Authorities plan to search Colorado landfill for Kelsey Berreth’s remains

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Woodland Park Police Department(FOUNTAIN, Colo.) — Colorado authorities are planning to begin the task Tuesday morning of digging through a landfill for Kelsey Berreth’s remains and other possible evidence in the missing mom’s case, sources told ABC News.

The search of the Midway landfill near Fountain, Colorado, could last several months, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. Investigators have been focusing their attention on the landfill since at least January, when officials from Waste Management told ABC News that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation had contacted them “regarding a potential search at Midway Landfill and we are cooperating fully.”

Berreth, a 29-year-old pilot, was last seen entering a Safeway near her home in Woodland Park, Colorado, on Thanksgiving Day, according to surveillance footage from the store. The footage showed her entering with her 1-year-old daughter in a car seat and taking a shopping cart. It was the last confirmed sighting of her.

Berreth’s mother reported her missing on Dec. 2, police said. Her body has never been found, but investigators testified in a Teller County courtroom on Tuesday that they believe Berreth’s fiancé, Patrick Frazee, burned her body on his property in Florissant, Colorado.

During Frazee’s preliminary hearing, a law enforcement witness said that Frazee told his mistress he “scooped Berreth’s remains up and was going to take them to the dump or to take them to the river.”

Krystal Lee Kenney, a former nurse from Idaho, told investigators that she and Frazee burned a black plastic container in a horse trough on Frazee’s land days after Berreth was killed.

Kenney, who has pleaded guilty to transporting the 29-year-old flight instructor’s cellphone from Colorado to Idaho on Nov. 25, told investigators that she never saw a body in the fire, but described a “lump” after the plastic melted away, which she believed to be Berreth’s remains.

“I learned Patrick Frazee had committed a homicide on approximately Nov. 22, 2018, in Teller County,” Kenney said in a court statement earlier this month. “I knew that law enforcement would be investigating that crime. I moved the victim’s cellphone with an intent to impair the phone’s availability in the investigation. I had no right or authority to move the victim’s cellphone that occurred between Nov. 24 and Nov. 25, 2018, in Teller County.”

According to the arrest affidavit released Wednesday, “Frazee put the black tote in a trough on his residence along with items from Berreth’s residence; the bat used to kill Berreth, and burned it to dispose of evidence….the contents of Berreth’s purse were burned at the same time as her body. There was a mace container, a pair of earrings and Berreth’s identification card. These items were all burned, with the exception of Berreth’s cell phone.”

Frazee, 32, is charged with two counts of murder and three counts of solicitation to commit murder in his fiancee’s death. Teller County prosecutors filed additional charges prior to the preliminary hearing, including tampering with a dead body and two sentence enhancers.

The couple’s daughter, Kaylee, is in temporary custody of Kelsey’s parents.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Los Angeles, Las Vegas see rare snow; storm moves east over weekend

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Residents in the usually warm climes of Southern California and Nevada were treated to a winter wonderland on Thursday.

Almost 1 inch of snow fell at Vegas International Airport on Thursday — the most snow the city has seen in more than a decade. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles metro area reported snow showers, but no actual accumulation. Flagstaff, Arizona, saw its snowiest day in the recorded history of the city with 35.9 inches.

The storm is gathering strength in the Southwest and southern Rockies on Friday. As the storm moves east over the next several days, 32 states from California to Virginia are under snow, flood or high wind alerts.

The storm system is centered over the Southwest early Friday morning bringing rain and snow to the Four Corners region of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.

By Friday evening, the storm system will move into the eastern Rockies and bring snow to Denver.

At the same time, ahead of the storm, a frontal system will bring heavy rain to the South, from Arkansas to Tennessee.

The storm moves into the central U.S. by Saturday, bringing heavy snow from Kansas to Michigan, while to the south, severe storms are expected with damaging winds, large hail and a few tornadoes. Flash flooding is also possible in the South with the heavy rain expected.

From Saturday night into Sunday morning the storm system moves onto the East Coast and into the Northeast, where heavy rain is expected for the Interstate 95 corridor from Virginia to Massachusetts.

Heavy snow is expected for northern New England. The heaviest rain will fall from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Memphis, Tennessee, and into western Virginia, where locally 4 inches or more is possible. Flash flooding is expected.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Florida mayor arrested for allegedly shooting at police officers

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Pasco Sheriff’s Office(PORT RICHEY, Fla.) — A Florida mayor, who was accused of practicing medicine without a license, was arrested on Thursday after he allegedly fired shots at deputies who were attempting to serve a search warrant, according to police.

Port Richey Mayor Dale Massad was arrested and charged with two counts of attempted homicide after he allegedly shot at two sheriff’s deputies at his home in central Florida, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said.

Massad, 68, also faces charges of practicing medicine without a license. There were no injuries reported and the deputies did not return fire, according to the sheriff’s office.

Massad is a known drug user with a history of violence, said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco. He was elected mayor of Port Richey, which is located about 40 miles north of Tampa, in 2015.

“We knew this was going to be a very dangerous situation, which it did turn out to be,” Nocco said at a press conference Thursday. “Our deputies did an unbelievable job. Those deputies were professional, their training kicked in and they did a great job.”

“He’s lucky he’s not dead,” he added.

Massad, who was recently arrested for a domestic violence incident, had multiple weapons at his home and told deputies that he refused to go back to jail, according to Nocco.

“This was a violent individual who had made the statement [saying] he wasn’t going back to jail,” Nocco said. “We did everything we could to make it a peaceful resolution. He’s the one who made the decision to shoot at us.”

Massad was a licensed doctor from 1977 until 1992, when he voluntarily surrendered his license after the Board of Medicine alleged his errors in care led to a 3-year-old patient’s death in 1990, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Agents launched an investigation after receiving reports that Massad had been seeing patients at his home for medical treatment, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in a statement.

“FDLE agents received information from the Port Richey Police Department that Massad, whose medical license was relinquished in 1992 in place of revocation, was still practicing medicine,” the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said. “He had performed medical procedures at his residence with one procedure requiring additional hospital treatment for the patient.”

The Port Richey mayor’s office did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

It’s unclear if Massad has retained an attorney.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Driver avoids tragedy as plank from subway platform spears windshield

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

WABC-TV(NEW YORK) — An Uber driver in Queens was the luckiest guy in New York City on Thursday.

Mahboob Lodhi, who said he had just gotten off a shift working for the car-share company, was cruising through Woodside in the city’s largest borough when a large plank fell from elevated subway tracks above him and speared right through his windshield.

Lodhi missed disaster by a foot or two.

“Boom. I’m just shocked,” Lodhi told New York ABC station WABC-TV about his thoughts in the moment. “I’m nervous and then after a couple minutes, nothing.”

No one was injured in the vehicle or on the street, though the wooden plank did glance off Lodhi’s arm and glass sprayed onto him.

