect.

“This is very tragic. I do believe that good always trumps evil and what happened tonight was evil," Herman said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Boy, 13, dies after bullets flew through his bedroom window, struck his head

Tuscaloosa Police Department

(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) -- A 13-year-old boy was shot and killed Friday evening inside his Alabama home when bullets flew through the window and struck him in the head.

The child was sitting in his room playing on his iPad when gunshots were fired at his home in Washington Square, Tuscaloosa around 6:20 p.m., police said in an update Saturday.

Police said when officers arrived, they found the boy suffering a gunshot wound to the head. The child has not been identified.

"It's a senseless murder. We see it all the time where adults are shot and it's terrible. When it's a kid, it takes it to another level," Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley said. "We're going to do everything we can to make these arrests."

The scene was inundated with shell casings in the road, so many so that officers "had to pull business cards from their wallets to fold and use as temporary evidence markers until more could be brought to the scene," police said.

The boy's heartbroken parents had to stand across the street and watch as the ambulance drove away after realizing there was nothing they could do, authorities said.

Investigators with the Violent Crimes Unit are working to locate persons of interest in the case.

"We are asking for anyone with information that could be helpful to please call 205-349-2121, 205-464-8690 or report anonymously at 205-752-STOP (7867)," they said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Michigan to replace lead pipes in Benton Harbor in 18 months amid drinking water crisis

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(LANSING, Mich.) -- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive directive Thursday to help residents of Benton Harbor access safe drinking water, vowing to replace all lead pipes by April 2023.

The directive comes a week after officials urged locals in Benton Harbor, a city of 9,600 people, to use bottled water for drinking, cooking and brushing teeth due to elevated levels of lead in water testing.

"For six consecutive sampling periods over the last three years, the Benton Harbor water system has failed to meet the regulatory standard for lead," the governor said in the directive.

Advocates in the city had filed an emergency petition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Sept. 9 demanding a federal intervention to aid in the crisis.

In the directive, the governor announced she’ll expedite lead service line replacements to be completed in 18 months, up from the prior five-year timeline. The effort will also continue to give free bottled water to Benton Harbor residents and free or low-cost drinking water testing and health services.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has received U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (USDA) approval to provide Benton Harbor residents specific baby formula that does not require the mixing of water.

The effort will be funded by federal, state and local resources, with additional federal funding expected through the infrastructure bill currently moving through Congress. Under Michigan's 2022 state budget, $10 million is dedicated to replace service lines in Benton Harbor.

“I cannot imagine the stress that moms and dads in Benton Harbor are under as they emerge from a pandemic, work hard to put food on the table, pay the bills, and face a threat to the health of their children," Whitmer said in a statement. "We will not rest until the job is done and every parent feels confident to give their kid a glass of water knowing that it is safe."

Rev. Edward Pinkney, a local activist and president of the grassroots Benton Harbor Community Water Council, touted the directive as a victory.

"Without the petition, none of this could have happened. I am more than happy that Whitmer is now taking this a little bit more seriously," he told ABC News. "But, I want her to tell the people that the water is unsafe to drink rather than saying this is out of 'an abundance of caution.'"

Benton Harbor sources its water from Lake Michigan. Elevated lead levels in water has been an issue for several years in the city, where 85% of the population is Black, 5% Hispanic and about 45% have an income below the federal poverty line, according to the U.S. Census.

Lead can enter drinking water when plumbing materials and service lines contain lead corrosion. Lead exposure harms brain development in children and it causes both short and long-term health problems for adults, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The EPA has a lead contamination action level of 15 parts per billion. If water samples hit that mark, officials are supposed to take several actions to educate the public and restore water to a safe level.

In Benton Harbor, water testing surpassed that level in 2018. One home in 2020 tested at 440 ppb for lead. Eleven homes tested this year showed water with lead levels above 15 ppb, with one home hitting 889 ppb -- nearly 60 times the EPA's action level, according to data released by the city.

According to the petition filed with the EPA, Benton Harbor has 5,877 total service lines, 51% of which "are known to contain lead, are known to be galvanized lines previously connected to lead, or are of unknown material but likely to contain lead." Just 2% of service lines contain zero lead.

