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Delta Airlines Plane Skids Off Runway at LaGuardia Airport in New York

Thursday, March 5th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

@KristinaGrossmann/Instagram(NEW YORK) — A plane skidded off an icy runway into a fence at New York’s LaGuardia Airport Thursday while landing during a winter storm, shutting down the airport’s runways, officials said.

Delta Flight 1086, an MD-88 arriving from Atlanta, skidded off Runway 13 around 11:05 a.m., according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The Port Authority confirmed that all 127 passengers and five crew members, “were safely taken off plane.”

The runway where the plane landed had been plowed just minutes before and two other pilots reported “good braking action” as they landed, according to Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye.

Once the plane landed, it veered sharply left about 4,500 to 5,000 feet down the 7,000-foot runway, skidding off to the side and nearly ending up in the water, according to Foye.

Two people were transported to a local hospital with minor injuries.

An Instagram video shot shortly after the crash showed a man at the scene leaving in a stretcher.

LaGuardia’s runways were closed, but one runway was expected to reopen around 2 p.m. Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Officials said they were checking for a fuel leak.

The National Transportation Safety Board announced it would send an investigator to secure the flight data recorders and document the damage.

Images of the plane taken by eyewitnesses showed that it apparently crashed through a fence after skidding off the runway.

“Customers deplaned via aircraft slides and have moved to the terminal on buses,” Delta Airlines said in a statement. “Our priority is ensuring our customers and crew members are safe. Delta will work with all authorities and stakeholders to look into what happened in this incident.”

Passengers on the plane included New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell, who said he was “safe and sound” after the crash.

“I feel fine physically and hopefully all the other passengers did not have any significant injuries,” read a portion of Donnell’s statement. “We were all shocked and alarmed when the plane started to skid, but most importantly, as far as I know, all of the passengers and flight crew were able to exit the plane safely.”

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Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Nugget of Knowldege

SMU Fraternity Chapter Suspended After Alleged Neighbor Harassment

Thursday, March 5th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas) — A Texas fraternity at Southern Methodist University was placed on indefinite suspension amid a neighbor’s claims that students have been harassing him for months, a fraternity official said.

Tim O’Connell said he and his wife have faced problems after complaining about the students’ noise. The couple’s security cameras appear to capture their neighbors urinating on their property, writing obscenities in the snow and throwing what’s believed to be raw meat into the O’Connell’s backyard.

“They told me they pay rent and they can do whatever they want,” O’Connell said.

Some of the students living in the Dallas house are members of Sigma Chi fraternity at Southern Methodist University. The fraternity’s national chapter announced an indefinite suspension of the SMU chapter because of the dispute.

“We do not condone or endorse the actions we have been made aware of,” Sigma Chi’s national chapter said in a statement to ABC News.

O’Connell’s neighbors have not commented, but the university said it is working with police to identify the students involved.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Kentucky Drivers Get Stranded on Snowy Interstate

Thursday, March 5th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

@oh2preshus/Twitter(ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky.) — Many Kentucky drivers on Wednesday spent the snowy evening in their cars, counting down 12 hours or more via Twitter and foraging for food, after two serious accidents on a major interstate.

The state police estimated the backup to be 20 miles long.

Because of a steep hill that police say is almost impossible to climb in the heavy snowstorm, the biggest backup is in the southbound lane of I-65, four miles north of Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Another backup on northbound I-65, south of Elizabethtown, has been as long as 10 miles, according to police.

Kentucky State Police said Interstate 65 and Highway 71 were virtually shut down. The National Guard and Red Cross were called in to rescue motorists in Hardin County, ABC affiliate station WHAS-TV in Louisville reported.

Stranded drivers and passengers lamented about their predicament on social media. Some drivers left their cars to try to help shovel snow from around cars. They used hashtags like: #needrescue.

State police are offering driving tips to motorists, saying slippery roads were the contributing factor in 26,427 crashes last year.

Meanwhile, the governor declared a state of emergency, the second declaration in less than a month, which allows Kentucky to deploy National Guard troops, if necessary.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pet of the Week

Boston Marathon Bombing: Inside Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s ‘It Was Him’ Defense Strategy

Thursday, March 5th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

FBI(BOSTON) — The trial of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev enters its second day Thursday, but the defense has already made a curiously blunt admission: “It was him.”

One of the first things Tsarnaev’s attorney Judy Clarke told the court Wednesday was that he was responsible for the “senseless, horrific, misguided acts.” The defense would only contest the “why” of it all, she said, indicating it was Tsarnaev’s late older brother, Tamerlan, who pushed her client down the dark path.

All day, the defense did not cross examine witness after witness from the prosecution while they recounted the horror of that April 15, 2013 day when three were killed — including an eight-year-old boy — and 260 injured after dual explosions ripped through the crowds near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

The defense’s move surprised many federal officials, who said day they are asking why a court should spend potentially months proving what the defense has already admitted.

