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Bodies Found in Storage Unit Rented by Unlicensed Funeral Director

Bodies Found in Storage Unit Rented by Unlicensed Funeral Director

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — The bodies of 12 people have been discovered in a storage locker in Weymouth, Mass., and the cremated remains of another 40 people were found in another storage facility in Somerville, Mass.Both storage units were rented by unlicensed funeral director Joseph O’Donnell.Charlotte McLaughlin, of Quincy, Mass., wonders if one of those sets of cremated remains belongs to her father, who died in 2012. The family never received his ashes.”I can’t believe somebody would take vulnerable people in this state of mind that they’re burying a loved one, and take complete advantage of their situation,” McLaughlin said.O’Donnell is currently in jail, awaiting trial on two larceny charges to which he has pleaded not guilty.Authorities say they are approaching this as a criminal investigation.
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Boy Battling Cancer Asks for Box of Birthday Cards

Boy Battling Cancer Asks for Box of Birthday Cards

iStock/Thinkstock(FOXBORO, Mass.) — A 5-year-old Massachusetts boy battling cancer said all he wants for his upcoming birthday is a box of birthday cards.
Danny Nickerson, of Foxboro, Mass., will turn six on July 25. He was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor this past October — one of the most chemotherapy-resistant cancers. As a result, he has since stopped going to kindergarten.
The boy gets lonely from time to time, and is always happy to get cards with his name written on them.
“He can recognize his name now,” Carley Nickerson, Danny’s mother told ABC News. “When he saw his name on the package from magical fairies on Easter, he was so happy.”
But the packages and cards stopped after Easter.
“He had 33 radiations from November through December last year,” Nickerson said. “We are now getting chemo therapy every two weeks.”
Doctors tell Nickerson that less than 10% of the children diagnosed with this type of cancer live longer than 18 months.
“I don’t really believe in that. He is doing great,” Nickerson said. “Every day is a blessing for us,”
So far, Danny has received about 40 letters.
“I gave him to key to the P.O. box,” Nickerson said. “He was so excited when he opened it.”
Nickerson said Danny loves Lego and Super Mario.
“I wish Lego makes Super Mario toys,” Nickerson chuckled. “That would really make him happy.”
Danny’s birthday is July 25. Cards can be mailed to: Danny Nickerson, P.O. Box 212, Foxboro, MA, 02035.
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American Victim on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Identified

American Victim on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Identified

Quinn Schansman/Facebook(NEW YORK) — Only one of the victims aboard the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight struck by a missile in Ukraine has been identified as an American: Quinn Lucas Schansman.President Obama identified him Friday during a news conference, saying our “thoughts and prayers are with his family through this terrible loss.”His devastated cousins told ABC News that Schansman is also a Dutch citizen, but declined to say more.Schansman attended the International Business School at Hogeschool van Amsterdam in the Netherlands, according to his Facebook page.He also appeared to be a soccer player. Dutch club Olympia ’25 named him in a statement, saying they “can barely comprehend the news.” The club also named five other members as victims aboard the plane.”We wish the surviving family members and friends much strength in digesting this inconceivable loss, this huge hit,” reads a translated version of the statement posted on the club’s website.Schansman is among 298 victims of Flight 17, which was taken down by a surface-to-air missile on Thursday in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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Cluster of Plague Cases Confirmed in Colorado

Cluster of Plague Cases Confirmed in Colorado

Creatas/Thinkstock(DENVER) — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment identified three Colorado residents who have been infected with pneumonic plague.Each of the residents reportedly had direct contact with a dog that recently died of plague. The initial patient, whose family owned the dog, remains hospitalized. Plague was identified in the dog on July 8, the CDPHE says.Officials believe the dog had been exposed to the disease through a prairie dog or rabbit that carried plague-infected fleas. The cluster of plague infections is the first in the United States since 1923. Plague symptoms include fever, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting. Residents are urged not to handle any dead rodents, keep pets away from wildlife, treat pets for fleas and avoid feeding prairie dogs or other rodents.
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Investigation Launched After Man Dies While Being Taken into Custody by NYPD

