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Updated: 49 min 25 sec ago

Staten Island District Attorney to Convene Grand Jury in Police Chokehold Case

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 6:39pm

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Staten Island, New York District Attorney has opted to convene a Grand Jury to determine whether or not charges will be filed against the police officer who allegedly choked a man last month, leading to his death.

District Attorney Daniel Donovan assured the public that he is, "committed to conducting a fair, thorough, and responsible investigation" into the death of Eric Garner on July 17. The incident provoked outrage last month after a witness filmed NYPD cops placing Eric Garner in what appeared to be a chokehold while arresting Garner for selling cigarettes illegally. Garner, who was 6-foot-3 and 350 pounds, could be heard yelling that he could not breathe.

Earlier this month, the New York City Medical Examiner determined that the cause of Garner's death was, "compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest, and prone positioning during physical restraint by police."

According to a statement from Donovan released on Tuesday, a Grand Jury will be convened and evidence will be presented beginning in September.

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Man Braves Muddy Flood Waters to Rescue Elderly Woman From Car

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 6:24pm

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- Heavy rain in Arizona has flooded streets and one major freeway, stranding cars and trapping drivers and passengers.

One dramatic rescue in Sun City West was caught on the camera by ABC affiliate KNXV.

In the video, a white minivan was swamped on a main street in Sun City West. The fast-moving stream had submerged the minivan to its hood.

One rescue worker from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office approached the vehicle with nothing in his hands but a stick. He didn’t have a security belt tied to his waist, only his co-worker pulling him from behind, just in case he lost his balance.

The rescue worker slowly approached the minivan, hitting the front window repeatedly with a stick and eventually breaking it. He tried to open the passenger door, but the water pressure from the flooding made it difficult to pop the door open.

After finally sliding open the door, he got inside the minivan and pulled out an elderly woman. Wrapping her arms around the worker's neck, the woman appeared to be struggling with the muddy road.

As soon as the two rescue workers brought the woman to safety, the flood fully covered the minivan’s hood.

The two rescue workers brought the woman to a neighbor’s garage and sat her down on a chair. A neighbor offered the woman towels to keep her warm.

The several inches of rainfall in less than an hour caused havoc during the morning commute for commuters in the state.

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Alleged School Massacre Plot in California Foiled

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 5:29pm

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SOUTH PASADENA, Calif.) -- Two Southern California male teenagers were being held in juvenile hall Tuesday after an investigation by authorities using social media led authorities to suspect taht the two were allegedly in the early stages of a plot to commit a mass shooting at South Pasadena High School.

“It was a very viable threat what they were plotting,” said South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller. “They were making a huge plan of a school massacre. … During our interviews with the suspects, they, more or less, confirmed what they had talked about, very cold-heartedly.”

Miller said the suspects, whom police did not identify, were 16 and 17. They were arrested Monday on suspicion of conspiracy and criminal threats.

The investigation started Thursday after an anonymous person informed the school’s staff about the alleged plot. The staff then contacted police about a possible school shooting in the works.

Miller said detectives watched the teens’ conversations on social media and eventually were able to get a search warrant Monday.

Miller said that three staff members were targeted by name as were “random” students.

“As they put it, they just wanted to kill as many people as possible,” Miller said.

On Monday afternoon, officers went to two homes in South Pasadena and removed two computers. Miller said a search of the teens’ computers found the students had researched weapons as well as how to make bombs.

He said the students were in the beginning stages of their plan and were also looking online about tactical training.

He said they told detectives they were prepared to die.

“[They were] very monotone, very matter-of-fact, and when you are talking about killing people, shooting them in the head and to be so calm about it. It’s very chilling,” he said. “It’s very frightening.”

No weapons were found in the houses. Miller did not reveal a motive or a target date and said that the parents were stunned.

“I can’t emphasize enough how that one phone call to us got the ball rolling,” he said. “This press conference today would have been a much different one, had we not acted.”

School is set to start Thursday.

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Coast Guard Responding After 8,000 Gallons of Diesel Spilled in Ohio River

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 4:25pm

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) -- The U.S. Coast Guard is responding after 8,000 gallons of diesel oil spilled into the Ohio River near Cincinnati.