Photos from after the incident show the piece of wood fully punctured the windshield and reached all the way to the passenger seat.

Several other planks also fell to the street.

“A track from the 7 train just crashed down upon a driving car around 65th Street in Woodside, piercing through the windshield,” New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer tweeted. “These photos are horrifying!”

Van Bramer also called for an investigation and said “someone could have been killed.”

The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates New York City’s subways, is facing billions of dollars in debt. The agency’s total outstanding debt as of Jan. 14 was slightly over $40 billion.

About Thursday’s incident, the MTA said in a statement to WABC, “We take this incident extremely seriously, are conducting a full investigation into what happened, have personnel ensuring the rest of the area is safe, and are relieved that no one was injured.”

Workers also spent Thursday evening inspecting the elevated portion of the 7 line for any other possible similarities.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Texas student arrested for bringing blade, ‘hit list’ to middle school

Posted on: February 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

BlakeDavidTaylor/iStock(HUMBLE, Texas) — A Texas middle school student was arrested this week for allegedly bringing a large blade and a so-called “hit list” to school, administrators said.

Karl Koehler, principal of the Atascocita Middle School in Humble, Texas, said the student was caught with an 8-inch blade on Wednesday that was large enough to cut a tree branch.

The unidentified student was arrested and charged with possession of a prohibited weapon, a third-degree felony, Koehler said.

Officials at Atascocita Middle School, located about 20 miles north of Houston, sent a letter home to parents on Wednesday afternoon explaining the situation.

“Today, a student made a poor choice and brought a saw blade to school,” the letter said. “The blade was about 8 inches and is the type of tool one uses to cut a tree branch. The student also had written a hit list containing a few students’ names.”

School officials said they made the discovery after receiving a tip about a potential safety concern.

“The moment that we received a tip about a potential safety concern, we took immediate action by launching an investigation,” the letter said. “We involved Humble ISD [Independent School District] Police, who gathered information and presented it to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.”

There were no injuries reported and the school said it planned to have personal conversations with the parents of students whose names were listed, according to the letter.

The Humble Independent School District thanked school officials for being proactive and stopping a potential tragedy.

“We have a proactive culture on campus that encourages people to share information,” the district said in a statement. “The system worked. We received a tip. We took immediate action by launching an investigation.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

US Coast Guard lieutenant accused of being a domestic terrorist appears in court for first time

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Tamilisa Miner/iStock(WASHINGTON) — A man allegedly caught researching acts of domestic terrorism and amassing more than a dozen firearms will spend at least two weeks in federal custody, a Maryland federal judge decided on Thursday.

U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson, 49, was arrested on charges of firearm and drug possession, but Judge Charles Day said that Hasson’s internet search history, as well as previous letters and emails he had allegedly written, were enough to warrant him a danger to the community.

Speaking on behalf of the prosecution, Jennifer Sykes said that the gun and drug possession charges were “just the tip of the iceberg” in terms of the extent of Hasson’s alleged crimes, indicating that they may attempt to charge him as a domestic terrorist allegedly planning to launch a major attack.

According to court documents filed Tuesday, Hasson was described as someone who had “espoused extremist views for years”. In a draft email from June 2017 he allegedly wrote, “I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth. I think a plague would be most successful but how do I acquire the needed/ Spanish flu, botulism, anthrax not sure yet but will find something.”

He was found to have been studying the writings of previous domestic terrorists and was particularly interested in that of Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian terrorist who killed 77 people in 2011, prosecutors alleged.

The defendant also allegedly compiled a list of prominent Democratic lawmakers as well as journalists from CNN and MSNBC. Names on that list include presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris, as well as MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and CNN’s Van Jones.

The documents further showed that since 2017 Hassan had compiled 15 weapons, some of which had the capacity for extra magazines, and over a thousand rounds of ammunition. The weapons were found in his home in Silver Spring, which prosecutors say he had been leasing since 2016. Investigators also found over 30 bottles of HGH, human growth hormone, which followed Breivik’s recommendations to bulk up in order to maximize one’s physical strength during an attack.

At the time of his arrest, Hasson was serving in the Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and had served in that position since 2016. Hasson also served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1988 to 1993 and spent two additional years in the mid-nineties in the National Guard, records showed.

Sykes also revealed that there was video showing Hasson taking those controlled substances while at work.

Hasson’s attorney, Julie Stelzig, sought to characterize the prosecution’s argument as overblown, calling it “histrionic.”

“These are very serious words,” Stelzig said of the prosecution’s claims that Hasson intended to murder innocent civilians. “Even more extraordinary was the lack of actual substance backing up the assertions.”

Stelzig also accused the government of submitting the court filing “in order to bring enormous media attention to the case” and convince the judge that Hasson should be detained and not released.

The defense noted that the charges Hasson was actually facing – possession of a firearm as either an addict or an unlawful user of a controlled substance, and a misdemeanor possession of the synthetic opioid painkiller tramadol, were charges that did not carry the presumption of detention, meaning that the prosecution had the burden of convincing the judge that he deserved to be detained.

Stelzig downplayed Hasson’s alleged stockpile of 15 guns and 1,000 rounds of ammunition, which were presented as evidence during the case.

“I can assure Your Honor that there are people in many parts of this country with whom this collection of guns would be modest at best,” Stelzig said.

She told the judge Hasson’s search history did not reflect that of someone intent on committing an act of terrorism, arguing that he had not gathered home addresses for any of the public officials he had listed.

“We are not yet a country that criminalizes people for their thoughts. Even their darkest thoughts,” Stelzig said. “We are not yet a country that detains people for their internet searches.”

Day based his decision on four factors: the circumstances of the offense charged, the weight of the evidence, some ancillary factors including his otherwise spotless record and service to the nation as a Marine veteran and member of the Coast Guard and National Guard, and the presumption of innocence relative to the government’s assertion that his internet searches show him to be a danger to the community, “which is where the government is laying its hat,” he said.

The judge said both the prosecution and defense had made strong arguments but that he took issue with the defense’s suggestion that the prosecution had filed a motion for detention in order to “drum up media interest and potentially to influence this court.”

“I don’t know about the former but I can assure you the second is not accurate,” the judge said.

He said his ruling – that Hasson should remain in federal custody for at least 14 days – came with a “caveat” that after those fourteen days, if the prosecution has not yet charged Hasson with any of the other criminal activity they alluded to on Thursday, Hasson’s defense would be allowed to return to court and argue again for his release.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Judge sets $100,000 bond for Smollett, orders ‘Empire’ actor’s passport surrendered

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was arrested in Chicago early Thursday morning for allegedly filing a false report of a crime, police said.

Judge sets $100,000 bond for Jussie Smollett, orders ‘Empire’ actor’s passport surrendered

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Chicago Police Dept.(CHICAGO) — A Chicago judge set Jesse Smollett’s bond at $100,000 on Thursday and ordered him to surrender his passport, hours after a remarkable Chicago Police Department press conference in which Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson blasted the ‘Empire’ star, saying that Smollett’s alleged staging of a hoax attack was a “publicity stunt…to promote his career.”

