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Family Chases Alleged Phone Thieves Despite 911 Dispatcher’s Protests

Family Chases Alleged Phone Thieves Despite 911 Dispatcher’s Protests

iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- When thieves smashed a car window in Seattle last month and snatched a purse with a cellphone inside, Danny Westneat and his family took matters into their own hands.

Using the “find my phone” feature, which allows a person to see where their phone is on a map in real time, his 14-year-old daughter helped them track down the alleged thieves.

“I’m not some vigilante. … When you get your stuff stolen, you’re supposed to call the police,” Westneat told ABC News on Tuesday. “All our stuff -- our credit cards, our money, our phone -- [were] 20 feet away in a van.”

While making multiple phone calls to 911, the family followed the stolen phone for nearly three hours through city streets, eventually stopping at a parking lot.

“We were following the people around and: Can we get a police officer?” Westneat’s wife, Sarah, asked the 911 dispatcher. “We have been following them for an hour and they stopped, and they keep going.”

Westneat said Tuesday that the family could not get any officers to come to the scene and that they were told to file an insurance claim.

One dispatcher even made a plea for the caller to stop following the alleged thieves.

This particular dispatcher had taken the call from David Peterson, 54, who had been fatally shot in February, allegedly by a teenager, after he’d refused to give up his cellphone. Peterson had been killed near where the family was following its alleged cellphone thieves.

“Let me tell you something. … I’ve been on the phone with someone just like this … and I really don’t want that to happen to you, OK?” the dispatcher said.

Police acknowledged the victims’ frustration but insisted that chasing down thieves was a dangerous roll of the dice.

“We want to get them [citizens] out of that position as quickly as possible,” Detective Patrick Michaud told KOMO News. “We want them to be as safe as possible.”

The family reluctantly gave up.

Westneat, a columnist with the Seattle Times, later expressed his frustration with the Seattle Police Department in an article. He said Tuesday that he’d react the same way if his phone was stolen again.

“You see your phone moving across town and you’re like, ‘Hey, let’s go check it out.’ … I wasn’t going to ever confront them. I knew that, and I didn’t,” Westneat said.

In the meantime, the police department is considering a review of how police respond to similar crimes -- an act sparked by Westneat’s column.

Suspects eventually were arrested after authorities tracked the car’s license plate.

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Suicides of Two Girls at Same High School over Weekend Shocks Kansas Community

Suicides of Two Girls at Same High School over Weekend Shocks Kansas Community

iStock/Thinkstock(OLATHE, Kan.) -- A Kansas high school is grieving after the suicides of two 16-year-old girls just days apart, prompting school officials to urge parents to "have a heartfelt conversation" with fellow students about the tragedies.

Ciara Webb was found dead at her home in Olathe, Kansas on Friday, and her friend and teammate on the school's soccer team, Cady Housh, was killed Sunday evening after she stepped in front of a train in nearby Lexana. Both teenagers were juniors at Olathe Northwest High School.

While news of the first suicide began to spread over the weekend, most students and school officials didn't find out about the second suicide until Monday, according to the Kansas City Star.

"A lot of kids went home," sophomore Samyak Badkul told the newspaper. "The mood was just [somber] -- nobody making jokes. Even teachers were very calm and quiet."

Principal Gwen Poss sent out a letter on Monday to students' families informing them of the tragedies and urging parents to "have a heartfelt conversation with your son or daughter this evening."

Students were told about Ciara's death during the first period, and after school officials learned of Cady's death, students were told during the second period, Poss said in the letter. "After that announcement many additional students sought out the support and counsel from our crisis team of qualified personnel," the principal wrote.

"Care was taken to ensure any student that was leaving campus had a parent with them or they were in direct contact with their parents," Poss added.

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Dogs of War Get Heroes’ Salute at New York Veterans’ Day Parade

Dogs of War Get Heroes’ Salute at New York Veterans’ Day Parade

Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New York's Veteran's Day parade honored all veterans, even the canine ones.For the first time in the parade's history, six military dogs marched alongside the soldiers they served with.Dogs like Axel have been an important part of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.The dogs are trained to sniff out roadside bombs and other explosive devices.Maxi, a 12-year old Belgian Malinois, worked the bomb-laden battlefields in Iraq. After her deployment in Iraq, Maxi worked in Japan for two years as a military police dog. Cena served in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010 for the United States Marine Corps and participated in Operation Moshtarak, which was the largest military action in Afghanistan at the time. He served a total of four years in the military before retiring to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he now lives with veteran Jeff DeYoung.

