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Student Dead in Shooting at Savannah State University

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(SAVANNAH, Ga.) — Shots rang out on Savannah State University’s campus Thursday, with one student killed and the university placed on lockdown.

The shooting, which occurred at the SSU Student Union building, was sparked by an altercation, the university said in a statement.

Christopher Starks, a junior from the metro Atlanta area, died in the shooting, the school said. At this point, no arrests have been made.

The campus was put on lockdown following the shooting. The lockdown order was later lifted.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is handling the investigation, with the SSU Police Department assisting, the university said. Anyone with information about the shooting is urged to contact police.

Friday’s classes will be delayed until 10 a.m. and grief counselors will be made available.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Crusin In Cruces

Boy, 13, Keeps Father Alive After He’s Badly Hurt by Falling Boulder

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Courtesy of David Finlayson(BOISE, Idaho) — David Finlayson has his 13-year-old son to thank as he recovers at home today after being struck by a refrigerator-size boulder during a camping trip.

Finlayson, 52, and his son Charlie were backpacking and climbing near Ship Island Lake in a part of Idaho known as “River of No Return Wilderness” on Aug. 17 when the boulder broke loose.

The boulder hit Finlayson as he jumped to avoid it, sending him careening 30 feet down a mountain. He was briefly knocked unconscious and suffered a broken back, left arm, left heel, and a gash on his left leg that exposed his bone.

“If the boulder had landed on me, I’d be dead for sure,” Finlayson, of Salt Lake City, Utah, told ABC News.

With the nearest ranger 13 miles away and no one else around to help, Charlie Finlayson took it upon himself to save his father, whom he said had given him a simple motto: Stay calm.

“He did a good job,” Finlayson, a lawyer, said. “He’s been climbing and backpacking with me for years … He had a lot of training.”

For a little more than two days, the eighth-grade Boy Scout kept his dad calm and hydrated. He cleaned and dressed Finlayson’s wounds and brought food, water and sleeping bags to his father to keep him warm. At times, he walked around the lake, desperately looking for help.

“He was my savior,” Finlayson told the Idaho Statesman. “He kept talking to me all night.”

Two days after falling, his father sent him on a 13-mile hiking mission to find help. Charlie Finlayson carried a note, explaining what had happened and how to find his father.

Charlie Finlayson said leaving his father and setting off on the journey alone was the hardest part.

“I was scared I wasn’t going to find somebody,” he said. “I prayed a lot.”Charlie Finlayson said he hiked three miles and found a few men who read his note and then went to help his father, who was eventually airlifted to a hospital. A sheriff’s deputy connected his son with a relative who took him home.

“We had a pretty solid relationship with each other before this happened,” Finlayson said, “but it’s definitely concrete now, or granite, maybe, is the way to put it.”

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Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Double Your Dollars

Police Find Wig, Shawl and Gun in Virginia Shooter’s Car, Warrant Says

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(ROANOKE, Va.) — A briefcase with a wig, shawl and three license plates was among the items found inside the car of the gunman who killed two of his former colleagues during a televised interview in Virginia on Wednesday, according to a search warrant.

ABC News has obtained the warrant filed to search the rental car that Vester Lee Flanagan was using when he fled the Virginia State Police on Wednesday, following the shooting that left Alison Parker and Adam Ward dead.

Inside the Chevrolet Sonic, police found a Glock pistol, six ammunition magazines and ammunition for a 9mm weapon.

There were also 17 stamped letters, to-do lists, and “assorted handwritten & typed letters/notes,” though the subject of the notes was not specified in the search warrant.

It was not clear what use items found in the briefcase — the wig, shawl, a pair of sunglasses, an umbrella, and three different license plates — were intended for.

The documents call Flanagan a “person of interest” in the case at the time, and were filed “based upon a text message sent to a friend making reference to having done something stupid.”

Flanagan, who used the name Bryce Williams while working on air, refused to pull over for authorities on I-66, and when a trooper approached, he was found to have suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound while in the car.

