iStock/Thinkstock(PORTLAND, Ore.) — Search and rescue crews are continuing to scour the Northern California coast for 15-year-old Devonte Hart — the boy seen hugging a police officer in a 2014 viral photo during the Ferguson protests — and his two siblings as the mystery into what caused the horrific accident that caused the SUV to drive off a cliff deepens.At first glance, a photo released by the California Highway Patrol on Tuesday appears to be picturesque, showing a helicopter as it scours over a cliff lining the Pacific Ocean near the city of Mendocino.But a closer look at the image reveals the central piece of evidence to the deadly crash: an overturned 2003 GMC Yukon XL, whose roof appears to be crushed from landing on the rocks water below when it rolled off the cliff sometime on Monday. Five people have been confirmed dead from the crash, including Devonte Hart’s parents, Jennifer Hart and Sarah Hart, and three of his siblings, Markis Hart, 19, and Jeremiah and Abigail Hart, both 14.But crews are no closer in finding Devonte Hart and two other siblings who were believed to be in the car, 16-year-old Hannah Hart and 12-year-old Sierra Hart, the CHP announced Thursday. More information about the family’s past has begun to surface as the search carries on.A 2010 complaint filed in Douglas County, Minnesota, reveals that one of the parents — Sarah Hart — was charged with malicious punishment of a child and domestic assault after a 6-year-old child showed a teacher bruises on her stomach and back. Court documents show that Sarah Hart was convicted on the domestic assault charge, but the charge of malicious punishment of a child was dropped.More recently, neighbors in the Portland suburb of Woodland, Washington, where the family lived, told The Oregonian that Devonte Hart had come to their house several times asking for food.Devonte Hart told neighbors Bruce and Dana DeKalb that his parents withheld food as a form of punishment and asked them to leave it by the fence so his parents wouldn’t find out, the newspaper reported. He was the adoptive son of Jennifer hart and Sarah Hart, according to ABC Portland affiliate KATU.Last week, Child Protective Services in Washington received a call about neglect and abuse by Harts, spokeswoman Norah West said in a press conference today. The agency attempted to make contact with the family in person on Friday, March 23 as well as on Monday and Tuesday, West said.CPS had no prior history with the family prior to the phone call made to them last week, West said. California authorities reiterated Thursday that they do not believe the crash was intentional.A search of the family home led investigators to believe the family had embarked on just a short trip because many of their belongings, as well as their pet cat, chicks and ducks, were still at the home. Nothing was out of ordinary in the home, and there were no signs of violence, officials said.All six children were believed to have been in the car since the family was known to travel together and no other family members have come forward with knowledge of the missing teens’ whereabouts, according to the CHP.Investigators are trying to piece together exactly how and when the car drove off the cliff. By the time first responders arrived on the scene on Monday, the engine was cold. A photo of Devonte Hart hugging a Portland Police officer as his cheek glistened with tears went viral in 2014 amid national protests over the shooting death of Michael Brown and the failure of a Missouri grand jury to indict the officer who shot him.The officer, Sgt. Bret Barnum, noticed Devonte Hart carrying a sign that read “Free Hugs,” prompting him to ask if he would “get one of those.” Freelance photographer Johnny Nguyen then caught the moment are the pair hugged.The image — taken on Nov. 25, 2014 when Devonte Hart was 12 years old — was especially poignant due to the civil unrest at the time over police brutality.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
City of San Antonio Animal Care Services/Facebook(SAN ANTONIO, Texas) — Three people in Texas suffered minor injuries over the weekend after mistaking two bobcat kittens for domestic kittens and bringing them inside the house, according to local authorities. The kittens were found in an alleyway in San Antonio on Saturday, San Antonio Animal Care Services spokeswoman Lisa Norwood told ABC News. After the three acquaintances brought the kittens inside, they were bitten and scratched as they were trying to feed the bobcat kittens milk for domestic kittens, Norwood said.The trio had the bobcat kittens for about a day and a half before they realized they were not house cats, Norwood said. Once they noticed the bobbed tails and how robust the kittens were, they took the baby felines to animal care, Norwood said.The injuries they suffered were minor – bites to the hands – and did not require hospitalization, she said. On Monday, the bobcat kittens — one male and one female — were taken to Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Kendalia, Texas, the sanctuary’s founder and president, Lynn Cuny, told ABC News.Cuny warned would-be good Samaritans against tampering with wildlife, instructing them to “assume that everything’s fine,” leave the animals alone and call wildlife experts instead.