National Headlines
Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN JUAN) -- Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

While the storm's maximum sustained winds had dropped to 150 mph by 8 a.m. ET, it still threatened to do severe damage to the U.S. territory. A Category 4 storm has not hit the island since 1932.

The eyewall of Hurricane Maria was hovering over eastern Puerto Rico as of 8 a.m.

"This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation," the National Hurricane Center warned.

Storm surge was predicted to be 6 to 9 feet in coastal Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Rainfall totals for Puerto Rico were projected at 12 to 18 inches, with as much as 25 inches in isolated areas.

Maria is forecast to cross Puerto Rico on Wednesday and then approach the Dominican Republic, where conditions will deteriorate Wednesday evening as Hurricane Maria passes just north of Punta Cana around midnight.

Forecast models currently show the storm traveling east of Florida and the Carolinas.

The storm did severe damage to multiple Caribbean islands over the past 36 hours, including Dominica, Guadeloupe and the Virgin Islands.

Guadeloupe confirmed two people were killed and two others were missing due to the storm.

There was widespread damage across Dominica, as could be seen in the first aerial video from the tiny island taken Tuesday.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is investigating reports that one of its officers posted a meme on Facebook that referred to Black Lives Matter protesters as "domestic terrorists," according to a local newspaper.

The announcement came earlier this week amid protests in St. Louis over a judge's decision to acquit a white former police officer in the 2011 shooting death of a black man.

Lisa Clancy, a participant in the protests, said a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officer posted the meme in the comments section of a Facebook post she wrote on Saturday, explaining why she attended the protests, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.

Clancy alleged that the officer commented on her original post with a photo from a Black Lives Matter rally with “the Klan with a tan” and “domestic terrorists” superimposed on it.

Clancy also posted a screenshot of the interaction on Twitter Sunday, tagging both the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.

The controversial comment has since been deleted and ABC News was unable to reach the owner of the Facebook account in question.

A spokesperson for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department told the Belleville News-Democrat on Monday the department had launched an internal investigation into “the matter,” but they did not confirm if the person was indeed one of its officers.

More than a thousand peaceful demonstrators carrying "Black Lives Matter" signs and ones that read "No Justice, No Profits" took to the streets in St. Louis last week after St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson found Jason Stockley, 36, not guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action. On Dec. 20, 2011, the then-police officer shot 24-year-old Lamar Smith five times after a high-speed chase and crash.

Some 160 people have been arrested since the demonstrations began on Friday, according to figures released by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Tuesday as the protests carried on into a fifth day.

Leaders of multiple faiths on Tuesday called for peace and justice amid the chaos that followed Friday's acquittal. Speakers at the service included Roman Catholic Archbishop Robert Carlson, black church pastors, and Jewish and Muslim leaders.

"Let us remember that we are not a divided humanity, but a human family," Carlson said. "Let us show love instead of hatred."

Organizers of the peaceful protests said they were frustrated with the demonstrators getting unruly at night, saying they could make it harder for them to spread their nonviolent message. Krewson on Tuesday said she's planning to meet with protesters.

“Today we saw again that the vast majority of protesters were nonviolent,” Krewson said during an early morning briefing on Monday. “But for the third day in a row, the days have been calm and the nights have been destructive.”

The St. Louis police department also tweeted images of confiscated knives, guns, masks and other types of protective gear from a “rioter” who police said was arrested.

Local organizer Anthony Bell said he understands why some act out, but he urged people to remain calm.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

United States Congress(NEW YORK) -- Jimmy Kimmel ripped into Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana on his show Tuesday night for proposing new health care legislation that Kimmel said fails the "Jimmy Kimmel test" that Cassidy himself had proposed in an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in May.

Cassidy appeared on the program earlier this year after Kimmel made an emotional plea for health care legislation that would insure affordable health coverage for all, including people with pre-existing conditions and with no lifetime caps, in the wake of Kimmel's newborn son needing life-saving heart surgery.

But Kimmel said Wednesday night the new legislation Cassidy and co-sponsor Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have proposed in the Senate did not meet those requirements.

"Not only did Bill Cassidy fail the Jimmy Kimmel test, he failed the Bill Cassidy test," Kimmel said. "He failed his own test."

Kimmel didn't mince words for Cassidy, who Kimmel said "wasn't very honest" when he appeared on the show in the spring.

"I don't know what happened to Bill Cassidy, but when he was on this publicity tour he listed his demands for a health care bill very clearly. These were his words: He said he wants coverage for all, no discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, lower premiums for middle class families and no lifetime caps. And guess what? The new bill does none of those things," Kimmel said.

Speaking directly to Cassidy, Kimmel said, "Stop using my name, all right, 'cause I don't want my name on it. There's a new Jimmy Kimmel test for you, it's called a lie detector test, you're welcome to come by the studio and take it any time."

Kimmel also had strong words for critics on social media unhappy that he has turned his son's health into a political cause.

"Before you post the nasty Facebook message saying I'm politicizing my son's health problems, I want you to know, I am politicizing my son's health problems because I have to," he said.

Kimmel listed the many health care organizations that have opposed the legislation and called on viewers to take action saying of bill's backers.

