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Dramatic Scenes from Washington State Wildfire

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

ruig/iStock/Thinkstock(WENATCHEE, Wash.) — A fast-moving wildfire in Washington state has left nearly 3,000 acres scorched and forced thousands of residents from their homes.

The grass fire started Sunday on a remote hillside outside of Wenatchee, Washington. Fueled by triple-digit temperatures — Wenatchee had a record high of 109 Sunday — as well as strong winds, the blaze made its way quickly into residential and commercial areas outpacing firefighting teams.

So far, more than 24 homes have been destroyed.

“We’ve got hundreds of homes under evacuation notices,” Rich Magnussen of the Chelan County Emergency Management Office told ABC News affiliate KOMO-TV.

Fire officials overnight declared a Level 3 evacuation, going door-to-door telling residents to leave.

“I thought I’d get there and it’d be like, smoky,” resident Christie Adams said. “Our backyard was on fire.”

In Wenatchee, burning embers from the so-called Sleepy Hollow Fire helped set local downtown businesses ablaze. At one wholesale plant, flames mixed with propane tanks creating dangerous explosions.

Fire officials said the combination of rain on Monday morning with dying winds had helped tame the fires in the hills. The fires in the downtown and residential areas remained active. An industrial fire in downtown Wenatchee continued to shoot thick, black smoke as officials issued an ammonia leak, warning residents to shelter in place.

A red-flag warning remained in effect till 8 p.m. today, though the fires on the hills appeared to be out.

Two firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation and another two, for heat-related issues. One firefighter had to be sent to a hospital.

The cause of the fire was still unknown.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Song of The Day

How Escaped NY Prisoners Survived Three Weeks on the Run

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

ABC News(NEW YORK) — During escaped prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat’s three weeks on the run in upstate New York, Matt spent some time in a previously unknown camper in Franklin County, an official confirmed.

While the dark, rusty camper is hidden in the woods by deep brush, it’s also right off a main road, Route 30.

Jon Chodat, who lives just down the road, told ABC News the camper that sheltered Matt, 48, from the elements has probably been there since 1997, and has likely been abandoned for many years.

“He was the only one that was here,” Chodat said of Matt. “Because Sweat took off the other way.”

Chodat added, “It’s amazing he found it though; he must have just stumbled [onto it] because that’s what happens in these woods; there’s all these little camps and things that are remote and not used.”

Chodat said he believes Matt was shot just down the hill from the camper.

“There’s sort of a staging area that’s all trampled down and it looks like quite a few people were down there,” he explained.

“The helicopter landed just over here to pick up his body on the other side of my site, actually,” Chodat added.

Police have collected a lot of evidence from the camper, Chodat said.

As well as evidence from the camper, investigators are getting information from captured inmate Sweat, 34, as they learn more about how the men survived over the course of the manhunt. Here are a few items the prisoners were believed to be in possession of during their escape:

RUM AND GIN:

Bob Willett, a cabin owner in the search area, called authorities after noticing a bottle of rum missing from his cabin. Willett also noticed a bottle of gin had been spilled, he told ABC News.

BOOTS AND BINOCULARS:

Two pairs of boots and binoculars were also among the missing items from Willett’s cabin.

“All we knew is that somebody was in the camp and we didn’t know who it was, so we decided we better call [police] and they came right up,” Willett said.

GUN:

When Matt was shot and killed by authorities Friday afternoon, he was armed with a 20-gauge shotgun, police said.

PEPPER SHAKERS:

Matt and Sweat may have been using picnic-style pepper shakers to throw their scent off the dogs tracking them, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico told reporters Sunday evening.

If Matt and Sweat used pepper shakers, they worked, because dogs did have a hard time tracking them, D’Amico said.

POP-TARTS AND MAPS:

Sweat may have been subsisting on Pop-Tarts during his three weeks as a fugitive. When authorities shot and apprehended Sweat Sunday afternoon, he was found with a backpack of supplies, including the toaster pastries, maps, bug repellent, wipes and tools, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Cuomo did not specify what tools Sweat had.

It’s unknown whether Sweat took the supplies from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, from which he and Matt escaped on June 6, or during his time on the run.

On Friday, Matt was shot and killed in Elephant’s Head, New York, police said.

Sweat was spotted by an officer Sunday on a road near Route 30. When he tried to flee, an officer shot him twice in the torso. He is in a hospital Monday in Albany, New York.

More than 1,000 corrections officers and law enforcement officers were involved in the three-week search for the prisoners.