Standing before Cook County Circuit Court Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke, Jr., Smollett appeared to remain steadfast in his refutation of the charge against him. He has repeatedly insisted that the attack was real and that he was merely a victim, not a perpetrator.

When first assistant state attorney Risa Lanier told Lyke that the actor had picked up two brothers who authorities say carried out the staged attack on him at his direction and showed them the location of where he wanted to be attacked, Smollett shook his head in disagreement.

When Lyke told Smollett that the allegations, if true, are “utterly outrageous,” the actor nodded his head in agreement — doing so again when Lyke said the noose detail would be the most despicable part of the alleged scheme.

The judge also ordered pre-trial monitoring of the actor, and ordered him to stay away from the two brothers he allegedly conspired with to stage the hoax attack, according to police.

The tense courtroom appearance followed on the heels of a morning press conference at which a visibly angry Johnson castigated the actor for betraying his race and his city with such an incendiary false claim.

“Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” a visibly angry Johnson said. “I am left hanging my head asking ‘why?’. Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? … How can an individual who’s been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in the city in the face with these false claims?”

Johnson charged that Smollett, an actor on the hit show ‘Empire’ who has consistently denied any role in staging the alleged attack, orchestrated it because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”

In addition to staging the attack, officials said, Smollett also sent himself a hate-filled letter to the Fox studio where the hit show is filmed.

Smollett turned himself in at 5:15 a.m. local time and made a statement to police before being taken into custody. His lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, were not present at the time but they released a statement the night before.

“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”

Backlash

Police add that Smollett gave no statement to police after turning himself in and that his lawyers had reached out to them Wednesday night to discuss his surrender. Smollett wanted to turn himself in near midnight, but authorities suggested he come in at 5 a.m. instead, to avoid spending the night in jail. Smollett arrived early Thursday morning accompanied by a female lawyer and an entourage of five or six people.

Smollett was silent as he went through the motions of being booked and processed.

By late morning on Thursday, the backlash against the actor began at the top, with an angry tweet from the President of the United States.

[email protected] – what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA” President Donald Trump wrote in a tweet after the press conference.

In an earlier interview with ABC News, Smollett was asked why he thought he was targeted and he replied that he is a strident critic of the Trump administration.

“I come really really hard against 45,” he said. referring to Trump, the 45th U.S. president. “I come really really hard against his administration, and I don’t hold my tongue.”

‘I’m offended’

During a press briefing later Thursday morning, Chicago law enforcement officials said that Chicago police detectives interviewed more than 100 people and reviewed dozens of police cameras trying to get to the bottom of Smollett’s claims.

Johnson, a well-regarded and popular big city police chief and Chicago native, appeared genuinely aggrieved as he described how, he said, Smollett took advantage of the pain of racism to advance his career.

“Why would anyone use the symbol of a noose” to further his “own public profile,” Johnson wondered aloud.

“I’m offended by what happened and I’m angry,” Johnson continued. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t own and certainly didn’t deserve.”

Johnson, who oversees one of the nation’s largest police departments in one of its most violent cities, seemed disheartened by all the attention paid to the Smollett affair.

“The accusation within this phony attack received national attention for weeks,” Johnson told reporters during a press conference. “Celebrities, news commentators and even presidential candidates weighed in on something that was choreographed by an actor.”

“When you get the opportunity,” he said with a mixture of derision and frustration, “the shooting victims and their families? Give them the same amount of attention.”

 After the press briefing, 20th Century Fox, the station that airs “Empire,” released a statement which read, “We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”

‘Self-inflicted’ wounds

Smollett told police he was attacked by two masked men near his apartment in Chicago. The two men, Smollett initially said, shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him as a rope was wrapped around his neck and a chemical compound was poured on him. The alleged assailants yelled “MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s “Make American Great Again” slogan, police were told.

In an interview with “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, Smollett said he was heartbroken when he found out that people questioned his story.

Asked why he would leave the rope draped around his neck until police arrived because he “wanted them to see.”

“I was looking at myself, just like checking myself out,” he told Roberts. “I saw the bruise on my neck, you know, like the little — the rope burn around my neck. So when the police came I kept the clothes on, I kept the rope on me. … I mean, it wasn’t, like, wrapped around. But, yeah, it was around because I wanted them to see.”

Asked why he wait until the second interview to tell police that the assailants yelled “MAGA country” at him during the attack, Smollett seemed to take offense at the insinuation.

“For me, the main thing was the idea that I somehow switched up my story, you know? And that somehow maybe I added a little extra trinket, you know, of the MAGA thing,” Smollett said on ABC News. “I didn’t need to add anything like that. They called me a f—-, they called me a n—-. There’s no which way you cut it.”

‘Chicago trusted this young man’

Johnson said on Thursday that Smollett’s seeming injuries from the incident also appeared to be phony.

“The brothers had on gloves during the staged attack where they — they punched him a little bit, but as far as we can tell, the scratches and bruising that you saw on his face was most likely self-inflicted.”

Police identified and questioned two “persons of interest” captured on surveillance video near the scene around the time of the alleged attack. The men, who are brothers, were arrested on Feb. 13 but then released without charges, with police saying they were no longer considered suspects.

While being questioned by investigators, the brothers claimed that Smollett paid them to help orchestrate and stage the crime after he became upset that a letter threatening him, sent Jan. 22 to the Fox studio where “Empire” is filmed, did not get enough attention, sources told ABC News.

On Wednesday, Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false crime report. By that evening, police officially had classified the actor as a suspect in the ongoing investigation. Detectives subsequently presented evidence to a Cook County grand jury.

“That was a pretty hateful allegation, and it really put a terrible look on Chicago,” Guglielmi told ABC Chicago station WLS in a telephone interview Thursday morning. “Chicago trusted this young man. We loved ‘Empire,’ and we took this very seriously that something this hateful could happen in our city.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

How Jussie Smollett relentlessly defended his story against a storm of skepticism

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Smollett was relentless in his own defense until he was charged with a felony.

Scientists may have just discovered why zebras have stripes by putting them on horses

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Scientists may have learned why zebras have stripes and it may be a bug repellent.

Sister of victim in 1973 cold case murder speaks after suspect arrested through DNA

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

A man was arrested this week in the decades-old killing of Linda O’Keefe, 11.

‘Empire’ star staged attack as ‘publicity stunt…to promote his career’: Police

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was arrested in Chicago early Thursday morning for allegedly filing a false report of a crime, police said.

Jussie Smollett staged hoax attack as ‘publicity stunt…to promote his career’: Police

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(CHICAGO) — Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson blasted Jussie Smollett in an emotional press conference on Thursday in which he said that Smollett’s alleged staging of a hoax attack was a “publicity stunt…to promote his career.”

“Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Johnson said. “Why would anyone especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? … How can an individual who’s been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in the city in the face with these false claims?”

Johnson charged that Smollett, an actor on the hit show Empire who has consistently denied any role in staging the alleged attack, orchestrated it because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”

In addition to staging the attack, officials said, Smollett also sent himself a hate-filled letter to the Fox studio where the hit show is filmed.

Smollett turned himself in at 5:15 a.m. local time and made a statement to police before being taken into custody. His lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, were not present at the time but they released the following statement the night before, “Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”

Police add that Smollett gave no statement to police after turning himself in and that his lawyers had reached out to them Wednesday night to discuss his surrender.

During a press briefing later Thursday morning, Chicago law enforcement officials said that Chicago police detectives interviewed more than 100 people and reviewed dozens of police cameras trying to get to the bottom of Smollett’s claims.

Johnson, a well-regarded and popular big city police chief and Chicago native, appearing genuinely aggrieved as he described how, he said, Smollett took advantage of the pain of racism to advance his career.

“Why would anyone use the symbol of a noose” to further his “own public profile,” Johnson wondered aloud.

“I’m offended by what happened and I’m angry,” Johnson continued. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t own and certainly didn’t deserve.”

Smollett told police he was attacked by two masked men near his apartment in Chicago. The two men, Smollett initially said, shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him as a rope was wrapped around his neck and a chemical compound was poured on him. The alleged assailants yelled “MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s “Make American Great Again” slogan, police were told.

In an interview with Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, Smollett said he was heartbroken when he found out that people questioned his story.

Police identified and questioned two “persons of interest” captured on surveillance video near the scene around the time of the alleged attack. The men, who are brothers, were arrested on Feb. 13 but then released without charges, with police saying they were no longer considered suspects.

While being questioned by investigators, the brothers claimed that Smollett paid them to help orchestrate and stage the crime after he became upset that a letter threatening him, sent Jan. 22 to the Fox studio where “Empire” is filmed, did not get enough attention, sources told ABC News.

On Wednesday, Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false crime report. By that evening, police officially had classified the actor as a suspect in the ongoing investigation. Detectives subsequently presented evidence to a Cook County grand jury.

“That was a pretty hateful allegation, and it really put a terrible look on Chicago,” Guglielmi told ABC Chicago station WLS in a telephone interview Thursday morning. “Chicago trusted this young man. We loved Empire, and we took this very seriously that something this hateful could happen in our city.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jussie Smollett allegedly staged attack ‘to promote his career’: Police

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was arrested in Chicago early Thursday morning for allegedly filing a false report of a crime, police said.

Sister of victim in 1973 cold case murder speaks out after suspect arrested through DNA: ‘I’ve been praying for him’

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Newport Beach Police(NEW YORK) — The sister of a little girl who was strangled to death in 1973 didn’t expect to see a conclusion to the mysterious cold case, she told ABC News hours after a man’s arrest was announced on Wednesday.

“I never really thought that they would actually ever find the individual responsible,” Cindy Borgeson, a sister of Linda O’Keefe, told ABC News. “After all this time, finding out there is a face and a name…just brings additional closure.”

O’Keefe, 11, was abducted on July 6, 1973, as she walked home from summer school, the Newport Beach, California, Police Department said. Her strangled body was found the next day.

Their mother “carried that guilt the rest of her life,” Borgeson said.

James Neal, 72, who lived in Southern California and worked in construction in the 1970s, was arrested this week in Colorado, where he had been living, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said at a Wednesday news conference.

DNA recovered from O’Keefe shortly after her death was put into the Combined DNA Index System — the law enforcement database known as CODIS — but there was no hit, said Spitzer.

However, through the genealogical data of his family members, who voluntarily submitted their DNA to genealogy databases, investigators were able to corroborate the DNA from O’Keefe’s body and the DNA obtained from the suspect, according to Spitzer. The genealogical hit came in January, officials said.

“I had closure when they found her body,” Borgeson said about the fateful day 46 years ago. But she added that she was thankful for the “additional closure” brought to her by the investigators who never gave up, as well as the new technology, which made it possible to process the crime scene DNA.

“I’m astonished at what they were able to accomplish,” Borgeson, 64, said. “My hope is that this [case] brings hope to other families who haven’t had closure yet.”

O’Keefe, who was seven years younger than Borgeson, was “an old soul” with a “go with the flow” personality, Borgeson said.

While their parents did not live to see an arrest, Borgeson said, “I’m sure she [O’Keefe] and my parents are rejoicing.”

“I’ll get to be with them again,” she added.

As for her sister’s suspected killer, Borgeson said, “because of my profound faith, I’ve been able to forgive the individual.”

“I couldn’t carry that burden in my heart of hating an individual even though he committed this horrible crime,” she said. “I hope that he has remorse.”

Borgeson said, if she gets a chance to speak to Neal, she would “let him know that I’ve been praying for him.”

Borgeson said she also prayed for Neal’s family as his arrest was announced.

“They probably are so shocked,” she said. “I’m sure they’re going through a lot of grieving of their own.”

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Former Uber driver blames 2016 rampage on ‘devil’ app that ‘literally took over mind and body’ in never-before-seen interrogation tapes

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department(NEW YORK) — In never-before-seen interrogation tapes, Jason Dalton, the former Uber driver who pleaded guilty to a 2016 shooting spree in the Kalamazoo, Michigan, area that left six dead and two severely wounded, explained in detail how he claimed the ride-sharing app had “guided” him to kill unsuspecting residents.

During the 2016 interrogation, tapes of which ABC News’ 20/20 obtained, Dalton told investigators that he’d been working for Uber for less than a week and had noticed something unusual about the mobile app.

“The minute that I logged on, to be honest with you, I don’t know what happened,” he is heard telling investigators in tapes. “I know you guys are going to have a hard time believing this, but it literally took over (my) mind and body.”

Watch the full story on 20/20 THIS FRIDAY, Feb. 22, at 9 p.m. on ABC.

The shootings occurred on the evening of Feb. 20, 2016, as Dalton continued to transport Uber customers to their destinations.

His victims included Tiana Carruthers, 28; Richard Smith, 53, and his 17-year-old son, Tyler Smith; Mary Lou Nye, 62; Mary Jo Nye, 60; Dorothy “Judy” Brown, 74; Barbara Hawthorne, 68; and then-14-year-old Abigail Kopf.

Carruthers and Kopf survived the shootings.

After Dalton was taken into custody, he was interrogated twice, separately by officers with the Michigan State Police and the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.

“He was a white male, salt-and-pepper-colored hair, wearing glasses. … He was short and heavy-set. … Besides that, nothing stood out about him,” Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety detective Cory Ghiringhelli told 20/20.

Investigators spoke with him over the course of about four hours overnight and the next day. Dalton showed no emotion in the interrogation room, said detective Bill Moorian of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.

“There was no fluctuation in his voice. He was just sitting there going through the motions that were going on and it was just unusual,” Moorian said. “[I] never had anybody like that before.”

