Prosecutors want teens charged as adults in fatal attack at Maryland fair

iStock(FREDERICK, Md.) — Two teenage brothers from Maryland could be charged as adults after fatally punching a man in what investigators are calling a random and unprovoked attack, prosecutors said.

The suspects, ages 15 and 16, were charged in juvenile court for allegedly attacking a 59-year-old man at the Great Frederick Fair in Frederick, Maryland, last month, but prosecutors on Monday requested that their cases be moved to adult court, according to the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The victim, John Weed, was found lying unconscious on the ground on Sept. 20 and was airlifted to a local trauma center, where he died the following day.

Witnesses on the scene said the man appeared to be minding his own business when he was approached by the teens, who allegedly beat him and spat on him after he refused to give the younger brother a dollar.

“At that point, the victim said ‘no,’ and a verbal altercation occurred. The victim walked away, but the defendants are accused of punching him in the head while following him,” the state’s attorney’s office said in a statement Monday. “Several minutes later, the 15-year-old juvenile male punched Mr. Weed in the head causing him to fall to the ground. As the victim laid on the ground, the 16-year-old brother spat on the victim.”

Weed’s family said he was at the fair with his sister and her two children, who moved to Frederick County last year to help care for the siblings’ aging parents.

“Our lives have been changed forever due to the unprovoked vicious attack these individuals inflicted on my brother,” Weed’s sister, Lori Hawkins, told Baltimore ABC affiliate WMAR-TV last month. “My brother was the happiest I’ve ever seen him, until Sept. 20. We just wanted to spend time together as a family at the fair, but due to this horrible act of unprovoked violence my brother is now dead. There is no excuse for what these individuals have done.”

The 15-year-old suspect was originally charged with first-degree assault, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment, but those charges have since been upgraded.

He is now charged with manslaughter, first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault, while the 16-year-old has been charged with two counts of second-degree assault.

On Monday morning, a judge ordered that both teens remain in custody until their next court appearance. The judge canceled an Oct. 22 court appearance and instead scheduled a hearing for Nov. 19 to determine whether or not to approve the state’s petition to charge them as adults.

A GoFundMe campaign set up by Weed’s family to help with legal cost, medical bills and funeral costs had raised about $22,000 as of Monday, exceeding its $20,000 goal.

“The incredible love and support that is being shown by the people of Mount Airy and all of the surrounding areas is incredible,” the campaign said in a statement earlier this month. “It has reinforced the decision we made to move here a year ago. Even in the midst of this tragedy we feel blessed to live amongst you.”

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Posted On 21 Oct 2019

Sanitation worker helps 88-year-old woman with dementia wheel trashcan up her driveway

iStock(NEW YORK) — A sweet moment between an elderly woman with dementia and a waste management employee caught on a doorbell camera is restoring our faith in humanity.

In January, 88-year-old Opal Zucca was wheeling her trashcan up the driveway of her Missouri home when she tripped and fell. Zucca hit her head and had to get eight stitches. Waste management employee Billy Shelby saw it happen and stayed with Zucca in her driveway until the ambulance arrived.

“I was alarmed because she’s an elderly woman and I knew she was in bad shape,” Shelby said. “I could see the fear in her eyes. I called an ambulance and I took off my jacket and put it on her because it was cold.”

After the incident, Shelby wanted to make sure it would never happen again. Now, every Tuesday when he visits Zucca’s home, he makes it a point to wheel Zucca’s trashcan back up the driveway for her each time after he empties it.

Zucca’s family knew that a waste management employee helped her bring her trashcan up after her fall, but her doorbell camera revealed that Shelby’s kindness went much further than just a driveway drop off.

The footage showed Shelby walking up the driveway slowly arm-in-arm with Zucca while holding her trashcan. After the can was placed and Shelby went to leave, he gave Zucca a big hug.

“Good to see you,” Shelby told Zucca. “And God bless you as always, darling.”

Shelby took the time to speak with Zucca further even complimenting her hair. “You’re looking good. I like that hair! You’ve got it down,” Shelby said. “I’ve got to work on mine.”

Shelby then gave Zucca an enthusiastic goodbye as he hopped on the truck and drove off.