Legal experts told ABC News that while the defense’s strategy may appear odd from the outside, that’s only because they’re not focusing on winning this phase of the trial, but avoiding the death penalty later.

“Given the amount of evidence the government has, I would suggest it’s the only strategy,” said Robert Bloom, a Boston College law professor. “I think their objective is to develop a rapport with the jury. They certainly don’t want to go and cross examine victims very hard. By developing a rapport with the jury, when their turn comes to talk about the death penalty phase of it, they will have a rapport with the same jurors that are hearing all this evidence.”

Charles Ogletree, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, agreed.

“Their point is there’s no question that what he did was wrong, being involved in the marathon bombing, but they’re also saying that life imprisonment is enough punishment that would appropriate,” he said.

So why not just plead guilty to the 30 charges related to the bombing in the first place?

First, Olgetree said the defense likely lobbied for a deal in which Tsarnaev pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty, but the government didn’t go for it — potentially under pressure from the Obama administration, after Attorney General Eric Holder authorized the government to seek the death penalty last January.

“So they don’t think life imprisonment is justified, is not enough,” Ogletree said.

“They’re not taking the death penalty off the table for [Tsarnaev],” ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams said on Good Morning America, noting that in most cases, prosecutors would have gone for such a deal.

So there was little incentive for the defense to plead guilty now.

Second, Bloom said that by pleading not guilty, the defense is preserving its right to an appeal, should it choose to do so later on.

Ogletree said he thinks the defense’s strategy is a good one, and that they will accomplish what they set out to.

“I think it’s a strategy that’s going to work,” he said. “Now that you’re going to trial, having to make sure that [you’re] looking around and you’re saying that my client is guilty of what he’s done. He’s guilty of his crimes. And he needs to be punished. The punishment has to fit the crime… Life imprisonment is a very serious punishment.”

Graphic, Emotional Testimony

As Tsarnaev sat impassively in court Wednesday, the court was shown for the first time new videos from the day of the blast.

One, shot by a bystander, showed the horror and chaos in the immediate aftermath of the blasts, as emergency responders attempted to prioritize those who needed help the most, and family members frantically searched for their loved ones. Another video from inside a nearby sports store showed people ripping clothes of the racks to use as makeshift tourniquets for the injured.

“It’s hard reliving the situation, and the circumstances that happened that day, when we mentioned the ones that we lost that day, the ones that really should be remembered,” said Marc Fucarile who was at the race.

Similar testimony is expected Thursday, potentially with other new videos that captured the horrific event.

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Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Critics Say ‘Burnbook’ App Exposes Children to Cyberbullying

Thursday, March 5th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — In the hit cult film, Mean Girls, the Burn Book was all the rage. Now, it’s a cellphone app that’s going viral in schools across the nation.

Akin to a local Twitter without the Twitter handles, the Burnbook app lets students find and click on their school and post anonymous comments about anything or anyone.

The app’s “terms of service” page on its website clearly states users, “May not use the service to transmit content that is hateful, abusive or otherwise objectionable by Burnbook’s users.”

But Burnbook is under fire from those who say the app is exposing children to cyberbullies.

“For this app in particular, the fact that people are anonymous, the majority of the time they have been negative,” said 18-year-old Burnbook user Samantha Zevenbergen.

Tatum Blakeney, a 17-year-old California student, experienced this first-hand.

“Somebody said, ‘Tatum should get cancer like his mother and die,'” Tatum recalled. “I was very hurt somebody would say that to me.”

“That just hit really deep,” he said.

Parents are also crying foul.

One San Diego father, who did not want his identity revealed, said his high school-age daughter was a target.

“It’s a dangerous site,” the man told ABC News affiliate KGTV in San Diego, adding that the site has mean-spirited comments and vulgarity. “I think it’s completely wrong.”

A similar app, “After School,” was banned from the App Store in December after users allegedly used the app to threaten school shootings.

Some schools are taking action against Burnbook. The San Diego school district where the unidentified father’s daughter attends school — the Poway Unified School District — sent a message to the parents of middle and high school students to warn them that school and law enforcement charges could result if students posted threatening or inappropriate messages.

“Threats are not jokes,” the school’s message said.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Crusin In Cruces

Gold Bar Robbery Possibly an Inside Job, Police Theorize

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

WTVD-TV(WILSON COUNTY, N.C.) — Police suspect that the alleged armed robbery of a truck transporting bars of gold in North Carolina was an inside job as more details about the highway heist have emerged, according to a search warrant application that was obtained by ABC News.