The spill took place at the Duke Energy W.C. Beckjord Power Station. Duke Energy has assumed responsibility for the cleanup and is working with an approved oil spill response organization.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were three Coast Guard vessels on scene helping to contain the oil.

An investigation into the cause of the spill is underway with local, state and federal officials. Cincinnati Waterworks and Northern Kentucky Waterworks have been contacted to address possible concerns regarding municipal water intakes.

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Ferguson Chants Heard After St. Louis Cops Shoot Suspect

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 3:05pm

ABC News(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- A 23-year-old black man was shot and killed by St. Louis police Tuesday after he charged at them with a knife.

The incident comes just 10 days after police shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, less than 6 miles away.

The man had taken two energy drinks from a store and returned to take a package of pastries without paying, according to St. Louis City Police Chief Sam Dotson. The suspect then went into the street and was "acting erratically," and talking to himself, Dotson said. When the store employee followed him outside, the man threw the pastries into the street, the chief said.

Police responded to a 911 call, and the suspect walked toward the officers' vehicle and put his hand on his waistband, pulled out a knife and held it in an "overhand" position above his shoulder, Dotson said.

The chief said the officers got out of their vehicle and drew their weapons, telling the man to drop the knife, but he continued to advance, reportedly saying "Shoot me, kill me now."

When he got within four feet of one officer, both cops fired their weapons at the man, who has not yet been identified. Dotson said that witnesses described it as "suicide by cop."

A crowd of about 150 gathered at the scene of the shooting in the moments after the incident. Many expressed anger that cops had not used other means of restraint.

"You don’t need to shoot if you’ve got a Taser and he's got a knife," one bystander said.

"You just kill, kill, kill because you got a gun," another said. "They could've tased him. He was by himself."

"They’re trying to shoot us down," a third onlooker said.

Many in the crowd began chanting "Hands up, don't shoot," and "No justice, no peace," the chants that have been a hallmark of the protests in Ferguson over the past 10 days.

Reporters asked Dotson whether the officers should have used lethal force in this situation, given the tensions in the area over Brown's death.

"Our policy is at the end of the day the officer should be able to go home, so (he should use) the amount of force necessary to overcome resistance. If a person is charging you within 3-4 feet that’s a lethal range,” Dotson said.

"I think officer safety is the number one issue and we can all understand the officers' right to defend themselves. I understand what’s going on in Ferguson, but I think everyone has to understand that right and think of officer safety," Dotson said.

Dotson said the officers would be placed on administrative duty while the department investigates the shooting, as per policy.

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Most Ferguson Arrest Suspects Are from Area, Records Show

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 1:21pm

iStock/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- People arrested during protests in Ferguson, Missouri, have come from as far away as New York City and California, but the overwhelming majority of those detained for refusing to disperse are from Ferguson and the surrounding area, according to jail records.

Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, who is in charge of the law enforcement efforts in Ferguson, said Tuesday morning that those arrested mainly had come from out of town.

"As I've said, many are a criminal element that have been coming to Ferguson and are not from this area. Tonight some of those arrested came from as far away as New York and California," he said Tuesday morning.

The town of Ferguson has been roiled with protests since Aug. 9, when Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown at least six times. Brown, 18, was unarmed.

Records from the St. Louis County jail show that 78 people were arrested Monday night, including four from Ferguson and eight from neighboring Florissant. Another 10 came from the nearby city of St. Louis, and a smattering from other small towns in St. Louis County. Fifty-three in total were from the St. Louis metro area.

All but three of the arrests Monday night were for refusal to disperse. Two of the individuals charged with unlawful use of a weapon were from the St. Louis area. One out-of-state resident, from Rockton, Illinois, was charged with interfering with an officer, according to records provided by St. Louis County jail.

Eighteen of those arrested Monday night were from out of state. Those suspects came from Chicago; Brooklyn, New York; California; Washington, D.C.; Austin, Texas; other parts of Illinois; Alabama and Iowa.

Johnson said Tuesday that a "tiny minority" of protesters had been arrested for becoming violent. He could not be immediately reached for further comment on the jail numbers.

About 120 people have been arrested since the start of the protests, according to St. Louis County police.