"They're counting on you to be so overwhelmed with all the information, you just trust them to take care of you. But they're not taking care of you," Kimmel said. "They're taking care of the people who give them money, like insurance companies, and we're all just looking at our Instagram accounts, liking things, while they're voting on whether people can afford to keep their children alive or not."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) -- With Hurricane Maria bearing down, residents in Puerto Rico are hunkering down, preparing for 175 mph winds, 6- to 9-foot storm surge and up to 25 inches of rain. Unfortunately, most of the homes in Puerto Rico are built to withstand just 125 mph winds, characteristic of a Category 2 hurricane, according to one expert on building codes on the island.

With current gusts reaching 175 mph or more, the Category 5 storm, which slammed into the eastern Caribbean islands of Dominica and Guadeloupe Monday night, is expected to wreak havoc on the island, with the governor calling it the "potentially most catastrophic hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in a century.”

According to University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez engineering professor Dr. Luis Aponte-Bermúdez, Puerto Rico adopted the "International Building Code" in 2011, which requires residences withstand 140 mph winds, characteristic of a Category 3 storm.

When it comes to wind worthiness, these building codes are similar to the ones that govern mainland U.S. cities like Miami, an engineer at the Insurance Institute of Business & Home Safety tells ABC News.

However, the majority of the homes on the island were built prior to 2011, to a weaker code, and were "grandfathered" in.

Before 2011, Puerto Rico was using the "Uniform Building Code," which only required residences to withstand 125 mph winds, adopted after Hurricane Georges pummeled Puerto Rico in 1998.

Most legally built homes on the islands use that UBC 125-mph standard.

Worse still, many homes dotting the island fall into what's called "informal construction" -- built to no standard whatsoever.

These are homes built illegally, without proper regulation, by people who lack the economic resources to hire a constructor and instead just buy wood and other materials from the local hardware store.

These structures are "extremely vulnerable ... most of these homes are going to get destroyed," Aponte-Bermúdez says, noting that many similar homes on the nearby island of Culebra were recently wiped out by Hurricane Irma.

"With the passage of Hurricane Irma, the people of Puerto Rico not only demonstrated our resilience, but we banded together to show our kindness and hospitality to thousands of our fellow Americans in the U.S. Virgin Islands, BVI [British Virgin Islands], St. Marteen and beyond," Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Tuesday afternoon.

"Now we’re looking down the barrel of Maria, a historic Category 5 hurricane. Although it looks like a direct hit with major damage to Puerto Rico is inevitable, I ask for America’s prayers," he continued. "No matter what happens here in the next 36 hours, Puerto Rico will survive, we will rebuild, we will recover and with your support, we will come out stronger than ever."

ABC News' Melissa Griffin and Josh Hoyos contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- As residents of Puerto Rico brace for Hurricane Maria -- which slammed into the Caribbean as a Category 5 storm Monday night -- Puerto Rico's governor is calling the storm "the biggest and potentially most catastrophic hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in a century.”

Maria, which has left at least one dead in the Caribbean, is expected to move over the northeastern Caribbean Sea today and is forecast to "remain an extremely dangerous category 4 or 5 hurricane" as it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico tonight and Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Maria could bring life-threatening flooding and mudslides, as well as a 6- to 9-foot storm surge, to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

The storm -- which is expected to bring life-threatening winds, storm surge and flooding -- will be violent, the governor of Puerto Rico warned today. The governor advised residents to be prepared to hunker down for 72 to 90 hours.

It's been just two weeks since Hurricane Irma, which killed at least 39 people in the Caribbean and demolished homes, tore through Puerto Rico, and now Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello is saying Maria is "potentially most catastrophic hurricane to hit" the U.S. territory in a century.

A Category 4 storm hasn't hit Puerto Rico directly since 1932.

Rossello said up to 25 inches of rain could fall in some areas and he urged anyone in a flood-prone, mudslide-prone or coastal area to leave. Over 300 people are already at shelters as of this afternoon, the governor said.

Rossello said a lot of infrastructure will likely be lost and he said communications will be affected.

While Puerto Rico residents appeared to go about their days with little urgency Monday, many seem to be on edge today as the storm nears.

In the capital of San Juan, most businesses are closed or closing early today and the San Juan Airport is closing this evening.

As Maria hit the Caribbean island of Dominica Monday night, Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit published a series of dire Facebook posts, calling the 160 mph winds "merciless."

"We do not know what is happening outside. We not dare look out ... we pray for its end!" Skerrit wrote.

Maria was the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall on Dominica; before Monday the strongest hurricane to hit Dominica was Hurricane David, a Category 4 in 1979.

Guadeloupe and Martinique, which both neighbor Dominica in the Caribbean, were also battered with Maria's powerful winds and rain Monday night.

The prefecture of Guadeloupe said at least one person died and at least two are missing there.
Officials said 80,000 are without power on Guadeloupe and some flooding was reported, but few homes are damaged.

Dominica was "shut down" as the storm approached, said Anil Etienne, a spokesman for Dominica’s Office of Disaster Management. Etienne told ABC News officials were worried about flooding in low-lying areas and opened about 146 shelters.