“These kittens should have never been taken away from their mother,” who was likely hiding from the humans or hunting for food, Cuny said. Part of the problem, Cuny acknowledged, is that the kittens are “so cute” and it grabs the attentions of humans. The kittens are currently “doing fine” but are stressed out due to the drastic change in environment, Cuny said. It took them “several hours” to get used to being fed be humans, she said.Caregivers are hoping to reunite the kittens with their mother, but she has not been spotted around the San Antonio area, Cuny said.“The occurrence of bobcats in the city is decidedly rare,” she said, adding that they typically only get calls for bobcats in rural areas. Releasing predators back into the wild is a challenge with predatory animals because they typically stay with the mother for up to two years, and she teaches them how to hunt, hide and take care of themselves, Cuny said.“They know they’re supposed to be with their mother,” Cuny said.In hopes of releasing them back to the wild, caregivers are attempting to handle the kittens as little as possible so they do not become “habituated to dealing with humans,” Cuny said. The kittens haven’t been named, and they are only being cared for “as much as they need.” They are also being housed in a protective area, where they can hear the sounds of nature, she said. The brother and sister bobcats are “alert and bonded to each other,” Cuny said.“They don’t separate,” she said. “They’re on top of each other all the time. That’s very comforting for them.”If caregivers cannot release the bobcats back in the wild, the kittens will live on the rescue center’s 212-acre sanctuary, Cuny said.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
WVEC-TV(NEWPORT NEWS, Va.) — A white hotel clerk in Southern Virginia was fired this week after video surfaced showing that he called a black customer a “f–king monkey.”Country Inn & Suites by Radisson in Newport News, Virginia, said it fired the employee on Monday after Irby Fogleman shared video showing him arguing with the worker over room accommodations.In the video, the unidentified worker is heard yelling “get your family and get out” before muttering the racial epithet.Fogleman’s wife, Kelsey Cunningham, said the conformation started after her husband complained that one of their rooms smelled like smoke.“It’s hurtful. We have two small children that were also in the hotel,” Cunningham told ABC affiliate WVEC-TV. “It just shouldn’t be tolerated at this point, and that’s why we decided to share the video.”Cunningham, who’s white, said she and her family were there to visit her mother-in-law, who came to town to surprise them.“She went and picked her own hotel, which I kind of regret now,” Fogleman said. “We get into the room and smell smoke, and that was kind of alarming because she doesn’t smoke.”The Country Inn & Suites by Radisson said it would re-train its employees in the wake of the incident.“I want to apologize for the inappropriate behavior and comments of one of our employees from an incident that occurred on Friday, May 4,” the hotel’s general manager, Lisa Little, said in a statement. “As a result of this incident, we will also be re-training every employee this week on our code-of-conduct policies to help ensure something like this never happens again.”Cunningham said she and her family received “a scripted apology along with a refund” a few days after the encounter.“The last few days have been hurtful, stressful and really just exhausting,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Monday. “All I can do is hope this doesn’t happen to someone else.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Scott Olson/Getty Images(EAST LANSING, Mich.) — Michigan State University has suspended payments from a $500 million fund set up to pay the victims of former sports doctor Larry Nassar due to allegations of fraud.The firm that manages the Healing Assistance Fund notified MSU earlier this week of potentially fraudulent claims, according to ABC Detroit affiliate WXYZ-TV. The university said it halted further payments in order for authorities to investigate the allegations.The settlement was established in May for the more than 300 Nassar survivors.Meanwhile, the university filed a lawsuit Thursday, according to The Detroit News, against all of its insurance carriers, claiming they had not reimbursed MSU for its defense and settlement costs arising from Nassar’s conduct.“We are suing our carriers, including our largest carrier, United Educators, for failing to honor their polices,” Robert Young, general counsel for MSU, wrote on behalf of the university in a statement obtained by WXYZ-TV. “It is disappointing and unfortunate we have to go to court on this matter, but we are hopeful this lawsuit will bring us to speedy resolution and that the insurance companies will honor their contractual obligations.”During the historic trial, dozens of women shared personal stories of sexual abuse, testifying they had been victimized by the sports physician under the guise of medical treatments while he was employed by USA Gymnastics and MSU.Nassar was sentenced to spend up to 175 years in prison. At the time of his sentencing, he already was serving a 60-year term for possession of child pornography.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