After returning to the U.S., the dogs are reunited with the service members they had worked with in the military.The transition can be difficult for some dogs, who can become skittish in loud or crowded environments, Corporal Nick Caceres told ABC News. Caceres walked with his dog, Fieldy. Fieldy served in Afghanistan with Caceres three years ago. Lois Pope, the founder and chair of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, funded the dogs' float at the parade."There are heroes on both sides of the leash," Pope told ABC News. "These dogs have saved our boys lives."Also at the parade were service dogs who help veterans ease back into post-war life. The dogs are matched to veterans based on their personalities.

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Pickpocketing Couple Targeted Stroller-Pushing Women in NY

Pickpocketing Couple Targeted Stroller-Pushing Women in NY

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More than a dozen women pushing baby strollers were targeted for theft by a Queens, New York couple accused of being what prosecutors called “serial pickpockets.” Luis Chango and Rosa Jerez were charged with grand larceny, child endangerment and other crimes after the Queens District Attorney’s office said they preyed on women pushing strollers through Carter’s Children’s Store, Gap and other retail outlets where mothers are known to shop.In one instance, on Sept. 27 in Mandees, prosecutors said Chango stole an iPhone 6 that was being held by a six-month-old.“It is alleged that the male defendant simply bent over a stroller and pulled a new iPhone out of the hands of the baby playing with it, causing the child to burst out crying,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.In other cases, prosecutors said either Chango or Jerez would distract the women by engaging in conversation while the other stepped in to swipe a phone, a wallet or a purse.The victims were between the ages of 18 and 38 and, prosecutors said, were targeted between August and this month before the couple’s arrest on Nov. 8.  The couple was released on bail Monday. They are due back in court next month. Chango’s lawyer, Roger Asmar, said his client denied the allegations.“It’s a bunch of allegations,” Asmar told ABC News. “Nothing has been proved.”The district attorney said the case served as fair warning for shoppers as stores get more crowded during the holiday shopping season.“Shoppers should never leave bags or valuables unattended or hanging from strollers and they should always be aware of their surroundings,” Brown said. “A successful pickpocket only needs seconds to accomplish his or her goal of parting you with your valuables.”

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Skepticism, Doubt Surround Aspiring TV Meteorologist’s Shooting Death

Skepticism, Doubt Surround Aspiring TV Meteorologist’s Shooting Death

Obtained by ABC News(HOLLY HILL, Fla.) -- Authorities in Florida say they are skeptical that a college student took his own life in a shooting, with Timothy Englehardt's death now deemed suspicious.Englehardt, 22, was shot in the head while hanging out with his friends in September. Police said they have no persons of interest, but the shooting investigation has uncovered inconsistencies that call into question the possibility that Englehardt shot himself.For starters, the gun was found nowhere near Englehardt’s body, Holly Hill Police Chief Steven Aldrich said.“The incident took place in the front porch area of the home,” Aldrich said. “They located the gun inside the house. It had been moved into the house, and that’s where the officers located the gun once they arrived on scene.”Additionally, his parents, Bill and Therese Englehardt, say they have questions about the 911 call, which police are still evaluating and will not comment on.“My friend shot himself,” the female caller can be heard saying.Someone in the background can be heard saying what sounds like, “I did it.”The caller remains firm: “No, you didn’t. Relax. You didn’t kill him.”The friend who made the 911 call says she is devastated but cannot comment until the investigation is over.Timothy Englehardt’s parents say their son, an honor student at Florida’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, had no reason to commit suicide and was close to reaching his dream job as a TV weatherman.“Timothy definitely did not do this to himself,” his father said.Therese Englehardt remains devastated by her son’s death.“All I think about is my son being shot in the head; my beautiful boy,” she said. “He doesn’t deserve that.”