Investigation Launched After Man Dies While Being Taken into Custody by NYPD

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Richmond County District Attorney and New York Police Department Internal Affairs are investigating after a man was killed while being taken into custody by NYPD officers on Thursday.Police attempted to take Eric Garner, 43, into custody on Thursday on suspicion of selling loose cigarettes, the New York Daily News reports. The arrest was reportedly caught on tape, and one of the officers may have used a chokehold on Garner, a method of apprehension that is barred by the NYPD.New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a Friday statement, expressed his “deepest condolences” to Garner’s family, citing the responsibility of the mayor and the NYPD to “keep every New Yorker safe, and that includes when individuals are in custody of the NYPD.”
Mayor de Blasio also announced he would delay travel plans to Saturday to allow him to attend to “city business,” which an official tells ABC News involves the incident.
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Obama: At Least One American Killed on Malaysia Airlines Flight

Obama: At Least One American Killed on Malaysia Airlines Flight

The White House(WASHINGTON) — At least one American was among the 298 people killed on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, President Obama announced on Friday.”We know at least one American citizen, Quinn Lucas Schansman, was killed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family for this terrible loss,” Obama said.According to the U.S. State Department, Schansman is a male U.S.-Dutch citizen.Obama called for an immediate cease-fire in the region Friday among Ukraine, Russia and Russian-backed separatists in order to conduct an investigation into the crash site.“This was a global tragedy,” the president added. “There has to be a credible international investigation into what happened.”

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Federal Appeals Court Rejects Oklahoma Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Federal Appeals Court Rejects Oklahoma Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(DENVER) — The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled on Friday that Oklahoma must allow same-sex couples the right to marry.The decision follows one made by the same court last month involving same-sex marriage in Utah.
Mary Bishop, Sharon Baldwin, Susan Barton and Gayle Phillips filed the suit against the Oklahoma governor and attorney general in 2004. Bishop and Baldwin exchanged vows in a church-recognized “commitment ceremony” in 2000, court papers say. They sought a marriage license from the Tulsa County Court Clerk in 2009 but were denied because of the state ban on same-sex marriage. Barton and Phillips took part in a civil union ceremony in 2001 and were married in Canada in 2005 and again in California in 2008. They too say that the state refused to recognize their marriage, causing “adverse federal tax consequences.”In 2006, the court rejected a motion to dismiss filed by the state’s governor and attorney general. Three years later, a court panel determined that the plaintiffs had no standing, as they had not named “a defendant having a causal connection to their alleged injury.” They later filed an amended complaint naming Sally Howe-Smith, former Court Clerk for Tulsa County, a defendant.A three-judge panel made Friday’s ruling, saying that none of the arguments made by the defendant persuaded them to alter their initial holding that “states may not, consistent with the United States Constitution, prohibit same-sex marriages.”Still, the court put its majority ruling on hold pending an appeal, preventing same-sex couples from getting married in Oklahoma immediately. Utah’s attorney general, after his state was subject to a similar ruling, said he plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Supreme Court Grants Stay in Utah Same-Sex Marriage Case

Supreme Court Grants Stay in Utah Same-Sex Marriage Case

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay to prevent same-sex marriages in the state of Utah pending a final decision on the matter by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.Utah’s Attorney General Sean Reyes applied for the stay after a federal judge in the 10th circuit court struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. About 1,000 marriage licenses were granted during the time period between the ruling striking down the ban and the Supreme Court’s injunction. Those marriages will not be recognized by the state until the end of legal proceedings.The state of Utah also announced that it would appeal the circuit court’s ruling, leaving open the possibility that the case returns to the Supreme Court in its next term. If the Supreme Court accepts the case, it would require the court to make a ruling on the rights of states to prohibit same-sex marriage.
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Evacuations Ended, over 30 Homes Lost in Washington State Wildfires

Evacuations Ended, over 30 Homes Lost in Washington State Wildfires

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OKANOGAN, Wash.) — The Carlton Complex fires in Okanogan County, Washington are believed to be contained after having burned upwards of 30 homes or mobile homes.Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said that hundreds of people were evacuated from the small town of Pateros on Wednesday after winds blew the fire into the area.”We ended up evacuating the entire town, having everybody head south,” Rogers said. “Firefighters did what they could but we lost, I don’t know how many homes, several homes.” He said it seemed as though “it was just one after another catching fire.”A number of wildfires were sparked in the Pacific Northwest on July 14, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s InciWeb. Officials believe that the the fires were ignited by lightning or other natural causes. No injuries or deaths have been reported as a consequence of the fire.
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‘Stunning’ Fireball in the Sky Caught on Camera