The crisis echoes the Flint, Michigan, crisis in 2014 and 2015 where the state switched the city's water supply to come from the Flint River. An investigation later found there were highly toxic levels of lead in the water.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


CDC releases 2021 holiday guidance to prevent spread of COVID-19

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(ATLANTA) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released its official public health guidance for the 2021 holiday season, offering up mostly general advice on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The recommendations urge people to get vaccinated ahead of the holidays if they haven't done so already. For young children who aren't yet eligible for the vaccine, the CDC suggests reducing risk of exposure by making sure the people around them are vaccinated.

The CDC also recommends that people continue to wear masks indoors in public spaces.

"We fully expect that families and friends will gather for the holidays this year and we have updated our guidance on how to best to stay safe over the holidays," the agency wrote in a statement. "The best way to minimize COVID risk and ensure that people can safely gather is to get vaccinated or get the booster if you’re eligible."

The holiday guidance is notably less prescriptive than last year, when vaccines were not available to the general public.

In 2020, for example, the CDC warned against traditional trick-or-treating by knocking on doors and instead suggested individually wrapped goodie bags that families could "grab and go" from a distance.

This year, the CDC doesn't provide holiday-specific advice. However, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has said she thinks trick-or-treating can be done safely if kids stay outdoors and stick to small groups.

"If you're able to be outdoors, absolutely," Walensky told CBS's "Face the Nation."

When it comes to big family gatherings, the CDC suggests "additional precautions" such as testing in advance or avoiding crowded indoor spaces before making the trip.

The 2021 guidance follows some confusion earlier this month when the CDC provided a technical update to its website that appeared to be its new recommendations for the season. The agency later removed the page, which was outdated.

Holidays have been a major driver of the pandemic, with hospitalizations and deaths spiking to its highest levels following the 2020 holiday season. Last January, the death toll peaked at around 3,600 people per day.

Those numbers plummeted following the rollout of vaccinations, only to surge again this summer with the arrival of the delta variant sickening unvaccinated populations.

According to CDC data collected from hospitals and state health officials last August, an unvaccinated person was 11 times more likely to die from COVID than a vaccinated person.

Health officials are again warning caution ahead of this holiday season so cases don't spike again, although vaccines have made gatherings considerably safer.

One bright spot for families of children who remain ineligible for the vaccine: Federal regulators are expected to greenlight shots for kids as young as 5 in early November.

The dose of the Pfizer pediatric shot is a third smaller than the dose given to adults, but would still require two shots three weeks apart. And like adults, a child would not be considered immunized until two weeks after their second shot.

A vaccine for infants and children under age 5 isn't expected until early 2022.

ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


US Capitol Police officer charged with obstruction related to Jan. 6 attack

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(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. Capitol Police officer has been arrested and charged with obstruction of justice over allegations he encouraged an alleged participant of the Jan. 6 riot to delete social media posts that showed the person joining the pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol, authorities said Friday.

Michael Riley, an officer with more than 25 years of experience, was not on duty inside the Capitol building itself during the riot -- but afterward messaged an unidentified individual over Facebook who allegedly had posted selfies and other videos showing themselves inside the Capitol, an indictment said.

"Hey [Person 1], im a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance," Riley allegedly wrote. "Take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to [be] charged. Just looking out!"

The person then exchanged dozens of more messages with Riley showing them inside and outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to the indictment.

"I get it... it was a total sh** show!!!" Riley allegedly wrote. "Just wanted to give you a heads up... Im glad you got out of there unscathed. We had over 50 officers hurt, some pretty bad," the indictment said.

The two continued to converse over Facebook direct messaging for several days after, according to charging documents. In one exchange, Riley joked the alleged rioter could come stay with him in D.C. at a later date and he could arrange a tour for him so he could "legally" see it, authorities said.

The alleged rioter was later arrested on Jan. 19, according to the charging documents, and the individual told Riley "the fbi was very curious that I had been speaking to you" and warned him they would likely be reaching out to him, according to the indictment.

Riley then allegedly deleted all of his Facebook messages to and from the rioter, the charges said.

Later, according to the indictment, Riley sent a message to the rioter saying a mutual friend sent him a video showing the man smoking weed in the Capitol, and said it made him so "shocked and dumbfounded" that he deleted all of their prior messages.

Riley made his first appearance in court Friday afternoon following his arrest on two counts of obstruction of justice.

The government did not seek his detention and he was ordered released on several conditions, including that he remove any firearms from his home.