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Meet the Biker Group Who Says It's Set on Keeping Ferguson Safe

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 1:15pm

Seniboye Tienabeso/ABC News(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- Leather-clad riders from motorcycle clubs have arrived in Ferguson, Missouri, in an effort to protect stores against looters and join in peaceful rallies, more than a week after police shot and killed an unarmed teenager, sparking racial tension and unrest.

Some of the bikers are reportedly from the Outcast MC, which touts itself as America's oldest, all-black motorcycle club. It was founded in Detroit in 1969, but has chapters across the country.

Outcast members joined bikers from another club, Dominant Breed, on a rainy street in the St. Louis suburb over the weekend. While their goal is to show support and keep the peace, one rider told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the clubs have no official plan to protect the city.

"But normally when they see our presence [troublemakers] don't come around much," the biker told the newspaper.

The bikers were also spotted at a memorial site for the slain teen, Michael Brown, 18.

Journalists and protesters shared snapshots of the bikers, clad in signature black jackets and skull masks, on social media.

They joined students, families, churches and members of groups including Amnesty International and even the Black Panther Party, who have joined in the rallies. Many are protesting excessive police force and the lack of public information related to Brown's case.

Brown was killed on Aug. 9 as he and a friend were walking home from a convenience store. Police identified Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown, six days later. Circumstances surrounding Brown's death are still unclear.

Ferguson police did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

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Woman Refuses to Leave Tree to Protest Mall Project

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 1:11pm

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash.) -- A 19-year-old college student is refusing to leave her "tree house" that is 70 feet up in the air -- not for the bird’s-eye view, but to protest against a development project in Washington state that is set to cut down 830 trees.

Chiara D’Angelou, of Bainbridge Island, said she hasn't come down from the tree since 4 a.m. on Monday. She said she secured a wooden board to branches, placed a mattress on top of it, and brought food, water, books, a guitar, a cellphone and even solar charger with her.

“I have been practicing climbing trees,” D’Angelou told ABC News Tuesday. “I have a security belt tied on my waist just in case I fell.”

“My grandparents live in the area. I grew up here,” D’Angelou said.

In addition to felling hundreds of trees, the 62,000-square-foot mall approved by the city of Bainbridge Island would cripple local businesses, D’Angelou said.

“I’m up here because I want to give people some extra time to rally and raise their voices,” said D’Angelou, a junior at Western Washington University, noting she has been visited by at least 300 people who support her cause.

She uses a basket to transport food from visitors, she said.

“I’ve had kale chips, peaches, figs, chia tea, crab, salmon, granola, lots of amazing stuff sent to me,” said D’Angelou, noting she has no plan to come down any time soon.

“I hope the city will rethink the plan,” she said. "As long as I can, I’ll stay up here. I want to create space for a community voice.”

"The developer of this project, Visconsi, said that they would authorize the police department to arrest her for trespassing after 4 p.m. today,” Kellie Stickney, community engagement specialist at the Bainbridge Island City Council, told ABC News Tuesday.

“The city would really prefer not to arrest her, and just have her come down herself,” Stickney said. “We hope that the situation just resolves itself.”

“The project is in a commercially zoned area and the hearing examiner found that the project was in line with the uses of the area,” Stickney said. “At this point, the only party that can stop the project is the developer.”

Visconsi, the Ohio-based developer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment by ABC News.

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Ferguson Cop Has No Temper, Is 'Struggling' with Shooting, Friend Says

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 12:10pm

iStock/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- The Ferguson police officer who has gone into hiding after being named as the cop who shot Michael Brown is not a "cold-blood murderer" as depicted by his harshest critics, but a man without a temper who is "struggling" with the aftermath of the shooting, his friend told ABC News.

Police Officer Darren Wilson, 28, has been on leave since the Aug. 9 shooting of the unarmed teenager. His chief initially refused to release Wilson's name out of fears for his safety, but finally identified him late last week.

Protesters insist that Wilson be arrested for shooting Brown at least six times. Police have said the shooting erupted after Brown, 18, wrestled with Wilson for his gun while witnesses have said Brown was shot while his hands were in the air.

"Darren’s a good person and people have immediately labeled him as a cold-blooded murderer and that’s not the type of person he is," a friend of the officer who has known him since high school when they played sports together told ABC News' Good Morning America Tuesday.

"I wasn’t there, I don’t know exactly what happened, but I do know Darren is a good man and he cares about other people a lot," said the friend, who asked to not be identified.