Investigators say that during the interrogation, Dalton was initially hesitant to talk with the officers, refusing to answer their questions and pleading the fifth. He did speak to them about his beloved dog, a black German shepherd, and even asked to call his wife, though shortly after she picked up the phone and a quick exchange, he hung up, telling officers he’d only wanted to hear her voice.

Finally, however, he began to talk about the Uber app.

Dalton claimed that he’d seen the symbol of the Eastern Star when he initially logged into the Uber app, Kalamazoo detective Ghiringhelli said.

“That started this whole thing,” Ghiringhelli recounted from the interrogation.

“I just tapped it and then there was like a devil head that popped up,” Dalton told investigators in the tapes. “It was some sort of like horned, horned head like a cow head or something. … I pressed that button and that’s where all the problems went after that.”

Dalton told detectives that the Uber app had taken control of him.

“You can drive over a hundred miles an hour and go through stoplights and nothing will, you can just get places. … When I tapped that, it said that I could say whatever I wanted to. … There would be no repercussion,” he said.

Dalton said the app would start off red and then switch to black.

“When it’s in that black mode, it literally has control of you,” he said. “It would do a little blink at me.”

Ghiringhelli said that according to Dalton, the app gave him an assignment and he had to complete the assignment.

“It was like he was a puppet,” Ghiringhelli told 20/20.

The phone communicated with him, Dalton told investigators, instructing him on what to do. “One ding” meant “yes” and “two dings” signaled “no.”

Dalton also told investigators that when officers pulled him over around midnight, ending the shooting spree, he’d almost reached for his gun but the phone had returned to red. Dalton said that’s why he did not shoot at the officers.

“I was no longer being guided. … I mean, that’s not my nature to be that way,” he told detectives. “The minute that the app went from black to red. … I had my presence.”

“I wasn’t believing any of it but if it’s something that’s gonna make him talk, you’re not going to shut him down,” Moorian said. “So, we just let him talk about it and we tried to encourage him.”

Dalton also told investigators that prior to the shootings, he had not been sleeping and that was “not normal” for him.

“I’ve mainly just lied down a few times,” he said. “I’ve been going for a long time. … I think I’ve been going for probably more than 24 hours.”

He told them he had no idea how many people he’d shot and said that shootings had been totally random. He also revealed that he remembered shooting a child.

Michigan State Police detective Sgt. Kyle Gorham said Dalton’s voice had changed “dramatically” when he spoke of shooting Kopf.

“He felt badly for the child and the family of the child but he didn’t express any remorse for anybody else,” Moorian said.

Kalamazoo County prosecutor Jeff Getting said that as far as they know, Dalton had no marital trouble, emotional trouble, criminal record or financial problems. Getting said there was also no evidence of Dalton’s being an extremist.

On Jan. 7, nearly three years after the shootings, Dalton pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree premeditated murder and two counts of assault with the intent to commit murder.

The decision was a surprise as attorneys were preparing to select a jury for his criminal trial. A judge sentenced him on Feb. 5 to life in prison without the possibility of a parole.

When reaching out to Uber for comment, a representative referred 20/20 to a 2016 call with reporters about the Kalamazoo incident, during which Uber’s then-chief security officer, Joe Sullivan said, in part, “I want to reiterate how devastated we are by these murders, and that our thoughts are with the victims’ families and the broader community in Kalamazoo. As the local police have made clear, the perpetrator had no criminal record, and if there’s nothing on someone’s record, then no background check is going to raise a flag. As this case has shown, past behavior may not accurately predict how people will behave in the future. This is where technology can help ensure safety before, during and after a ride in ways that was not possible a decade ago.”

“We’re deeply committed to the safety of everyone on our platform, as well as the communities we serve, and we have a clear policy that prohibits having firearms in the vehicle,” he added.

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Utah man who shouted that he wanted to ‘kill Mexicans’ charged with federal hate crimes

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Kuzma/iStock(SALT LAKE CITY) — A Utah man who allegedly attacked three men with a metal pole after shouting that he wanted to “kill Mexicans” has been charged with federal hate crimes, authorities said.

A federal grand jury in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday indicted Alan Covington on three counts of hate crimes. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Covington is accused of entering a Salt Lake City tire shop on Nov. 27 and yelling that he wanted to “kill Mexicans” before striking a man in the head with a metal pole. The grand jury indictment alleges that the attack was “an attempt to kill.” Covington then allegedly struck another man with the pole. Both men suffered bodily injury.

Covington is also accused of swinging the pole at a third man in an attempt to injure him.

The indictment alleges Covington attacked the three men, who are employees at the tire shop, because he believed they were Mexican.

The FBI is investigating the case with the help of the Salt Lake City Police Department.

It’s unclear whether Covington, who is also facing state charges, has retained an attorney to represent him on the federal charges.

He is being held at the Salt Lake County jail on $100,000 bond, according to booking records. The alleged incident renewed calls for Utah to strengthen its state hate-crimes law, which currently doesn’t name protected groups.

“This attack sowed fear into our community,” Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said in a statement Wednesday, applauding the indictment. “It is time Utah adopt comprehensive hate crime legislation to give law enforcement and investigators the tools they need to prosecute these types of crime.”

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‘Empire’ star taken into custody over allegedly lying about attack

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was arrested in Chicago early Thursday morning for allegedly filing a false report of a crime, police said.

Jussie Smollett taken into custody by Chicago police

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

The "Empire" actor was charged with felony disorderly conduct.

Jussie Smollett taken into custody by Chicago police

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(CHICAGO) — Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been taken into custody in relation to his false reporting of a crime, according to Chicago police.

The actor allegedly told police he was attacked in a possible hate crime last month, which police now believe to be untrue.

A press briefing with Chicago police will be held at 9 a.m. Central time.

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West Virginia teachers to return to classes after strike over now-killed bill

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ogolne/iStock(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) — Nearly a year after they went on strike and inspired educators nationwide to do the same, West Virginia teachers wielded their power again and this time politicians were quick to listen.

Just hours after West Virginia teachers went on strike for the second time in a year, the state House of Delegates voted, 53-45, to indefinitely table an omnibus education bill the educators saw as retaliation for the job action they took last February.

The vote prompted the teachers’ unions to announce they would return to classes on Thursday.

While Senate Bill 451 — loathed by teachers because it proposed establishing the state’s first charter schools and funds for private school vouchers — appeared dead, the state’s three biggest teachers’ unions continued the strike for a second day on Wednesday to “make sure this is a dead deal.”

“We believe that there is still a minute opportunity for something to happen,” Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said at a news conference at the state capital building in Charleston Tuesday night.

Despite calls from Gov. Jim Justice and Steven Paine, the West Virginia superintendent of schools, for teachers to go back to work on Wednesday, the teachers’ unions instructed educators to return to the state Capitol building instead to make sure the state Senate leadership knows they mean business.