ABC News(CHICAGO) — Police in Chicago have identified and are questioning two “persons of interest” in an alleged racial attack on actor Jussie Smollett.Neither of the individuals has been charged with any crime related to the alleged attack, and there is no evidence that they were involved in any attack on the actor, police said.Chicago police used surveillance technology to track the movements of the two individuals using cameras, public transportation records, and corroborating information provided by Smollett, according to a spokesman.“We know who they are and have brought them in for questioning,” a Chicago Police Department spokesman said on Friday.Late last month, the “Empire” star told police he was brutally attacked in what authorities are calling a suspected hate crime.He was subsequently hospitalized and released, local authorities said.Smollett told police that the men also allegedly poured “an unknown chemical substance” on him, possibly bleach, and wrapped a rope around his neck, police said. The rope was still around Smollett’s neck when police spoke to him, officials said.And while Chicago Police have told ABC News that Smollett is only being viewed as the victim in this investigation, the actor is still bothered by some chatter online that his story may have changed in any way.In his first interview since police say he was attacked last month, the singer and actor said he was heartbroken when he found out that people questioned the details of his story.“I have to acknowledge the lies, and the hate. And it feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more. A lot more,” Smollett, 36, told ABC News’ Robin Roberts. “And that says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now.“It’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth, you don’t even want to see the truth,” he added.Smollett, who portrays a gay musician on Fox’s “Empire,” said the attack happened on Jan. 29, at around 2 a.m. as he was leaving a Subway restaurant in Chicago. He told police that two attackers gained his attention by yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him, according to an initial incident report.He said the attackers put a noose around his neck, poured an unknown substance, likely bleach, on him and used their hands, feet and teeth as weapons in the assault, according to the report, which ABC News obtained last week via a Freedom of Information Act request. Smollett said the attackers also yelled, “This is MAGA country,” during the attack — a reference to President Donald Trump’s “Make American Great Again” slogan.The singer said he sustained injuries to his clavicle bone and bruised ribs during the attack, but some still questioned if he made the story up.“For me, the main thing was the idea that I somehow switched up my story, you know? And that somehow maybe I added a little extra trinket, you know, of the MAGA thing,” Smollett said. “I didn’t need to add anything like that. They called me a f—-, they called me a n—-. There’s no which way you cut it. I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on top of some racist sundae.”Smollett said earlier reporting by various media outlets claiming his attackers were wearing MAGA hats was inaccurate.Others suggested that he may have lied in his explanation for being outside at 2 a.m. in sub-zero Chicago weather, but Smollett said “that’s ridiculous.”“I’ve heard that it was a date gone bad, which I also resent that narrative,” he said.“I’m not gonna go out and get a tuna sandwich and a salad to meet somebody. That’s ridiculous. And it’s offensive,” he added. Smollett also confirmed reports that he was initially reluctant to contact the police or handover his cellphone to help with the investigation.“They wanted me to give my phone to the tech for three to four hours. I’m sorry but — I’m not gonna do that,” the singer said. “Because I have private pictures and videos and numbers: my partner’s number, my family’s number, my castmate’s number, my friends’ numbers, my private emails, my private songs, my private voice memos.”“I don’t know what that’s gonna be, to hand over my phone for — and honestly, by then, inaccurate, false statements had already been put out there,” he added.The musician said he’s hopeful that police will track down the suspects. He also believes the two potential persons of interest in a photo released by police in the days after the attack are the perpetrators.