Over 700,000 foreigners overstayed their visas in 2016, says new DHS report

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — More than half a million foreigners stayed in the United States after their visas expired during the last fiscal year, according to a new report released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Monday.

Of the more than 50 million foreigners that entered the U.S., 1.47 percent — or 739,478 people — stayed in the country past the length of their visa. That includes those who stay one day over their allowable time, as well as people who have no intention of ever leaving the U.S.

This report shows that “we have a problem with visa overstays in the United States,” said a senior DHS official Monday, pointing out that the number of people who stayed in the U.S. illegally is close to the population of Seattle.

“The integrity of our immigration system is at stake,” the official added.

Of the total number of overstays last year, 628,799 people or 1.25 percent had no record of departure, known as an “in-country” overstay at the end of the fiscal year, according to DHS. However, due to continued departures and changes to immigration status, that number decreased over time. By January 10, the official number of people who overstayed visas in the fiscal year of 2016 had dropped to 544,676.

This is the second year that DHS has formally released these numbers.

The report, which is only a snapshot in time, represents about 96 percent of all people entering the U.S. on a temporary visa, including temporary workers, students, exchange visitors, personal travel and business travel – a larger pool of people than the 2015 report. The only exceptionsin 2016 were airline crews and transiting passengers.

However, the report does not include people entering the U.S through land checkpoints, but in some cases departures to Canada or Mexico are included to close out a case.

When determining if someone overstayed a visa, DHS needs to take into account whether they applied for a more permanent immigration benefit or legally extended their stay in the U.S.

The U.K. followed by Germany, Italy and France had the largest total number of people overstaying their travel visas for business or pleasure, among countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. for business or tourism without a visa.

The visa waiver program promotes commerce and ease of travel, but it also creates national security risks, as Europeans from those countries who have fought with ISIS in the Middle East return home.

“They have learned how to make IEDs, employ drones to drop ordnance, and acquired experience on the battlefield that by all reports they are bringing back home,” said DHS Sec. John Kelly at a recent speech.

“They can more easily travel to the United States which makes us a prime target for their exported violence,” he added.

This has been a national security concern for years. For example, two of the 19 hijackers on September 11, 2001, were visa overstays, prompting the 9/11 Commission to call for the government to track visitors to the U.S. on entry and exit.

Brazil had by far the most total overstays from countries that do not participate in the visa waiver program – followed by Venezuela, China, Colombia and Nigeria.

While DHS says it is confident in its data, there is a chance that someone could leave the U.S. as an “imposter” because departures are currently only tracked using biographic data, like an airplanes manifest.

Without biometric data – like fingerprints, facial recognition — there is a chance that someone could lie about leaving.

Despite Congressional mandate and years of officials calling for biometric exit data, it still remains a challenge for DHS.

Airports were never designed to control customs departure from within the U.S., according to DHS. For example, international departures and domestic departures coming at airports.

In addition, if you scan someone too early in the check-in process, there is still a chance they could lie about leaving and if you scan at the gate, you run into time and space constraints.

There is currently a pilot program at the Atlanta airport that is using facial recognition to match people with their photos as they leave the country.

When people overstay their visas the data is shared with ICE to carry out enforcement. It’s provided daily and in conjunction with ICE’s priorities, like national security and law enforcement needs.

However, a DHS inspector general report earlier this month found that a “fragmented, ineffective” set of information technology (IT) systems hinder efforts by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to track visa overstays.

ICE relies on IT systems that lack integration and information-sharing capabilities, forcing ICE personnel to piece together information from up to 27 distinct DHS information systems and databases to accurately determine an individual’s overstay status.

This inefficient process has contributed to a backlog of more than 1.2 million visa overstay cases – taking months for ICE to determine a visa holder’s status and whether someone poses a national security threat, found the report.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Over 700,000 foreigners overstayed their visas in 2016, says new DHS report

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — More than half a million foreigners stayed in the United States after their visas expired during the last fiscal year, according to a new report released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Monday.

Of the more than 50 million foreigners that entered the U.S., 1.47 percent — or 739,478 people — stayed in the country past the length of their visa. That includes those who stay one day over their allowable time, as well as people who have no intention of ever leaving the U.S.