He was airlifted to a nearby hospital but died after he arrived there.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hometown Headlines w/ Brad Barrett

Controversial Guardrail to be Crash-Tested Again

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(RICHMOND, Va.) — Five months after passing federally-ordered crash tests, the controversial guardrail blamed for dozens of deaths and injuries is being tested again, this time by a U.S. state which has been aggressively investigating the highway product.

According to a document obtained by ABC News, Virginia’s Department of Transportation (VDOT) has been working out details to test the safety of Trinity Industries’ ET-Plus system, starting in mid-September. The ET-Plus guardrail system was the subject of an ABC News investigation last year, which examined allegations from accident victims that the guardrail’s design was flawed, making them potentially dangerous to motorists when struck from the front with a vehicle.

Marshall Herman, a spokesperson for VDOT, confirmed to ABC News that the agency “has decided to move forward with a plan to conduct additional crash tests” on the ET-Plus.

“Everything the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) does is for the single purpose of looking out for the safety of the motoring public,” Herman added in a statement.

The state tests will commence just months after federal officials passed the guardrail end terminal in a series of safety tests, amid cries from critics that the testing had been flawed.

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials announced in March that the ET-Plus had passed eight crash tests, ordered after Trinity Industries of Texas was found by a federal jury to have committed fraud when it modified the ET-Plus guardrail’s end terminal a decade ago but failed to tell state or federal officials about the change at the time. Accident victims and critics say the modified guardrail end terminal can malfunction when struck from the front, sending pieces of metal through the car and potentially killing or dismembering its occupants. Trinity has said it plans to appeal the federal verdict.

The passing of the federal crash tests allowed the guardrail system to remain eligible to be used on American highways. But controversy continued to swirl around the eighth and final test, which critics called a “clear” failure. In that particular test, upon impact, the small test vehicle appeared to be severely damaged on the driver’s side after striking the guardrail. The government’s passing grade of that test spurred outrage in Congress.

That final test also fueled questions about transparency and integrity of the federal crash tests, as well as the relationship between FHWA and Trinity Industries, which Sen. Richard Blumenthal called “all too cozy.” In March, six U.S. Senators urged the Government Accountability Office to investigate FHWA following what they called “troubling developments regarding the FHWA’s evaluation of defective ET-Plus guardrail and end terminals.”

In a statement to ABC News, Trinity Industries spokesman Jeff Eller maintained VDOT’s latest action is “aimed at only one product which has been proven to perform as designed.”

“We do not believe additional tests are needed. The ET Plus System successfully passed all eight Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requested tests. VDOT officials observed each test. Those tests were validated by an independent expert, Dr. Clay Gabler from Virginia Tech, and conducted under approved NCHRP 350 guidelines. The ET Plus has been installed on Virginia roadways for more than eight years and VDOT recently confirmed to the FHWA that the ET Plus end terminals are performing as expected,” the statement reads.

Officials in Virginia have been aggressive in investigating the highway product’s safety, counting as the first state DOT to declare it would remove the modified ET-Plus from its roadways. And last December, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring filed a lawsuit against Trinity Industries, accusing the company of fraud and deceit surrounding what he called a “defective” product.

Trinity has flatly denied it committed fraud against the state and has filed a motion to dismiss the Virginia AG’s case. The company has continually maintained that the ET-Plus is safe, stating that the guardrail system has been successfully crash tested more times than any product of its kind.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Loyal Listeners Club

On-Air Shooter’s Firing Filmed by Cameraman He Later Killed

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(ROANOKE, Va.) — The cameraman who was killed in the on-air shooting in Virginia Wednesday filmed his attacker being fired from their news station two years prior, according to court records.

Details about the February 2013 firing of Vester Lee Flanagan, who used the name Bryce Williams professionally, have emerged as part of the public court filings in relation to a lawsuit he filed against his former employer, WDBJ. The suit was dismissed in July 2014.

The 167-page file from Roanoke City General District Court documents a series of alleged issues with his former employer — for whom the victims, reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, also worked — according to memos written to and about Flanagan by station management.

The note about the firing being filmed came amid a description of how Williams became volatile and verbally aggressive after being told about his firing and severance.