‘Stunning’ Fireball in the Sky Caught on Camera

Dan Perjar(RALEIGH, N.C.) — A North Carolina man driving down a street Thursday night caught footage of a fireball in the sky that was apparently visible to people in at least six other states.Dan Perjar, a software developer at North Carolina State University, recorded the meteor on his dash cam while driving on I-440 from Cary, North Carolina, toward the Raleigh campus around 10:17 p.m. Thursday.”When it first appeared, it honestly looked like someone had shot some fireworks off in their backyard; it was that stunning,” the Raleigh resident told ABC News. “I quickly realized it was much larger and much further away when it exploded and lit up the clouds beneath it.””It streaked with a definite green and gold color as it broke up in its descent,” Perjar said. “It seemed to explode multiple times.”Perjar, who said he watched a documentary about the Chelyabinsk meteor just days before, knew the fireball was likely a meteor.More than 95 reports of the fireball came in between 10:12 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. ET from people across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, according to the American Meteor Society.Sightings were reported in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia.“There was a very bright light at the beginning of the event: looked like lightning, but then I turned and saw the fireball descending and fragmenting,” Matthew K. of Chesapeake, Virginia, reported to the meteor society.Amanda K. of Baily, North Carolina wrote, “It was crazy, I had no idea what I had seen,” describing the meteor as a “white ball with slight blue outline with white glowing trail.”Matt S. of Clayton, Delaware, reported that seeing the fireball was “truly an amazing sight. [A] once in a lifetime experience I’ll never forget.”Perjar agreed that it was quite the experience: “It’s definitely the most interesting thing I’ve caught on my dash cam yet.”

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Sisters Lost at Sea for Eight Hours While Paddleboarding

Sisters Lost at Sea for Eight Hours While Paddleboarding

iStock/Thinkstock(HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C.) — Two vacationing sisters who took off from Tybee Island, Georgia, Tuesday on their first-ever paddleboarding experience ended up in Hilton Head, South Carolina, after spending a harrowing eight hours lost at sea.Cayci and Summer Underwood had just taken off around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday when they say the wind picked up and the choppy waters knocked them off their paddleboards.“The current got really bad and then we thought, you know, this is picking up and there’s no way we’re going to make it back,” Summer, 21, told ABC News.As the Tennessee sisters held onto their boards, and kept in sight of each other, the conditions worsened.“Eventually, the choppiness turned into waves, very big waves,” Cayci, 27, said.The sisters became separated at one point with the current pushing them, “further and further apart,” Summer said.The pair managed to find each other and then stuck together for the rest of their eight-hour ordeal, comforting each other through the pain of sunburn and chafing against their paddleboards.“We just came to realize that there was really nothing we could do,” Cayci said.The sisters say they saw several shrimping boats as they floated in the sea but none saw them. They ultimately made the lifesaving decision to ditch their paddleboards and swim to shore, even though they had no idea where that shore would be.”We couldn’t see any sight of land or anything,” Summer said.The Underwoods swam their way to what turned out to be Hilton Head Island’s South Beach, a destination eight miles from their original launch point of Tybee Island.”There were people on the shore, but we ended up swimming all the way to them,” Cayci recalled.The sisters were helped by people on shore and taken to a local hospital for treatment. They were treated for shock and exhaustion and the chafing from the paddleboards.Now back home in Tennessee, the Underwoods said they do not plan to ever paddleboard again but will always retain the bond they forged in the sea.”Nobody can compete with the bond that we have now,” Cayci said, ”and we’ve literally fought for our lives together.”
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FedEx Indicted in Prescription Drug Delivery Investigation