This report shows that “we have a problem with visa overstays in the United States,” said a senior DHS official Monday, pointing out that the number of people who stayed in the U.S. illegally is close to the population of Seattle.

“The integrity of our immigration system is at stake,” the official added.

Of the total number of overstays last year, 628,799 people or 1.25 percent had no record of departure, known as an “in-country” overstay at the end of the fiscal year, according to DHS. However, due to continued departures and changes to immigration status, that number decreased over time. By January 10, the official number of people who overstayed visas in the fiscal year of 2016 had dropped to 544,676.

This is the second year that DHS has formally released these numbers.

The report, which is only a snapshot in time, represents about 96 percent of all people entering the U.S. on a temporary visa, including temporary workers, students, exchange visitors, personal travel and business travel – a larger pool of people than the 2015 report. The only exceptionsin 2016 were airline crews and transiting passengers.

However, the report does not include people entering the U.S through land checkpoints, but in some cases departures to Canada or Mexico are included to close out a case.

When determining if someone overstayed a visa, DHS needs to take into account whether they applied for a more permanent immigration benefit or legally extended their stay in the U.S.

The U.K. followed by Germany, Italy and France had the largest total number of people overstaying their travel visas for business or pleasure, among countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. for business or tourism without a visa.

The visa waiver program promotes commerce and ease of travel, but it also creates national security risks, as Europeans from those countries who have fought with ISIS in the Middle East return home.

“They have learned how to make IEDs, employ drones to drop ordnance, and acquired experience on the battlefield that by all reports they are bringing back home,” said DHS Sec. John Kelly at a recent speech.

“They can more easily travel to the United States which makes us a prime target for their exported violence,” he added.

This has been a national security concern for years. For example, two of the 19 hijackers on September 11, 2001, were visa overstays, prompting the 9/11 Commission to call for the government to track visitors to the U.S. on entry and exit.

Brazil had by far the most total overstays from countries that do not participate in the visa waiver program – followed by Venezuela, China, Colombia and Nigeria.

While DHS says it is confident in its data, there is a chance that someone could leave the U.S. as an “imposter” because departures are currently only tracked using biographic data, like an airplanes manifest.

Without biometric data – like fingerprints, facial recognition — there is a chance that someone could lie about leaving.

Despite Congressional mandate and years of officials calling for biometric exit data, it still remains a challenge for DHS.

Airports were never designed to control customs departure from within the U.S., according to DHS. For example, international departures and domestic departures coming at airports.

In addition, if you scan someone too early in the check-in process, there is still a chance they could lie about leaving and if you scan at the gate, you run into time and space constraints.

There is currently a pilot program at the Atlanta airport that is using facial recognition to match people with their photos as they leave the country.

When people overstay their visas the data is shared with ICE to carry out enforcement. It’s provided daily and in conjunction with ICE’s priorities, like national security and law enforcement needs.

However, a DHS inspector general report earlier this month found that a “fragmented, ineffective” set of information technology (IT) systems hinder efforts by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to track visa overstays.

ICE relies on IT systems that lack integration and information-sharing capabilities, forcing ICE personnel to piece together information from up to 27 distinct DHS information systems and databases to accurately determine an individual’s overstay status.

This inefficient process has contributed to a backlog of more than 1.2 million visa overstay cases – taking months for ICE to determine a visa holder’s status and whether someone poses a national security threat, found the report.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tampa man arrested for allegedly killing ‘neo-Nazi’ roommates who ‘disrespected’ his Muslim faith

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) — Tampa police are investigating after a man allegedly admitted to killing his two roommates because he believes they disrespected his Muslim faith.

Devon Arthurs, 18, was arrested Friday and faces two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault and three counts of armed kidnapping.

Around 5:29 p.m. local time on May 19, Arthurs entered Green Planet Smoke Shop in Tampa armed with a black semiautomatic pistol, according to a police report on the incident. He allegedly demanded that the employee and one customer who were in the store at the time get on the ground as he pointed the gun at one of the captives.

“Why shouldn’t I kill you?” one victim says Arthurs yelled while holding them captive, according to the police report.