“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that that’s them,” Smollett said. “Never did.”But there’s no doubt in his mind that the attack was racially motivated.“I could only go off of their words. I mean, who says, “f—– ‘Empire’ n—–,” “This is MAGA country, n—–,” ties a noose around your neck, and pours bleach on you? And this is just a friendly fight?” he asked. “It’s unbelievable to me that anything of this has come to this. That every single thing that I have done, every single thing that I have cooperated with, somehow has gotten twisted into being some bull that it’s not.”Smollett decided to speak out so people could hear the “truth.”“I think people need to hear the truth,” he said. “‘Cause everybody has their own idea. Some are healing and some are hurtful, but I just want young people, young members of the LGBTQ community — young, black children — to know how strong that they are.”This is a developing story. Please come back often for more.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images(NEWTOWN, Conn.) — After the father of a Sandy Hook school shooting victim died by apparent suicide this week, his widow is speaking out, saying her husband “succumbed to the grief that he could not escape.”Jeremy Richman’s body was found Monday at Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, Conn., where his nonprofit, The Avielle Foundation, had an office, authorities said. He was 49.In the Dec. 2012 shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, 6-year-old Avielle Richman, who was the only child of Richman and his wife, Jennifer Hensel, was among the 26 people killed.After Avielle’s death, the couple had two more children.Hensel wrote in a statement posted to GoFundMe this week, “To parent our children without my champion shatters my heart and I will love my best friend forever. … Side by side since 1991, Jeremy and I walked a path of deep friendship, marriage, and parenthood.“He succumbed to the grief that he could not escape,” she wrote.After the Sandy Hook massacre, Richman and Hensel started The Avielle Foundation, a nonprofit “to study the neuroscience, the underpinnings of violence and the risk factors,” Richman said last year when he appeared on ABC News’ “10% Happier” podcast.“We wanted to prevent others from suffering the way that we were suffering,” Richman said at the time. “If there’s a hope that we can get somebody help before it’s another tragedy, then that would be everything.”Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a friend of Richman, told ABC News on Monday, “Jeremy spent his entire life trying to help people identify the warning signs of harm. And it tells you how complicated the brain is, that even Jeremy couldn’t figure out a way to get himself the help that he needed.”In the wake of her husband’s death, Hensel wrote, “The work of the Avielle Foundation is meaningful. But my champion and the love of my life is the person who had every tool in the toolbox at his disposal.”“Now we also honor Jeremy through the continued work of our foundation,” she said.The Avielle Foundation said in a statement Monday, “Our hearts are shattered and our heads are struggling to comprehend.”“Tragically, his death speaks to how insidious and formidable a challenge brain health can be and how critical it is for all of us to seek help for ourselves, our loved ones and anyone who we suspect may be in need,” the foundation said. “Jeremy’s mission will be carried on by the many who love him, including many who share the heartache and trauma that he has suffered since Dec.14, 2012.”If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Camilla Hudson(GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.) — One Michigan city is considering an ordinance that would make it a “criminal misdemeanor to racially profile people of color for participating in their lives,” according to local lawmakers.The proposed ordinance in Grand Rapids comes as part of a larger proposed human rights ordinance that includes further defining discriminatory practices and terms, such as for people with disabilities and of differing sexual orientations and weight.There have been a series of highly publicized 911 calls on people of color across the nation, which are often referred to on social media as #LivingWhileBlack.This includes a Smith College employee who called cops on a black student she believed looked “out of place” on campus and a woman who notified police about a group of people at a barbecue in Oakland, California. Last month, a black man in Colorado who said he was picking up trash on his own property had guns drawn on him by police.This includes a Smith College employee who called cops on a black student she believed looked “out of place” on campus and a woman who notified police about a group of people at a barbecue in Oakland, California. Last month, a black man in Colorado who said he was picking up trash on his own property had guns drawn on him by police.At a public hearing this week, Patti Caudill, the diversity and inclusion manager for Grand Rapids, described an incident in 2017 in which Grand Rapids police were called on a graduation party in a park, according to local ABC affiliate WZZM.