FedEx Indicted in Prescription Drug Delivery Investigation

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) — Delivery company FedEx faces charges for its role in distributing controlled substances and prescription drugs, officials announced Thursday. A federal grand jury in San Francisco, California indicted the company for its involvement with illegal Internet pharmacies. Such groups, beginning in 1998, don’t require a prescription before filling orders for drugs and instead provided products based on an online questionnaire. The practices violated federal and state laws on the distribution of controlled substances, according to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. As early as 2004, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Food and Drug Administration, and members of Congress reportedly informed FedEx that illegal pharmacies were using its shipping services, according to an indictment. The company subsequently established a policy requiring all online pharmacy shippers to be approved by the Credit Department, and also created a related sales policy. Officials allege, however, that FedEx knew it was “delivering drugs to dealers and addicts.” Couriers in Kentucky, Tennnessee, and Virginia expressed safety concerns to senior management, including claims that trucks were stopped on the road by online pharmacy customers demanding pills, or that delivery addresses were parking lots or vacant homes. In response, the company created a procedure where such packages were held for pickup at specific stations rather than dropped off. Still, the company knew of the dealings and continued its affiliations. “The advent of Internet pharmacies allowed the cheap and easy distribution of massive amounts of illegal prescription drugs to every corner of the United States, while allowing perpetrators to conceal their identities through the anonymity the Internet provides,” Haag said. “This indictment highlights the importance of holding corporations that knowingly enable illegal activity responsible for their role in aiding criminal behavior.”
In response to Thursday’s indictment, FedEx Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications Patrick Fitzgerald said the privacy of its customers is at risk based on the charges. “FedEx is innocent of the charges brought today by the Department of Justice,” Fitzgerald said. “We will plead not guilty.  We will defend against this attack on the integrity and good name of FedEx and its employees.”Company representatives are scheduled to appear in court on July 29.
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Family Friend Shocked Teen with ‘Potential, Morals’ Turned Murderer

Family Friend Shocked Teen with ‘Potential, Morals’ Turned Murderer

iStock/Thinkstock(STAR CITY, W. Va.) — A close family friend of Rachel Shoaf, one of two teens now in prison for stabbing 16-year-old Skylar Neese to death, said that she is still reeling from the fact that a young girl she helped raise, whom she described as having a lot of promise, is a convicted murderer.“There was never any sign. Not a mean kid, not a bully, didn’t torture animals, and it’s been a long two years trying to come to grips,” Kelly Kerns told ABC News’ 20/20. “With all of the potential and morals, I don’t even get where this came from.“This is just so bizarre,” she continued. “I don’t care how you look at it. How you spin it. We’re normal people.”Kerns said she is an aunt-like figure for Shoaf, who she said she has loved like a daughter for the past 18 years. Since first holding her moments after she was born, Kerns said she has played an active role in Shoaf’s life.“I’m not kidding, she was the only baby I was ever going to have,” Kerns said.She described the now 18-year-old as an adventurous, happy child who was blossoming into a young woman full of promise and potential.“She loved life and there was no reason for her not to,” she said. “People around her loved her.”But that future came to a screeching halt in early 2013, when then-16-year-old Shoaf admitted her role in a horrific crime that shook the close-knit Morgantown, West Virginia, community to its core. For six agonizing months, residents were shocked over the mysterious disappearance of another sociable teen, Skylar Neese.Neese, Shoaf and a third girl, Sheila Eddy, were all students at University High in Morgantown. The trio was inseparable. Kerns fondly recalled the excitement surrounding Shoaf’s 15th birthday when she had the opportunity to meet her two new best friends, Neese and Eddy.“They were two, adorable little girls smiling up at me,” Kerns said.But Kerns said she began noticing some changes in Shoaf’s behavior, including sneaking out, smoking marijuana and skipping class. At the time, Kerns said she thought they were just typical teenage antics, and despite her worrisome behavior, Kerns said Shoaf kept her grades up, stayed involved in the school theater program and continued to take singing, piano and acting lessons.By the summer of 2012, however, Kerns said she and Shoaf spent less “quality time” together. But on the morning of July 6, 2012, she said the teen made a last-minute decision to spend the day on her boat with her and Shoaf’s mother, Patricia. The young redhead grew up spending her summers on Kerns’ boat, learning how to watertube and swim.While on the boat, Kerns said Patricia Shoaf mentioned that her daughter’s friend, Skylar Neese, had been missing, but Kerns said she didn’t note anything strange in Rachel Shoaf’s demeanor.“I mean she was texting all the time. But you see so much of that it didn’t really faze us,” she said.The next day, Shoaf left for a scheduled away trip to a church camp.Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and Neese still has not been found. As her disappearance continued to consume the Morgantown area, Shoaf returned from camp and school was back in session.As a substitute teacher, Kerns said she started hearing countless rumors about what happened to Neese, who was caught on surveillance video climbing out of her bedroom window after midnight July 6, 2012, never to be seen again.The most alarming rumor, by far, Kerns said, was that Shoaf and Eddy were with Neese the night of her disappearance. Even more unnerving for Kerns was the realization that she had spent the day with Shoaf on her boat hours after Neese vanished.“The story starts unraveling, and we find out they were together,” she said. “It just keeps evolving from searches of the house, of the schools. The girls ended up having to be homeschooled because of all the talk. And the FBI, you know, searched their lockers and took computers. …We knew the girls knew something.”But nothing could prepare Kerns for what came next. Shortly after Christmas 2012, Shoaf suffered an apparent nervous breakdown and was briefly hospitalized. After her release, Shoaf confessed to police that she and Eddy were responsible for Neese’s disappearance, had brutally stabbed her to death and left her body in the woods in Pennsylvania.She also led authorities to the murder scene, located across state lines in Brave, Pennsylvania and recounted how she and Eddy meticulously planned to kill their best friend.Both were charged as adults. Shoaf pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years on Feb. 26, 2014, with the possibility of parole in 10 years. Eddy pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for her role in Neese’s death and was sentenced to life in prison on Jan. 24, 2014, with the possibility of parole in 15 years.Although Kerns said her relationship with Shoaf and her mother has been strained since the sentencing, she hopes to remain a part of their lives.“I still love this child,” Kerns said. “You can’t stop loving a child,” Kerns said.She said she has twice visited Shoaf since her incarceration but the two have never spoken of the murder. Shoaf lives lodged in a juvenile facility but will be transferred to an adult facility near the end of the month.“I’m absolutely freaking out about her going to an adult prison,” Kerns said. “I’m scared to death for her, but I understand Skylar was scared, too.”
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Dethroned Miss Delaware Amanda Longacre Files $3 Million Lawsuit

