Cops field 265 calls in response to package bombs ‘constructed by the same bombmaker’

first_imgiStock / Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) — The package bombs in Austin, Texas, that killed two people over 11 days were “constructed by the same bombmaker,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday.“There are some specific components that we won’t go into the details to protect the integrity of the investigation, but there are some specific things we have seen that make us believe all three of these packages were constructed by the same bombmaker,” Manley said this morning.Federal and local investigators are working around the clock, but at this point, there has been no break in the case, Manley told ABC News on Tuesday.“The fact they have not only been able to build these bombs, but then travel with them to the target location without them exploding either during construction or during deployment, shows that they do have a certain level of sophistication and they know what they are doing,” Manley said.Austin police have urged residents to call police if they see any unexpected or suspicious packages near their homes that were left overnight and do not have labels from an official shipping source such as the U.S. Postal Service, UPS or DHL, prompting 265 such calls to authorities as of Tuesday afternoon, Manley said in a later press conference.Investigators responded to each call but “have not found any additional package that was suspicious or involved in any way with the investigation that is going on right now,” Manley said, vowing to not “leave any stone unturned” and follow up on every lead until the case is solved.Each package was placed in a cardboard, but Manley instructed residents to not ignore a “suspicious package” just because it is in a “different type of container.”Austin Mayor Steve Adler reiterated the call for residents to remain aware and alert in their efforts.“At this point what we want people to do is to be very vigilant,” he said on “Good Morning America” Tuesday morning.“We don’t want anybody to open or pick up a package that in any way feels suspicious,” he continued.Here’s what ABC News knows right now:2 dead, 2 hospitalizedTwo lives have been lost, and an “additional two” have been “forever changed” from three separate explosions, Manley said.On Monday, 17-year-old Draylen Mason was killed in the blast, Manley said, describing Mason as “outstanding young man who was going places with his life.”“It is an absolute tragedy that he is no longer with us,” Manley said.Mason’s mother, who is in her 40s, is in stable condition.A 75-year-old Hispanic woman, whose identity was not released, is still in critical condition with life-threatening injuries after she was injured in a separate blast on Monday, Manley said.Another victim, Anthony Stephan House, died March 2.Each was harmed by one of the three explosive devices received as a “box-type delivery,” Manley told reporters Monday.In two of the explosions, the package detonated as soon as the victim picked it up, Manley said. In a third, the package was brought inside the house and exploded when it was opened.The victims suffered “traumatic, penetrative injuries,” Manley said.The first blast was initially thought to be an isolated incidentWhen the incident occurred on March 2, investigators originally believed it to be an isolated incident without “any further concern or threat” to the community because of a bust that happened at a drug stash house three days prior, Manley said.Because police took a “significant amount of cash” from the stash house, authorities initially thought the explosion “may have been a retaliatory act,” but that the perpetrators got the wrong house, Manley said.At the time, there was “no information to believe that it was related to a larger plan,” Manley said.Two others were reported Monday. “Significant damage” was inflicted by at least two of the blasts.‘Be vigilant’The victims noticed packages left on their front porches, without any suspect ringing the doorbell or otherwise alerting them, Manley said.“We don’t want to have people be overly alarmed,” Manley said, “but it is important that people be vigilant and be aware of things that look suspicious.”Residents are being asked to report all suspicious packages. “If you see something that’s out of place, do not handle it, do not move it, do not touch it. Call us,” he added.Monday’s attackThe first explosion occurred around 6:44 a.m., police said. It was “very similar” to the March 2 incident, Manley said. The device was left in front of a single-family home in the northeast part of Austin.The second attack Monday happened around 11:50 a.m.“The victim in this incident came outside of her residence and found a package out front and picked up that package,” Manley said.Unknown motive“We don’t know the motive behind these” attacks, Manley said, although two homes targeted had African-American residents and another the elderly Hispanic woman. “We cannot rule [out] that hate crime is at the core of this, but we’re not saying that’s the cause as well.”Police are not ruling out terrorism as a motive, either, because they don’t want to “limit” what they are investigating, Manley said.Evidence is being collected and sent to the ATF lab in Walnut Creek, California, so investigators can attempt to reconstruct what was in the explosive device, an ATF special agent said Tuesday afternoon.$65,000 rewardTexas Gov. Greg Abbott has offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible for the explosions.“I want to assure all Texans, and especially those in Austin, that local, state and federal law enforcement officials are working diligently to find those responsible for these heinous crimes,” Abbott said in a statement.The ATF, FBI and Austin Police Department are offering an additional up to $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. The Texas Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Postal Service as also assisting on the task force team, as well as the Travis County district attorney, who is “setting this case up for prosecution” when a suspect is captured, Manley said.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Pilot dies in plane crash while spreading father’s ashes