When Zucca’s daughter Colette Kingston discovered the footage, she said it brought tears to her eyes.

“I actually got teary-eyed that a stranger would take a couple minutes out of their day to not only help her, but to build a relationship and a friendship,” Kingston said.

For Zucca’s family it was unbelievably touching, but for Shelby it was just the right thing to do.

“I always try to make her smile. That’s my goal,” Shelby said. “I always tell myself how do you know you’re a good person: Is it when you you’re doing good things when people are watching or when people are not watching? I did it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Kingston posted the video to Facebook and had millions of views. For Shelby, the reaction the video has gotten is very humbling.

“I’m not on Facebook so I didn’t understand the noise behind it,” Shelby said. “Everybody has a grandmother, so I can see why people are impacted by it.”

Shelby hopes the video will help spread kindness.

“If you do the right thing when no one is looking, it’s really good for the soul,” Shelby said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 21 Oct 2019

3 Army soldiers killed in training accident ID’d

iStock(FORT STEWART, Ga.) — The U.S. Army has identified the three soldiers who died during an early morning training exercise Sunday at Fort Stewart in Georgia.

Sfc. Bryan Andrew Jenkins, of Florida, Cpl. Thomas Cole Walker, of Ohio and Pfc. Antonio Gilbert Garcia of Arizona died when their Bradley Fighting Vehicle flipped over into the water around 3:20 a.m. Sunday. Three other 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team soldiers were injured during the accident. Two of those soldiers have been released and another remains hospitalized with non-life threating injuries.

The three deceased soldiers were pronounced dead at the scene.

“It is hard enough when you lose one soldier, but when you lose three at one time, that pain is amplified,” Maj. Gen. Tony Aguto, commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division, said during a press conference Monday evening. “And we are really feeling and sharing that pain across the division and the community.”

“It’s been tough for all of us,” he said

Aguto wouldn’t go into specific details of how the incident happened Monday but said the soldiers’ Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled off a bridge and was submerged upside down in a stream. Officials would not say how the vehicle fell off the bridge.

“Our family is heartbroken at the news of this tragic accident at Ft. Stewart,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement Sunday. “Our prayers are with the families of those who passed and those undergoing treatment for their injuries.”

The cause of the accident is still under investigation by the 3rd Infantry Division and a team from the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center and officials said they would release more information as it becomes available.

Aguto said training will continue on the base but that they constantly look for ways to mitigate risks. However, he also said that training on not perfect conditions is part of the job.

“Training is tough, realistic and we train for all sorts of conditions,” he said Monday. You would expect us to do that.”

Aguto said everyone is struggling to deal with this tragic accident.

“We share your pain and we honor and are humbled by their service and sacrifice, and we will truly miss them,” Aguto said at a press conference Monday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 21 Oct 2019

‘Our community is feeling the pain’: Birmingham turns to prayer 10 days into search for abducted 3-year-old

iStock(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) — Ten days into the search for an abducted 3-year-old girl, the Birmingham community is turning to prayer.

Over 100 people came together Saturday for a prayer service at Saint James AME Church — just steps away from where 3-year-old Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney disappeared, said pastor Alvelyn Sanders Swafford.

“Our community is feeling the pain,” she told ABC News.

Sanders Swafford said she was surprised to see Kamille’s mother at the service and said the look on her face is one she won’t forget — “pain and agony.”

Kamille was playing with other children at an outdoor birthday party on Oct. 12 when she vanished. An Amber Alert was issued but police still haven’t found her.

The goal of Saturday’s service was “to remain hopeful, to remain faithful, to remain encouraged,” said Sanders Swafford. “Everyone’s praying at home at their respective churches, synagogues, mosques, but [this let us] come together as one human family to pray for a 3-year-old child who is missing.”

Among those at the service were Montgomery, Alabama, residents who drove 100 miles to lend their support.

“That confirmed to me that this story has reached beyond the Birmingham metro area,” Sanders Swafford said. “And it inspired my soul to know that people outside of our community care.”

The service ended by gathering around Kamille’s mother and praying with her, said Sanders Swafford. The pastor said the church wants to be a resource for Kamille’s family and urges them to reach out for “anything they may need.”