Dethroned Miss Delaware Amanda Longacre Files $3 Million Lawsuit

iStock/Thinkstock(DOVER, Del.) — The Delaware beauty queen who lost her pageant crown because she was deemed too old to compete reportedly has filed a $3 million lawsuit against state pageant officials and the Miss America organization.Amanda Longacre was stripped of the Miss Delaware title last month after officials with the national Miss America organization discovered she would turn 25 in October, a violation of the contract pageant officials say Longacre signed prior to the June 14 Miss Delaware pageant stipulating she would not turn 25 before Dec. 31, 2014.In a lawsuit filed this week in Delaware, Longacre is seeking to be reinstated as Miss Delaware and to be allowed to compete in the Miss America pageant in September, local media reported.Longacre, who had been pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania prior to her win, was also seeking $500,000 in damages for herself, claiming she lost potential career enhancements, spent over $4,500 on expenses like makeup and coaching and cut her work hours in order to make pageant appearances, the Delaware News Journal reported.She was also reportedly seeking $2.5 million for other contestants who she claimed were recruited to compete in pageants in order to boost participation and then disqualified for being too old, the newspaper added.ABC News was not immediately able to reach Longacre or her attorney, Mark Billion, for comment.A new Miss Delaware, Brittany Lewis, also 24 and the original first runner-up to Longacre, was crowned June 26, just days after Longacre was told she was disqualified.Officials with the national Miss America organization confirmed to ABC News that they plan to fight Longacre’s lawsuit but will still give her the full $9,000 in scholarship money they pledged to her after she was disqualified.”Although we are disappointed to learn of the legal actions, we will plan to defend our position on the basis that this case has no merit,” a Miss America spokeswoman told ABC News by email. “We also plan to provide the previously committed scholarship to Ms. Longacre as scholarship is core to our mission and we respect Ms. Longacre’s pursuit of her education.”Miss America officials last month blamed the error on state pageant officials who, they said, missed the age discrepancy in Longacre’s submitted paperwork.“When the contract arrived in the national office and her birth date arrived we realized a mistake had been made on behalf of the Delaware pageant,” Miss American Chairman and CEO Sam Haskell told ABC News. “I don’t know how they missed it and I don’t know how she missed it.”Miss Delaware Executive Director Debi Wilson also did not reply to ABC News’ request for comment.According to the Delaware News Journal, Longacre’s lawsuit claimed that after she was dethroned, Wilson, “offered to make it up to her by hosting a wine and cheese pajama party.””I’m being treated as if I did something morally and ethically wrong,” Longacre told the paper. “I’m just really heartbroken.”
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Emotional Warning From Father of Woman Killed in GM Car