He did not enter a plea in the case. His attorney said they expected he will be arraigned on both charges sometime later this month.

Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger called the allegations “very serious” and said the officer is being placed on administrative leave pending the completion of the case. The officer will also be subjected to an administrative USCP investigation.

Riley had worked most recently as a K-9 tech.

He was pictured in a photo released by the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial Fund when he was chosen as Officer of the Month for February 2011 after he responded to an officer down call in the middle of a snow storm.

The head of the U.S. Capitol Police union is asking the public to wait "until all of the facts of the case are known and this officer has been given the opportunity to defend himself."

"All I ask is that everyone respect the process and let it proceed before rendering a judgment on this officer," union chairman Gus Papathanasiou said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Nikolas Cruz plans to plead guilty in Parkland shooting

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(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- The 11 mass deadly school shootings that happened since Columbine
There have been many more shootings, but 11 with four or more victims.

Nikolas Cruz will plead guilty in the killing of 17 people in the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting, a defense attorney said in court Friday.

On Feb. 14, 2018, Cruz, then 19, allegedly gunned down 14 students and three staff members at his former school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He was taken into custody that day.

Cruz on Friday pleaded guilty to charges in connection to his attack on a jail guard in 2018. When the judge asked Cruz how he was feeling, he responded "feeling alright," and confirmed that he is thinking clearly.

Cruz's attorneys said he plans to plead guilty on Wednesday in connection to the Parkland massacre.

Fred Guttenberg, father of 14-year-old victim Jaime Guttenberg, tweeted Friday, "My only comment is to remember the victims. Remember Jaime. Rather than talk about the murderer."

Manuel Oliver, father of 17-year-old victim Joaquin Oliver, told ABC News Live Friday, "I think it's time to put some -- speed it up a little bit. Every day is a new day that we suffer."

"I can’t wait for this to be over so I can move on, at least without the weight of not knowing what's gonna happen to this person," he said.

Oliver said he's "glad that in no way pleading guilty removes [the] death penalty from the table."

"The death penalty that Joaquin received was four shots with an AR-15 in the middle of his school. With kids dropping on the floor and bleeding out, screaming. That’s how my son died," he said. "I don’t know if he suffered or if he died immediately. I will never know that."

"That nightmare is not even close to what the worst punishment this guy will receive," he said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Texas abortion ban upheld by federal appeals court

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(WASHINGTON) -- The most restrictive abortion law in the country will remain in effect, after a federal appeals court sided with Texas on Thursday in an ongoing legal battle with the Department of Justice.

The law, known as SB8, bans physicians from providing abortions once they detect a so-called fetal heartbeat -- which can be seen on an ultrasound as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

The law, which went into effect on Sept. 1, was briefly paused after a federal judge issued a temporary injunction last week barring its enforcement. Days later, the law was reinstated after a panel of judges on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary administrative stay.

In the latest development of the high-profile case, the court rejected the Justice Department's request to again halt Texas' ability to enforce the law. In a 2-1 order Thursday night, a panel of judges granted Texas's request to continue to stay the preliminary injunction while it pursues its appeal.

The court's order did not detail its reasoning behind the ruling, which is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Next stop, #SCOTUS," University of Texas constitutional law professor Steve Vladeck said in a post on Twitter following the ruling.

Under the law, private citizens can sue a person they "reasonably believe" provided an illegal abortion or assisted someone in getting it in the state, and is crafted to prevent any state official, other than judges, from being responsible for enforcement.

In a 113-page ruling initially granting the preliminary injunction, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman was scathing in targeting the state in how he says it schemed to evade judicial review.

"A person’s right under the Constitution to choose to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability is well established," Pitman wrote. "Fully aware that depriving its citizens of this right by direct state action would be flagrantly unconstitutional, the State contrived an unprecedented and transparent statutory scheme to do just that."

After the injunction was issued, some abortion providers in Texas briefly resumed providing abortions after cardiac activity was detected, only to have the ban back in effect within 48 hours.

Since the law went into effect, women have had to travel hundreds of miles to obtain an abortion out-of-state, inundating neighboring states' abortion clinics. Abortion providers in Texas have that some clinics may have to close down for good due to the law.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Off-duty female NYPD officer charged with murder for shooting woman after finding her with partner, police say

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(NEW YORK) -- A New York City police officer has been charged with murder and attempted murder Thursday for allegedly shooting two women, killing one, at a home in Brooklyn.