first_imgWCVB(HANSON, Mass.) — One of two brothers on a flight to spread their father’s ashes died on Saturday after their small plane crashed in a pond in Massachusetts.Scott Landis, 34, was killed in the accident, which took place Friday at Cranland Airport in Hanson, Massachusetts, about a half hour south of Boston, according to the manager of the small airport.Patrick remains in the hospital at Tufts Medical Center.Scott Landis was piloting the plane authorities said, while his younger brother, 29-year-old Patrick, was a passenger. The plane crashed into a pond near the runway just after takeoff.“He was on takeoff and the engine lost power, and he tried to turn and come back and it went in [the pond],” airport manager Peter Oakley told Boston ABC affiliate WCVB.The two brothers’ uncle, Don Conway, confirmed to WCVB the men were spreading their fathers’ ashes.Their father had died just a few weeks ago, Conway said.“It sounded like they both really cherished and loved their father and looked up to him and wanted to celebrate him in the best way possible,” first selectman Matthew Dyer told WCVB.The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate the crash.Scott Landis was a member of the Army National Guard and he was on leave from his base in Kosovo. Scott was a helicopter pilot in the Army.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels’ attorney, arrested for domestic violence: Police

first_imgMichael Avenatti, the attorney for adult film star Stormy Daniels, has been arrested for domestic violence, police told ABC News.The incident took place Tuesday and Avenatti was arrested today, police said.This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. ABCNews.com(LOS ANGELES) — Michael Avenatti, the attorney for adult film star Stormy Daniels, has been arrested for domestic violence, police told ABC News.The incident took place Tuesday and Avenatti was arrested today, police said.This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img

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College student in Baltimore hit with additional charges over racist graffiti

first_imgBaltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office(BALTIMORE) — A college student in Baltimore accused of defacing campus property with racist graffiti last month was hit with additional charges on Tuesday.Fynn Arthur, 21, allegedly drew swastikas and wrote racially motivated threats targeting black students on the Goucher College campus in November, the Baltimore County Police department said.Arthur initially was charged with two counts of malicious destruction of property on Nov. 30, but he now faces four additional charges: two counts of bias-instigated destruction of property and two counts of animosity-instigated harassment/destruction of property, officials said in a statement.Campus officials notified police on Nov. 14, when racially charged graffiti was round written in permanent black marker in a bathroom stall and in three dorm rooms occupied by black students, according to the statement.“The students in those rooms were interviewed at the time, and none could provide any suspect information or motive for the graffiti. One of those students was Arthur,” police said in a statement.The day after the interviews, another student reported seeing more racist graffiti in another bathroom stall along with the names of four black students, the statement said.Arthur has since been banned from the campus.“Let us be clear — we view these incidents as hate crimes,” the school said last week. “These acts of hate have consumed our community, and we feel strongly that the suspect should receive the strongest charges, which reflect the seriousness of these crimes.”It’s unclear whether Arthur has an attorney. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Judge declines to dismiss charges against Harvey Weinstein

first_imgKENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The remaining criminal charges against Harvey Weinstein were upheld Thursday morning by a New York judge, who rejected a request by the disgraced film producer’s attorneys to drop them.The decision by state Supreme Court Justice James Burke clears the way for prosecutors to try Weinstein, who faces five counts, including rape. Weinstein is charged with raping a woman in a hotel room in March 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman in 2006 at his Manhattan apartment. He has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.The Manhattan District Attorney’s office already agreed to drop one of the charges after it learned a lead police detective in the case instructed a potential witness to keep certain doubts to herself.The defense has said the conduct of the detective “irreparably tainted” the entire case but prosecutors have said there is “ample evidence” to proceed.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Pentagon extends southern border mission through September