When he was escorted back to his desk, two local police officers were on hand, alternating between trying to calm him down and physically moving him from his desk.

“This was being recorded by Adam Ward; Bryce turned his attention to him and said something about paparazzi, told Adam he needed to “lose your big gut,” and again flipped the camera off,” the memo notes.

That memo, which appears to be written by the station’s then-news director Dan Dennison, was one in a series of his notes and emails that were included in the file.

Dennison had previously written a note to Williams, detailing six criticisms of his recent work and journalistic failings.

“These issues combined with other well documented and discussed issues in recent months have led us to a serious juncture,” Dennison wrote in an email dated Dec. 24, 2012.

The details about Flanagan’s firing come as investigators probe his mental state and actions leading up to the deadly shooting on Wednesday in Moneta, Virginia.

Flanagan died later that day as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound he sustained during a highway chase with state police.

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Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Song of The Day

Kentucky Same-Sex Couple Denied Marriage License for Third Time

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(MOREHEAD, Ky.) — A same-sex couple from Morehead, Kentucky, were denied a marriage license for a third time at the Rowan County Clerk’s Office on Thursday, and the emotional exchange was caught on video.

The denial comes just one day after the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Rowan County Clerk Kimberly Davis’ appeal to U.S. District Judge David Bunning’s ruling from two weeks ago, ordering her to issue marriage licenses after she had been refusing to do so, citing her Christian faith and constitutional right to religious liberty, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

William Smith, Jr. told ABC News that he and his partner, James Yates, walked together to the Davis’ office on Thursday, hopeful that because Davis’ appeal was denied, he and Yates would finally be able to get an official marriage license that first requested in July and again just a few weeks ago.

“We’re here to see if you’re giving out marriage licenses,” Yates, 41, can be heard saying in the video Smith filmed on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, at the time, we are not giving out marriage licenses,” an employee at Davis’ office replies. When Yates asks the employee if this is a direct order from Davis, he nods yes and adds, “Sorry, guys.”

Yates and Smith told ABC News they know who the employee is, though they declined to identify him, explaining that they did not want to embarrass him “for his boss’ decision.” The employee also reportedly declined to identify himself to media at the Rowan County Clerk’s Office on Thursday.

“Breaking the law is all it is,” Smith, 33, can later be heard saying in the video. “They’re discriminating and using religion to hide behind it is all it is.”

Yates and Smith can then be seen in the video, visibly upset, walking out of the office, disappointed for the third time.

“We’ve been together for almost 10 years,” Smith told ABC News on Thursday. “He proposed a day after the initial ruling on marriage equality by the Supreme Court on June 26. On the 27th, James got down on one knee, and I said yes.”

The couple first headed down to the Rowan County Clerk’s Office on July 6, shortly after the proposal, but Smith said the same office employee they talked to on Thursday told them at the time that Davis “wasn’t handing out licenses because her objection to gay marriage.”

The denial put a damper on their plans to have a summer wedding this year, Smith added.

Smith and Yates later came down again on Aug. 13 after a U.S. district court upheld the U.S. Supreme court’s ruling. The court had ordered Davis to issue marriage licenses after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued her and Rowan County on behalf of four couples — two same-gender couples and two opposite-gender couples — who were also denied marriage licenses by Davis, according to a court complaint. Davis had apparently stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether.

But on Aug. 13, Smith said an employee told them Davis still wasn’t handing out any licenses because she wanted to appeal the ruling.

“And then [on Thursday], trying again for a third time, that was very hard,” Smith said. “It was nerve-wracking and harder than the previous two times because we’ve been rejected so much and humiliated.”

Though they’ve thought about getting married in another county or state in the past, Smith said he and Yates wanted their marriage to be first officially recognized in their hometown and county “where we live and pay taxes.”

“We love each other very much, and we already consider ourselves married and live like we’re married,” he said. “We just think this is wrong, and we don’t want this to happen to future couples.”