The prime minister of Dominica wrote on Facebook late Monday night, "My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding," before announcing, "I have been rescued."

Skerrit gave an update this morning, writing on Facebook, "Initial reports are of widespread devastation. So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace. My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains."

"The winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with," he continued. "The roof to my own official residence was among the first to go and this apparently triggered an avalanche of torn away roofs in the city and the countryside."

After hitting Puerto Rico, the storm will begin to turn north and is expected to come near the Dominican Republic Wednesday afternoon, potentially with winds over 100 mph.

Maria is forecast to then continue north, avoiding the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and Florida, before ending up out to sea.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

John McCall, South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images(HOLLYWOOD HILLS, Fla.) -- A ninth person has died after a Florida nursing home lost its air conditioning in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, subjecting the residents to sweltering heat.

Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills resident Carlos Canal, 94, died Tuesday, the Hollywood Police

Department announced in a press release. The circumstances surrounding Canal's death were unclear. Eight additional people died last week.

More than 100 residents were evacuated from the nursing home, which is affiliated with the Larkin Community Hospital, last Wednesday morning after the facility's air conditioning system failed.

Medical staff from Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, which is near the nursing home, described a chaotic scene of evacuating the patients from the nursing home after three came into the emergency room with "extraordinarily high temperatures."

Some of the patients who were admitted to the hospital had temperatures of up to 106 degrees, hospital officials told ABC News. Once hospital staff realized something was amiss at the nursing home, they went into a mass casualty incident mode and began wheeling patients from the nursing home to the hospital on stretchers.

Police are investigating the deaths, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott has vowed to hold those responsible accountable.

On Friday, a Miami law firm filed an emergency complaint against the nursing home requesting that a judge grant an order to protect evidence. The complaint alleges that the center became aware that its air conditioning had "ceased to operate effectively and appropriately" days before several residents died.

Nursing home administrator Jorge Carballo said in a statement last week that the facility was evacuated Wednesday "due to a prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility's air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane."

"Facility administration is cooperating fully with relevant authorities to investigate the circumstances that led to this unfortunate and tragic outcome. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were affected," he added.

In a later statement, Carballo said, "The center and its medical and administrative staff diligently prepared" for the hurricane.

"We took part in emergency management preparedness calls with local and state emergency officials, other nursing homes and health regulators," he said. "While our center did not lose power during the storm, it did lose one transformer that powers the air conditioning unit. The center immediately contacted Florida Power & Light and continued to follow up with them for status updates on when repairs would be made. Outreach was also made to local emergency officials and first responders.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(APOPKA, Fla.) -- A huge sinkhole opened up in a city northwest of Orlando, Florida, this morning, damaging part of a home.

According to ABC affiliate WFTS, emergency crews responded to the house in Apopka, Florida, around 8:30 a.m.

Officials told WFTS the sinkhole is about 25 feet wide and around 15 feet deep.

The family that lives in the now-partially collapsed home reportedly told Orange County Fire Rescue they started to notice something was wrong around 8 p.m. Monday.

There are no reported injuries in connection to this sinkhole, as the family was able to get out of the house hours before it occurred.

When WFTS arrived on the scene, they could see straight into part of the home.

On @WFTV Stove still hanging by electrical cord inside Apopka house swallowed by sinkhole #WFTV4 pic.twitter.com/4p6n7x7zJz

— Angela Jacobs WFTV (@AngelaJacobsTV) September 19, 2017


An official cause of the sinkhole has not been announced yet, but authorities speculate it could be due to the floodwaters after Hurricane Irma hit that area more than a week ago.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- The Navy's surgeon general has ordered a stand down for all Navy medical personnel over the next 48 hours to reaffirm service commitments to patients and review social media policies after photos emerged on social media of medical personnel posing with newborns at a Navy hospital in Jacksonville, Florida.

Two Navy hospital corpsmen at the Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, were removed from their jobs treating patients after they allegedly posted a video and photos of newborns to Snapchat, including a photo showing one of them flipping the middle finger at a newborn with the caption "how I currently feel about these mini Satans."

A video shows a female corpsman holding a newborn infant by the armpits while rocking the baby to rap music playing in the background.

The images are no longer on Snapchat, but screengrabs have been shared on Facebook by concerned users. The imagery has drawn outrage on social media.

In a message to all Navy medical personnel issued Tuesday evening, Vice Adm. C. Forrest Faison III, the surgeon general of the Navy, ordered a stand down for naval medical personnel to review policies and medical oaths and pledges to treat patients.

"I have directed immediate mandatory all-hands stand downs within 48 hours at all Navy Medicine commands to review our oaths, our pledges, our reasons for serving, as well as Navy Medicine's policy regarding use of personally owned phones and other recording devices," said Faison in a blog post to Navy medical personnel. The admiral also prohibited the use of personal cellphones by medical care personnel in patient care areas until further notice.

Faison also directed commanding officers at Naval medical facilities to contact mothers and expectant mothers to reassure them, inform them of the actions being taken and to address any of their concerns.