“They had approval and permission to be in that park,” Caudill said. “The family and most of the people attending that graduation party were African American … was it because of bias? I don’t know.”The city’s proposal falls under the section of “biased crime reporting” in the ordinance.“No person shall knowingly or recklessly report to a City police officer, City dispatcher, or other City personnel that an individual who is an actual or perceived member of a protected class … has committed, or may or will commit, a crime, if such report is based in whole or in part on the individual’s membership in a protected class and not on a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity in consideration of all available facts and the totality of the circumstances,” the ordinance says.The proposal’s purpose is to ensure the “health, safety and welfare of the City’s residents,” the ordinance states.A 2018 letter calling for Congress to hold a hearing on “racially-biased 911” calls also noted the calls can be “costly” because of “the financial time and resources pulled from 911 operators to the protocol police officers must then follow,” according to NPR.Grand Rapids lawmakers may vote on the ordinance in the next few weeks, according to WZZM, and it could go into effect as early as this summer.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
iStock/Pattanaphong Khuankaew(CHICAGO) — Grim new details have emerged about the murder of a pregnant teenager whose baby was cut from her womb, as prosecutors described how the teen was lured by a Facebook ad for free baby clothes and her accused killer claimed the baby as her own.“Words really cannot express how disgusting and thoroughly disturbing these allegations are,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a news conference.Grim new details have emerged about the murder of a pregnant teenager whose baby was cut from her womb, as prosecutors described how the teen was lured by a Facebook ad for free baby clothes and her accused killer claimed the baby as her own.“Words really cannot express how disgusting and thoroughly disturbing these allegations are,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a news conference.Prosecutors in Chicago have charged Clarisa Figueroa, 46, and her daughter Desiree Figueroa, 24, with the murder. At the news conference, they detailed what they say happened in excruciating detail.They allege that Clarisa Figueroa posted an offer of free baby clothes on a Facebook page called “Help a Mother Out,” which they described as a group that offers access to baby items for “families in need,” and that Ochoa-Lopez responded to the post and arranged to meet Figueroa at her Chicago-area home.Desiree Figueroa is alleged to have distracted Ochoa-Lopez with a photo album of Clarisa Figueroa’s dead adult son so that Clarisa Figueroa could strangle the teen with a cable.At one point, Ochoa-Lopez was able to slip her fingers between her neck and the cable, keeping herself from being strangled, and, according to Murphy, this prompted the elder Figueroa to yell at her daughter, “you’re not doing your f—— job!”“Defendant Desiree then stepped up and began to peel the victim’s fingers from the cable one by one,” Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy told reporters.Clarisa and Desiree Figueroa have been charged with murder, while Clarisa Figueroa’s 40-year-old boyfriend Piotr Bobak has been charged with helping to cover up the alleged crime. All three appeared in Cook County Court Friday and were denied release on bail.Julie Contreras, the spokeswoman for Ochoa-Lopez’s family, said that the family is asking for “justice for Marlen.”“Today is a sad day. Today is a day of anguish that this family is living through. A nightmare, a horror film,” Contreras told reporters at court.Murphy said that following Ochoa-Lopez’s murder, Clarisa Figueroa brought the baby to a nearby hospital, where it was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. Clarisa Figueroa then allegedly formed a GoFundMe page in an effort to raise money for the baby, who she was passing off as her own.Bobak shared a link to the fundraiser on his Facebook page, Murphy said.When police arrived at Figueroa’s house on May 14 to execute a search warrant, police reportedly saw Bobak cleaning a rug with bleach.Police later found Ochoa-Lopez’s body in a trash can on the property. Investigators believe the murder took place on April 23.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