Three suspects allegedly stole $4.8 million worth of gold after one of the two armed guards — the driver and another man, both inside the truck’s cabin — said that he felt sick and prompted the driver to pull over, Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodard Jr. told reporters on Wednesday.

That account is different from what was presented in the first police report on the case, which said that a mechanical issue caused the truck’s driver to pull over.

“There is suspicion at this time that this could be an inside job due to the circumstances of the robbery,” a Wilson County Sheriff’s Office detective wrote in a search warrant application to get access to one of the guards’ cell phones, one of two search warrants in the case obtained Wednesday.

“The fact that the truck was robbed immediately upon it pulling over at an unannounced stop is suspicious in and of itself,” the document added. “It is also suspicious because there are no markings on the side of the truck that would indicate the type of cargo contained therein. The suspects also went directly to the trailer and found the gold which was in unmarked five gallon buckets. It is not believed that this is a random act due to the nature and facts of this robbery.”

The second search warrant application was to get access to the truck and the trailer it was pulling.

Woodard told reporters Wednesday that the case was “suspicious,” but declined to reiterate the theory expressed in the search warrant that the robbery could have been an inside job.

Woodard shared sketches of the three suspects who allegedly bound the hands of the driver and the passenger, and a photo of a traffic cone that was placed behind the truck as the suspects allegedly removed the gold from the vehicle after breaking a lock on the back. The traffic cone had the marking of a company that only does work in Florida.

The truck was bringing gold and silver to Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and being driven on I-95 by armed guards employed by a Miami-based company, TransValue Inc., Woodard said.

One of the search warrants states that approximately $5 million worth of silver was left in the truck, meaning that when the truck left Miami on Sunday morning, it had close to $10 million in metals inside the back compartment, which, the sheriff said, was protected solely by a Master lock on the door.

“The suspects attempted to steal the truck and trailer but could not get the truck started,” according to one of the search warrants. “The truck was in proper working condition so the suspects had to [have] not been experienced in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle. The suspects loaded the gold in the minivan and fled the scene.”

The metal was owned by Republic Metals Corporation in Opalocka, Florida, according to a search warrant. The company did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

The police said they were seeking a search warrant for the phones of the armed guard who felt sick because of the suspicious nature of the case, but Woodard said at Wednesday’s news conference that the driver and the passenger have not been considered suspects. Both men have been interviewed separately several times by police, Woodard added.

Woodard noted that the driver and the passenger apparently violated their company’s policies by exiting the vehicle without their firearms and leaving the firearms inside the truck.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Passengers Evacuate US Airways Flight After Smoke Fills Cabin

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(DENVER) — Passengers on US Airways Flight 445 from Charlotte were told to evacuate the plane as soon as it landed at Denver International Airport on Wednesday, authorities said.

“The flight did have a smoke smell in cockpit. Evacuation slides deployed as plane was on the ground. Passengers were evacuated and bussed to concourse,” said Stacey Stegman, a spokeswoman for Denver International Airport, told ABC News.

While only one person was injured, everybody else arrived safely, said Stegman.

Brooks Robinson, of Atlanta, who was on the flight, described to ABC News the scene.

“The jet stopped abruptly on the taxiway and then passengers saw and smelled smoke,” he said.

“All of a sudden the captain comes over the intercom and goes, ‘Ladies and gentlemen evacuate, evacuate, evacuate!’ And you could tell he was a little…disturbed and a little shaken up,” he added.

“It got pretty smoky. I mean, me, I’m not one to really panic over minor stuff, but it was enough where I wanted to put my shirt over my face because it was kind of a foul smell and awkward odor,” said Robinson.

Robinson and many passengers took to social media, where they posted videos and pictures of the incident.

“Fire department ruled out fire as the cause of the smoke,” Stegman said.

She also said NTSB continue to investigate the cause.

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Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Double Your Dollars

American Bison Slams Into Parked SUV in Yellowstone National Park

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(YELLOWSTONE, Wyo.) — An American bison being trailed by cars inside Yellowstone National Park took its anger out on a parked SUV in its path, ramming into the car that had two passengers inside.

Tom Carter, a 60-year-old attorney from Texas, was sitting inside a Nissan Xterra with his friend, Suzie Hollingsworth, a Yellowstone tour guide, when they saw a group of bison approaching them head-on.

Carter pulled out his phone just in time to record a video of the bison veering off on its own and ramming their SUV.

“We did everything we could think of to do to avoid problems,” Carter told ABC News. “I figured that they would just keep running right by us at a full gallop but at the last minute it intended to hit us.”

“It was mad,” he said. “It pretty clearly intended to hit us.”

Carter, who spent six summers as a Yosemite tour guide in the 1970s, says the bison were being followed by “essentially a line of cars that was chasing them into us.” The incident occurred in an area of the park known as Lamar Valley.