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Puppy Stolen from Sleeping Child’s Bedroom Returned to Family

Puppy Stolen from Sleeping Child’s Bedroom Returned to Family

Courtesy Carla Daniels(MERIDEN, Conn.) -- A Connecticut mom is "ecstatic" to be reunited with her pit bull puppy that was stolen from her daughter's bedroom while the family was sleeping.The dog, Miyah, was found Monday night by police after a woman anonymously texted Carla Daniels and told her the purloined pooch was in a basement around the corner from her Meriden, Connecticut, home.The woman refused an offer of a reward, Daniels said."I asked her several times. I offered her the reward. She says she just wants to see our family happy," Daniels told ABC News.Daniels reported Miyah missing around 8:30 a.m. Sunday after discovering that someone had broken into the home she shares with her daughters Ashleigh, 17 and Alicia, 14.The intruder came in between midnight and 4 a.m., sneaking through the window of Alicia's bedroom where Miyah was sleeping. Besides snatching the dog, the burglar took a PS3, some games and a laptop computer, according to Daniels."We were all frantic to think that someone came in through my daughter's bedroom window," she said. "We believe she (the dog) was in the room cause she went to sleep with my daughter."Daniels said police told her who they suspect took the dog, but no arrest has been made."I don't know if he has any kind of problems or if he thought my daughters have nice things," she said. "He's just a heartless person."The other items stolen have not been recovered, she said.“I don’t know if they’re looking for the items,” Daniels said. “I think they are just gone.... We got the most important thing back."Police returned the dog to the family around 11 p.m. Monday, joking that she gave pit bulls "a bad name" due to the dog's friendly nature and her habit of kissing everyone she sees. "They were in love with her," said Daniels.Daniels is relieved that the dog is okay and safe at home now."I can't even put it into words," she told ABC News.Meriden police did not return calls for comment.

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Inside the Science of Sinkholes

Inside the Science of Sinkholes

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Another day, another sinkhole. The latest one to develop is in Florida.A family had minutes to escape before what appeared to be a sinkhole swallowed up a car and driveway.Other harrowing images of sinkholes have emerged this year -- including several cars that were engulfed at the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky and others as far away as Crimea and Siberia.Jerry Black, a senior geologist at Geo Hazards, a Florida-based consulting group, said sinkholes are caused by a "little bit of both mother nature and human development."Here are four answers to some of the most common questions about the science of sinkholes:How does a sinkhole form?A sinkhole is most common when the bedrock is limestone, carbonate rock, salt beds or other rocks that can be dissolved by water, according to the United States Geological Survey.As the groundwater dissolves the carbonate bedrock, gaps form beneath the surface. Sinkholes happen when the spaces below the ground get too wide, causing the land to collapse into the earth -- eating roads, homes, cars and anything else in its way.Sinkholes can be anywhere from one to 100 feet deep, according to the USGS.Why are there so many sinkholes in Florida?Florida sits on several thousand feet of limestone, which, coupled with its extensive groundwater system and the strain put on it from a growing population, creates the perfect storm to cause numerous sinkholes every year.Other states that are also especially susceptible to sinkholes are Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, Black said.How can I tell if a sinkhole is developing?Most sinkholes are isolated events and form gradually over time. Black said the "sensationalistic" sinkholes that have swallowed homes and even killed one Florida resident, are incredibly rare."You can see subtle depressions at the surface," he said. "For the ones that happen overnight there is not that much time or any kind of warning before they happen."Can humans cause sinkholes?Yes. Anytime when natural water drainage patterns are changed, it's feasible sinkholes can develop."Here in Florida, our groundwater is our major source of water for all municipalities," Black said. "There has been times that over-pumping and drawing down the water table has created sinkholes."