WLS-TV(CHICAGO) — The father of a pregnant Chicago postal service worker who vanished nine months ago believes his daughter is alive and is pleading for the public to help. “I just want my baby to come home, along with my grandbaby that I never got to meet,” Joseph Coles said at a news conference on Monday.Coles’ daughter, Kierra Coles, a 26-year-old employee of the U.S. Postal Service, vanished on Oct. 2, 2018. She was about three months pregnant at the time. Chicago police said in October that they suspected possible foul play.Joseph Coles on Monday suggested his daughter may be being held captive in a vacant home. But he said the police are out of leads. “Somebody knows something,” he said. “If you’ve got any information, please come forward. I’m the father and I will not be going anywhere no time soon.” “I will continue to keep looking,” Joseph Coles said. “I will keep pushing this information until she is brought home safely to me.”Chicago police said Tuesday that no one is in custody in the Kierra Coles case, calling it an active investigation. Joseph Coles said he also wanted to draw attention to the others currently missing in Chicago. “We need to bring them home to their families safely,” he said. He encouraged anyone with a missing loved one who needs help securing resources to contact him. Among the other speakers Monday was Norma Peterson, sister-in-law of Stacy Peterson, who vanished in Bolingbrook, Illinois, nearly 12 years ago. “We still search for her every day,” Norma Peterson said. “We just want them home,” she said, her voice shaking.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
New York Police Department(NEW YORK) — A veteran police officer was shot and killed in New York City just after midnight Sunday during a physical struggle with an armed suspect. The 27-year-old suspect was also shot and killed, police said. Officer Brian Mulkeen, 33, of the New York Police Department was taken to Jacobi Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday.NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said Mulkeen, a member of the NYPD for nearly seven years, died “while doing the courageous work New Yorkers needed him to do.”“There is no worse a moment in our profession than this,” O’Neill said in a statement. “Please keep Brian’s family and colleagues in your thoughts.”Mulkeen and two other officers were investigating gang activity at the Edenwald Houses, a public housing complex in the city’s Bronx borough, where several recent shootings had taken place, according to police. A man being questioned by the officers took off running and Mulkeen and other members of an anti-crime unit chased him down.“Just after midnight this morning, a brave NYPD officer, doing the job we ask him to do, the job that New Yorkers needed him to do, was shot and killed,” Capt. Terence Monahan, NYPD chief of department, said at an early morning press conference.Monahan said officer-worn body camera showed the suspect reaching into his waistband for an object while fleeing police.Mulkeen and the suspect got into a prolonged struggle on the ground with the officer shouting, “He’s reaching for it, he’s reaching for it,” according to audio from the body-camera footage, police said.“Numerous shots” were fired by five separate police officers and Mulkeen was struck three times, police said. It’s unclear who fired the fatal shots.Police said a .32 caliber revolver, believed to have been wielded by the suspect, was recovered at the scene.The suspect was on probation for a narcotics-related arrest last year, according to police.“This is a very, very sad day for our city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We lost a hero by every measure. We lost a hero this evening. … This was a young man who made the choice to join the NYPD, to put his life on the line, to protect others.”“When we met with his family, Commissioner [Benjamin] Tucker, Chief Monahan, a number of us, spent time with his mom and his dad, his sister, his girlfriend and we broke the news to them,” de Blasio continued. “And one of the things they told us, even in their grief, was that Brian made a choice, an incredibly noble choice, to leave a civilian life, a lucrative career. He wanted to protect other people. He loves this city. … He put his life on the line and he gave his life for all of us.”The suspect has not been named, but police said he was on probation for a narcotics arrest from 2018 and had “several prior arrests in various places.”Mulkeen’s girlfriend is also a police officer in the Bronx, at the NYPD’s 44th Precinct, which is near where the officer was shot. Mulkeen was a member of the Bronx Borough Anti-Crime Unit in the 47th Precinct.“As cops, we know how rewarding our profession can be,” Monahan said. “But I’ll tell you, there is absolutely no worse moment on our job than this. As we stand here this morning, a young man with a bright future who courageously patrolled some of New York City’s toughest streets has tragically lost his life.”Just hours before Mulkeen’s killing, de Blasio had called the Friday shooting death of a Houston police officer “heartbreaking.”Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.