"Unprofessional and inappropriate social media behavior is inconsistent with both our core values of honor, courage and commitment as well as our medical ethics, violating the oaths we took for our profession and office," said Faison.

"In an age where information can be shared instantly, what we say and post online must reflect the highest standards of character and conduct, in both our personal and professional lives," said Faison. "As health care professionals, we are entrusted with the lives and well-being of all those who have volunteered to defend our freedom, including their families. We owe them the best care and compassion our nation can offer.

"We also owe them our unqualified respect," he added. "Any behavior that falls short of this expectation will be dealt with appropriately."

Faison also ordered commanders to make sure "no additional patient photos exist on social media and to take immediate action to remove such content."

A Navy official said stand downs for Navy medical personnel will take place in a staggered fashion over the next two days to ensure there is no impact to providing patient care.

Earlier, the Navy confirmed that two hospital corpsmen had been removed from providing patient care at Naval Hospital Jacksonville because of the images posted to social media. Hospital corpsmen are enlisted Navy personnel who provide assistance to medical care professionals and also serve as combat medics when attached to Marine infantry units.

"The individuals have been removed from patient care meaning they will not be providing direct patient care," said Capt. Brenda Malone, a spokesperson for the Navy's Bureau of Medicine. Malone said the corpsmen are not being identified because of the ongoing investigation of the incident.

A Navy official said the posting of the photos was being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and that only one newborn had been involved in the photos posted online by the corpsmen.

"We are also contacting patients to address any questions or concerns they may have," said Malone.

"This type of behavior is incompatible with the Navy's core values of honor, courage and commitment, as well as medical ethics.

An earlier statement posted on Facebook by the commanding officer of the Naval Hospital Jacksonville had labeled the photos and video as "outrageous, unacceptable [and] incredibly unprofessional," and said they "cannot be tolerated."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images(INDIO, Calif.) --  A recidivist jewel thief who became famous for her decades-long international crime spree is out of jail after her latest sentence.

Doris Payne, 86, has a long rap sheet of robberies to her name, but most recently was arrested at a Walmart in July when she allegedly violated the terms of her probation from an earlier sentence.

At a hearing on Friday, DeKalb Superior Court Judge Linda Hunter revoked Payne’s probation, sentenced her to time served and released her.

Payne had been charged with a misdemeanor for violating the terms of her three-year probation and ban from any mall in DeKalb County for admittedly stealing a $2,000 necklace, when she was arrested on July 18 at a Walmart in Chamblee, Georgia. She allegedly had stolen $86.22 worth of items from the store's pharmacy, grocery and electronics departments, ABC affiliate WSB-TV reported.

The misdemeanor shoplifting charge from that alleged incident is still pending and Payne is due to appear in court October 16, according to her attorney.

“She has a misdemeanor shoplifting charge from Chamblee, Georgia, that is currently pending and we will be aggressively defending her on that case," Marissa Goldberg, one of Payne's attorneys, told ABC News.

Payne has previously gotten out of jail early on good behavior.

Cynthia Williams, a public information officer for the Dekalb County Sheriff’s office confirmed to ABC News that Payne was released from custody before the end of the day Friday.

She was the subject of a 2013 documentary, "The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne," which described her as "a poor, single, African-American mother from segregated 1930s America" who became "one of the world’s most notorious and successful jewel thieves."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(BATON ROUGE, La.) --A 23-year-old white man has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and illegal use of a weapon and two counts of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated criminal damage to property and illegal use of a weapon by Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police today in connection with three shootings that took place this month.

Kenneth Gleason, 23, was arrested this morning by detectives from the Baton Rouge Police Department after a crime lab processed DNA evidence that allegedly linked Gleason to shell casings found at the scene of two of the shootings that left two black men dead, police said in a press conference.

Bruce Cofield, 59, and Donald Smart, 49, were both shot and killed within five miles of each other last week. In the shootings, the suspect first fired from his car and then exited the vehicle to shoot the victims while they were on the ground, according to police.

“Witness accounts in certain circumstances and ballistic analyzation of the homicides helped link the two,” Sgt. Don Coppola, a public information officer with the Baton Rouge Police Department, told ABC News.

Gleason allegedly also fired shots at a Sandy Ridge residence on Sept. 11. Police did not provide additional information.

Gleason was initially named as a “person of interest” in the investigation into the killings of Smart and Cofield.

“Gleason was occupying a vehicle that matched the description” of the one seen in the area of the killings, Coppola alleged.

On Sunday, Gleason was released from jail after being booked on two drug charges. He was arrested again on Monday for allegedly stealing "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" from a local bookstore last week, police said.

After the crime lab processed the DNA evidence this morning, Gleason was charged with the killings, police said.

While Baton Rouge Police spokesman Sgt. L'Jean McNeely told ABC News that the killings "could possibly be racially motivated," police said in a press release Tuesday that the "motive is still unclear and this is an ongoing investigation."

Police had initially questioned Gleason for hours and searched his home and his vehicle, but didn’t have enough evidence to charge him in the murders when he was arrested on drug charges on Saturday, McNeely said.