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New York Doctor Leaves Hospital Ebola-Free

New York Doctor Leaves Hospital Ebola-Free

ABC News(NEW YORK) — A New York doctor who contracted Ebola treating patients in West Africa has been discharged from the hospital Ebola-free.Dr. Craig Spencer, 33, who treated Ebola patients in Guinea for Doctors Without Borders, spent 20 days in isolation at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan after testing positive for Ebola there on Oct. 23.Tuesday, outside the hospital, he thanked health care workers who treated him and reflected on his five weeks treating Ebola patients in Guinea."During this time, I cried as I held children who were not strong enough to survive the virus," he said, adding that he also felt "immense joy" to see other patients go home Ebola-free. "Within a week of my diagnosis, many of these patients called my personal phone from Guinea to wish me well."He urged the public to return its focus to Ebola in West Africa and called volunteer health workers there "true heroes." He and other officials also tried to dissuade the public from stigmatizing health workers or other travelers from Ebola-affected regions.New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also talked of dispelling any stigma, and applauded the city's response to its one and only Ebola case."On behalf of all 8.4 million New Yorkers, I would like to welcome Craig Spencer back to his normal life," de Blasio said, before inviting his wife to give Spencer the first hug."And now, the official mayoral hug," he said, pulling Spencer into an embrace. "It is a good feeling to hug a hero, and we have a hero in our midst -- someone who served others no matter how much danger. He has been an inspiration throughout the challenges he’s faced."De Blasio thanked the hospital staff and said Spencer did everything right by following protocol once he developed a fever.Spencer had returned to the United States via John F. Kennedy International Airport on Oct. 17 and spent a week in New York City -- riding the subway, running and bowling -- before developing a fever on the morning of Oct. 23. By the end of the night, he had tested positive for Ebola, but officials assured New Yorkers that they were unlikely to contract the deadly virus.Spencer's fiance, Morgan Dixon, will need to remain under quarantine in the couple's Harlem apartment until Nov. 14.Spencer is the fourth person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States and the ninth Ebola patient to be treated here. Only Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who was diagnosed in Dallas, Texas, in late September, has died of the virus in the United States.

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Car Falls into Expanding Florida Sinkhole

Car Falls into Expanding Florida Sinkhole

ABC News(HOLIDAY, Fla.) -- A 10-foot deep sinkhole that has already swallowed a car and a driveway in a Florida neighborhood is now threatening the entire neighborhood.“One minute you’re comfortable thinking about what you’re going to do for the day, and the next day you’re homeless like that lady,” Holiday, Florida, resident Laura Bowser told ABC News, referring to her neighbor, Anna Jones.Jones says it took the ground just 15 minutes to destroy her car, a Hyundai Accent, Monday morning. Her home is now condemned, including all of her belongings that she had to leave behind, because of the danger from the encroaching sinkhole.Six other families who live in the mobile home park community were forced to evacuate. The families spent the night in nearby hotels, wondering if their homes will be next.“I don’t know how safe my house could be,” said Penny Sharp. “I can’t go home. We’re all in the same boat.”The sinkhole may be one that developed in the 1940s but hadn't given way, according to the geologist working on behalf of the homeowners.This is an early start to Florida's sinkhole season, with the porous limestone underground caving in after summer rains.

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SEAL Who Claims He Killed Osama bin Laden Expected to Die in Raid

SEAL Who Claims He Killed Osama bin Laden Expected to Die in Raid

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Rob O’Neill expected the 2011 assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound to be a one-way mission, with a grim outcome for himself and his fellow members of SEAL Team Six.“We’re going to die when the house blows up. We’re going to die when he blows up. Or we’re going to be there too long and we get arrested by the Pakistanis, and we’re going to spend the rest of our short lives in Pakistani prison,” O’Neill said in an interview for a Fox News Channel special set to air Tuesday night.Instead, O’Neill says, he got his shot -- and killed the most wanted terrorist in the world.O’Neill’s statements mark the first on-camera remarks by the SEAL who claims to have killed bin Laden in the May 2, 2011 raid. He has been criticized for breaking the code of silence surrounding the mission, but O’Neill says he decided to tell his story because he thought his name would leak anyway.His version of the raid was recounted in 2013 in Esquire magazine, which identified him only as “the shooter.”Another SEAL, Matt Bissonnette, previously wrote a book on the topic, No Easy Day.In recent weeks, Rear Adm. Brian Losey, who commands the Naval Special Warfare Group, and Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci, the top non-commissioned officer of the group, urged SEALs to lower their public profile.“At Naval Special Warfare's core is the SEAL ethos," an Oct. 31 letter said. "A critical tenant of our ethos is 'I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions.'"