The officer, identified by police as Yvonne Wu, 31, who was off-duty at the time, is believed to have shot both women -- one of whom she was dating -- when they returned to the home where the officer's girlfriend lived.

Police said the off-duty officer shot a 24-year-old woman in her chest, "possibly more than one time," at the Bensonhurst home. The victim, identified as Jamie Liang, was taken to Maimonides Medical Center and was pronounced dead, police said.

The other woman, a 23-year-old, who was in the romantic relationship with the officer, was shot in the torso and is expected to survive, police said.

Wu is a police officer in the 72nd District, which encompasses the Park Slope and Sunset Park areas of Brooklyn.

She had worked for the NYPD for 5 1/2 years. Police said she was at a local hospital for evaluation.

"We believe it is domestic in nature. We believe all three parties knew each other," Assistant Chief Michael Kemper, commanding officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, said at a press conference Wednesday evening.

"We believe they had an intimate relationship," he said of the officer and the 23-year-old woman.

Wu remained at the scene and told police she had shot the two women, according to police.

Police said they were still investigating, but recovered a gun on the scene and "there's a very good chance it is her service weapon," Kemper said.

"The whole incident is horrible, but these cops performed great, just heroically, and this is what NYPD cops come upon every single day," Kemper said. "Is this an incident they would want to come upon? No. But unfortunately throughout their careers they come upon this."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Judge faces criticism following report that Black children were illegally jailed in Tennessee county

Marilyn Nieves/iStock

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- There is renewed criticism of a juvenile court judge in Rutherford County, Tennessee, following a joint ProPublica and Nashville Public Radio report that alleges Judge Donna Scott Davenport oversaw a juvenile justice system where Black children were disproportionally and illegally hit with criminal charges.

The investigation centers around a 2016 incident where 11 Black children, some as young as 8 and 9 years old, were allegedly arrested for not stopping a fight captured on video. Ten of the children were charged with "criminal responsibility for conduct of another."

Frank Ross Brazil, an attorney who represented several of the children, told ABC News that criminal responsibility is a prosecutorial theory and not a charge under Tennessee law.

"If you and I are in a car, and there's something illegal in the car and I'm arrested for possessing it, you could be also found guilty of possessing that substance by the theory of criminal responsibility for another," he said. "So, that being applied as a charge in and of itself is unlawful."

The ProPublica report detailed systems set up by Davenport, which allegedly lead to the improper arrest and detention of children.

Davenport has not responded to ABC News' request for comment and declined an interview with ProPublica.

In 2003, Davenport allegedly set up a "process" where police in Rutherford County took children into custody, transported them to the detention center for screening and then filed charging papers. In the 2016 incident, the children were arrested, taken for processing and then released after they had been charged, the lawsuit alleges.

A class-action lawsuit filed, and later settled, against Rutherford County alleges this process was a violation of Tennessee law. For many juvenile misdemeanor offenses, state law requires that police officers release children with a citation or a summons rather than taking them into custody, according to the lawsuit.

The Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Center also reportedly used a "filter system," where staff could decide to hold a child before they had a hearing using undefined criteria instead of the precise categories outlined in Tennessee law, Brazil said. Davenport has "ultimate administrative authority" over the detention center, according to the lawsuit.

According to ProPublica, records from the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts showed that in 2014, the last year where this type of data is available, children were detained on average in 5% of juvenile cases statewide. In Rutherford County, children were detained in 48% of cases, the report said.

The class-action lawsuit alleged that these policies led to potentially thousands of children being illegally arrested, illegally detained or both.

Dylan Geerts, a named plaintiff in the lawsuit, but not a part of the 2016 incident, was one of those children. When he was 15, he said he was arrested for stealing change and small items from a car.

"They essentially put me in solitary confinement for between 22 and 23 hours a day," Geerts, now 23, told ABC News. "[They] took me off of my medications by force, not by doctor's orders or anything. They just didn't allow me to have my bipolar medication."

"I was kept awake for close to 30 something hours by the staff, purposefully," he added. He was released on house arrest after four days.

"I really struggled through my teenage years after that," Geerts said, noting that he had fallen in with the "wrong crowd" during his time in juvenile detention.