Law enforcement allegedly found schedule 1 narcotics – marijuana – and schedule 3 narcotics, which were “some kind of human growth hormone” at Gleason’s house on Saturday, Coppola said, and Gleason was arrested.

Gleason was released Sunday on bond, which had been set at $3,500.

Neither Gleason nor his family responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

Coppola said he was not aware if Gleason had any previous criminal record, and a background check showed only a traffic violation that had been dismissed by the court from earlier this year.

Police said Cofield, who was homeless, was killed on Tuesday. Smart was shot on Thursday while he was on his way to work at a cafe.
The Smart family has not commented on Gleason’s arrest.

The district attorney's office said it was too early to know if Gleason has legal representation.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(ST.LOUIS) -- It's been four straight nights of civil unrest in St. Louis, Missouri, after former police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

The protests have been marked by a police force digging-in behind an acting police chief who, after the third night, stated that his force "owned" the night.

Indeed, every night, the arrest tally swelled during a mix of peaceful protests and violent flare-ups; police said they wanted to tamp down on property destruction and assaults against their own.

“I’m proud to tell you the City of St. Louis is safe and the police owned tonight,” Lawrence O’Toole, the acting police chief, told reporters on Monday.

Powering these daily rallies have been mostly peaceful protesters who have used creative tactics to emphasize their anger and demand for radical change after another white police officer was acquitted in the fatal shooting a black man under murky circumstances.

The rally cry started on Friday after St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson found Stockley, 36, not guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

ABC News spoke to some of the mothers, religious leaders and students who have come out each night. Some have direct ties to Ferguson, Missouri, where in 2014 the police officer who shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was not asked to face charges or disciplinary action.

Name: Reverend Clinton Stancil
Age: 54
Occupation: Reverend of Wayman AME Church in St. Louis

“It’s not peaceful, it’s nonviolent,” said Rev. Clinton Stancil just before the fourth day of protests got underway on Monday evening at the University Loop St. Louis, Missouri.

Stancil is one of the original advocates for young protesters to take action and cause economic disruption in the city’s most bustling areas of commerce. Protestors have tactically marched to strategic centers of the city –- the malls, downtown and nightlife hotspots. Once there, he said, his group intends to cause nonviolent disruption in the business community in order to be heard.

“Kill their economy until they stop killing their kids,” is the core of the strategy, he said.

Affecting the city's commerce is what Rev. Stancil believes will force the government to take their protests seriously.

He believes the message of Black Lives Matter hasn't wavered.

“We can never say all lives matter until black lives matter," he said. "White brother and sisters that are standing in solidarity need to speak up in this community."

Rev. Stancil said protesting is one of the ways to bring the youth of St. Louis together, with support and guidance.

The movement, he said, has evolved since the protests in Michael Brown’s name in Ferguson; the Anthony Lamar Scott protests are more strategic.

In Ferguson, protesters damaged their own community businesses and neighborhoods.

Rev. Stencil hopes that this time protesters learn from Ferguson and focus on mass disruption.

“We are no longer going to set fire," he said, as he was heading into a meeting to devise where the next protest would be held. "We are going to disrupt until we get a seat at the table and a change in policy where police are held accountable for their actions."

Name: Fredrick "Fred" Scott
Age: 65
Occupation: Retired and father of four sons

Fred Scott came out during the protests and defiantly raised his handmade sign that reads, "Stop killing us!"

It was a departure from his Ferguson sign that read: “Go kill Isis and leave us alone.”

He said he has made it a mission to try to be on the streets during every protest calling out questionable police tactics.

“I’m out there to represent the black brothers in the U.S.," he said. "I’m there to support the young black people or any black man."

As a father raising four black sons, ranging from the ages of 24 to 50, in St. Louis, Scott feels he has a duty to be out and amongst the protests as opposed to watching them on the television.

The retiree has encouraged his sons to join the protests too.

His sons were with him protesting in Ferguson and the Scotts have taken their family unit to protest in St. Louis.

“I try to gather them when I can, to teach them the right way so they know for the future,” he said.

Over the past four days and whenever he and his sons attend any protest, Scott maintains that he and his sons follow the police instructions and always march peacefully.

Despite the headway he feels has been made since Ferguson, Scott laments that the destruction hasn't stopped.

“I’m not trying to be destructive, I’m fed up," he said as the sun began setting in the city. "Being a black man with black sons is scary."

Name: Anna Robinson
Age: 20
Title: Freshman at the St. Louis Community College at Forest Park

Anna Robinson had never been to a protest before, but the chants and the amassing crowds outside of her downtown apartment downtown over the past days changed that.

The student rushed downstairs and asked some of the protesters how she could get involved. The answer, they told her, was to stay outside.

Robinson became a part of the cause and now she is also considering a law enforcement studies major.

"I really didn’t know what I was expecting," she said. "It was one of those experiences that gives you an interesting perspective of what’s really going on.”

After 30 minutes, she said the peaceful protest turned surly with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's home windows getting smashed and she said she saw some infighting amongst the protesters.

The experience has reinforced her desire to help those she sees as disenfranchised.

"There are corrupt cops out there, and I do not think that most cops are like that,” Robinson said.