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Oklahoma Woman Sympathizes with Gunman Who Took Her Hostage

Oklahoma Woman Sympathizes with Gunman Who Took Her Hostage

ABC News(NORMAN, Okla.) — Jennifer Shokat hid underneath her desk, terrified. The paralegal was at work Monday when a gunman shot his way into her Norman, Oklahoma, law office.“I just dove down as soon as I heard the shots,” Shokat said.But the man -- identified as Devin Rogers -- saw Shokat, and told her to stand.“He said, ‘I’m not going to hurt you,’” she told ABC News in an exclusive interview.Shokat started crying. The wife and mother of two was worried. She didn’t believe Rogers right away. But he kept his word, holding Shokat hostage for four hours, long after dozens of others in the buildings got out, but not harming her.Throughout the ordeal, Shokat, 32, texted her family and friends, trying to assure them she was safe. She texted her sister: "There's a gunman in the office. Please call mom. This is no joke." She also interacted with her husband, co-workers and boss, maintaining communications with the outside world as her friends and family worried about her safety.Shokat says Rogers, 29, was courteous, even asking her permission to smoke a cigarette.“I was like, ‘By all means, if you need a cigarette,'” she told him.Shokat sympathizes with Rogers’ situation. He told her he was a veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.He randomly chose the building. He saw cars in the parking lot.“He had no more value to society. He had come back and could not find any work that would pay above minimum wage, and he said that he just wanted to go to jail, but he wanted to negotiate terms,” she said.The paralegal kept Rogers talking about war, politics, anything. She says she backed off when Rogers appeared agitated.“I think survival instinct kicks in,” Shokat said. “I was just winging it, basically.”Shokat said Rogers negotiated his surrender using a phone provided by police with the paralegal providing assistance. Rogers eventually signed an agreement and allowed Shokat to leave.SWAT crews were waiting nearby, taking Rogers into custody. He was booked into the Cleveland County Detention Center, facing various complaints against him: kidnapping, weapons, assault and battery charges and discharging firearms. He will be charged in district court Wednesday.Shokat says she has sympathy for Rogers.“I think he needs to get the help he needs. I do not feel like, you know, he was a psychopath. I feel like he was a person who had just snapped,” she said.

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US Veteran Reunites with the Soldier Who Saved His Life

US Veteran Reunites with the Soldier Who Saved His Life

Courtesy Sean Clifton and Mark Wanner(NEW YORK) — The friendship between U.S. Army Master Sgt. Sean Clifton and Sgt. First Class Mark Wanner is one born on the battlefield.The pair, both members of the Green Berets, the elite division of the U.S. Army Special Forces, were with their troops in Afghanistan on May 31, 2009, when their lives would change forever."We targeted a Taliban commander,” Wanner recalled to ABC News’ Michael Strahan, who brought the two soldiers together this month in New York City to share their story.“We knew that he was there that day and we rolled out and we ran into a hornet's nest, really,” Wanner, of South Dakota, said. “I round the corner. That's when Sean kicked the door and a guy point blank just took his AK and shot right at Sean.”“And he's like, ‘Help. Help me.’ I'm like seeing his eyes are, like, just big…and then he collapsed down,” Wanner said.Clifton was gravely wounded in the attack. He recalls thinking of his wife and three kids as he waited for help.“I'm just thinking, ‘Lord, let this be a dream. Just please, Lord, let this be a dream,’” Clifton said. "But, you know, visions of those boys and trying to fight back to get back home to them and to my wife, to my family.”As Clifton lay bleeding and close to his last breath, Wanner, a medic, took charge. He dove through bullets to treat his friend’s wounds and convinced a medevac pilot to defy orders and land the helicopter inside the firefight.It was then that Wanner and the medics discovered a miracle. A hidden bullet was lodged beneath Clifton’s armor, just millimeters away from what would have been a fatal shot."There was a higher power definitely that day that was looking out for us,” said Wanner, also a father of three.“It’s pretty surreal, it really is, to be here with you, my personal angel that saved my life five years ago,” Clifton said to Wanner. “Mark’s obviously my hero of the day, as are a lot of the guys on the team.”Clifton returned to the U.S. for treatment at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The soldier underwent over 20 surgeries in five months before going on to an additional two years of rehabilitation that included six more surgical procedures and physical and occupational therapies."In our minds we think we’re these big, bad Green Berets and to being to the point where I can’t even sit up on my bed under my own power, that was pretty humbling,” Clifton said.Clifton powered through his recovery, going from, in his own words, “kicking the walker away to dropping the cane and walking and jogging.”In October 2010, Clifton, who lives in Ohio, completed a marathon.“It wasn't just for me,” he said. “These guys risked their lives. So, you know, the best thing I can do is get back up on my feet and then that's my thank you back to them.”Wanner, who said soldiers’ motto is “never quit,” went on to receive a Silver Star Medal for his actions in Afghanistan and saving Sean’s life under enemy fire.The medal, awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the U.S., is one of the highest military decorations for valor that can be awarded to any person serving in any capacity with the U.S. Armed Forces.Clifton went on to win a Bronze Star medal for that mission, which killed three senior Taliban officials and over 30 Taliban fighters. He also received a Purple Heart, the medal awarded to armed forces’ members wounded in battle.