Before his arrest, he said he had been hospitalized for suicidal thoughts. Although he had support from his family, following his arrest, he was hospitalized for attempting to harm himself and was later diagnosed with PTSD.

"Whenever you get taken off of a medication like that," he said. "It can take weeks to months for it to work again if it does at all."

The lawsuit was settled in June of this year for $11 million. As a part of the settlement, Brazil said Rutherford County denied any wrongdoing and each child who was improperly detained got $5,000 and each child who was improperly arrested got $1,000.

"It's been heartbreaking, actually, to talk to these people's families and to hear individually so many hundreds of stories," he said.

"You'd like to hope, being a father to my children of my own, I like to hope that this kind of thing does not happen in the 2000s in America, but it does," Brazil added. "It's happening to a certain set of people disproportionately."

Brazil said that the lawsuits have brought some change to Rutherford County. A federal injunction in 2017 ended the county's "filter system."

Although there was an investigation into the arrests in 2016, the police officers involved only received reprimands or short-term suspensions. The officials who recommended the charge did not participate in the investigation and had no mention of it in their personnel files, according to ProPublica.

Davenport is still the juvenile court judge for Rutherford County.

Geerts said that knowing the injunction has stopped the "filter system" has made him feel better. However, he said he wants the state legislature to mandate that counties release numerical data about their juvenile arrest rates. And, he said, he would like to see Davenport challenged when she goes up for election next year.

"I hope that people out here will take that into account and be sure that they can voice their opinion and let people know that, yeah, that's not cool," he said.

"Like you're not making kids better, you're honestly making them worse" he said. "People don't belong in a box on their first offense, especially if you're going to play doctor and take their medication away and lock them inside of a cell."

Following the release of ProPublica's report, state lawmakers have called for action.

"We are concerned about the recent reports and believe the appropriate judicial authorities should issue a full review," Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee's press secretary Casey Black said in a statement to ABC News.

Tennessee State Sen. Jeff Yarbro called the report's findings "wrong on so many levels" in a tweet Saturday.

"It's a horror show plain and simple, it's abusive and it doesn't even resemble law," Yarbro, who is the Democratic Leader in the State General Assembly, told ABC affiliate WKRN.

Tennessee State Rep. John Ray Clemmons, who called for a federal investigation after the 2016 incident, said the state and the county failed children and their families in a statement to WKRN.

"As an attorney, I am limited in sharing my personal opinion on sitting judges, but these individuals, through their own acts and admissions, have proven themselves wholly unfit for the important positions they currently hold," he added.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Chicago’s police union chief urges officers to defy city’s vaccine mandate

FOP Chicago Lodge 7/YouTube

(CHICAGO) -- Chicago's police union chief is urging officers to defy the city's requirement to report their COVID-19 vaccination status by Friday.

Under the mandate, all city employees must submit their vaccination status by the end of the workweek. Unvaccinated workers who refuse to submit to semiweekly testing will be placed on unpaid leave.

Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said, "It's safe to say that the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50% or less for this weekend coming up," in a video shared on YouTube Tuesday.

He urged officers, "Do not fill out the portal information," and to file for exemptions. Under the mandate employees can apply for medical or religious exemptions, which will be reviewed on a case by case basis, but they'll still be required to undergo regular testing.

"I've made my status very clear as far as the vaccine, but I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history," Catanzara said.

He threatened to take Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's administration to court if she enforced the mandate.

The Chicago FOP did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

"I can guarantee you that no-pay status will not last more than 30 days," Catanzara said. "There's no way they're going to be able to sustain a police department workforce at 50% capacity or less for more than seven days without something budging."

There's been a contentious back and forth between the police union and Lightfoot.

In a press conference Wednesday she said: "There's all kinds of things that that guy will say, must of it untrue, patently false. We're not trying to do anything other than create a safe workplace."

"He's threatening litigation, I say bring it. Because we're going to create a safe workplace for all of our employees and by doing that, we create safety for members of the public as well," she added.

When asked, "What will the city do if over 50% of cops go into work and get sent home this week?" she replied, "I don't expect that to happen."

Police have been hit hard by coronavirus.