Wilson has been a police officer for six years, the last four with the Ferguson Police Department. His chief said that Wilson's record has no disciplinary incidents.

"When I first heard [Wilson identified as the shooter] I didn’t believe it. I thought it was a mistake in all honesty," his friend said. "I can never imagine him shooting anybody, even as a police officer."

The two men continued to play sports as adults, particularly hockey.

"He did not have a temper," even during the rough checking on the hockey rink where fights are common, the friend said. "Always just on an even heal. Really laid back."

He added, "He’s a really quiet guy, really well-mannered. He is very respectful."

The angry descriptions of Wilson by protesters don't match the person that he knows, the friend said.

"I feel like maybe he’s been unfairly portrayed as a villain definitely. He was just doing his job and he was put in a bad situation where he had to make a decision that nobody really wants to make," the friend said.

Wilson's friend said he feels bad for the families of both Wilson and Brown.

"The whole situation is a tragedy for both Michael Brown and his family, and Darren and his family. Both of their lives are ruined," he said.

Wilson's spirits were buoyed by friends who organized a benefit for him, the friend said.

"Just knowing that people are behind him and aren’t as quick to jump to conclusions as everybody else I think is what means the most to him," the friend said.

"I can tell he’s struggling. I can tell this is really hard on him. He’s been very careful about who he talks to, so he hasn’t spoken much about the situation," his pal said.

"I don’t know if true justice can ever really be served. But I hope that some sort of change comes from this. Maybe police officers wear body cameras so no question as to what happened. I hope Mike Brown’s family finds peace somehow, if that’s possible," the friend said.

The man who spoke to GMA asked to remain anonymous because of the anger surrounding the shooting. "People are so quick to jump to conclusions and so quick to judge and retaliate," he said.

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General Expects to Submit His Report on Bergdahl Next Month

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 12:08pm

Courtesy Eugene Fidell(WASHINGTON) -- The two star general tasked with investigating Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's disappearance from an U.S. Army outpost in Afghanistan has completed his interviews with Bowe Bergdahl, the Department of Defense confirmed on Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl "is in the process of completing his report" and expects to submit it for review next month, the DOD said in a statement.

While Dahl is wrapping up his report, the DOD said "it is possible that he will have to follow up on issues that may require additional witness interviews."

Dahl’s report is meant to uncover the facts surrounding the circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance from an Afghan outpost and his capture by the Taliban in 2009 that will be presented to the director of the Army staff. If the report reveals findings that could require disciplinary action, it will be up to Bergdahl’s current command to follow through with those actions.

Bergdahl, 28, recently completed a lengthy reintegration process with the Army. He has been assigned a desk job at the headquarters of U.S. Army North at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

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Meet North America’s Oldest Hippo on His 58th Birthday

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 6:19am

File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- Bertie has been around longer than any of his fellow tenants. He moved in on Dec. 16, 1958, back when The Donna Reed Show was on TV and Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the White House.  He’s fathered 29 offspring, despite having only two mates. And oh yeah, Bertie is a hippopotamus at the Denver Zoo.

This week -- Thursday, to be exact -- the zoo will celebrate his 58th birthday.

“He’s a star,” says zoo veterinarian Diana Boon. “A lot of people come here just to visit him.”

In January, Bertie unwittingly became the oldest hippopotamus in North America -- and maybe the world -- after a hippo named Blackie was euthanized at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Blackie was believed to be 59.


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In the wild, hippos can live to be about 30 to 40 years old. In captivity, they generally live another 10 years. Bertie has so far defied those numbers, though his keepers say he’s moving a bit slower these days.

“We see geriatric problems, some arthritis in the legs, some stiffness getting up and moving around. He’s also got some dental issues,” says Boon. “But for his age, he’s surprisingly doing very well.”

Bertie gets regular medication for his aching joints. He spends a lot of time in the water, which his keepers say helps alleviate the pressure of carrying around a roughly 5,000-pound frame.

Zookeeper Lisa Parrish helps with a daily regimen to clean out the clumps of hay that get stuck in Bertie’s mouth, where they could cause sores and lead to infection.

“Open Bertie,” Parrish instructs with a hand motion.