Carter says the bison’s angry outburst is likely attributed to the agitation of the cars as well as the mild winter the area of Wyoming in which Yosemite is located has received.

“It’s been a really light winter and the animals are a lot more feisty this winter,” he said. “Normally the winters are so harsh they don’t want to expend any outside fuel.”

The bison caused nearly $2,800 in damages to the SUV, which belongs to Carter’s friend, Hollingsworth. Neither she nor Carter was injured inside the vehicle.

“We turned the engine off which was a good thing because the air bags probably would have deployed,” said Carter, who estimated the bison weighed around 2,000 pounds.

“We were never concerned about safety,” he said. “The buffalo picked on something about its own size. We were laughing about it because it was kind of crazy.”

Carter’s video of the mid-February event has received nearly 400,000 views on YouTube. He later posted a video showing the damage to Hollingsworth’s car.

He says the bison walked away unscathed. “It sort of shook its head and continued along the road,” Carter said.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Detroit Bus Driver to Be Charged After Alleged On-Duty Doze Leads to Crash

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) — After a four-month investigation, authorities said on Wednesday that the driver of a city bus who police said fell asleep at the wheel and then slammed into eight vehicles in suburban Detroit will be charged.

The 65-year-old driver, whose name has not been released, faces a charge of a 93-day misdemeanor, a moving violation causing serious impairment of bodily function. The driver was expected to turn himself in and be arraigned Wednesday afternoon.

Police said in October the SMART bus crashed into a Ford Explorer in West Bloomfield Township before plowing into seven other vehicles. Cameras on the bus caught the heart-pounding moment.

Police said there was one passenger on the bus at the time. That passenger was not injured. The driver said he’d fallen asleep, according to police, and had tried to brake and then swerved before the accident. Authorities called it the longest crash of West Bloomfield history.

“This accident, the crash scene was actually a half-a-mile long,” West Bloomfield police Det. Lt. Curt Lawson told ABC News affiliate WXYZ-TV in Detroit.

“It was one of the biggest accidents that we have ever investigated in West Bloomfield history. It took four months to complete this investigation. …We’ve very fortunate no one was killed during this incident,” he said.

A man and a woman, both age 79, who were riding in the Ford Explorer, were seriously injured in the accident. Several passengers in the other vehicles suffered minor injuries.

Authorities examined camera footage and the bus’ recording device, as well as the victims’ hospital records. The bus’ brakes and mechanics were also investigated and the accident was reconstructed.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hometown Headlines w/ Brad Barrett

DOJ Will Not Charge Darren Wilson in Michael Brown Shooting

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Brown Family / Facebook(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that former Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson will not be charged in the death of Michael Brown.

“There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” the DOJ criminal report said.

According to the report, Wilson “saw Brown reach his right hand under his t-shirt into what appeared to be his waistband.”

Accounts that Brown put his hands up are “inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence,” the report says.

Witness accounts were “inconsistent” and “changed over time,” it also said.

“The promise I made when I went to Ferguson and at the time that we launched our investigation was not that we would arrive at a particular outcome, but rather that we would pursue the facts, wherever they led,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. “Our investigation has been both fair and rigorous from the start. It has proceeded independently of the local investigation that concluded in November. And it has been thorough: as part of a wide-ranging examination of the evidence, federal investigators interviewed and re-interviewed eyewitnesses and other individuals claiming to have relevant information and independently canvassed more than 300 residences to locate and interview additional witnesses.”

Holder added, “This conclusion represents the sound, considered, and independent judgment of the expert career prosecutors within the Department of Justice. I have been personally briefed on multiple occasions about these findings. I concur with the investigative team’s judgment and the determination about our inability to meet the required federal standard.”

The Justice Department also released its investigation of the Ferguson police, which found a pattern and practice of discriminatory policing.

The report includes seven racist emails sent by Ferguson officers. In its review, the Justice Department found 161 use of force complaints against the Ferguson police from 2010 to 2014. Only one case was founded and no officer was disciplined.

Those conclusions came nearly seven months after a confrontation with Wilson that left Brown dead. In the wake of the controversial slaying of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, Brown’s death reignited a national debate over race in America and sparked protests across the country.

With its findings now public, the Justice Department is likely to seek agreement from the Ferguson police department to implement serious changes to its practices. But if negotiations fail, then the Justice Department would likely file a civil lawsuit against the police force, hoping a federal judge will force the police department to enact appropriate changes.

In a news conference late Wednesday, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said the city has cooperated with the DOJ, received the results of the investigation and has already acted on changes, including diversity training for police and African-American hires.

The city immediately placed three employees who allegedly sent racially-charged emails on administrative leave. One of the three has been fired and the fate of the others awaits the results of an internal investigation.

“That type of behavior will not be tolerated,” Knowles said. “We must do better not only as a city but as a state and country.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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