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Going the Extra Mile: Navy Captain Runs to Honor Fallen Servicewomen

Going the Extra Mile: Navy Captain Runs to Honor Fallen Servicewomen

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Navy Capt. Nancy Lacore knows valor has no gender. She recently completed a grueling 160 mile run in seven days to honor the 160 U.S. servicewomen who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s one mile for each woman who sacrificed her life for her country.

Lacore -- a 46-year-old Navy reservist who served in Afghanistan -- wanted to do something to raise awareness of the women who died in service. Lacore, a wife and mother of six, would run 25 miles a day from Chesapeake, Virginia, to Washington, D.C., at twice the pace she’d ever run before, pushing herself to the limit. Always in her mind, the women who did not make it home.“I do start out by thinking of the women we lost," she said.Lacore ran three legs each day, starting each one by reading the names of the women who died.By day six the run was taking its toll on her body. “I'm just exhausted,” she said. “I got up and put the wrong shoes on this morning.”

Lacore put on a different running shoe on each foot. She went through four pairs the week of the Valor Run. But she never gave up.“It's not about me running,” she said. “It's about the people coming together and recognizing all the women who have died.”One of those women has special meaning for Lacore.“I'll be carrying the picture of Megan McClung,” she said. “She was a Marine, she was a runner, and her mother said I'm sure Megan's going to be running right along with you."By the time she was lacing up for the final leg, Lacore was feeling great. On a beautiful day in Washington, supporters by her side, the last 10 miles became the easiest.Her time in Afghanistan was hard on her family, Lacore said. “I came home. There's so many families who don't get to say that, and so the sacrifices we made for that time were minimal to the sacrifices that so many have made.”For the women who made the ultimate sacrifice, 160 people carrying 160 tribute ribbons walked the last steps to the Women's Memorial at Arlington Cemetery.“It's really emotional and moving and rewarding in a way,” Lacore said. “I'm recognizing all the faces and I'm remembering the stories. It's pretty cool."One by one, supporters placed the ribbons holding pictures of the fallen women on the marble walls of the memorial. And then it was Lacore’s turn to remember Maj. Megan McClung, the first female Marine officer killed in Iraq.“They died for us,” Lacore said. “They died serving our country and sustaining our freedoms.”The Valor Run raised over $30,000 for the Women’s Memorial and for Wounded Wear, a charity that provides special clothing for wounded warriors.

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New York City Lowers Penalties for Minor Pot Possession

New York City Lowers Penalties for Minor Pot Possession

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — New York City has moved to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in an effort to cut down on the thousands of arrests for pot by the police each year.Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced that under the plan, people caught carrying 25 grams or less of marijuana may be issued a summons, eliminating the need for being booked and fingerprinted. The citation would result in a fine of $100.The new policy gets underway Nov. 19.The city's action follows that of the Brooklyn prosecutor who said earlier this year that his office would no longer try cases involving small amounts of the drug.Stopping the myriad of pot busts should also improve relations between the NYPD and minorities. Through August of 2014, an estimated 86 percent of marijuana possession arrests involved either African-Americans or Hispanics.While the penalties are reduced for simple possession, smoking or holding a lit joint could still result in arrest, Bratton said. Also, people with outstanding warrants caught with marijuana are not included in the new policy.