Cuomo called the escape “an extraordinary situation in many ways.”

“If you were writing a movie plot, they would say this was overdone,” he said to reporters Sunday evening.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



String of Fires at Six Predominantly Black Churches Scrutinized

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Monkey Business/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A string of churches with predominantly black congregations — from Florida to Tennessee — has reported fires in the past week, officials say.

The circumstances surrounding the six fires differ in each case, but their occurring in the past eight days has prompted closer scrutiny.

So far only two of the six cases are being investigated as arson, and federal authorities have not launched any official hate crime investigations.

Arson was a notable problem for black churches in the mid-1990s and prompted then-President Bill Clinton to push for the creation of the Church Arson Prevention Act in 1996, though a related U.S. Department of Justice task force was suspended at the end of his second term.

This week’s fires come amid a tense time in some Southern cities after a shooting by an alleged racist at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, left nine dead. The result has been a push for the removal of the Confederate flag from several state Capitols amid reignited debates over the region’s racial history.

The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not immediately return ABC News’ calls for comment about whether they are involved in the investigations.

The first fire was reported at the College Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Sunday, June 21. Stacks of hay and soil were placed against the church’s metal doors and set on fire, according to ABC News affiliate WATE-TV.

“I see this and I think of an intention to try to destroy this entire church,” Pastor Cleveland Hobdy III told WATE.

Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk told WATE that it has been deemed an incident of vandalism and not a hate crime because, in most hate crime cases, the suspect leaves a message or indication of the reason behind the attack and no such mention was found in this case.

The second church was in Georgia two days later, and Macon Bibb County Fire Chief Marvin Riggins told station WMAZ that it was suspicious and is being investigated as an arson.

Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Gibson County, Tennessee, was also set on fire that same day and officials have not released any updates about the investigation, nor did they immediately return ABC News’ calls. Fire Chief Bryan Cathey told ABC affiliate WBBJ-TV that there were some questions about whether it was an accidental fire because residents recalled there being several lightning strikes in the area around the time of the fire.

The fourth fire burned down a portion of the Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in east Charlotte, North Carolina, in the early morning hours of June 24, and investigators immediately classified it as arson.

The investigations into the final two churches that reported fires on Friday, June 26, are still underway and their respective cause has not yet been determined.

No injuries were reported at any of the fires.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Nugget of Knowldege

NY Prison Escapees Were Originally Headed to Mexico

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

New York State Police(NEW YORK) — Prison escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat had originally planned to flee to Mexico before the two split up last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a radio interview Monday.

Investigators have already started getting important information from captured inmate Sweat, who is now undergoing treatment at Albany Medical Center, Cuomo said.

“The plan was to head to Mexico, which would have been aided by Joyce Mitchell’s vehicle,” Cuomo said. “They would get the car and then drive to Mexico.”

Two employees at the prison, including Mitchell, a tailor shop employee, have been charged in connection with the escape.

“When Mitchell doesn’t show up, the Mexico plan gets foiled and they head north to Canada,” Cuomo said.

The governor also said Sweat split up from Matt five days ago because he felt like “Matt was slowing him down.”

Mitchell was charged with providing hacksaw blades and tools to the men through frozen hamburger meat. She pleaded not guilty to the felony and misdemeanor charges.

Mitchell’s lawyer, Steve Johnston, said in a statement Monday, “I just spoke with Joyce and she is ecstatic both that the manhunt has ended and also that it appears no harm came to any other person.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



How Police Caught Escaped Prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

New York State Police(CONSTABLE, N.Y.) — A three-week manhunt for two escaped prisoners, called a “nightmare” by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, came to a violent end this weekend, when one inmate was shot and killed Friday and another was shot and apprehended Sunday.

After 22 days of searching by more than 1,000 law enforcement officials, here is how Richard Matt and David Sweat, both convicted murderers, were captured:

FRIDAY:

Officials announced they had reason to believe Sweat and Matt, who escaped June 6 from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, were planning to head to the border in a final play for freedom. As a result, U.S. and Canadian law enforcement sent reinforcements in an effort to squeeze the escapees and keep them from potentially making it out of the country.

Sometime before 2 p.m. Friday, a person pulling a camper near Duane, New York, heard a sound and later discovered after pulling into a campsite that there was a bullet hole in it, state police said.

After that, a tactical team was deployed to a nearby cabin near Elephant’s Head, New York, about 20 miles south of the Canadian border.

Inside, they noticed the smell of gun powder. While searching the grounds, investigators noticed movement and heard coughing, state police said.