Four Chicago police officers died of COVID-19 last year, Lightfoot noted. On Tuesday, the Chicago police union's former president Dean Angelo, 67, died after a weekslong battle with COVID-19, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Nationally, at least 228 officers have died of COVID-19 this, and 245 died in 2020, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. The page said COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers in both years.

San Francisco also announced a vaccine requirement for about 35,000 municipal workers in June and those who refuse and don't get an exemption could be fired. New York announced the same requirement, which includes teachers and cops, which took effect mid-September, affecting some 340,000 city employees.

However, the Chicago police union isn't the only one voicing opposition to the mandate.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he won't enforce a mandate for LA County workers to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1 for his agency. The mandate allows for religious and medical exemptions.

“No, I am not forcing anyone,” Villanueva said during a town hall-style event on Facebook Live last week. "The issue has become so politicized there are entire groups of employees that are willing to be fired and laid off rather than get vaccinated. I don't want to be in a position to lose 5, 10% of my workforce overnight on a vaccine mandate."

In a statement on Oct. 8, Villanueva said, "The Department will continue requiring all of our employees to register with the Fulgent system but will only seek voluntary compliance and testing for the unvaccinated."

Similarly, in New York City, last week the city's largest police union, the Police Benevolent Association, shared a statement opposing the vaccine mandate for emergency responders.

"In the PBA's view, the COVID-19 vaccine is a medical decision that members must make in consultation with their own health care providers. We have pushed to make the vaccine available to all members who seek it, and we will continue to protect the rights of members who are not vaccinated," President Patrick Lynch said in a statement.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Teen sentenced to maximum for killing of Barnard student Tessa Majors, parents speak on their grief

Courtesy of Conrad MacKethan

(NEW YORK) -- Luchiano Lewis was sentenced Thursday to the maximum of nine years to life in prison for his role in the murder of Barnard College freshman Tessa Majors.

Majors, 18, was stabbed to death on Dec. 11, 2019, in upper Manhattan's Morningside Park, just off the campus of Columbia University.

Lewis, who was 14 at the time and charged as an adult, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and second-degree robbery last month.

The two other teens arrested in connection to the slaying were 16-year-old Rashaun Weaver, who has pleaded not guilty, and a 13-year-old juvenile who pleaded guilty and is serving his sentence.

Lewis said the three middle school friends plotted to rob people in the park and pinned the idea on Weaver. Prosecutors said Weaver wielded the knife.

In the last moments of her life, a security camera caught Majors trudging up a flight of steps in the park, dripping blood and struggling to breathe. As she reached the street she collapsed against a lamppost and died minutes later of stab wounds.

Majors' father, Inman Majors, briefly exited the courtroom Thursday while the video of his daughter’s final moments was played.

As the prosecutor read a family statement, Inman Majors sobbed audibly.

"We still find words inadequate to describe the immeasurable pain, trauma, and suffering that our family has endured since her senseless murder," Majors' parents wrote in a statement.

"Tess was a brilliant student, a voracious reader, a poet and a fledgling journalist. She had big dreams. She loved everything about music. ... She loved meeting new people with different ideas and beliefs than her own," her parents said. "But mostly she loved her family and friends, her cats, and especially her younger brother. Her family misses her every moment of every day."

"Our hearts ache as we watch Tess’s friends return to school, perform concerts, start new jobs, and experience all the things that our daughter never will," they continued. "It is hard for many old friends to be around us. Our grief is too profound. We are too changed from the people we used to be. Our lives are forever changed, and not a day goes by that we don’t think about what could have been for Tess’s future."

Lewis, now 16, apologized and said he felt ashamed, embarrassed and "sad in the role I played in destroying two families."

When Lewis told Majors' father "I’m deeply sorry for your loss," he wept and covered his eyes with his hand.

Lewis broke down as he apologized to his father, who was seated alone in the courtroom. "Dad, I’m sorry I failed you," Lewis said.

Judge Robert Mandelbaum appeared skeptical of Lewis’ sincerity, saying "sadly and troublingly the defendant has learned no lessons."

The judge noted the “multiple violent acts” Lewis has been involved in while incarcerated, including the beating of another inmate with a piece of metal wrapped in a sock.

Mandelbaum said in handing down the sentence, "The defendant was and is extremely young. He has his whole life ahead of him but Tessa Majors does not."

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KJC Kennel Club

   

 



JET

2007-2009

"Always in our Heart! "