“We cannot trust the leadership in the Senate,” Fred Albert, president of the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said at the news conference. “We are staying out one more day to ensure that this is a dead bill.”

With little warning and a lot of anger, Mountain State teachers went on strike Tuesday, prompting school administrators in 54 of 55 counties to cancel classes for more than 200,000 students.

The strike was called Monday evening in protest of state Senate Bill 451.

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Bus driver arrested after she needed to be revived from overdose following crash

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Newark Police Department(NEWARK, N.J.) — A bus driver is under arrest after she allegedly passed out behind the wheel from a heroin overdose and rolled through an intersection and into a tree. There were 12 children on the bus at the time, all with special needs, but none were injured.

Lisa Byrd, 57, was charged with 12 counts of endangering the welfare of a child, driving while impaired and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The crash took place in Newark, New Jersey, as she was driving children home on Wednesday at about 1 p.m. Video obtained by New York ABC station WABC-TV showed the bus rolling at a slow rate of speed through an intersection — covered with snow from an ongoing storm — and hitting a small tree by the side of the road.

“Driving while impaired is dangerous enough, but adding children to the situation is particularly irresponsible and heinous,” Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose said at a press conference Wednesday.

Police sources told WABC the woman is suspected to have been on heroin. It is not clear when she took the drug.

Byrd had to be revived on the scene with Narcan by medics, police said. Narcan, the brand name for the drug naloxone, is used to treat an opioid overdose, including heroin.

She was taken to University Hospital in Newark for further treatment.

“Endangering the lives of Newark children is something we will not tolerate,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. “We are grateful that none of the students were injured and that no other residents were harmed due to this incident.”

The 12 children on the bus, ages 5 to 13, were from the 14th Avenue School, police said. They were assessed on scene by paramedics, but none suffered injury.

Officials said Byrd’s driver’s license was suspended from 1996 to 2006, though they did not specify why it was revoked.

F&A Transportation, which employed the driver, did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

The bus and towing company is located in East Orange, New Jersey.

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Police: NY man intentionally runs over family with car, killing one, injuring children

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

WABC-TV(NEW YORK) — A New York man was arrested Wednesday after he intentionally drove his car into a family of eight, killing a woman and injuring multiple children, police said.

Jason Mendez, 35, was charged with murder after he allegedly crashed into the family after getting into an argument with one of them, police said.

A 32-year-old woman was killed as the remaining family members, including six children, were injured, police said. A 35-year-old man and three of the children were listed in serious condition, but none of their injuries appeared life threatening.

Mendez faces one count of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder, but police may file additional charges.

The deadly crash happened outside of a 7-Eleven in Haverstraw, New York, about 35 miles north of Manhattan, around 2 p.m. The suspect allegedly got into an argument with the 35-year-old male victim.

“The male suspect had a verbal altercation with a member of the family moments earlier. The suspect then proceeded to enter his vehicle, which was parked in the 7-Eleven parking lot, and drove the vehicle forward striking eight family members,” the Haverstraw Police Department said in a statement. “The suspect then reversed the vehicle and drove forward again, striking the family members for a second time.”

Witnesses said the children ranged in age from an infant to about 10 years.

“She was laying on the ground,” Allison Rodriguez, a witness, told ABC New York station WABC-TV, referring to the woman who was killed. “Nobody was around her. We just kinda knew she wasn’t gonna make it.”

Police said they found the suspect waiting in his vehicle when authorities arrived at the scene.

“The suspect was brandishing a knife and failed to comply with the responding officers’ verbal commands to drop the knife,” the department said in a statement. “The suspect was subsequently tased, subdued and taken into custody without further incident.”

Mendez, of Washingtonville, New York, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday night and is due back in court next week, according to WABC.

“The investigation is still ongoing and it is anticipated that several additional charges will be filed,” Haverstraw Police Department said. “The names of all involved parties are being withheld at this time due to the ongoing investigation.”

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Houston reviewing 1,400 criminal cases in light of botched police raid

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

amphotora/iStock(HOUSTON) — The Harris County District Attorney’s Office in Houston said Wednesday it would review at least 1,400 criminal cases with ties to Houston Police Department officer Gerald Goines, who allegedly lied about using a confidential informant to justify a botched “no-knock” home raid on Jan. 28.

Twenty-eight of the cases under review are open, according to the office.

“Although the criminal investigation of Officer Goines is ongoing, we have an immediate ethical obligation to notify defendants and their lawyers in Goines’ other cases to give them an opportunity to independently review any potential defenses,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement Wednesday. “Our duty is to see that justice is done in every case.”

Goines was relieved of duty in the wake of the raid and is under criminal investigation, according to the statement.

Dennis Tuttle, 59, and Rhogena Nicholas, 58, were killed during the raid and five officers, including Goines, were wounded. The officers entered the home without warning and were met with gunfire “immediately upon reaching the door,” according to the Houston Police Department.

The FBI said it opened a civil rights investigation into the officers involved on Wednesday and the Houston Police Department said it would largely end the use of “no-knock” search warrants.

“We as a police department have uncovered some malfeasance, we’ve taken it seriously, and we’re not just looking at what’s front of us, not just what’s at the end of our nose,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a press conference Wednesday. “We have cast a wide net to make sure we identify any problems, most importantly procedures and methods so we can avoids things like this in the future.”

The department also announced a new policy mandating undercover officers wear body cameras during raids.

“We have to very critically look at our actions,” Acevedo said. “From adversity comes opportunity and I think the opportunity that it’s provided me as your police chief is to really do a gut check with our department.”

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‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing false report after allegedly staging attack: Police

Posted on: February 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false report after allegedly staging the attack against himself in Chicago, police and the state attorney’s office confirmed to ABC News.

The charge of felony disorderly conduct carries a penalty of one to three years in jail, according to the criminal statute.

 “Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter.

Thus far, “they have no communication from him to do that,” Guglielmi told ABC News.

While police are not actively looking for Smollett because “this is not a violent crime,” he said, “the longer this goes, the more we have to do what we have to do” and “then we have to take a different approach.”

“We want to do this as peacefully and respectfully as possible,” Guglielmi added.

Police do not currently know where Smollett is and “his attorneys have not shared where he is at this point,” he said.

“In the end, this is only a class 4 felony. He will get through this and we want to make it as easy as possible for him to do it. But again, it is about accountability,” Guglielmi said.

Smollett will appear for a court hearing in a Cook County courtroom Thursday at 1:30 p.m., officials said.

Smollett’s attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, released a statement following the announcement saying they intent to “mount an aggressive defense.”

“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense,” the statement read.

 After weeks of investigation into Smollett’s claim of being attacked last month by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs while physically beating him and leaving him with a rope tied around his neck, the Chicago Police Department on Wednesday afternoon officially classified Smollett as a suspect in an ongoing criminal investigation for filing a false report.