About two to three minutes after Arthurs entered the shop, a second customer entered and was also ordered to get on the ground.

“Arthurs informed all three victims in the store that he had already killed somebody,” said the police report. “He further informed all three victims that he was upset due to America bombing his Muslim countries.”

Approximately five minutes after the third victim entered the store, two Tampa police officers arrived to the scene and confronted Arthurs.

According to the police report, one victim was able to run away from the scene, while the officers convinced Arthurs to let the remaining two victims go. After minutes of negotiating, Arthurs surrendered and allowed officers to arrest him.

While being walked to the police car, Arthurs made references to “Allah Mohammed” and stated, “I had to do it. This wouldn’t have had to happen if your country didn’t bomb my country,” according to the police report.

While under arrest, Arthurs was asked if anyone else was hurt, to which he replied, “The people in the apartment, but they aren’t hurt, they’re dead,” according to the police report.

Arthurs then directed police to the apartment, where two male victims were found dead. He identified the victims to police as his roommates Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk,18, and provided details of the shooting, including the rifle he used, the sequence of events, and the exact location of the shooting and the placement of the shot on each victim, according to the police report.

Arthurs stated that he had once shared a common neo-Nazi belief with his two roommates before converting to Islam, and that the shooting deaths were caused by the individuals disrespecting his Muslim faith.

Arthurs’ fourth roommate, Brandon Russell, was also arrested May 21 after allegedly being linked to explosive devices found in the apartment.

When police arrived to the apartment where Himmelman and Oneschuk were found dead, Russell was seen outside of the apartment dressed in full U.S. Army camouflage “crying and visibly upset,” according to the police report.

“That’s my roommate (Russell),” Arthurs said, according to the report. “He doesn’t know what’s going on and just found them like you guys did.”

Arthurs also told police that before the murders he had been aware of “Russell participating in online neo-Nazi internet chat rooms where he threatened to kill people and bomb infrastructure,” according to the report.

“From our point of view, there was a double homicide and we arrested the guy who did the homicide,” a spokesperson for Tampa Police Department told ABC News. “When we started talking to him and got info about neo-Nazi and stuff in the apartment we called the FBI and we are certainly working with [them].”

Tampa police obtained a state search warrant for the apartment, where law enforcement discovered a cooler in the garage with a white, cake-like substance. Two FBI and Tampa Police Department bomb squad officials identified the substance as an explosive known as hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, according to a criminal report from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Other bomb-making materials and firearms were also found in the apartment. Nazi and white supremacist propaganda were discovered in Russell’s bedroom, including a framed photo of Oklahoma City federal building bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Russell, who is associated with the Army National Guard, allegedly admitted to law enforcement officials that he was a national socialist, a neo-Nazi and a member of a self-organized group called “Atom Waffen,” which is German for atomic weapon, according to the criminal report. They say he also admitted to owning the explosive devices found in the garage, and said they were used to make homemade rockets in 2013 when he was in an engineering club at the University of South Florida.

Russell was arrested by the FBI on May 21 and is charged with possession of unregistered destructive device and unlawful storage of explosive material. It is unclear if he is represented by an attorney and has not been scheduled a court date yet.

Arthurs, who is represented by a public defender, has a hearing set for May 24 at 10 a.m. local time.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tampa man arrested for allegedly killing ‘neo-Nazi’ roommates who ‘disrespected’ his Muslim faith

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) — Tampa police are investigating after a man allegedly admitted to killing his two roommates because he believes they disrespected his Muslim faith.

Devon Arthurs, 18, was arrested Friday and faces two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault and three counts of armed kidnapping.

Around 5:29 p.m. local time on May 19, Arthurs entered Green Planet Smoke Shop in Tampa armed with a black semiautomatic pistol, according to a police report on the incident. He allegedly demanded that the employee and one customer who were in the store at the time get on the ground as he pointed the gun at one of the captives.

“Why shouldn’t I kill you?” one victim says Arthurs yelled while holding them captive, according to the police report.

About two to three minutes after Arthurs entered the shop, a second customer entered and was also ordered to get on the ground.

“Arthurs informed all three victims in the store that he had already killed somebody,” said the police report. “He further informed all three victims that he was upset due to America bombing his Muslim countries.”