She said the diverse crowd of protesters was a surprise. She described seeing Hispanic, white, black and Asian activists, as well as retired cops and soldiers, working in solidarity.

Robinson said she wants to help Black Lives Matter and plans to attend more of the protests in St. Louis, as long as they stay peaceful.

Name: Michelle Higgins
Age: 36
Title: Director of Faith for Justice

Something about the man in the crowd during Saturday night's rally didn't sit right with Michelle Higgins.

She said he was dressed in plainclothes and walking with a German shepherd, but she said he wasn't blending in.

"He was clearly a cop trying to keep undercover, but that was triggering," she said.

ABC News cannot confirm the identity of the man or why he was present.

But the fact that a dog was walked out into the crowd of protesters hit Higgins hard. She said it hearkened back to the Civil Rights Movement's past when dogs "were trained to attack us."
Higgins said she is encouraged by what she calls "the season of protest."

The past days have been speaking to not only Smith's death but everyday atrocities.

"What is unseen is how endangered black lives are and how hostile police are trained to be against black lives," she said.

She believes how police are being taught from the beginning needs to change.

"When police take to the street they are trained to fear us before they hear us," she said.

After Ferguson, Higgins said that black people became "more and more aware of their political power."

She said coming out strong in St. Louis day after day has reinforced the message and represents positive change.

"We can strike a healthy fear in places where power is held," she said.

Name: Emily Davis
Age: 41
Title: Mother of three children

Emily Davis is from Ferguson, Missouri.

In the past four days, she has done everything possible to not miss protests in St. Louis.

The effort isn't merely helping but also setting an example to her kids ages 6, 10, and 11-years-old.

"It's the right thing to do," she said. "I need my kids to see that it's not okay to stand there and watch ... It's not okay. I need them to see me doing something."

She's brought her own signs to the cause, including: "Due to injustice road closed."

The motive behind her efforts is to maintain the spirit of protest in the streets after the marches end.

"We've been out there writing policies, knocking on doors in our neighborhoods," she said. "We're coming at this from all directions."

The mother, who said she was still going out again even after being pepper-sprayed and tear-gassed during the previous nights, wants more to happen.

"We haven't solved the problem yet."

She believes the public should "demand accountability" and so-called "good cops" to "stand up againstthe bad ones."

"Communities would be safer, the police would be safer and people from every background would be safer," she said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

ABC News(ATLANTA) -- Three people were arrested and students were ordered to shelter in place at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta on Monday as violent protests erupted in response to the police shooting death of a student who allegedly had a knife, the university.

The protests broke out after a peaceful vigil for Georgia Tech student Scout Schultz, 21, who was fatally shot by police late Saturday night after he called 911 to report an armed and possibly intoxicated suspicious person, authorities said.

A police vehicle was set on fire, two officers suffered minor injuries and one officer was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries during the "violent protests on campus," according to the university.

 

Georgia Tech right now. pic.twitter.com/6BR2w54hZE

— ㅤSebastian (@RealSebGonz) September 19, 2017

 

The university estimated that a about 50 people participated in the protests, including some who marched to the the Georgia Tech Police Department immmdiately after the "peaceful memorial vigil" for Schultz.

At one point, Georgia Tech police ordered students to stay inside and lock their doors, while off-campus students were told to remain off campus.

“Seek shelter in a secure location until further notice. Lock all doors and windows. Take Immediate Action Now,” the Georgia Tech Department said in a tweet at 9:28 p.m. Monday.

Video posted on social media showed a police vehicle on fire and officers pinning people to the ground while witnesses yelled in the background.

Police said they restored order by 11 p.m. Monday and gave students the “all clear” to resume normal activities.

Three people were arrested and charged with inciting a riot and battery of an officer, a university spokesperson said. Police told students to "expect additional patrols throughout campus tonight" and asked them to report "anything suspicious."

In a statement released through attorney Chris Stewart, Schultz's family urged protesters to remain peaceful.

"[W]e ask that those who wish to protest Scout's death do so peacefully. Answering violence with violence is not the answer," the statement said. "Our goal is to work diligently to make positive change at Georgia Tech in an effort to ensure a safer campus for all students."

"Scout's family respects the rights of those who wish to voice opposition to what they feel was an unnecessary use of force, but they ask that it be done respectfully and safely," the statement added.

Earlier on Monday, Stewart described Schultz as a loving child who lost his life simply because the police overreacted.

He said Schultz was barefoot and "disoriented," in the middle of a "mental breakdown" when he was shot.

“Scout should not have been shot,” Stewart told reporters Monday. “There has to be a bigger value put on taking a human life than fear when you are doing your job.”

Stewart also accused the school of handling the situation poorly and pushing a narrative that Schultz was a "knife-wielding" threat despite evidence suggesting otherwise.

Scout Schultz's father, William Schultz, said Schultz had a 3.9 GPA and was scheduled to graduate in December.

Scout Schultz served as president of the Georgia Tech Pride Alliance, and a leading voice within the campus’ LGBTQ community. Scout Schultz identified as nonbinary and intersex and prefers to use the pronouns they, them and their, according to the group's web site.


ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos


Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The days of Latanya Simpson being a shy and timid student are a thing of the past.

“My 9th grade year I was kind of not sure of myself,” Simpson said. “I didn’t have the confidence I really needed.”

Simpson, 19, started to believe in herself after taking a humanities class at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Boston with her teacher, Sydney Chaffee. Simpson said having Sydney as her teacher was “the best thing” that could have happened to her.

“She made learning fun. I felt comfortable raising my hands, asking questions, and Sydney would stop in the middle of teaching just to reteach and go over whatever questions any student had,” said Simpson.

Chaffee, 34, is the 2017 national teacher of the year and has been an educator for the past 10 years. She said she finds it amusing to hear that Simpson wasn’t confident because she “was a star” during the class.

“She got on stage and had so much confidence and she had such presence and such a voice,” said Chaffee. “When you see students step into who they’re able to be, and you see students step into their own confidence and step into their own voice, that reminds me of how powerful the job is.”

Simpson is now a sophomore at Providence College in Rhode Island.

She said the confidence she gained from Sydney’s class is helping her speak up in packed lecture halls and mentoring new students on campus.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Chris was an 11-year-old Boy Scout in New Jersey when he says his life became consumed with a dark secret.

“You do everything you can to block it out of your mind,” he said.

Chris, whose last name “Nightline” is withholding at his request, says his Boy Scout troop leader, Stephen Corcoran, sexually abused him hundreds of times over five years, from the time he was 11 until he was 16.

“I couldn’t even tell you every location it happened in,” Chris said. “It became it became that normal.”

Chris claims Corcoran began paying special attention to him as soon as he joined the troop and eventually became a trusted family friend. But along the way, according to Chris, things took a sickening turn.

Weeks after he hit puberty, Chris said Corcoran took him over to his apartment before one of their troop meetings and said, “Hey, I got some beer in the fridge for you. Help yourself.”

“Then he breaks out a stash of porn,” Chris said. “Then one thing led to another, but at that point, you know, I was 11 and essentially intoxicated … not knowing what to do, what was happening to my body.”

“I was literally frozen,” he continued. “I just couldn’t move.”

Chris, now an adult, said he is finally sharing his story publically, two decades later. His adulthood, he said, is plagued by depression, anxiety and anger.

“I’ve had this kind of whirlwind of mess throughout my adult life,” he said. “I’m still dealing with this, like it happened yesterday.”

Chris, along with two other former Boy Scouts who also allege Corcoran abused them, have filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America, saying the organization did not do enough to prevent the sexual abuse.

“Who's the only guy in the troop without a kid there ... and then look at his interaction with the kids,” Chris said. “If you knew there was a problem like this and someone was down there with knowledge of what ‘grooming’ looks like you're going to spot it in five minutes. They chose not to do this.”

Chris said there was no escaping the abuse and eventually, he said, he was spending hours at a time with Corcoran.

The abuse, he said, even continued on troop outings, including a group ski trip. Chris has a photo from that trip that shows an unidentified adult man in his underwater sitting next to him.

“Those are his boxers,” Chris said, pointing to the man in the photo. “So at what point does someone say, ‘Hey there's a problem here.’ How does someone not realize that there's an issue?”

He said Corcoran openly provided young scouts with alcohol, adding that on some of their away trips, “he literally turned it into a booze fest.”

In one instance, Chris said an adult friend of Corcoran’s allegedly witnessed the sexual abuse, catching him and Corcoran together, and confronted Corcoran about it.

“Steve told me he played it off,” Chris said. “He said, ‘You need to be more careful in the future,’ and that friend just disappeared out of the troop ... He didn’t like to do what normal people would do and call the police.”

Chris said the abuse finally ended when he was 16 years old, but by then, his former Scout leader had become a family friend and was even a guest at his wedding.

“I can’t believe the guy made it at my wedding,” Chris said. “Unfortunately, I originally left them off the list for the wedding, and my wife asked me, ‘What about him?’ And I remember I didn't have an answer to say no. Like how could I? At the time I couldn't justify saying no without telling the truth.”

Chris’s wife Tina said she had no idea the pain Chris said he suffered as a child and that Chris opened up to her about it when they were almost six years into their marriage.

“He said, ‘Steve abused me,’ and that was it,” Tina said. “It was like a one statement: ‘Steve abused me.' I mean I had no clue, no earthly idea.”

After he told her, Tina said she then started to notice the pain on Chris’s face in their wedding photos taken with Corcoran.

Chris said he also finally confided in his attorney at the time.

“I broke down in absolute tears and I just told him,” he said. “I told him exactly what happened.”

In a statement to ABC News, The Boy Scouts of America said the organization is “outraged there have been times when Scouts were abused and we sincerely apologize to victims and their families... in the many years since these alleged actions occurred, we have continued to evaluate and strengthen our efforts to protect youth.”

Attorney Bruce Nagel, who represents Chris in his civil suit against the organization, said they hope their lawsuit will “bring to light that this is an epidemic throughout the United States.”

“People need to be educated, that there is sexual abuse going on through the United States in the Boy Scouts,” Nagel added.