Bertie patiently exposes his giant teeth while resting his head at the edge of his outdoor pool, as Parrish uses giant forceps to do the job.

“You don’t necessarily want to stick your hands in a hippo’s mouth,” Parrish says.

When she’s done, Parrish grabs a container filled with grain mixed with medicine, tossing the contents into Bertie’s mouth.

“You’re a good boy Bert,” Parrish tells him. “We always wonder if this is going to be his last birthday, but luckily he’s been doing really good.”

Bertie was a 1,200 pound 2-year-old living at New York’s Central Park Zoo in 1958. That year, Denver zoo supporters Arthur and Helen Johnson bought him at an auction for $2,450 plus tax, and arranged to have him shipped to Denver.

One of Bertie’s 29 hippo offspring, Mahali, also lives at the Denver Zoo. Parrish says father and his 11-year-old son have to be kept in separate enclosures.

“They do not get along,” says Parrish. “Hippos are very territorial.”

In the wild, the hippopotamus population has declined about 20 percent in the last decade to around 125,000 to 150,000 individuals, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. There has been an especially drastic drop in numbers -- around 95 percent by WCS estimates -- in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to civil war and poaching of ivory teeth and tusks.

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Customs Officers May Not Look Too Closely at Passport Photos

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 5:37am

iStock/Thinkstock(YORK, England) -- Customs officers are not always infallible when matching faces to photos in passports, a new study has concluded.

Co-authors Mike Burton from the University of Aberdeen and University of York psychology researcher Rob Jenkins said that 27 Australian customs officers incorrectly accepted a person with a different photo than was on the passport 14 percent of the time.

Meanwhile, they rejected people whose faces correctly matched the photo six percent of the time.

In a separate test, the officers were asked to match a current photo with one taken two years earlier. They were wrong one out of five times in this experiment.

Jenkins said this high rate of failure suggests that thousands of passengers with fake passports could be getting through London's Heathrow Airport each year.

He and Burton said that training is basically useless when it comes to getting faces and photos right all the time. They said people should be hired who are innately better at identifying faces.

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'Tiny Minority of Lawbreakers' Blamed for Renewed Ferguson Violence

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 5:01am

iStock/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- Police shot tear gas and smoke canisters at protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, overnight, with authorities blaming outsiders for bringing a criminal element to the St. Louis suburb following the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, speaking at an early-morning press conference, said incidents from a "tiny minority of lawbreakers" prompted the police response, including shots fired and Molotov cocktails thrown.

"Our officers came under heavy gunfire," Johnson said.

Two people were shot and at least 31 people were arrested during Monday night's unrest, Johnson said, with some of those arrested coming from as far away as New York and California.

Four St. Louis police officers were hit by rocks and bottles and sustained injures, Johnson said.

Protesters stood defiantly in the middle of the street amid the smoke and confusion. The tear gas hit journalists on the scene, too.

Police marched on the protesters, and shortly after, told members of the media that shots had been fired and that they should move to the command center.

Johnson said journalists need to be more mindful of police efforts.

"In the midst of chaos, trying to move people along, we have to be safe," Johnson said.

Johnson encouraged protesters to rally during the daytime hours.

Just before the clashes picked up, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon shared encouraging messages online, tweeting, “Let’s show the world that we can protest peacefully & passionately. Let’s keep #Ferguson safe tonight.” He also tweeted a photo of himself speaking earlier in the day with President Barack Obama.

Spoke w/ the President earlier today about continued efforts to restore peace & achieve justice in #Ferguson pic.twitter.com/kDvlj2pl4l

— Governor Jay Nixon (@GovJayNixon) August 19, 2014

Obama denounced the ongoing clashes at a Monday press conference. Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Ferguson Wednesday to meet with FBI and Department of Justice officials working the case, Obama said.

Brown, 18, was shot to death Aug. 9 by a Ferguson police officer.

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Trayvon Martin's Mother to Brown Family: Shares 'Never-Ending Pain'

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 2:14am

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The mother of the late Trayvon Martin, in a letter to the family of the late Michael Brown, whose slaying by a Ferguson, Missouri, cop has touched off protests and violence, said her prayers are with the family in their never-ending pain.