The announcement, in a tweet from the Chicago Police Department’s verified account, represents another stunning twist in an investigation that has seen more than its share of such developments.

The tweet also announced that detectives are presenting evidence to a grand jury.

Meanwhile, in yet another development in the case, video of what appears to be two brothers — who are cooperating with authorities and have told police that Smollett paid them to buy materials including masks and rope, and stage the attack, according to sources — purchasing the items at an area hardware story has been obtained by Chicago ABC station WLS. News of the video was first reported by CBS Chicago station WBBM.

While Chicago police officials confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday that authorities are maintaining a dialogue with Jussie Smollett’s attorneys, they remain anxious to re-interview the actor himself.

“We are hopeful that we’ll have a chance to ask the questions that we have,” Guglielmi said.

“It doesn’t matter what the investigation shows,” Guglielmi said. “If you have information that’s helpful to law enforcement, it behooves you to contact authorities and share that information. We have been very diplomatic and have been working with him and his attorneys. We got information, and that’s what we want to run by him.”

If Smollett does not come in to speak with police, he said, “We’re going to go with other methods to create a culture of accountability.”

 Later Wednesday, an official briefed on the Smollett investigation confirmed to ABC News that attorneys representing Smollett met with police and prosecutors in Chicago today. Lawyers and police would not immediately detail the substance of the discussion.
(MORE: Feds investigating whether Jussie Smollett played a role in sending threatening letter sent to ‘Empire’ studios addressed to him)

The CPD’s latest public stance comes after two federal officials confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday that the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating whether Jussie Smollett played a role in sending a threatening letter addressed to him at the Chicago studio where “Empire” is filmed, prior to the alleged Jan. 29 attack.

The letter, which was sent Jan. 22, is currently in an FBI crime lab for analysis, one of the sources said.

The allegation concerning the alleged attack and the letter — made by brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who are cooperating with investigators in the probe — has not been officially confirmed.

The Osundairo brothers have also told investigators that Smollett paid them to help him orchestrate and stage the Jan. 29 attack that Smollett said occurred near his Chicago apartment, sources said. Police have not independently verified these allegations and no one has been charged in connection with the case.

“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” Smollett attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said in a statement Saturday. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”

Smollett told police that on Jan. 29, he was walking on a street near his apartment around 2 a.m. when he was set upon by two men. The attackers allegedly shouted racist and homophobic slurs before hitting him, pouring “an unknown chemical substance” on him —- possibly bleach -— and wrapping a rope around his neck, he told detectives.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

US Coast Guard lieutenant accused of plotting ‘to kill almost every last person on the earth’

Posted on: February 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Fedorovekb/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Federal authorities have arrested a Marine veteran and U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant who they said was stockpiling weapons and “espoused extremist” and racist views for years as he sought to launch a major attack.

“The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country. He must be detained pending trial. … The defendant is a domestic terrorist,” prosecutors said in a court document filed in Maryland federal court Wednesday, arguing that Christopher Paul Hasson should be detained.

 Hasson allegedly compiled a list of prominent Democratic congressional leaders, activists, political organizations, and MSNBC and CNN media personalities, including apparent references to Joe Scarborough, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Kamala Harris, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, according to court documents.

Hasson was arrested by agents of the FBI Baltimore Field Office and the Coast Guard Investigative Service on Friday on gun-related charges.

“The criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland charges Mr. Hasson with possession of firearms and ammunition by an unlawful user or addict of controlled substances, and with possession of tramadol, the Justice Department said.

Hasson, 49, is currently assigned to Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C. He’d been living in his Silver Spring, Maryland, apartment since June 2016, when he signed his lease, authorities said.

A source familiar with the matter said the Coast Guard tipped the FBI off to Hasson, and then the FBI and Coast Guard jointly investigated him.

Details of his case were laid out in a court document filed Tuesday, seeking his detention until trial.

Court documents — which don’t include any actual attack plan — alleged that in a draft email Hasson wrote on June 2, 2017, making reference to Olympic park bomber Eric Rudolph, he said, “I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth. I think a plague would be most successful but how do I acquire the needed/ Spanish flu, botulism, anthrax not sure yet but will find something.”

He then allegedly discussed an “interesting idea” of “start[ing] with biological attacks followed by attack on food supply.”

“Liberalist/globalist ideology is destroying traditional peoples esp white. … No way to counteract without violence… Much blood will have to be spilled to get whitey off the couch,” Hasson allegedly wrote.

According to court documents, he allegedly said he was, “Looking to Russia with hopeful eyes or any land that despises the west’s liberalism. Excluding of course the muslim scum” and had to “take serious look at appropriate individual targets, to bring greatest impact. Professors, DR’s, Politian’s [sic], Judges, leftists in general.”

Months later, court document said, in September 2017 — about seven weeks after the Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally — he allegedly sent himself a draft letter, which he apparently wrote for a known American neo-Nazi leader.

In the letter, he allegedly wrote: “I am a long time White Nationalist, having been a skinhead 30 plus years ago before my time in the military. I have served in 3 branches currently serving as an Officer (never attended college) with 2 years till I hit mandatory retirement at 30.” He said he “fully support[s] the idea of a white homeland … We need a white homeland as Europe seems lost.”

From January 2017 to January 2019, he conducted online searches and made thousands of visits online for pro-Russian, neo-fascist and neo-Nazi literature, court documents said.

Investigators said Hasson lived in “a cramped basement apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland,” and when the FBI raided it, they found a total of 15 firearms and “conservatively” more than 1,000 rounds of mixed ammunition.

Investigators also found more than 30 bottles labeled as HGH (human growth hormone), which authorities said were intended “to increase his ability to conduct attacks.”

On Dec. 27, 2018, court documents said, Hasson performed an internet search for “joe Scarborough” (“Scarborough”), after viewing a headline claiming that Scarborough referred to President Trump as “the worst ever.”

The Coast Guard released a statement late Wednesday.

“An active duty Coast Guard member, stationed at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC, was arrested last week on illegal weapons and drug charges as a result of an ongoing investigation led by the Coast Guard Investigative Service, in cooperation with the FBI and Department of Justice. Because this is an open investigation, the Coast Guard has no further details at this time,” according to a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Hasson is due in court Thursday for a detention hearing in Maryland, the Justice Department said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jussie Smollett charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing false report after allegedly staging attack: Police

Posted on: February 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false report after allegedly staging the attack against himself in Chicago, police and the state attorney’s office confirmed to ABC News.

The charge of felony disorderly conduct carries a penalty of one to three years in jail, according to the criminal statute.

“Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter.

Smollett will appear for a court hearing in a Cook County courtroom Thursday at 1:30 p.m., officials said.

Smollett’s attorneys have not commented on the charge.

After weeks of investigation into Smollett’s claim of being attacked last month by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs while physically beating him and leaving him with a rope tied around his neck, the Chicago Police Department on Wednesday afternoon officially classified Smollett as a suspect in an ongoing criminal investigation for filing a false report.