first_imgSherry Smith/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The Pentagon has extended the U.S. military’s support mission along the southwestern border through the end of September.Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan also approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security that officials have said will place 116 miles of concertina wire between ports of entry along the border.“In response to the December 27, 2018 request from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan approved Department of Defense assistance to DHS through Sept. 30, 2019,” said a Pentagon statement issued late Monday.“DoD is transitioning its support at the southwestern border from hardening ports of entry to mobile surveillance and detection, as well as concertina wire emplacement between ports of entry,” it added. “DoD will continue to provide aviation support.”The original 45-day border support mission approved by then-Defense Secretary James Mattis last fall was supposed to end on Dec. 15 ahead of the arrival of migrant caravans from Central America.Mattis later extended the original mission through the end of January, as migrants in caravans arrived in Tijuana, Mexico seeking to make asylum requests at ports of entry south of San Diego.At its height as many as 5,900 active duty troops were sent to the border to “harden” ports of entry by placing security barriers and concertina wire. The mission also included aviation units to transport Customs and Border Protection agents along the border and military police units to provide them protection.Since then, the number of troops has been reduced to 2,350 after engineering units finished those duties and were sent home.Defense officials have said that those numbers could temporarily increase as additional troops would be needed to put up the 116 miles of requested concertina wire.Officials have said the wire would be placed along existing structures already along the border.This mission is different from President Donald Trump’s plans to build a border wall. Trump’s standoff with Democrats in Congress to fund the construction of the wall has resulted in an ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government.The Pentagon statement said that through the end of September the remaining active duty military troops would transition to “mobile surveillance and detection.”News of the extension and the concertina wire mission comes as a new migrant caravan is slated to depart Honduras and head to the border with Mexico this week.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, targeted in mass shooting, raising money for Muslim victims of massacre at New Zealand mosques

first_imgiStock/Montes-Bradley(PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania) — Still recovering from a mass shooting at their temple in which 11 worshippers were killed, members of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh have launched an effort to raise money for the victims of a rampage at two mosques in New Zealand that left 50 people dead.Synagogue members started a GoFundMe campaign on Sunday, with a goal of raising $100,000 for the families of those killed and the victims wounded in Friday’s attacks at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch.As of Monday afternoon, the GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $13,000“We stand beside our Muslim brothers and sisters and mourn alongside the families and friends who have lost loved ones in this unconscionable act of violence,” reads a statement from the Tree of Life congregation on its GoFundMe page. “We will continue to work towards a day when all people on this planet can live together in peace and mutual respect.”On Friday afternoon, a 28-year-old man described by police as a white supremacist allegedly walked into the Al Noor mosque and opened fire, killing 42 people, according to police. The attacker, identified by police as Brenton Harrison Tarrant, an Australian, then allegedly drove three miles across Christchurch to the Linwood mosque and killed eight Muslim worshippers attending a prayer service.In addition to the 50 people killed, another 50 were wounded in the two attacks.The New Zealand attack came less than five months after a gunman burst into the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh and opened fire. The suspect, Robert Bowers, 46, was charged with federal hate crimes including the murder of 11 congregants at the Tree of Life.“We’re unfortunately part of a club that nobody wants to be a part of, and we wanted to reach out to New Zealand in the same way everyone reached out to us,” Sam Schachner, president of the Tree of Life, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.Following the Oct. 27 killing rampage at the Tree of Life, people from across the country donated money to help members congregations that use the temple.“Tree of Life members, and our friends who continue to comfort and bolster us as we recover, must now come together to support the Muslims of Christchurch,” reads a statement on the GoFundMe page. “Please share this page with your families, friends and neighbors. Make a donation, and leave a kind message of hope to let them know that the entire world is with them.”Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Philadelphia police chief inspector’s son, 20, shot dead: ‘Our hearts are broken’