Another Birmingham congregation, from the More Than Conquerors Faith Church, jumped in to help this weekend, too, spending Sunday afternoon selling cupcakes for “Cupcake.”

Between donations and the treats — sold at $3 each in honor of the 3-year-old — the church raised $3,000, senior Pastor Steve Green told ABC News. The money will be donated to a Crime Stoppers reward, he said.

Kamille’s disappearance “really just touched the community in a serious way. Everybody wants to do what they can,” Green said. “I just think the whole community right now is just saddened by it, but at the same time becoming proactive. What can we do? Getting involved and praying, asking the Lord to let her be found and let her be found safely.”

Police on Friday released surveillance video from the night Kamille was abducted in hopes that the public can identify a man who might help with the case.

The grainy footage shows two small children, including one believed to be Kamille, playing near a Birmingham housing area.

“There are two males that appear in the video where the two children are playing,” Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said Friday. “The first male will walk completely by. He looks at them. And it’s the second male that comes up and engages the children.”

That second man is a suspect, said Smith, adding that investigators believe they know who that man is. Police are looking to identify and speak with the first male in the video.

“The first man who walked by in the video, he may have pertinent information that will help us,” Smith said. “If he saw something that night that may be critical to the investigation.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 21 Oct 2019

At least 12 white supremacists have been arrested since Pittsburgh shooting: ADL

iStock(PITTSBURGH) — Jewish communities in the U.S. continue to face threats as the anniversary of the deadliest attack on Jews in the nation approaches.

According to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization focused on fighting anti-Semitism, at least 12 white supremacists were arrested for plots, attacks or threats against Jews since the deadly shooting in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018.

The ADL list includes some incidents where the suspect’s alleged white supremacist ties have not been independently verified by ABC News. But several of the incidents — including the deadly shooting at a California synagogue, or the thwarted threat against an Ohio synagogue, among others — have been confirmed by ABC News reporting.

“It is horrifying that in the year since the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history, at least a dozen white supremacists were arrested after threatening to target Jewish houses of worship,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

Greenblatt also said the ADL’s Center on Extremism shared information connected to the investigations and arrests with law enforcement on at least three of the 12 cases.

“We cannot and will not rest easy knowing the threat posed by white supremacists and other extremists against the Jewish community is clear and present. We are proud of our collaborative efforts with law enforcement to prevent such tragedies from taking place and ensuring would-be perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to justice,” Greenblatt said.

There have been 780 anti-Semitic incidents in the first six months of 2019, just shy of the 785 incidents reported in the first six months of 2018, according to the report.

The report, first released on Friday, said seven additional white supremacists who were targeting other groups and not Jews have been arrested since the Pittsburgh shooting.

The report states that those suspects’ alleged “targets were varied, to say the least, ranging from large retail stores and hospitals to night clubs and news stations.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 21 Oct 2019

‘Facebook has changed’: Mark Zuckerberg unleashes plan to battle 2020 election interference

iStock(NEW YORK) — Facebook executives including CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared new initiatives to help defend against election interference on the platform ahead of the 2020 presidential elections after the fallout over the 2016 elections.

“The bottom line here is that elections have changed significantly since 2016, and Facebook has changed too,” Zuckerberg told reporters Monday, adding that the social media giant is “proactively going after some of the biggest threats out there” in ways that he says are “more advanced than what any other company is doing.”

“We have a big responsibility to secure our platforms and stay ahead of these sophisticated new threats,” he added, saying that it is “one of my top priorities for the company.”

He also announced Monday that Facebook has already shut down four foreign networks on the platform — from Iran and Russia — for allegedly attempting to interfere with upcoming elections.

Facebook announced new initiatives Monday to help fight foreign interference, increase transparency and reduce misinformation on the platform ahead of the presidential elections. Facebook is currently the largest social media site in the world with almost 2.38 billion monthly active users, according to data from Statista.

Zuckerberg said he is confident they are “more prepared now” because of the role Facebook has played in “defending against election interference” around the world since 2016.

To fight foreign interference, Facebook has increased measures to combat inauthentic activity — and on Monday morning removed a cluster of four separate networks of accounts for “engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior,” according to a company blog post.