He added they plan on going back to the Rowan County Clerk’s Office at the end of the month or the beginning of September to try to get a marriage license for a fourth time.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Nugget of Knowldege

Photo Shows Web Acronym ‘LOL’ Woven in Spiderweb

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Heather Ar’ite(SEATTLE) — One woman believes a spider had sent her a snarky message after she found the Web acronym “LOL” woven into its web.

“A lot of people found it crazy humorous,” said Heather Ar’ite of Seattle, Washington. “I actually sent it to my mom and she asked me if it was real.”

“I didn’t know if the spider actually made that. I thought at first maybe they were little flowers seeds or tiny flies rolled up inside.”

Ar’ite told ABC News that on Aug. 22, she was becoming aggravated from broken pipes and other household issues she was experiencing that day.

“I said, ‘Oh my gosh, what else could go wrong?'” she recalled. “That’s when I looked up at the sky and asked the universe, ‘Why?’ And as though the universe was answering me, I turned and spotted the ‘LOL’ written in the spiderweb by our front door.”

“Seeing ‘LOL’ was kind of fitting because we were in a state of delirium,” she said, noting that she quickly ran inside, grabbed her camera and snapped a photo of the Charlotte’s Web-like image.

Shortly after, she shared it on her Facebook page.

“When I did post it several people said ‘Charlotte,'” Ar’ite said. “Even though I don’t like spiders, I always cried at the end [of the book].”

“I’m just glad it didn’t write ‘Some Pig,’ then I think then I would’ve been upset,” she said, referring to one of the messages that the spider weaves into its web in the story. “It was nice to see everyone respond and get a chuckle out of it.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pet of the Week

Prep School Rape Trial Closing Arguments Describe Two Stories

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

ABC News(CONCORD, N.H.) — In the closing arguments Thursday regarding an alleged rape at a prestigious New Hampshire prep school, attorneys for both sides asked jurors to question the credibility of the accuser and the defendant.

Owen Labrie, 19, is accused of raping a student in May 2014 at St. Paul’s School, in Concord, New Hampshire. He is charged with multiple felonies relating to the encounter and has entered a not guilty plea.

The attorney for the defendant, J.W. Carney, challenged jurors to consider Thursday if they believe the accuser’s account of events beyond a reasonable doubt.

Carney told jurors that the alleged victim had to choose between her reputation or that of Labrie, and “she took the easier choice.”

Assistant county attorney for Merrimack County Joseph Cherniske told jurors in his closing argument, “This case is about so much more than one witness’ testimony.”

Cherniske pointed to the alleged victim’s account of how she was in pain during and after the encounter and how Labrie’s DNA profile was found in the interior crotch panel of the accuser’s underwear.

“This someone saw how vulnerable a 15-year old freshman was and took advantage of it,” Cherniske said of Labrie. He recounted how the witness described how she said “no” to Labrie three times during the encounter and afterward she was “frozen in fear.”

The student who accused Labrie, whose name is being withheld because of the nature of the crime, appeared on the stand last week, offering emotional testimony about the events.

“I was raped!” she said amid tears. “I was violated in so many ways.”

Cherniske emphasized to jurors that Labrie erased 119 messages from Facebook after he spoke with police, which the prosecution said raises questions about whether Labrie was bragging when he told his friends, including a roommate of three years, that he had sex with his accuser.

Labrie described in court Wednesday how he and the alleged victim had flirted in the year leading up to the incident at the heart of the case. He described how when he first messaged her as part of the “senior salute,” she said no, citing her closeness with her sister. Labrie said that was likely in reference to the fact that he and the alleged victim’s sister, who was in Labrie’s year, briefly dated when they first started attending St. Paul’s School.

Prosecutor Catherine Ruffle said in court last week that the encounter at the center of the case was part of a “senior salute,” a tradition at the prep school. Ruffle said that the “senior salute” practice was largely intended as a way for graduating seniors “to be with someone that they might have wanted to be with throughout” high school, and could include activities like walking to class together or kissing but “it might include a little bit more.”

She then said that some students believed Labrie and some of his friends had turned the tradition into a competition.