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Sayreville Football Players to Be Charged as Juveniles in Hazing Case

Sayreville Football Players to Be Charged as Juveniles in Hazing Case

iStock/Thinkstock(SAYREVILLE, N.J.) -- The prosecutor in Middlesex County, New Jersey, will not seek to have any of the seven defendants in the Sayreville High School hazing case tried in adult court, sources told ABC News.Lawyers for the defendants have already been notified of the decision, which is expected to be formally announced later this week.Jim O’Neill, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office, declined to comment.The case will remain in Family Court, which is the court in New Jersey that handles juvenile crimes. As such, the case will remain closed to the public and press.ABC News is one of a group of news organizations that has filed a motion with the court to open the proceedings. That motion has not been decided on yet.

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Police Have Leads in Murder of Girl, 5, On Grandpa’s Lap

Police Have Leads in Murder of Girl, 5, On Grandpa’s Lap

iStock/Thinkstock(MILWAUKEE) -- Milwaukee police investigating the murder of a 5-year-old while she was sitting on her grandfather's lap are chasing a few leads, the girl's family said on Monday.Young Laylah Peterson was killed Thursday when a shooter opened fire from outside the family's home. A dozen bullets went through the wall and one struck the girl in the head, police said."They have some leads, but that's about all we know," Laylah's aunt Tracy Martinez told ABC News.

She said the family is struggling to cope with the girl's murder."It's been really, really hard. We're trying," Martinez said. "It's a lot to process. Wednesday is the funeral. No one should have to bury a granddaughter or daughter at 5 years old."Laylah was sitting on her grandpa's lap on the couch when she was struck by the bullet. Police have said they don't think anyone in the home was being targeted, and the house may have been mistakenly attacked.

Martinez described Smith as a "quirky, loving" little girl who loved dressing up like a princess and singing her favorite songs, "Let It Go" and "Jesus Loves the Little Children."

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Man Seeks Answers After Dog Goes Missing on Delta Flight

Man Seeks Answers After Dog Goes Missing on Delta Flight

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Frank Romano desperately wants his dog back after the animal escaped from the cargo of a Delta aircraft at LAX a week ago. But he can't seem to get a straight answer on what happened.“I keep praying and wishing for him to come back,” Romano told ABC News Monday. “He’s my best friend. He would cheer me up when I was down. He would put his head on my leg or stomach and look at me with his puppy dog eyes.”

Romano said a Delta official called him Monday morning to reassure him of their search efforts, but he says the airline gave him conflicting information on Oct. 31 when his microchipped dog first went missing at the Los Angeles airport.

"First [a Delta employee] told me that dog ran off but they got him and need to identify him,” Romano said. “Then a few minutes later she told me they can’t find him -- that he’s lost.”According to a statement released by Delta on Friday, the dog escaped from the kennel on its own while on a Delta aircraft bound for Tampa.Romano, who is now in Tampa, said Delta offered him a $200 credit toward another flight. He doesn't want the credit, he wants his dog, and he says he's “never flying Delta again.”“If I could I would go back to LA in a heartbeat,” he said. “I bet I could find Ty faster than Delta can.”While Romano was living from motel to motel last year he adopted the 6-year-old bull terrier from a shelter in North Hollywood.

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How Man Who Drove Off Cliff Survived 17 Hours Under SUV