The announcement, in a tweet from the Chicago Police Department’s verified account, represents another stunning twist in an investigation that has seen more than its share of such developments.

 The tweet also announced that detectives are presenting evidence to a grand jury.

Meanwhile, in yet another development in the case, video of what appears to be two brothers — who are cooperating with authorities and have told police that Smollett paid them to buy materials including masks and rope, and stage the attack, according to sources — purchasing the items at an area hardware story has been obtained by Chicago ABC station WLS. News of the video was first reported by CBS Chicago station WBBM.

While Chicago police officials confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday that authorities are maintaining a dialogue with Jussie Smollett’s attorneys, they remain anxious to re-interview the actor himself.

“We are hopeful that we’ll have a chance to ask the questions that we have,” Guglielmi said.

“It doesn’t matter what the investigation shows,” Guglielmi said. “If you have information that’s helpful to law enforcement, it behooves you to contact authorities and share that information. We have been very diplomatic and have been working with him and his attorneys. We got information, and that’s what we want to run by him.”

If Smollett does not come in to speak with police, he said, “We’re going to go with other methods to create a culture of accountability.”

 Later Wednesday, an official briefed on the Smollett investigation confirmed to ABC News that attorneys representing Smollett met with police and prosecutors in Chicago today. Lawyers and police would not immediately detail the substance of the discussion.

The CPD’s latest public stance comes after two federal officials confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday that the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating whether Jussie Smollett played a role in sending a threatening letter addressed to him at the Chicago studio where “Empire” is filmed, prior to the alleged Jan. 29 attack.

The letter, which was sent Jan. 22, is currently in an FBI crime lab for analysis, one of the sources said.

 The allegation concerning the alleged attack and the letter — made by brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who are cooperating with investigators in the probe — has not been officially confirmed.

The Osundairo brothers have also told investigators that Smollett paid them to help him orchestrate and stage the Jan. 29 attack that Smollett said occurred near his Chicago apartment, sources said. Police have not independently verified these allegations and no one has been charged in connection with the case.

“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” Smollett attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said in a statement Saturday. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”

Smollett told police that on Jan. 29, he was walking on a street near his apartment around 2 a.m. when he was set upon by two men. The attackers allegedly shouted racist and homophobic slurs before hitting him, pouring “an unknown chemical substance” on him —- possibly bleach -— and wrapping a rope around his neck, he told detectives.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jussie Smollett ‘now officially classified as a suspect’ in alleged attack: Police

Posted on: February 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — After weeks of investigation into Jussie Smollett’s claim of being attacked last month by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs while physically beating him and leaving him with a rope tied around his neck, the Chicago Police Department officially classified Smollett as a suspect in an ongoing criminal investigation for filing a false report.

The announcement, in a tweet from the Chicago Police Department’s verified account, represents another stunning twist in an investigation that has seen more than its share of such developments.

The tweet also announced that detectives are presenting evidence to a grand jury.

While Chicago police officials confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday that authorities are maintaining a dialogue with Jussie Smollett’s attorneys, they remain anxious to re-interview the actor himself.

“We are hopeful that we’ll have a chance to ask the questions that we have,” says Chicago Police Department (CPD) spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

“It doesn’t matter what the investigation shows,” Guglielmi said. “If you have information that’s helpful to law enforcement, it behooves you to contact authorities and share that information. We have been very diplomatic and have been working with him and his attorneys. We got information, and that’s what we want to run by him.”

If Smollett does not come in to speak with police, he said, “We’re going to go with other methods to create a culture of accountability.”

Later Wednesday, an official briefed on the Smollett investigation confirmed to ABC News that attorneys representing Smollett met with police and prosecutors in Chicago today. Lawyers and police would not immediately detail the substance of the discussion.

The CPD’s latest public stance comes after two federal officials confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday that the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating whether Jussie Smollett played a role in sending a threatening letter addressed to him at the Chicago studio where “Empire” is filmed, prior to the alleged Jan. 29 attack.

The letter, which was sent Jan. 22, is currently in an FBI crime lab for analysis, one of the sources said.

The allegation concerning the alleged attack and the letter — made by brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who are cooperating with investigators in the probe — has not been officially confirmed.

The Osundairo brothers have also told investigators that Smollett paid them to help him orchestrate and stage the Jan. 29 attack that Smollett said occurred near his Chicago apartment, sources said. Police have not independently verified these allegations and no one has been charged in connection with the case.

“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” Smollett attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said in a statement Saturday. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”

Smollett told police that on Jan. 29, he was walking on a street near his apartment around 2 a.m. when he was set upon by two men. The attackers allegedly shouted racist and homophobic slurs before hitting him, pouring “an unknown chemical substance” on him —- possibly bleach -— and wrapping a rope around his neck, he told detectives.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Police: If Jussie Smollett doesn’t speak to authorities, they will resort to ‘other methods’ for accountability

Posted on: February 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — While Chicago police officials confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday that authorities are maintaining a dialogue with Jussie Smollett’s attorneys, they remain anxious to re-interview the actor himself.

“We are hopeful that we’ll have a chance to ask the questions that we have,” says Chicago Police Department (CPD) spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

“It doesn’t matter what the investigation shows,” Guglielmi said. “If you have information that’s helpful to law enforcement, it behooves you to contact authorities and share that information. We have been very diplomatic and have been working with him and his attorneys. We got information, and that’s what we want to run by him.”

If Smollett does not come in to speak with police, he said, “We’re going to go with other methods to create a culture of accountability.”

Later Wednesday, an official briefed on the Smollett investigation confirmed to ABC News that attorneys representing Smollett met with police and prosecutors in Chicago today. Lawyers and police would not immediately detail the substance of the discussion.

The CPD’s latest public stance comes after two federal officials confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday that the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating whether Jussie Smollett played a role in sending a threatening letter addressed to him at the Chicago studio where “Empire” is filmed, prior to the alleged Jan. 29 attack.

The letter, which was sent Jan. 22, is currently in an FBI crime lab for analysis, one of the sources said.

The allegation concerning the alleged attack and the letter — made by brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who are cooperating with investigators in the probe — has not been officially confirmed.

The Osundairo brothers have also told investigators that Smollett paid them to help him orchestrate and stage the Jan. 29 attack that Smollett said occurred near his Chicago apartment, sources said. Police have not independently verified these allegations and no one has been charged in connection with the case.

“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” Smollett attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said in a statement Saturday. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”

Smollett told police that on Jan. 29, he was walking on a street near his apartment around 2 a.m. when he was set upon by two men. The attackers allegedly shouted racist and homophobic slurs before hitting him, pouring “an unknown chemical substance” on him —- possibly bleach -— and wrapping a rope around his neck, he told detectives.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘ISIS bride’ asking to return to US not an American citizen: Sec. Pompeo

Posted on: February 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ISIS bride Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says.