On the stand, Labrie described the events the night of the alleged attack and said, “It hadn’t been my intention going into the night to have sex.”

As their encounter became increasingly physical in a secluded building on campus, Labrie said he stopped himself in what his attorney described as “a moment of reflection.”

“I had a second thought while I was looking down at her,” Labrie said, describing the moment after he went to get a condom from his wallet.

“It didn’t feel like the right move, and that’s not to say at all I slammed on the brakes,” he said. “It really slowed down and it reached the point where we were kissing lightly.”

The prosecution repeated in the closing arguments how Labrie told a friend after the encounter in a message that he “pulled every trick in the book” with the alleged victim.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Crusin In Cruces

How WDBJ Was Able to Get Through This Morning’s Newscast After On-Air Slayings

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(ROANOKE, Va.) — The heartbreaking task of getting back to work was the first assignment of the day for the staffers at WDBJ-TV in Virginia.

They returned to the news desk a day after two of their colleagues were fatally shot during a live interview.

“They’re doing as well as can be expected,” station general manager Jeff Marks told ABC News of his colleagues this morning. “They’re choking back tears and their emotions show, but they’re covering the news.”

Anchor Kimberly McBroom, who was on-air Wednesday when the shooting happened, led the broadcast and the ensuing moment of silence in honor of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, who died in the shooting.

Everyone on air Thursday morning was wearing maroon and turquoise in honor of the pair; maroon is the color of Ward’s alma mater, Virginia Tech, and Parker loved the color turquoise.

In addition to the support from outsiders, the CBS affiliate received physical support from sister stations in the Midwest, with Mark noting that several staffers from other stations have flown to Virginia to help.

“We’re very gratified by that and all the support from the people who have been here all night camped out and have brought flowers and placards and just want to say something to us,” Marks said.

More than anything, the WDBJ staff appeared determined to share memories of their lost colleagues. They have been posting special stories on the station’s Twitter account, including meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner’s memories of Ward’s coming over to his desk daily and hiding a candy wrapper so it would be visible in any segments he did later that day.

For Parker, they highlighted a sign reading “Hope” that she had on her desk to remind her of a child abuse victim she had worked with.

“She was doing what she enjoyed to do when she was killed and that makes it all the more heartbreaking but it also gives us here at the station and me and her family the slightest bit of comfort to know that she died at her happiest,” said Chris Hurst, Parker’s boyfriend who worked as one of the station’s evening anchors.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Double Your Dollars

How Words Like Butt-Dial and Redditor Make It Into the Oxford English Dictionary

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Redditor, shareable and butt-dial are among the latest words to join the Oxford English Dictionary, which keeps the definitive record of words that have permeated the English language.

Many of the words included in Thursday’s quarterly update were popularized on the Internet or are terms spawned from experiences with technology. There’s the frustrated gamer who may rage-quit after being stuck too long on a level. Then there is that snackable (short, easy to read) story a friend posted on Facebook.

Clifford Sofield, an assistant editor at Oxford English Dictionary, told ABC News a team of editors is responsible for evaluating new words that may have gained a place in the vernacular to determine if they meet an established set of standards to be added to the dictionary.

“Basically, we assess these words along the same standards [as all others],” Sofield said. “They have to show evidence for sufficient currency and longevity.”

Take for example LOL, which was added to the dictionary in 2011 and has changed parts of speech.

“You can talk about a tweet, say it has gotten a lot of LOLz and it can be pronounced as a word. You can see it appearing in popular books and novels especially ones aimed at young people,” Sofield said. People are using LOL unselfconsciously. They are able to say it without explanation and people know what they mean.”

Among the other words joining the dictionary in this update are hangry, the feeling of being so hungry you’re angry; wine o’clock, an appropriate time of day to begin drinking; and the gender neutral honorific Mx.

Once a word has made it into the dictionary, it will forever remain a part of the collection, Sofield said. That means perhaps centuries from now people may LOL about the term butt dial.

“It’s a record of all of the core words and meaning in English over more than 1,000 years,” Sofield explained. “It actually reports not just the meanings of words but the history.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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