Approximately five minutes after the third victim entered the store, two Tampa police officers arrived to the scene and confronted Arthurs.

According to the police report, one victim was able to run away from the scene, while the officers convinced Arthurs to let the remaining two victims go. After minutes of negotiating, Arthurs surrendered and allowed officers to arrest him.

While being walked to the police car, Arthurs made references to “Allah Mohammed” and stated, “I had to do it. This wouldn’t have had to happen if your country didn’t bomb my country,” according to the police report.

While under arrest, Arthurs was asked if anyone else was hurt, to which he replied, “The people in the apartment, but they aren’t hurt, they’re dead,” according to the police report.

Arthurs then directed police to the apartment, where two male victims were found dead. He identified the victims to police as his roommates Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk,18, and provided details of the shooting, including the rifle he used, the sequence of events, and the exact location of the shooting and the placement of the shot on each victim, according to the police report.

Arthurs stated that he had once shared a common neo-Nazi belief with his two roommates before converting to Islam, and that the shooting deaths were caused by the individuals disrespecting his Muslim faith.

Arthurs’ fourth roommate, Brandon Russell, was also arrested May 21 after allegedly being linked to explosive devices found in the apartment.

When police arrived to the apartment where Himmelman and Oneschuk were found dead, Russell was seen outside of the apartment dressed in full U.S. Army camouflage “crying and visibly upset,” according to the police report.

“That’s my roommate (Russell),” Arthurs said, according to the report. “He doesn’t know what’s going on and just found them like you guys did.”

Arthurs also told police that before the murders he had been aware of “Russell participating in online neo-Nazi internet chat rooms where he threatened to kill people and bomb infrastructure,” according to the report.

“From our point of view, there was a double homicide and we arrested the guy who did the homicide,” a spokesperson for Tampa Police Department told ABC News. “When we started talking to him and got info about neo-Nazi and stuff in the apartment we called the FBI and we are certainly working with [them].”

Tampa police obtained a state search warrant for the apartment, where law enforcement discovered a cooler in the garage with a white, cake-like substance. Two FBI and Tampa Police Department bomb squad officials identified the substance as an explosive known as hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, according to a criminal report from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Other bomb-making materials and firearms were also found in the apartment. Nazi and white supremacist propaganda were discovered in Russell’s bedroom, including a framed photo of Oklahoma City federal building bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Russell, who is associated with the Army National Guard, allegedly admitted to law enforcement officials that he was a national socialist, a neo-Nazi and a member of a self-organized group called “Atom Waffen,” which is German for atomic weapon, according to the criminal report. They say he also admitted to owning the explosive devices found in the garage, and said they were used to make homemade rockets in 2013 when he was in an engineering club at the University of South Florida.

Russell was arrested by the FBI on May 21 and is charged with possession of unregistered destructive device and unlawful storage of explosive material. It is unclear if he is represented by an attorney and has not been scheduled a court date yet.

Arthurs, who is represented by a public defender, has a hearing set for May 24 at 10 a.m. local time.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WATCH: San Diego wildfire under investigation as possible arson

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Plus, the deadly climb on Mount Everest, and new recommendations for children and fruit juice consumption.

Tampa man arrested for allegedly killing ‘neo-Nazi’ roommates who ‘disrespected’ his Muslim faith

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Tampa police are investigating the case of a man who allegedly killed his neo-Nazi roommates for disrespecting his Muslim faith

WATCH: Death of Richard Collins under investigation as a possible hate crime

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Police say the murder suspect belongs to a racist Facebook group called Alt-Reich Nation.

WATCH: Death of Richard Collins under investigation as a possible hate crime

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Police say the murder suspect belongs to a racist Facebook group called Alt-Reich Nation.

WATCH: O.J. Simpson may have a chance at early parole

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

The Nevada parole board announced that Simpson could be eligible for release in October.

WATCH: O.J. Simpson may have a chance at early parole

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

The Nevada parole board announced that Simpson could be eligible for release in October.

WATCH: New video released of nursing home shooting

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Deputies found Chief Eric Disaro among the victims, who was just three weeks into the job.