Emotional Warning From Father of Woman Killed in GM Car

General Motors(WASHINGTON) — Lara Gass, 27, was headed to work in March when her 2004 Saturn Ion rear-ended a tractor-trailer on a Virginia highway. Her airbag failed to deploy.The third-year law student at Washington and Lee University was driving a car that was recalled due to a faulty ignition switch, which can shut off car power and airbags without warning.In February, General Motors recalled more than 2.6 million vehicles due to the problem. At least 13 people have died due to reasons linked to the problem.Jay Gass said he received the recall notice in the mail one month before his daughter’s death. In an emotional interview with ABC News, Jay Gass said, “GM is relying on a piece of paper through the United States Postal Service to make it to an address that they have on file for that car and maybe not even the driver of that car.”“I tried to get the car fixed, but I couldn’t. They didn’t have the parts,” he said.After his daughter was killed, Gass received another letter from the automaker saying they now had the parts.Jay Gass and his wife Gerri were among the families of victims of the GM crashes who were on Capitol Hill Thursday to hear GM CEO Mary Barra testify before Congress for the fourth time.On Wednesday, Barra declined to meet with victims’ families while she was in D.C., but Jay Gass still had some questions for her.“I would ask her what her definition of leadership is because I have about nine criteria of leadership and one of them is integrity and we know that GM at this point has zero integrity,” he said.Gass said he believes no one is safe while these cars are still on the road. “These cars on the road next to you. These cars are coming at you in the other lane. They are like Scud missiles. They could stop at any moment,” he warned.Disappointed with GM’s handling of the recall, Gass has resorted to warning drivers of recalled vehicles when he sees them at the gas pump.From the moment he heard about his daughter’s death, he and his family decided to celebrate their daughter’s life, albeit too short, Gass said Wednesday, ahead of the congressional hearing.Choking back tears, Gass said, “Parents’ job is to protect their children. GM is not allowing me to protect my child.”
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Feds Add Agents to Combat Gun Violence in Chicago

Feds Add Agents to Combat Gun Violence in Chicago

Alex Wong/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — Following a spike in gun violence in the Windy City, the Department of Justice will send seven additional agents to Chicago in an effort to curb crime, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday.Representatives from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will join 45 agents currently in the city. “The Department of Justice will continue to do everything in its power to help the city of Chicago combat gun violence,” Holder said. “These new agents are a sign of the federal government’s ongoing commitment to helping local leaders ensure Chicago’s streets are safe.”The decision comes after the Attorney General’s recent visit, where he attended a roundtable discussion with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to address youth crime rates.The addition of agents is the latest step from law enforcement to beef up the fight against illegal gun trafficking, preceded by the opening of Chicago’s Crime Gun Intelligence Center and joint efforts from Illinois State Police and ATF. Gun crime is the primary root of area homicides, according to officials, with 60 percent of weapons recovered in violent crimes originally sold in other states and trafficked in the city. Currently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has 120 agents in the Chicago, with 20 focusing on gang violence.
“ATF’s commitment to targeting traffickers and trigger pullers in Chicago is bolstered by these additional resources,” said ATF Director B. Todd Jones.  “These resources, combined with ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence Center, will strengthen and build on our outstanding partnership with the Chicago Police Department and other local, state and regional law enforcement to bring safety and justice back to the community.”
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Three Dead After California Bank Robbery Turns into Gun Battle

Three Dead After California Bank Robbery Turns into Gun Battle

iStock/Thinkstock(STOCKTON, Calif.) — Robbers fleeing a California bank took three women hostage and led police on a chase that reached speeds of 100 mph, ending when three people were shot dead, including one of the hostages, authorities said.During the 45-minute chase, two of the hostages were tossed out of the moving car, authorities said.The violence erupted in Stockton, a city in the northern part of the state. Authorities say three robbers at Bank of the West made off with money and the three female hostages.Police say the suspects stole a bank employee’s SUV and fired AK-47-type assault weapons at pursuing police. At least 14 cars and many homes were struck by stray bullets, Police Chief Eric Jones told a news conference late Wednesday. The chase ended in a bloody shootout that left the SUV riddled with bullet holes. All of the alleged bank robbers were shot, two of them dead. The surviving suspect was identified by police as Jaime Ramos, 19. He was charged with homicide, kidnapping, robbery, and attempted murder charges. Police did not identify the two dead suspects, but said they were 30 and 27 and were “documented gang members.”One hostage, identified by her family as Misty Holt-Singh, also died in the car, with police saying she appears to have been used by the suspects as a human shield during the shootout.The women who were thrown from the car both have bullet wounds and are hospitalized, police said.
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Rental Car or Marijuana Dumping Ground?