first_img(WPVI) Nicholas Flacco, 20, was fatally shot in the chest in Philadelphia, March 30, 2019. (PHILADELPHIA) — The 20-year-old son of the Philadelphia police’s chief inspector of internal affairs was shot dead this weekend in a “random encounter” and now the grieving department is looking for answers.When officers responded to FDR State Park at about 10 p.m. Saturday, they found Nicholas Flacco, 20, shot once in the chest, according to the Philadelphia Police Department. He was pronounced dead at 10:17 p.m., police said.Flacco had been tailgating with friends for the Philadelphia Phillies game when “several fights began to break out” between groups in the crowded park, police told reporters Monday. Flacco was allegedly trying to break up a fight between a group of women when one woman threatened to “call her man,” police said. A man shortly after showed up at the park with a gun, police said.Flacco’s friends allegedly dared the man to shoot them because they did not think the gun was real, police said.At some point, Flacco was shot.“It appears this individual deliberately fired a round to his chest and took his life,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross told reporters.“All indications are that the people out there did not know him … There’s no suggestion that he was involved in the initial argument whatsoever — that’s what makes it even more confusing,” Ross said. “There’s a lot of things we don’t know.”No arrests have been made and no gun was recovered, a police spokesman said Monday.The victim’s father, Chris Flacco, is the chief inspector of internal affairs at the Philadelphia Police Department, reported ABC Philadelphia station WPVI.“It does hit very close to home,” Ross told WPVI. “I’ve known Chief Flacco for probably 25 years at least. So our hearts are broken. We’re keeping him and his family in our thoughts and our prayers.”Nicholas Flacco was in his fourth semester at Penn State University, said university spokeswoman Lisa Powers.“Random acts of violence such as this are unfathomable and very troubling,” she told ABC News via email on Monday. “This news is tragic and we offer our deepest condolences to Nicholas’ family and friends during this difficult time.”“Every life lost to violence is one too many,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement obtained by WPVI. “It is all the more tragic when we lose a young person who had their whole life ahead of them.”“I extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to Chief Inspector Flacco and his family, the Police Department, and all who have lost loved ones to senseless gun violence,” Kenney said. “PPD [The Philadelphia Police Department] is undergoing a thorough investigation and I urge the public to come forward to report any tips that can help find the person who did this.”A $35,000 reward has been offered.“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Flacco family and our fellow police officers will close this case with help from the public,” Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police (FOP Lodge 5) President John McNesby said in a statement.Anyone with information is asked to call the Philadelphia Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334 or 215-686-TIPS.  Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Alleged San Diego synagogue shooter had 50 rounds on him when arrested: Prosecutor