WATCH: New video released of nursing home shooting

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Deputies found Chief Eric Disaro among the victims, who was just three weeks into the job.

WATCH: Father of teen killed in Times Square writes letter to daughter

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Alyssa Elsman, 18, a tourist from Michigan, was killed last Thursday.

WATCH: Father of teen killed in Times Square writes letter to daughter

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Alyssa Elsman, 18, a tourist from Michigan, was killed last Thursday.

Father of 18-year-old killed in Times Square crash writes letter to daughter

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Alyssa Elsman, 18, a tourist from Michigan, was killed last Thursday.

Mississippi lawmaker apologizes for calling for lynching

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

A Mississippi lawmaker has apologized for saying Louisiana leaders should be lynched for removing Confederate monuments

Father of 18-year-old killed in Times Square crash writes emotional letter to daughter

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Emilie Richardson/ABC News(NEW YORK) — The father of 18-year-old Alyssa Elsman, who was killed when a driver plowed into a crowd in New York’s Times Square last week, wrote an emotional letter to his daughter, saying, “I have a hole in my heart that can never be filled.”

The framed letter was placed at a memorial near the crash site.

“My world changed when you came into it and it is unexplainable with you leaving it,” wrote Thomas Elsman, father of Alyssa Elsman, a tourist from Michigan who was killed last Thursday when a driver sped into a crowd in Times Square. Alyssa Elsman’s 13-year-old sister was among the 20 people injured in the crash.

He wrote that his daughter “loved Times Square.”

“She would appreciate all your kind words but she would also tell us all to get back up and continue,” he added.

Read the full letter here:

“There is no words that can express our gratitude with the outpouring of love and support this city has shown us. Our medical staff, The NYPD and most of all YOU. This impromptu memorial dedicated to our daughter and seeing and talking to many of you has helped me cope with our loss. I have met so many people from different countries, religions, creeds etc……it doesn’t matter..you have shown us that when you remove bias..racism..and ignorance..WE ARE ALL ONE… Your condolences have been sincere and taken to heart. Please also remember there are 20 other families affected by this and please keep them in your thoughts too. Alyssa loved this city…she loved Times Square. She would appreciate all your kind words but she would also tell us all to get back up and continue. That’s how full of life my daughter was This city and our hearts are scarred, cut to the core, but in true New York City fashion..We will heal..We will prevail..and we will never forget. Alyssa Lynn Elsman… my beautiful 18 year old girl. I look at myself and will never understand how I could ever have made such an angel…Im glad you got your mothers looks….. I don’t know anything currently..I always have the answers..but I am blank…I have a hole in my heart that can never be filled. My world changed when you came into it and it is unexplainable with you leaving it. I love you kid. Just no words <3 Love you love you love you…. Dad”

The suspected driver, 26-year-old Richard Rojas, was taken into custody at the scene of the crash after he plowed through pedestrians from 42nd Street to 45th Street. He was arraigned on charges of murder, attempted murder and aggravated vehicular homicide. Rojas was remanded to custody and will next return to court on May 24. He has not yet formally entered a plea. His defense attorney declined to comment.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Father of 18-year-old killed in Times Square crash writes emotional letter to daughter

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Emilie Richardson/ABC News(NEW YORK) — The father of 18-year-old Alyssa Elsman, who was killed when a driver plowed into a crowd in New York’s Times Square last week, wrote an emotional letter to his daughter, saying, “I have a hole in my heart that can never be filled.”

The framed letter was placed at a memorial near the crash site.

“My world changed when you came into it and it is unexplainable with you leaving it,” wrote Thomas Elsman, father of Alyssa Elsman, a tourist from Michigan who was killed last Thursday when a driver sped into a crowd in Times Square. Alyssa Elsman’s 13-year-old sister was among the 20 people injured in the crash.

He wrote that his daughter “loved Times Square.”

“She would appreciate all your kind words but she would also tell us all to get back up and continue,” he added.