FRIDAY, 3:45 p.m.:

At about 3:45 p.m., Matt, armed with a 20-gauge shotgun, was spotted by a law enforcement officer.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents “verbally challenged him [Matt] and told him to put up his hands,” but he “didn’t comply,” State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said at a Friday evening news conference.

Matt was shot and killed by a Customs and Border Protection SWAT team. He had been serving 25 years to life in prison after being convicted of beating a man to death.

Investigators then set up a perimeter in the area around where Matt was killed to try and corner Sweat, state police told ABC News.

FRIDAY EVENING:

Friday evening, there was an active gun battle in the woods where they believed Sweat was cornered, but Cuomo later said authorities were not sure where Sweat was.

SUNDAY, 3:20 p.m.:

At about 3:20 p.m., State Police Sgt. Jay Cook was on a routine patrol in the area of Constable, New York, about 1.5 miles south of the Canadian border, when he spotted Sweat on a road, police said.

Cook ordered him to stop, but Sweat started to run, police said. Cook then opened fire, striking Sweat twice in the torso.

Sweat, who was serving a life sentence after he was convicted of killing a sheriff’s deputy, was not armed, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said. No law enforcement personnel were injured during the capture, an official briefed on the manhunt said.

SUNDAY EVENING:

Sweat was in critical condition at Albany Medical Center, an official there said Sunday evening, after being transferred from Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone, New York.

Sweat has not yet been interviewed by investigators, D’Amico said Sunday evening.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Pet of the Week

Mystery Object Lights Up the Sky over Parts of Georgia

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Christopher Brandon Hicks(NEW YORK) — A slow-moving mystery object lit up parts of the Georgia sky on Sunday.

NASA has five meteor cameras in the southeast part of the U.S. that picked up video of the object that was moving at approximately 14,500 mph at 1:30 a.m.

William Cooke, lead for NASA Meteroid Environment Office, told ABC News Monday that “14,500 miles per hour is pretty fast, but it’s too slow to be a meteor. It was possibly reentry of space junk.”

Cooke added that objects will typically have to be moving at 20,000 miles per hour or faster to be classified as a meteor.

Stacey Alexander, 39, saw the bright light move across the night sky for about a minute outside her work building in Rome, Georgia.

“I honestly thought it was a plane that had caught on fire and was about to crash,” she told ABC News Monday.

“It looked like it just kept getting closer to the ground and was on its way to crashing when it disappeared,” she added.

Alexander compared it to a long-lasting shooting star that never lost its shine.

There were more than 120 eyewitness reports of Sunday night’s light in the sky, according to Cooke.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Meet the Sergeant Who Caught Escaped Prisoner David Sweat

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

New York State Police(NEW YORK) — A veteran New York State Police sergeant was alone and on a routine patrol when he shot and captured convicted murderer David Sweat Sunday afternoon.

At about 3:20 p.m., State Police Sgt. Jay Cook was supervising a perimeter post when he spotted Sweat on a road near Route 30 in the area of Constable, New York, approximately 1.5 miles south of the Canadian border. Authorities believe Sweat was trying to make a final break toward the border, officials said.

Cook ordered him to stop, but Sweat then turned and fled across a field, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said.

When Cook, who is also a firearms instructor, realized Sweat might get away, he fired two shots.

“He realized Sweat was going to make it to a tree line, and possibly could have disappeared — and he fired two shots from his service weapon,” D’Amico told reporters.

Cook “was alone when this happened,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “Sgt. Cook happened to be from Troop B, which is this area, so he knew the area very well. But he was still alone and it was a very courageous act.”

Cook is a 21-year veteran who has spent most of his career in the area, said D’Amico, who added, “I couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Cook has two teenage daughters, ages 16 and 17, Cuomo said at a news conference Sunday.

“I said to Sgt. Cook … to go home tonight and tell your daughters that you’re a hero,” Cuomo told reporters. “With teenage girls, that will probably last a good 24 hours and then you go back to being a regular dad, as I well know.”

Officials said Sweat was shot twice in the torso and was hospitalized in critical condition. Sweat, who had been serving a life sentence after he was convicted of killing a sheriff’s deputy, was not armed, D’Amico said.

Sweat received medical treatment from emergency personnel and was seen being transported to Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone, New York, then taken to Albany Medical Center, officials said.

No law enforcement personnel were injured during the capture, an official briefed on the manhunt said.

On June 6, Sweat and another prisoner, Richard Matt, escaped from the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, about 20 miles south of the Canadian border, police said. More than 1,000 law enforcement officers were involved in the search.