first_imgMario Tama/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) — The 19-year-old man who allegedly unleashed a barrage of gunfire on members of a Southern California synagogue was arraigned Tuesday afternoon as prosecutors released new details of the attack, including that the suspect had 50 rounds of ammunition on him when he was arrested.A San Diego County prosecutor said in court that when the suspect, John T. Earnest, was arrested he was wearing a tactical vest containing five ammunition magazines, holding 50 bullets. He also said the entire rampage was caught on video.One day after purchasing an AR-style assault rifle, Earnest, 19, allegedly stormed a Passover service at the Chabad of Poway near San Diego on Saturday, killing a member of the temple and wounding three others, including an 8-year-old girl, according to authorities.He was arraigned Monday on one count of murder with a hate-crime special circumstance and gun allegations, and three counts of attempted murder with hate-crime and gun allegations. He was also arraigned on a charge of arson on a house of worship stemming from a fire he allegedly ignited at the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in the San Diego County town of Escondido on March 24.Not guilty pleas were entered on behalf of Earnest by his court appointed attorney, Deputy Public Defender John O’Connell.Leonard Trinh, a San Diego County deputy district attorney, said in court that Earnest allegedly fired eight to 10 rounds before his gun malfunctioned.He said synagogue member Lori Kaye, 60, was shot twice in the attack and killed.Earnest, wearing glasses and a blue jail jumpsuit, showed no emotion during the arraignment and only answered “Yes,” when asked if he waived his right to a speedy trial.If convicted of the charges, Earnest faces a sentence of life in prison without parole or death, a prosecutor said. A moratorium on the death penalty in California went into effect last month.The judge ordered Earnest to be held in jail without bail, saying he is “an obvious and extraordinary risk to public safety.”Earnest was ordered to return to court for a hearing on May 30. His preliminary hearing is set for July 8.Earnest’s parents released a statement Monday saying they were “shocked and deeply saddened” by the attack.“To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries,” the parents’ statement reads.Just prior to the synagogue attack, Earnest allegedly posted a threatening letter filled with anti-Semitic and Islamophobic references online and wrote he was planning to livestream an attack, officials said. In the writings, he expressed white supremacist views and claimed responsibility for the mosque fire.Federal Bureau of Investigation officials said they were alerted to the letter by an online tipster five minutes before Earnest burst into the Poway synagogue.“The submission included a link to the post, but did not offer specific information about the post’s author or threat location,” the FBI said in a statement to ABC News. “Although FBI employees immediately took action to determine the post’s author, the shooting occurred before the suspect could be fully identified.”The FBI is conducting an investigation of the synagogue attack and collecting evidence for possible federal hate crime charges against Earnest, officials said.Kaye was a member of the synagogue and was fatally shot in the lobby while her husband and daughter were elsewhere in the building.“I think Lori took the bullet for me and I think she took the bullet for the whole congregation,” Yisroel Goldstein, the rabbi of the synagogue, told ABC News.Goldstein was shot in both hands during the attack. The index finger on his right hand was blown off and doctors managed to save the index finger on his left hand.Also hurt in the rampage were 8-year-old Noya Dahan and her uncle, Almog Peretz, 34. Both suffered shrapnel wounds.“I really don’t feel safe because this is not the first and definitely not the last time this is going to happen,” Dahan told ABC News. “So now I know just to watch out and stuff for dangerous things to happen.”Rabbi Goldstein said the gunman’s assault rifle jammed during the attack and he was chased out of the synagogue by two members of the congregation, Oscar Stewart, 51-year-old military veteran, and an off-duty Border Patrol agent, who fired at the suspect’s car as it drove off.A K-9 officer spotted Earnest fleeing the shooting. Authorities said Earnest, who wore a helmet mounted with a camera that malfunctioned and prevented him from livestreaming the attack, surrendered immediately and was placed under arrest.Trinh said that prior to his arrest, Earnest called 911 and reported that he was armed.Earnest, one of five children in his family who grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in San Diego County, is a pianist and was an honor student at Mt. Carmel High School, where his father is a teacher, according to ABC affiliate 10News. He was also a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Escondido.In their statement, Earnest’s parents said their son was “raised in a family, faith, and community that all rejected hate and taught that love must be the motive for everything we do.”“How our son was attracted to such darkness is a terrifying mystery to us, though we are confident that law enforcement will uncover many details of the path that he took to this evil and despicable act,” the parents’ statement reads. “To that end, our family is cooperating with investigators … Our hearts will forever go out to the victims and survivors. Our thanks go to the first responders who prevented even greater loss of life and the well-wishers who have supported us. And we pray for peace.”Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Man’s body found in elderly woman’s freezer could have been there for 11 years

first_imgiStock(TOOELE CITY, Utah) — The body of a man found in a freezer in a dead woman’s home may have been there for as long as 11 years.The grisly discovery happened last week when police were doing a routine welfare check on a 75-year-old woman named Jeanne Souron-Mathers that had not been seen for about two weeks. When police gained access to her home they discovered her deceased on her bed.“That is kind of what started all this,” said Tooele City Police sergeant Jeremy Hansen to ABC News’ affiliate station KTVX.Officers began processing the scene of the woman’s death but when they looked into a deep freezer they found an adult male deceased inside the freezer.“Foul play is suspected. Both bodies were taken to the medical examiner’s office for autopsy. There was no trauma, visible trauma, on the female,” said Hansen. “We are still waiting for the medical examiner’s report and the autopsy to be done on the male and that way we can find out if there is any trauma or anything like that to his body and try to figure out how he died.”Police later identified the man to be her husband Paul Edward Mathers but during the course of their initial investigation they received multiple varying reports from neighbors about when he was last seen.“Well, that is kind of our problem right now,” said Hansen. “The detectives talked to several other people at the apartment complex that lived in the different apartments and they did recall seeing a male at the apartment but every time they asked, the time frame was different. So that is why we are suspecting anywhere from a year and a half to 11 years … We truly don’t know at this point how long he had been in the freezer.”Foul play is expected in her Paul Edward Mathers’ death but the death of Jeanne Souron-Mathers is not considered suspicious. The investigation is ongoing.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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