The networks originated in Iran, and one of them in Russia, according to the company. They targeted the U.S., North Africa and Latin America and used accounts as well as the Pages and Groups feature on Facebook and Instagram, to engage in “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” the blog post also stated.

“We took down these networks based on their behavior, not the content they posted,” the company said. “In each case, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action. We have shared our findings with law enforcement and industry partners.”

Facebook also announced on Monday “Facebook Protect,” which works to add an additional layer of security to the Facebook accounts of candidates, elected officials and more who may be vulnerable to targeting by hackers.

As part of the efforts to increase transparency, Facebook also announced a slew of updates that include showing the confirmed owner and operator of a page, clearly labeling posts from state-controlled media, and a new U.S. presidential candidate spend tracker that shows exactly how much each candidate has spent on political ads.

“We’re going to display clearly on pages what country the page is operated from and the legal name of the person that is operating the page,” Zuckerberg said Monday. “People are now going to be able to see a prominent label that it is coming from another country.”

Finally, as part of its strategy for reducing misinformation, Facebook announced clearer fact-checking labels that will indicate when content has been reported false by a third-party fact checker and link out to the fact-checker’s analysis.

Moreover, Facebook said it would ban ads that suggest voting is useless or give false information on how to vote.

Zuckerberg said they are “very focused on preventing voter suppression on our platform.”

“We take down any content that is misleading about how to vote and when to vote,” such as ads that say you can “vote by text,” the CEO said.

When asked why Facebook refuses to remove content completely if it has been determined to be untrue, Zuckerberg said he believes in a democracy people should be able to see what candidates say for themselves.

“I just think that in a democracy people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying and people should be able to make up their own minds about which politicians are credible,” he said. “I don’t think those determinations should come from tech companies.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 21 Oct 2019

Crews race to stop brush fire in Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles

iStock(LOS ANGELES) — Firefighters are racing to stop a brush fire that is threatening homes in the Pacific Palisades, an oceanfront Los Angeles neighborhood.

The blaze, which broke out around 10:30 a.m. local time, consumed 18 acres in about 15 minutes, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The fire has now spread to 30 acres.

No injuries have been reported, officials said.

Some residents were seen holding hoses and trying to wet down a hillside before abandoning the scene and fleeing once the flames grew closer.

The fire has threatened several homes but no structures have been damaged at this time, officials said.

Some homes are under mandatory evacuation orders.

A cause of the fire has not been determined.

About 150 firefighters are working the scene by ground and air. Crews are expected to be at the scene through the night.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 21 Oct 2019

Texas woman delivers baby girl by candlelight during tornado

iStock(DALLAS) — A Texas woman gave birth to a baby girl by candlelight Sunday evening as a tornado swept across the state.

The Bump Birthing Center in Rowlett, a suburb of Dallas, posted a photo Monday of the unidentified woman in labor.

The delivery apparently took place inside the facility’s laundry room.

“Baby girl born in our laundry room with the tornado sirens going off, a tornado on the ground half a mile away, and no electricity… candle light!! Welcome to the world beauty!” the center posted on its Facebook page.

The birthing center did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

At least one tornado touched down in the area amid stormy weather, tearing through structures, overturning cars and knocking out electricity for thousands.

An EF-1 tornado struck Rowlett on Sunday night with maximum winds of 100 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

More than 167,000 electric customers were without power as a result of the storms.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 21 Oct 2019

4th death in Legionnaire’s outbreak tied to NC state fair

iStock(FLETCHER, N.C.) — Four people have died from a Legionnaire’s outbreak tied to a hot tub display at a North Carolina state fair, according to state health officials.

In addition to the deaths, North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services reported 133 cases of Legionnaire’s and eight cases of Pontiac fever among people who attended the North Carolina Mountain State Fair in September. Ninety-four people were hospitalized as a result of the outbreak.

Legionnaire’s is usually caused by inhaling air contaminated with the bacteria Legionella, which can grow in moist environments like cooling towers, swimming pools and plumbing systems.

It’s considered to be a severe form of pneumonia, with symptoms including headache, muscle ache, fever and coughing that can produce mucus and blood, according to the Mayo Clinic. The disease is not contagious and cannot spread from person to person.

