iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The National Transportation Safety Board is gathering in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the ongoing investigations into two deadly Amtrak accidents.In December 2017, Amtrak train 501 was going twice the speed limit in around a curve in DuPont, Washington when it careened off the tracks, according to a preliminary report. That accident killed three people and injured dozens of others.In February 2018, A Miami-bound Amtrak train collided with a freight train in South Carolina killing two people and injuring 116 after a track switch was in the wrong position, putting an Amtrak train on the wrong course, according to the NTSB.Expected to be at the center of this week’s discussion among train safety experts is “positive train control”, a technology that can automatically slow or stop locomotives in dangerous situations.The technology could have prevented at least 23 deaths and more than 300 injuries over the past decade, NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt testified in February.Investigators are not expected to provide a probable cause of the crashes during this week’s meetings. Major NTSB investigations typically span 12-18 months.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — One of the victims of the shooting at a downtown Cincinnati bank is “thankful” to all who rendered her aid and is thinking about how she can make a difference in the future, she said in a statement.Whitney Austin was on the phone and unaware of the commotion when she walked into the lobby of the Fifth Third Center bank, where she suffered “multiple gunshot wounds” in the Thursday afternoon barrage, according to the statement.Austin is “especially grateful” to the two officers who “carried her out of the line of fire after she was shot,” the statement says. She was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where she was listed in stable condition.“I’m still processing the events from yesterday, the impact to the victims, to me and the community. And I’m thinking about how I can make a difference in the future,” she said in a statement Friday morning. “I’m so thankful to the paramedics and first responders, and the doctors, nurses and staff at UC Medical.”Her husband of 12 years, Waller Austin, said in the statement that Whitney is a fighter and is in good spirits.Whitney Austin, a senior product manager for digital lending at Fifth Third Bank and the mother of two children, ages 5 and 7, said in the statement the family was “overwhelmed by the support we have received from coworkers, family, friends, and total strangers.”Surveillance video of the incident released on Friday shows 29-year-old Omar Perez walking through the bank lobby with a Taurus 9 mm semi-automatic handgun pointed forward. He can be seen “taking shots at anyone he sees,” Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said during a press conference Friday.The shooting lasted about 4 minutes, 28 seconds from the time he fired his first round to when he was felled by officers. In the video, he can be seen near the security turnstiles as police officers begin firing at him through the window. Moments later, he appears to see officers approaching and turns around to run, but is propelled forward after being shot. Four officers fired a total of 11 rounds at Perez, but it has yet to be determined how many times he was hit.Perez fired a total of 35 rounds during the shooting, and he had about 200 rounds of extra ammunition in the briefcase he was carrying, Isaac said. Investigators have not yet determined a motive for the shooting, but police believe he may have been slowly working his way to the federal courthouse.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Courtesy Lindsey Smith (NEW YORK) — As the suspect charged with abducting 13-year-old Jayme Closs and killing her parents prepared to make his first court appearance on Monday, church-goers in the Wisconsin girl’s hometown offered prayers of thanks on Sunday that she was found alive, and former friends of the alleged perpetrator struggled to understand his motive.Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, of Gordon, Wisconsin, is expected to be arraigned Monday in Barron County Circuit Court on one count of kidnapping and two counts of murder.“This is a very tragic situation. There is a substantial amount of information, interest, and emotion involved in this case,” Patterson’s lawyers Charles Glynn and Richard Jones said in a joint statement. “Mr. Patterson’s legal team will be relying on the integrity of our judicial system to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected and respected.”On Sunday, parishioners at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Cameron, Wisconsin — where the funeral of Jayme’s slain parents, Denise and James Closs, was held on Oct. 27 — said a special prayer of thanks that the eighth-grader is safe.“God was listening to everybody’s begging. Multiple times we just said ‘please,’” Patty Gerber, St. Peter’s parish director, told ABC affiliate KTSP-TV in Saint Paul, Minnesota. “I believe in miracles, too. Whether you call this a miracle or not, I think the prayers of her family especially were answered.”Residents of Jayme’s hometown of Barron continue to display blue ribbons, Jayme’s favorite color, on homes and business, while signs were erected throughout the rural community reading, “Welcome Home Jayme.”“Bringing Jayme home was the greatest feeling I’ve ever had,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald told ABC News.Fitzgerald’s department spearheaded the 88-day search for Jayme that started on Oct. 15 when a 911 hangup call was placed from the Closs home and a dispatcher reported hearing people yelling in the background. When sheriff’s deputies went to the home, they found Denise Closs, 46, and her husband, James, 56, shot to death. Jayme was nowhere to be found and investigators immediately feared her parent’s killer abducted her.Authorities said Jayme escaped Thursday from a cabin in Gordon, Wisconsin, about 70 miles north of Barron, where she was held in captivity.Shortly after Jayme escaped, police stopped and arrested Patterson, who they suspect targeted the girl and plotted her kidnapping. But why Patterson allegedly singled out Jayme to abduct remains a mystery to investigators, Fitzergald said.“I just know that Jayme was the target of Mr. Patterson,” Fitzgerald said. “He didn’t know the Closses, he had no contact with the Closses that we’ve been able to uncover at this time.”Former FBI agent Brad Garrett, an ABC News contributor, said Sunday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he doubts Jayme was randomly targeted.