Matt, also a convicted murderer, was shot and killed by authorities Friday in Elephant’s Head, New York, about 16 miles south of where Sweat was apprehended Sunday, according to police.

An investigation is ongoing to find out who was involved in the escape, Cuomo said on Sunday, adding that there is also an investigation into the systems at the prison. Two prison employees, Joyce Mitchell and Gene Palmer, have been charged in connection with the escape.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Crusin In Cruces

SpaceX Rocket Explosion Destroys Students’ Science Experiment

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Courtesy Becky Ashe(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) — Four Tennessee students had the thrill of watching their science experiment being launched into space on board SpaceX’s Dragon vehicle this weekend, only to find out minutes later that the rocket, then out of their sights, had exploded in mid-air and was a total loss.

Keagan Cross, 14, worked on an experiment with three other students from Gresham Middle School in Knoxville, Tennessee, that was designed to measure the effects micro-gravity at the International Space Station would have on antibiotics.

Watching the launch, “it was this elated feeling of something I touched is in space,” Cross told ABC News Monday on the bus ride home from the launch at Cape Canaveral, Florida. “And then hearing the news, it was devastating and disappointing.”

It was the second loss in recent months for students enrolled in the science, technology, engineering and math program for schools in Knox County, Tennessee. Last October, a group watched as Orbital’s Cygnus spacecraft blew up on the launch pad.

While the Cygnus launch was a fiery failure on the launch pad, Becky Ashe, the Knox County Schools coordinator for science, technology, engineering and math projects, told ABC News it wasn’t immediately apparent this time what had happened.

“That one [Cygnus] was so dramatic,” she told ABC News. “With Dragon, we were standing there watching the launch. It looked successful and then we noticed the second cloud of smoke, and several of us were like, ‘Is that supposed to happen?'”

Ashe said it took a couple of minutes before they found out the spacecraft had exploded.

“The first reaction was disappointment because they were so excited about seeing their experiments launched,” she said. “The second was I was grateful knowing it was an unmanned capsule and the launch pad wasn’t destroyed.”

As the students ride on a bus home to Tennessee, Ashe said they’re disappointed but feeling resilient and ready to take NASA up on an offer to once again fly their experiment to space on a future flight.

“NASA was really good and got all of the students together,” Ashe said. “They didn’t have any details to share but they did reassure that part of space flight is hard, getting out of Earth’s gravity.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Washington State Wildfires Force Residents to Evacuate

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(WENATCHEE, Wash.) — Wildfires in Washington State have forced thousands of residents to evacuate their homes.

As of Monday morning, officials say the blaze covering more than 1,800 acres has not been contained, with efforts hampered by the hot, dry conditions.

Darren Wright, a trooper for Washington State Patrol, said public safety is the primary concern for emergency officials, and warned Washington residents about participating in outdoor activities as the flames continue to spread.

“Like most areas in the country with hot, dry weather, be very careful with smoking, outdoor fires, fireworks over the Fourth of July, anything that can cause heat or sparks,” he cautioned. “Be very cognizant of the hot dry conditions.”


ABC US News | World News

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Double Your Dollars

Escaped NC Inmate Captured as Prison Employee Arrested

Monday, June 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

North Carolina Department of Public Safety(RALEIGH, N.C.) — A convicted murderer who escaped from a North Carolina correctional facility unit Saturday was captured Sunday evening, and a prison food service worker is accused of helping him escape after allegedly having sex with him.

Kristopher McNeil, 29, was captured after escaping from the Brown Creek Minimum Unit in Polkton, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety said.

Davidson County authorities said they found McNeil along Highway 52 near Hickory Tree Road before 11 p.m. Sunday. Witnesses recognized McNeil’s photo from media coverage and contacted law enforcement, officials said.

George Solomon, director of prisons, said in a statement: “We appreciate the many law enforcement agencies working closely by the department’s side working to get McNeil back in custody. We are especially grateful to the citizens who called in tips and anyone who aided in his capture without anyone getting hurt.”

McNeil was discovered missing from the Brown Creek Minimum Unit Saturday and may have scaled a fence. He was serving a 14-year prison term for second-degree murder and was due for release in 2018. Because of his escape, McNeil will be transferred to Central Prison in Raleigh.

Meanwhile, Kendra Lynette Miller, 33, faces charges of sex with an inmate, providing an electronic device to an inmate, harboring a fugitive and aiding and abetting a fugitive, according to Public Safety officials. Her bond was reportedly set at $500,000.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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