“I wish I had a word of automatic comfort but I don’t. I wish I could say that it will be alright on a certain or specific day but I can’t. I wish that all of the pain that I have endured could possibly ease some of yours but it won’t,” Sybrina D. Fulton wrote in the letter, which was posted tonight on Time Magazine’s website.

Trayvon Martin, 17, was killed in a scuffle with neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman in a Florida subdivision in 2012. Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing.

“What I can do for you is what has been done for me: pray for you then share my continuing journey as you begin yours. I hate that you and your family must join this exclusive yet growing group of parents and relatives who have lost loved ones to senseless gun violence,” she wrote. “Of particular concern is that so many of these gun violence cases involve children far too young. But Michael is much more than a police/gun violence case; Michael is your son. A son that barely had a chance to live. Our children are our future so whenever any of our children — black, white, brown, yellow, or red — are taken from us unnecessarily, it causes a never-ending pain that is like unlike anything I could have imagined experiencing.

“Your lives are forever changed. However with those changes come new challenges and opportunities,” she wrote. “You will experience a swell of support from all corners of the world. Many will express their sympathies and encourage you to keep fighting for Michael. You will also, unfortunately, hear character assassinations about Michael which I am certain you already have. This will incense and insult you. All of this will happen before and continue long after you have had the chance to lay your son to rest. I know this because I lived and continue to live this.”

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California Wildfire Prompts Evacuation of Over 3,000 Residents

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 10:23pm

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OAKHURST, Calif.) -- A wildfire north of Fresno, California has burned 600 acres and prompted the evacuation of at least 13,000 people on Monday.

The fire burned 600 acres of land by Monday evening, Cal Fire says. According to the Oakhurst Fire Department, the blaze currently places at least 300 structures at risk. Because of the ongoing threat, 13,000 people or more have already been placed under mandatory evacuations, with at least 2,500 more under evacuation warnings -- meaning that they must be prepared to leave their homes immediately if ordered.

Authorities have not yet determined the cause of the fire, but Erica Stuart, the Public Information Officer for the Madera County Sheriff's Office, told ABC News that an officer owned by Suburban Propane caught fire in the blaze. It was not clear, however, whether there was propane in the building, or whether any propane was ignited. Stuart also made clear that the fire was not sparked at that location.

Several hundred firefighters remain at the scene battling the flames.

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Fake 911 Calls Retaliation for Loud Music Spat, Cops Say

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 6:27pm

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ORANGE COUNTY, Fla.) --  A Florida man was arrested and accused of making a series of 911 calls alleging that his neighbor was waving a gun at gay people and even a school bus.

The neighbor, Richard Simmons, was handcuffed and arrested at one point because of the phone calls, police said. He was later released.

The calls were made by Donovan Greenfield, 37, because Simmons had previously asked him to turn down the music, according to police.

Greenfield, 37, was charged with aggravated stalking and misuse of 911 after he allegedly placed at least six 911 calls providing physical description that matched Simmons. He changed his voice and fabricated facts, stating that Simmons was toting his gun each time he made the call, police said.

“Mr. Simmons had been handcuffed at gunpoint and then released when the first fake 911 call took place in Jan. 17,” Jeff Williamson, public information officer at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, told ABC News.

The seven-month ordeal began when Simmons asked his new neighbor, Greenfield to turn down the music, Williamson said.

“Mr. Simmons had been living in his condominium for over 20 years. Greenfield and his partner had moved in around January this year,” the officer said.

Simmons, who works night shifts, sleeps during the day. When his sleep routine was disrupted by Greenfield who constantly played loud music during the day, he approached Greenfield, asking him if he would mind turning down his music during the day, Williamson said.

“Mr. Greenfield perceived this request as an indication that Mr. Simmons was hostile toward gay people,” Williamson said. “Mr. Greenfield began to specifically cause loud noises by playing music and slamming doors.”

“Apart from playing loud music, Mr. Greenfield also placed several fake 911 calls. Four of them originated from the same cellphone number,” Williamson said.

Earlier this month, Simmons called police to report that Greenfield had harassed him, Williamson said. When police arrived, they approached Greenfield with evidence of him faking the 911 calls.

“Mr. Greenfield stated that the phone was his former cellphone, and said he didn’t remember making any calls,” Williamson said. “He later admitted to making the 911 calls.”

Greenfield pleaded not guilty and was bonded out of the Orange County Jail.

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