Rental Car or Marijuana Dumping Ground?

iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) — Denver International Airport rental cars appear to be increasingly used as a marijuana dumping ground for travelers. People who want to avoid illegally bringing pot into the airport simply leave it in the car or offer it to the car rental agencies, one Avis Rent A Car airport agent said Thursday.“We see quite a few cases,” the 18-year Avis employee in Denver, declining to give her name, told ABC News. “We basically don’t touch it. Usually, the manager will take it and flush it down the toilet.“We are a drug-free environment. We don’t take it or give it back; we just flush it.”Recreational marijuana use by adults 21 and older has been legal in Colorado since late 2012. Possession of up to 1 ounce is OK, but it’s illegal to take any amount out of the state.So some customers offer their leftovers to the rental agents.“I have had customers come up to the counter and give it to us, asking ‘Do you want it?’” the Avis rental agent said, adding that she immediately declines and offers to help the customer dispose of it.Denver International spokesman Heath Montgomery said the facility’s formal policy is that “marijuana is not allowed on airport property.”The airport has seen sixteen cases this year of individuals trying to get marijuana through security to take with them, which Montgomery cites as infinitesimally small when compared to the 25 million passengers to date who have passed through.“No one has been cited,” Montgomery said. “We usually just have them toss it in the trash.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Memorial for CIA’s Fallen Marks Somber 40-Year Anniversary

Memorial for CIA’s Fallen Marks Somber 40-Year Anniversary

The Central Intelligence Agency(WASHINGTON) — Last May, Kate Quigley sat in the lobby of the CIA headquarters and stared at a star freshly carved out of a marble slab on the wall.The star was hammered out of the stone of the Agency’s Memorial Wall in honor of Quigley’s brother, former Navy SEAL and CIA contractor Glen Doherty, who died alongside fellow ex-SEAL and agency contractor Tyrone Woods as they protected Americans at a CIA outpost in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.The stars for Doherty and Woods joined a solemn, growing constellation. One is etched for each of the dozens of people who have died in the service of the agency over the years. Their names are recorded in the CIA’s Book of Honor, except for many whose identities are kept secret to this day. For instance, the CIA officially has still not publicly acknowledged that Doherty and Woods were working for the agency when they died.Still, Quigley said that seeing the star on the wall for her brother, even in a closed ceremony, was “extremely powerful.”“While no one wants to have a family member represented on the wall, it is one of the traditions and ceremonies that make this country so amazing,” Quigley told ABC News by email. “Our family remains humbled by the sacrifice of all these great men and our pride and sadness for Glen is something we carry with us each day.”This month marks the Memorial Wall’s 40th anniversary. The CIA says it was originally carved to little fanfare in 1974 with 31 stars for those who had died since the CIA’s establishment in 1947. The name associated with the first star, Douglas Mackiernan, died back in 1950, though his name was only revealed in 2006, according to a CIA report.Today there are 111 stars on the Memorial Wall, 31 of which are there for men and women whose names are still classified. Four were added before this May’s annual CIA memorial ceremony.Jack Devine, who served in CIA clandestine operations for more than 30 years, said he personally  knows several people represented on the wall, “all of [whom] perished under extraordinary circumstances,” and said he personally conducted a ceremony to honor a CIA pilot who crashed during the Bay of Pigs operation.“There is a purity and simplicity about [the CIA lobby] and as you walk through the door, the most stunning impression is of the stars etched in the wall honoring CIA’s fallen warriors,” Devine told ABC News. “I have watched those stars increase over my years in the Agency and afterwards…It’s hard to walk by those stars and not have a sense of pride and loss.”
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Actress Who Sent Ricin to Obama Sentenced to 18 Years

Actress Who Sent Ricin to Obama Sentenced to 18 Years

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Shannon Guess Richardson, the Texas woman who pleaded guilty to sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama and then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the spring of 2013, was sentenced Wednesday to 18 years in prison.Richardson will also have to pay $367,000 in restitution for ordering the components to make the ricin and mailing the letters.When news of the ricin letters first came to light, Richardson, 36, falsely implicated her estranged husband, Nathan Richardson, who was never charged in the case.Richardson, an actress, has had small roles in TV shows and films, including The Vampire Diaries, Franklin & Bash, The Change-Up and The Walking Dead.At the sentencing, Richardson told the judge, “I never intended for anybody to be hurt. I’m not a bad person. I don’t have it in me to hurt anyone.”She added, “I do love my country, and I respect my president.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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