Corcoran’s attorney maintains that his client is innocent of the abuse allegations. But in a separate case, Corcoran, now 49, was found guilty of possession of child pornography. In June, he was sentenced to seven years in prison.

If he could say anything to Corcoran now, Chris said he would ask him “why me?”

“For some reason he chose me,” Chris continued. “I don’t know.”

This is not the first time The Boy Scouts of America have been accused of harboring abusers in its ranks of scout leaders.

In 2010, a Portland, Oregon, jury awarded former scout Kerry Lewis almost $20 million in damages for the sexual abuse he said he suffered in the ‘80s by former assistant Scoutmaster Timur Dykes.

Lewis’ attorneys successfully argued that at the time the Boy Scouts of America knew Dykes had a history of child molestation. Dykes, who eventually served prison time for charges related to sex with minors, admitted as early as 1983 that he had molested 17 boys.

"If you put the interests of your organization ahead of the safety of children, the guardians of our community's safety, which we call juries, will hold you accountable," said Kelly Clark, one of Lewis’ attorneys.

Released files detail alleged abuse in Boy Scouts

The month-long trial also revealed the Scouts kept secret files of alleged child molesters for decades.

The Los Angeles Times spent a year creating a database of the Boy Scouts files. Reporter Kim Christensen led the newspaper’s investigation.

“The perversion files, which is a term used internally by the Boy Scouts, are about 5,000 files of alleged and in some cases proven sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts,” Christensen said. “The whole idea of the perversion files with the scouts was they were intended to keep abusive scout leaders from rejoining after they’d been found out.”

According to the L.A. Times analysis, the alleged abuse occurred throughout the country and followed a similar pattern.

“The abusive scout leaders would often groom the kids,” she said. “You know, buy them alcohol, show them porn, take them to ball games just to kind of bring them into their confidence, into their sphere, and then the abuse would start.”

The newspaper said that in many cases, the Boy Scouts did not report the alleged abuser to authorities, leaving the alleged victims to suffer in secret.

“It’s a lifelong scarring thing for a lot of these kids,” Christensen said. “Some of these guys say, ‘It’s something I’ve been dealing with by myself for 40 years.’”

The Boy Scouts of America says it has since implemented new policies including criminal background checks for adult leaders, requiring two or more adults to be present at all times during scouting activities, prompt mandatory reporting of any allegation or suspicion of abuse, and a help line to report suspected abuse.

As for Chris, he is trying to move forward. He and Tina are expecting their second child in November – a boy. Both said they would never allow their son to enter Boy Scouts. Chris said intense therapy and the support of his wife is helping him heal.

“If and when he wants to tell me more than he already has, he will,” Tina said. “But he just needs someone to take care of him.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(BATON ROUGE, La.) -- The killings of two black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last week "could possibly be racially motivated" but police are "still looking at other motives," Baton Rouge Police spokesman Sgt. L'Jean McNeely told ABC News Sunday.

Bruce Cofield, 59, and Donald Smart, 49, were both shot and killed within five miles of each other last week. In the shootings, the suspect first fired from his car and then exited the vehicle to shoot the victims while they were on the ground, according to police.

“Witness accounts in certain circumstances and ballistic analyzation of the homicides helped link the two,” Sgt. Don Coppola, a public information officer with the Baton Rouge Police Department, told ABC News Monday.

Police have named Kenneth Gleason, 23, as a “person of interest” in the investigation. “Gleason was occupying a vehicle that matched the description” of the one seen in the area of the killings, Coppola said.

On Sunday, Gleason was released from jail after being booked on two drug charges. Gleason has not been charged in relation to the killings.

“This investigation is ongoing, Gleason is still a person of interest, and through the investigation, if it is learned that there is any other individual or individuals who could be other persons of interest, investigators will look into them as well,” Coppola said.

Police had questioned Gleason for many hours and searched his home and his vehicle, but didn’t have enough evidence to charge him in the murders, McNeely said.

But law enforcement found schedule 1 narcotics – marijuana – and schedule 3 narcotics, which were “some kind of human growth hormone” at Gleason’s house on Saturday, Coppola said, and Gleason was arrested.

Gleason was released Sunday on bond, which had been set at $3,500, but has "not been cleared" in the investigation into the two shootings, police said.

Neither Gleason nor his family responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

Coppola said he was not aware if Gleason had any previous criminal record, and a background check showed only a traffic violation that had been dismissed by the court from earlier this year. Police declined to say whether there are other persons of interest in the case, citing the ongoing investigation.

“Being that the investigation is ongoing, investigators are diligently working to have these homicides solved,” Coppola said.

Police said Cofield, who was homeless, was killed on Tuesday. Smart was shot on Thursday while he was on his way to work at a cafe.

The district attorney's office had not responded Monday to ABC News' request as to whether Gleason has legal representation or when he is due to appear in court on the two drug charges.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved

0
comments



 

LOCAL NEWS

WJTN Headlines

An overnight fire has extensively damaged part of a vacant, two-story home on Jamestown's westside.    City Fire Battalion Chief Andrew Finson says crews were called to the sc...

Read More