Read the full letter here:

“There is no words that can express our gratitude with the outpouring of love and support this city has shown us. Our medical staff, The NYPD and most of all YOU. This impromptu memorial dedicated to our daughter and seeing and talking to many of you has helped me cope with our loss. I have met so many people from different countries, religions, creeds etc……it doesn’t matter..you have shown us that when you remove bias..racism..and ignorance..WE ARE ALL ONE… Your condolences have been sincere and taken to heart. Please also remember there are 20 other families affected by this and please keep them in your thoughts too. Alyssa loved this city…she loved Times Square. She would appreciate all your kind words but she would also tell us all to get back up and continue. That’s how full of life my daughter was This city and our hearts are scarred, cut to the core, but in true New York City fashion..We will heal..We will prevail..and we will never forget. Alyssa Lynn Elsman… my beautiful 18 year old girl. I look at myself and will never understand how I could ever have made such an angel…Im glad you got your mothers looks….. I don’t know anything currently..I always have the answers..but I am blank…I have a hole in my heart that can never be filled. My world changed when you came into it and it is unexplainable with you leaving it. I love you kid. Just no words <3 Love you love you love you…. Dad”

The suspected driver, 26-year-old Richard Rojas, was taken into custody at the scene of the crash after he plowed through pedestrians from 42nd Street to 45th Street. He was arraigned on charges of murder, attempted murder and aggravated vehicular homicide. Rojas was remanded to custody and will next return to court on May 24. He has not yet formally entered a plea. His defense attorney declined to comment.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

FBI is not involved in Seth Rich case, officials say

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — FBI and other law enforcement officials are privately knocking down a conspiracy theory Monday, fueled by conservative commentators on Fox News, that seeks to divert attention from Russia’s involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee last year by suggesting a DNC staffer was murdered to cover up his involvement in passing the information to WikiLeaks.

According to officials with knowledge of the matter, the FBI is not investigating the unsolved murder of Seth Rich last year in what agents have determined was “a possible attempted robbery” gone wrong. Asked about the possible connection between Rich and WikiLeaks, one official told ABC News that “the only place I’ve seen that is through the conspiracy theories online.”

The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., continues to investigate his death as a homicide.

On July 10, 2016, the 27-year-old voter outreach coordinator was shot multiple times near his home in Washington, D.C., a few weeks before WikiLeaks published thousands of hacked emails from several DNC staff members.

Investigators determined that Rich had been the victim of an attempted robbery, but theories to the contrary first took hold when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange suggested Rich might have had a role, and WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information about his murder.

“Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material, and often very significant risk,” Assange said in an interview with the Dutch television program Nieuwsuur. “There’s a 27-year-old who works for the DNC, who was shot in the back, murdered.”

When pressed to explain his suggestion, Assange refused to identify Rich as a source, saying “we don’t comment on who our sources are.”

The theory resurfaced last week when a private investigator named Rod Wheeler who claimed to have been hired by the Rich family told Fox 5 DC that his sources within the FBI had told him that there was evidence suggesting Rich had contacted WikiLeaks before his death. He repeated the story in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity the following day.

“There was a federal investigator that was involved with the inside, a person that is very credible,” Wheeler told Hannity. “Very credible, and he said he laid eyes on that computer and he laid eyes on the case file. And he came across very credible. When you look at that with the totality of everything else that I found in this case, it’s very consistent for a person with my experience to begin to think, ‘Well, perhaps there were some email communications between Seth [Rich] and WikiLeaks.'”

Wheeler’s story changed in subsequent statements to other media outlets, prompting the local station to attach an editor’s note to its original story, acknowledging that Wheeler has “backtracked” on his claim that his information came from FBI sources.

That didn’t stop former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, however, from spreading the conspiracy theory in an appearance on Fox News Sunday a few days later.

“At the same time we have this very strange story now of this young man who worked for the Democratic National Committee who apparently was assassinated at 4:00 in the morning having given WikiLeaks something like 23,000, I’m sorry, 53,000 emails and 17,000 attachments,” Gingrich said. “Nobody is investigating that, and what does that tell you about what was going on, because it turns out it wasn’t the Russians, it was this young guy who I suspect was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee. He’s been killed and apparently nothing serious has been done to investigate his murder.”

The family, meanwhile, has sent Wheeler a cease and desist letter, and Brad Bauman, a family spokesperson, told ABC News that this latest report is just further proof of what the family already knows.