How Man Who Drove Off Cliff Survived 17 Hours Under SUV

Courtesy Trish Miller(NEW YORK) -- A North Carolina man who was trapped under his SUV after it tumbled off a cliff is in good spirits and recovering from a leg amputation, his family said."It's just incredible to me," his aunt, Trish Miller, told ABC News on Monday. "He's never said the first negative thing."Her nephew, Joe Woodring, 21, fell asleep at the wheel last month in Boone, North Carolina, and veered off the road, his SUV falling at least 60 feet down a ravine, authorities said. He was pinned underneath the vehicle for seventeen hours until someone heard his screams and alerted police."From the time it stopped, he was awake and conscious," Miller said. "He was very smart. He caught rain water in a little can to drink. He made a pillow out of grass, stuffed his shirt full of grass. And he had his pocket knife and cut the lining of the seat to get the cloth to make a blanket. He's definitely a survivalist."Now, Woodring is recovering from the Oct. 28 crash at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His left leg was amputated above the knee and he's undergoing physical therapy, Miller said. He should be able to return home to his grandmother, whom he lives with, in about two weeks."When we comes home, he'll be in a wheelchair for a while," said his grandmother, Tempie Ruth Woodring. "Then they'll work on getting him a leg."For now, Joe Woodring is making his way around the hospital with a walker, and his aunt continues to post updates about his health on Facebook, cheering up friends and family."He's our little miracle," Miller said.She said the one thing her nephew misses the most is hunting."He and my oldest son, Ethan, they're best friends and they had been planning their hunting strategies for this year," Miller said. "So this has put a damper on that but they're looking forward to next year.""He knows it's going to be a rough road for a while," she added. "But he knows he's going to be able to walk again. He's got that drive. And technology today is limitless."

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Missing California Hikers Found in San Gabriel Mountains

Missing California Hikers Found in San Gabriel Mountains

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES)  -- A group of hikers who went missing Sunday night in Southern California's San Gabriel Mountains have all been found.The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said the hikers were part of a church group that set out in Eaton Canyon and were reported missing after nightfall.All have been accounted for after they were found by a helicopter crew Monday morning.LASD Deputy Johnie Jones said a medic was lifted in but there were no serious injuries.“Once they lowered the medic down, they started lifting them out of there,” said Jones.Annajancy Armenta's sister- and brother-in-law were among those stranded. She said the group had been doing this for several years, and was well prepared with helmets and climbing gear.“They came with food. They came with water. They had harnesses and everything,” she said.One member of the group had a minor injury, according to Armenta, so the entire group made a shelter and decided to stay the night.Armenta said the group wasn't able to notify anybody of their plans to stay the night due to poor cell service in the area.

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Winter Comes Early This Year for the Eastern United States

Winter Comes Early This Year for the Eastern United States

ABC(NEW YORK) — The official start to winter is six weeks away, but it will feel like winter for most of the country this week.Even before the cold, the country will have to deal with snow. A low pressure coming out of Northern Rockies will strengthen into a major winter storm on Monday in the northern Plains and western Great Lakes.Some areas could even see one to two feet of snow. From the Dakotas to Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and upper peninsula of Michigan will be in the bull’s eye.One of the major metropolitan areas in the path of this winter storm are the Twin Cities, which is forecast to receive six to as much as 12 inches of snow Monday into Tuesday morning. Northern suburbs could see over a foot of snow.On average historically, Minneapolis does see about 9.3 inches of snow in the month of November. The record for single-day snowfall in November in Minneapolis is 18.5 inches, which was Nov. 1, 1991. That snow fall was part of two-day blizzard that ravaged the areas for two days, bringing a total of over two feet of snow in the Twin Cities.Behind this snowstorm will be the unseasonably cold air that will cover most of U.S. by Friday. Temperatures are forecast to be up to 25 degrees below normal for some. The U.S. has not seen this cold air this widespread and this early in the season since mid-90s. Guess, what? It is here to stay for weeks. Reinforcing shots of arctic air will arrive every four to five days into the Midwest and move south and east eventually.What's the good news for the East Coast? The the arctic front will modify significantly as it moves east toward the relatively mild Atlantic coast. The cold front will reach the coast by Thursday morning, dropping temperatures up to 10 degrees below normal. This cold air is not that unusual in the Northeast for this time of the year. For example, the average first freeze of the season in New York City is Nov 11. This year, it looks it will happen next weekend, which would be only slightly behind schedule.The cold air will even reach Texas and the Gulf Coast.Dallas is expected to get its first freezing temperature of the year Tuesday night and again Thursday night. On average, Dallas experiences its first temperature at 32 degrees or lower after Nov. 22, so this freeze will be about 10 days earlier than normal.Does this early cold blast mean we will have colder and snowier winter for the Midwest and Northeast? Not necessarily, as weather patterns do change eventually and polar air will return to the arctic.

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