Legionella can also cause Pontiac fever, which is milder than Legionnaire’s and typically clears up within a few days.

Health departments reported roughly 7,500 cases of Legionnaire’s disease in the United States in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although that number is likely low since many cases go undiagnosed.

In August, one woman was killed and dozens were sickened in a Legionnaire’s outbreak linked to a water cooling tower and decorative fountain in an Atlanta hotel.

Hot tubs that are not regularly cleaned and disinfected can become breeding grounds for Legionella, according to the CDC.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Bullied teen masters taekwondo, has eyes set on 2024 Paralympic Games

iStock(FAIRFIELD, Ohio) — Four years ago, Austin Osner was depressed and anxious about interacting with people because of the constant bullying he faced in school.

Presently, the 14-year-old from Fairfield, Ohio, is competing in taekwondo tournaments across the country and hopes to qualify for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, France.

Osner’s mother, Kristin McGinn, told ABC News on Friday that his right arm had never fully developed because of amniotic band syndrome. The disability led to stares and negative comments from classmates about his appearance when he was in fifth grade.

After realizing the impact bullying had on Osner’s mental health and grades, McGinn pulled him out of the Fairfield City School District and enrolled him in an online school during the middle of the academic year.

She said she knew she had to intervene when she asked Osner what he wanted for Christmas and his response was that he wanted friends.

“The bullying started to have an impact on his self-worth and self-confidence, so at Christmas time, I made the switch for him and enrolled him at Ohio Virtual Academy and had him start going to public school online at home,” McGinn said. “He became a straight-A student again because he was able to focus on his schoolwork and not the whispers and stares.”

Osner told ABC News on Friday that the bullying had taken a huge toll on him.

“It made me want to stay in the shadows rather than being out and interacting with people,” he said. “I was just going day by day. I didn’t want to do anything special — just wanted to get the day over with.”

In 2015, he started taking taekwondo lessons and noticed how much he enjoyed it. After a year, he started competing nationally and credits the sport for helping him get into a better state of mind.

“This sport has given me the confidence to push my limits and go out of my comfort zone,” he said. “I’ve learned that I can be so much more than I ever thought I could be.”

McGinn said that she’d also seen a positive shift in her son’s behavior after he started taekwondo. Since starting the sport, he has become comfortable with talking in front of crowds, including speaking at assemblies at his old school about bullying and acceptance, according to McGinn.

“He started off kind of shy and timid and unsure of himself,” McGinn said. “In the last three years, he has become way more confident and way more self-assured.”

So far, Osner has won medals at state championships in Ohio, Illinois and Michigan and competed against able-bodied athletes in all of them, according to McGinn. He currently trains at multiple locations in Ohio, including West Chester and Dayton, as well as out-of-state locations like Grand Haven, Michigan and Orlando, Florida.

Over the next four years, he will also start competing internationally in hopes of qualifying for the 2024 Paralympic Games, McGinn said.

With October being National Bullying Prevention Month, Osner’s message for others experiencing bullying is to focus on those who bring positivity to their lives and the activities they love, in order to limit the impact of the negative comments.

“Don’t let it [the bullying] get to you,” he said. “Get some friends you can rely on — you don’t have to do this alone. When I was getting bullied, I also had friends that were there for me, and that helped me out a lot because I had people I could talk to.”

Meanwhile, McGinn’s advice for parents of children who are experiencing bullying is to talk to their children and stay connected with the people who are a part of their children’s lives. She said that some of Osner’s friends would go home and tell their parents that he was having a difficult time at school and the parents would then call her and alert her about it.

“Talk to your kids — stay involved,” she said. “Kids don’t really want to open up about their feelings or admit they’re having a difficult time. It can be difficult, but sometimes you have to have those difficult conversations, and don’t be afraid to seek help.”

Osner hopes his story of overcoming bullying and finding happiness through taekwondo can inspire others facing challenges to find their own passions and have confidence in themselves.

“Find what makes you happy. Find what you enjoy,” he said. “Just embrace yourself and life. … Use all that negative energy thrown at you to do some good as well.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 21 Oct 2019