“So much of the conspiracy theory has been dependent on the allegation of federal investigators being involved, and the fact that the FBI has not and never had been involved with this investigation is critical to understanding just how false these conspiracy theories are,” Bauman said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

FBI is not involved in Seth Rich case, officials say

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — FBI and other law enforcement officials are privately knocking down a conspiracy theory Monday, fueled by conservative commentators on Fox News, that seeks to divert attention from Russia’s involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee last year by suggesting a DNC staffer was murdered to cover up his involvement in passing the information to WikiLeaks.

According to officials with knowledge of the matter, the FBI is not investigating the unsolved murder of Seth Rich last year in what agents have determined was “a possible attempted robbery” gone wrong. Asked about the possible connection between Rich and WikiLeaks, one official told ABC News that “the only place I’ve seen that is through the conspiracy theories online.”

The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., continues to investigate his death as a homicide.

On July 10, 2016, the 27-year-old voter outreach coordinator was shot multiple times near his home in Washington, D.C., a few weeks before WikiLeaks published thousands of hacked emails from several DNC staff members.

Investigators determined that Rich had been the victim of an attempted robbery, but theories to the contrary first took hold when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange suggested Rich might have had a role, and WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information about his murder.

“Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material, and often very significant risk,” Assange said in an interview with the Dutch television program Nieuwsuur. “There’s a 27-year-old who works for the DNC, who was shot in the back, murdered.”

When pressed to explain his suggestion, Assange refused to identify Rich as a source, saying “we don’t comment on who our sources are.”

The theory resurfaced last week when a private investigator named Rod Wheeler who claimed to have been hired by the Rich family told Fox 5 DC that his sources within the FBI had told him that there was evidence suggesting Rich had contacted WikiLeaks before his death. He repeated the story in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity the following day.

“There was a federal investigator that was involved with the inside, a person that is very credible,” Wheeler told Hannity. “Very credible, and he said he laid eyes on that computer and he laid eyes on the case file. And he came across very credible. When you look at that with the totality of everything else that I found in this case, it’s very consistent for a person with my experience to begin to think, ‘Well, perhaps there were some email communications between Seth [Rich] and WikiLeaks.'”

Wheeler’s story changed in subsequent statements to other media outlets, prompting the local station to attach an editor’s note to its original story, acknowledging that Wheeler has “backtracked” on his claim that his information came from FBI sources.

That didn’t stop former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, however, from spreading the conspiracy theory in an appearance on Fox News Sunday a few days later.

“At the same time we have this very strange story now of this young man who worked for the Democratic National Committee who apparently was assassinated at 4:00 in the morning having given WikiLeaks something like 23,000, I’m sorry, 53,000 emails and 17,000 attachments,” Gingrich said. “Nobody is investigating that, and what does that tell you about what was going on, because it turns out it wasn’t the Russians, it was this young guy who I suspect was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee. He’s been killed and apparently nothing serious has been done to investigate his murder.”

The family, meanwhile, has sent Wheeler a cease and desist letter, and Brad Bauman, a family spokesperson, told ABC News that this latest report is just further proof of what the family already knows.

“So much of the conspiracy theory has been dependent on the allegation of federal investigators being involved, and the fact that the FBI has not and never had been involved with this investigation is critical to understanding just how false these conspiracy theories are,” Bauman said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WATCH: Tampa man arrested for allegedly killing roommates who he felt ‘disrespected’ his Muslim faith

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Devon Arthurs, 18, admitted to police that he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with is roommates before converting to Islam, and that he killed them because they disrespected his new faith.

WATCH: Tampa man arrested for allegedly killing roommates who he felt ‘disrespected’ his Muslim faith

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Devon Arthurs, 18, admitted to police that he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with is roommates before converting to Islam, and that he killed them because they disrespected his new faith.

WATCH: Family holds early Halloween for boy with rare condition

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Carter Sarkar’s community threw him an early Halloween party in celebration of his 5th birthday on May 21.

WATCH: Family holds early Halloween for boy with rare condition

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Carter Sarkar’s community threw him an early Halloween party in celebration of his 5th birthday on May 21.