“He had some connection to her, probably not directly,” hypothesized Garrett, who worked as an FBI profiler. “He did not know her, but he has seen her someplace.”He said Patterson seems to fit the profile of someone who was “driven by fantasy and obsession.”“I guarantee you he planned this,” Garrett said.Dylan Fisher, who grew up with Patterson but hasn’t had any contact with him since they graduated from high school, told ABC News that he was struggling to understand how his childhood friend could allegedly commit such a heinous crime.“You know, you talk to this person every day, you don’t know that three years from now you’re going to hear about this,” Fisher said. “So yeah, I’m asking myself a lot of questions and none of them make sense.”Fisher’s mother, Victoria Fisher, added: “Knowing that things like that were in his mind, that’s what scares me. It could have been my daughter.”Meanwhile, Jayme is with her family, who have been showering her with love.Her aunt, Jennifer Smith, told ABC News that she and her family are thankful that so many people in her community did not give up hope on finding Jayme alive.“I’ll never forget that,” Smith said. “I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection(NEW YORK) — The crates said dried fruit from Colombia. There was no indication that they were holding tens of millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine but that is what federal agents said they discovered in the biggest coke bust in New York in a quarter century.After what was described as a routine interdiction, the agents said they found 3,200 pounds of cocaine in a shipping container that arrived at the Port of New York and New Jersey on Feb. 28.The drugs had an estimated street value of $77 million.“This is a significant seizure, in fact it is the largest cocaine seizure at the Port of New York/Newark since May 1994,” said Troy Miller, director of Customs and Border Protection’s New York Field Operations.The cocaine was concealed behind boxes of dried fruit, according to a source familiar with the seizure. The cargo ship arrived in Newark from Buena Ventura, Colombia, and its next stop was Antwerp, Belgium.Authorities weren’t sure whether the cocaine was meant for the United States or Europe, the source said, but the seizure was lauded for keeping the drugs off the streets.“Cocaine, New York’s nemesis of the 90s, is back-indicating traffickers push to build an emerging customer base of users mixing cocaine with fentanyl,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan. “This record-breaking seizure draws attention to this new threat and shows law enforcement’s collaborative efforts in seizing illicit drugs before it gets to the streets and into users’ hands.” Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
aijohn784/iStock(LOS ANGELES) — Los Angeles police are praising a little girl for keeping her baby brother alive after the apparent murder-suicide of their parents. Officers found the two young children unharmed inside their home in the Chatsworth neighborhood of Los Angeles on the afternoon of April 14. The bodies of their parents were discovered in the upstairs bedroom, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.Detectives believe the 46-year-old man shot his 38-year-old wife while she lay in bed then turned the gun on himself on April 11, with their two small children also inside the home. Police entered the residence three days later in response to a radio call about an “assault with a deadly weapon shots fired.” It was unclear who made the initial 911 call. “Our little angel was able to keep herself and her brother alive,” Los Angeles Police Capt. Maureen Ryan said at an emotional press conference Tuesday. “The baby is a miracle baby and the little girl is a hero. She’s an absolute hero.”The two children were taken to a local hospital for observation. They are now in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services of Los Angeles County and both are said to be doing well. Officials did not identify the parents or the children since the investigation is active.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
BCFC/iStock(NEW YORK) — New York prosecutors said Thursday they will not pursue a grand jury indictment against a father whose 1-year-old twins sweltered to death when he mistakenly left them for eight hours in his car on a hot day, officials said.Juan Rodriguez, 39, a licensed clinical social worker, had already pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter in the deaths of his children Luna and Phoenix on Friday afternoon.But the Bronx District Attorney’s office said Thursday it is adjourning the case against Rodriguez and will not convene a grand jury at this time to pursue charges.This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
@NassauCountyPD/Facebook(OCEANSIDE, N.Y.) — Family and friends of Khaseen Morris, the 16-year-old whose stabbing death was broadcast over Snapchat, gathered Saturday at the Tower Funeral Home in Oceanside, New York, to remember the late teen.Meanwhile, prosecutors announced that seven suspects have been charged with gang assault in connection to Morris’ death. An eighth man has already been charged with murder. Morris was in the parking lot of a strip mall on Sept. 16 when he was fatally stabbed, reportedly over a girl, as dozens of onlookers watched and no one tried to intervene. Even more people viewed the brutal killing on the social media app. Morris was taken from the scene to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.“You could see him like, in so much pain, and he couldn’t breathe, and he just fell, and no one helped him,” Keyanna Morris, Khaseen Morris’ sister, told ABC7 New York.Morris’ sister described him as a “sweetheart” who would help anyone, according to ABC7. He was a senior at Oceanside High School and a vigil was held for him in the parking lot where he was attacked last week.Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder announced Saturday the arrests of Haakim Mechan, 19, Marquis Stephens Jr., 18, Javonte Neals, 18, Taj Woodruff, 17, Sean Merritt, 17, and two 16-year-old male juveniles in connection to Morris’ death. All of the suspects are from Long Beach, New York and have been charged with gang assault.Ryder clarified that these seven suspects are not part of a gang, “there is no gang issue in Oceanside,” but that the charges of gang assault are levied when three or more people physically harm someone.Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said all seven charged with gang assault had an “active” role in the attack on Morris. “The seven subjects were active participants in the attack on Khaseen Morris and his friend,” he said Saturday during a press conference. “Physically beating, physically hitting people, throwing them to the ground, each one of them had an active role.”The adult suspects charged in Khaseen’s stabbing death were escorted Saturday morning by police to their arraignment.Police previously charged 18-year-old Tyler Flach, of Lido Beach, with murder, and allege that he reportedly stabbed Morris in the chest. Flach pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said at Saturday’s press conference that the case will now head to a grand jury, which can add or change charges as the investigation continues.“There are seven more people who will be accountable for this most violent and atrocious attack that led to the murder here in Oceanside,” Singas said during the press conference.Authorities said they are still asking for additional witnesses to come forward because they believe there was more video taken of the attack that they have not viewed.“We can’t be everywhere at all times. The only way that we can receive justice is if the community helps us and cooperates,” Singas said. “It’s imperative we get this information that we can seek justice for Khaseen’s family and for the Oceanside community.” Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Dave Colavecchio/Twitter(WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn.) — A World War II plane crashed at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut Wednesday morning, sending plumes of smoke into the air. The vintage Boeing B-17 crashed at the end of a runway while trying to land, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Rescue efforts are underway, according to airport officials. “It is a civilian registered aircraft, not flown by the military,” said a statement from the FAA. “Local officials will release information about the people aboard.”The airport — the second largest in New England — has since closed.Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
KTKR(HOUSTON) — Surveillance footage has captured the moment a man unleashed a brutal tire iron attack on another motorist after a car accident in a liquor store parking lot in Houston, Texas.Video shows two men, who were inside the liquor store together before the incident unfolded, getting into their vehicles, and reversing out of their parking spaces at the same time.The victim, who did not wish to be identified, told Houston ABC station KTRK-TV that he didn’t see the other driver and accidentally collided with the other car’s bumper. In the video, the victim is then seen driving back into the parking lot as the suspect does the same.Seconds later, the suspect is seen getting out of his car and smashing two of the victim’s windows, before appearing to lean into the driver’s side window and attempting to hit the driver.“All it took was the lightest of brushes with the car. Literally that’s all it took,” the victim said. “I know that if he did that to me, he is going to do that again someday to someone else.”“You cannot attack people like that. That’s not right,” store manager Kamh Vinh said.The incident, which took place on Wednesday around 7 p.m. in the parking lot of King Cole Liquor in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood, has been reported to police. The victim was not seriously injured.Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
iStock/AlizadaStudios (OKLAHOMA CITY) — Marking 25 years since the deadliest domestic terrorist attack on U.S. soil, federal authorities on Thursday warned law enforcement agencies across the country that the threat from violent white supremacists and anti-government extremists remains “persistent and evolving.”“The prevalence of lethal [domestic terrorist] attacks in the 25 years following the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City highlights the continued threat they pose,” the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism said in a joint intelligence bulletin issued nationwide.The bulletin noted that the April 19, 1995, bombing by anti-government extremist Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people and injured several hundreds more, making 1995 the nation’s deadliest year for domestic terrorist attacks.The nation’s second-most lethal year for such attacks was last year, when domestic terrorists killed at least 31 people, 23 of which were killed by white supremacists, according to the bulletin.“While threats from [domestic terrorists] have continued to evolve since the Oklahoma City bombing, many of their significant drivers have remained constant,” the bulletin added, pointing to “perceptions” of government “overreach,” reactions to immigration policies, and the advocacy for “the superiority of the white race.”The bulletin mentioned several recent cases, including February’s attempted arrest of suspected white supremacist Timothy Wilson in Missouri for plotting to bomb a health care facility in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.Wilson was fatally shot when FBI agents tried to arrest him, but in the days before he “cited the likely increased impact and media attention on the health sector during the coronavirus pandemic as a reason to accelerate the timing and selection of a healthcare facility,” Thursday’s bulletin said.The bulletin also discussed the February arrest of five members of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, whose founder allegedly kept a framed picture of Timothy McVeigh on his nightstand. It also discussed the 2017 arrest of Jerry Drake Varnell, who was arrested for trying to “seemingly replicate” the 1995 attack by bombing a bank in downtown Oklahoma, according to the FBI and Justice Department.Varnell, who had expressed anti-government views, was convicted of federal changes that he attempted to use a weapon of mass destruction, and last month was sentenced to 25 years behind bars.In Thursday’s bulletin, federal authorities made clear that they “have no information indicating there is current attack plotting related to the Oklahoma City bombing anniversary.”However authorities urged law enforcement officials around the country to remain vigilant, providing them with a list of possible “indicators” that could mean someone is moving toward violence.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.