WATCH: Little girl’s favorite officer attends her police-themed birthday party

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Evie Flanagan, 5, of Augusta, Maine, was so happy when Officer Brad Chase surprised her at her birthday party.

WATCH: Teachers get engaged at school pep rally

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Matt Craven, 26, and his new fiancée, Kendall Stiefel, 24, met while training as newly hired teachers.

WATCH: Teachers get engaged at school pep rally

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Matt Craven, 26, and his new fiancée, Kendall Stiefel, 24, met while training as newly hired teachers.

Judge denies bail for 3 people in child’s shooting death

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

A judge has denied bail to three Mississippi people accused of killing a 6-year-old boy

WATCH: Little girl’s favorite officer attends her police-themed birthday party

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Evie Flanagan, 5, of Augusta, Maine, was so happy when Officer Brad Chase surprised her at her birthday party.

University of Maryland stabbing suspect held without bond

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) — A white University of Maryland student accused of fatally stabbing a black man on campus was held without bond after he made his first appearance in court Monday via closed-circuit TV.

The FBI is investigating the fatal assault of Richard Collins III, a student at Bowie State University, as a possible hate crime.

The suspect, Sean Christopher Urbanski, has been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree assault.

Before the early Saturday morning attack on the University of Maryland campus, officials said Urbanski allegedly said to Collins, “Step left, step left, if you know what’s good for you.” The victim looked “puzzled” and “said no,” officials said. Urbanski then allegedly stabbed the victim in the chest, officials said.

Officials said Urbanski was a member of a Facebook group named “Alt-Reich.” The Associated Press said that in the group “members post disparaging material about African-Americans and others.”

Urbanski wore an orange jumpsuit Monday when he appeared via closed-circuit video from the Prince George’s County Correctional Facility. Urbanski’s attorney, William Brennan, said his client was intoxicated and incoherent and said he has no criminal record. Both of Urbanski’s parents were in court.

Brennan asked for a combination bond of money and an ankle GPS monitor. Brennan asked to restrict travel to Urbanski’s parents’ home and said his client would undergo alcohol and substance abuse treatment as well as a mental health evaluation.

The judge said she will allow Urbanski’s lawyers to research and evaluate the option of GPS monitoring, and in the meantime, he will be held without bond.

His preliminary hearing was scheduled for June 15.

Collins, who was recently commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army, was set to graduate this Tuesday from Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland, about 11 miles from the University of Maryland in College Park.

A candlelight vigil will be held at Bowie State University tonight for Collins and a moment of silence will be held during Tuesday’s graduation ceremony.

“Richie wouldn’t hurt a fly,” said Reverend Darryl Godlock of Calvert County Baptist Church, who is serving as a spokesperson for the Collins family. He called this a “random act of violence that has taken a young man as he’s about to start his career.”

Collins’ younger sister attends the University of Maryland, according to Godlock.

Bowie State University President Mickey Burnim said in a statement, “Our first thoughts of condolence go to the family for this tremendous loss of a son, who had the promise of a bright future. Our prayers of concern also extend to those within the Bowie State University community as we try to cope with this tragic loss of life.

“As we struggle to deal with our emotions, let’s find appropriate ways to express our sorrow and hope for justice,” Burnim added. “Let’s remember our words and actions have the power to heal and the power to hurt. Let’s strive to use our actions to bring comfort and peace.”

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh Statement said in a statement, “The horrific assault that took the life of a young man on our campus on Saturday morning has shocked, saddened, and angered our community and beyond.

“As we search for answers to this senseless crime, please continue to keep the family and friends of Lt. Collins, and the BSU community, in your thoughts and prayers,” Loh continued.

Loh added, “The safety of our campus community remains a top priority. UMPD has increased substantially its visible patrols, on and off campus. The Prince George’s County Police has also increased its patrols in the College Park community. UMPD is monitoring 24/7 the hundreds of video security cameras throughout the campus. The Department of Transportation Services has initiated NITE Ride, a curb-to-curb bus service that runs from dusk to 6 a.m.”

“However, increased police security is not sufficient,” Loh added. “We must all do more to nurture a climate — on campus and beyond — where we stand against hate, we fight against hate crimes, and we reaffirm the values that define us a university and as a democracy.”

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