National News

Suspect arrested in murder of Hollywood executive's wife at couple's Beverly Hills home

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(LOS ANGELES) -- Police have arrested a suspect in the murder of the wife of famed music executive Clarence Avant at the couple's Beverly Hills home.

Beverly Hills investigators have identified Los Angeles resident Aariel Maynor, 29, as a suspect seen in multiple surveillance videos, including city cameras, heading eastbound out of Beverly Hills shortly after 81-year-old Jacqueline Avant was shot, Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook told reporters during a news conference Thursday.

Maynor accidentally shot himself in the foot while in the process of another burglary, Stainbrook said.

Around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, about an hour after Jacqueline Avant was found with a gunshot wound to her head, the Los Angeles Police Department Hollywood Division responded to a report of a shooting at a residence in the 6000 block of Graciosa Drive in Hollywood. When officers arrived, they found Maynor in the backyard, Stainbrook said.

After a "thorough" investigation, investigators determined that Maynor was allegedly in the process of committing a burglary when he shot himself by mistake, Stainbrook said.

He has been in police custody after he was treated at the hospital. An assault-style rifle was also found in the backyard of the home, Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Blake Chow told reporters.

Beverly Hills Police officers responded to the 1100 block of Maytor Place just before 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, where they found that Jacqueline Avant had been shot, according to the department. She later died at the hospital.

"Somewhere in the night we had a watch commander that started to put two and two together and reached out to Beverly Hills," Chow said.

Police believe Maynor is the only suspect, Stainbrook said.

"Our deepest gratitude to The City of Beverly Hills, the BHPD and all law enforcement for their diligence on this matter," the Avant and Sarandos family said in a statement. "Now, let justice be served.”

Jacqueline Avant was also the mother-in-law of Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos.

It is unclear if anything was taken from the Avants' home, but the back sliding glass door was shattered, Stainbrook said.

Clarence Avant was featured in the 2019 Netflix documentary "The Black Godfather" and in October was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The 90-year-old is popular among A-list celebrities such as Oprah, Jay-Z and former President Barack Obama.

Police read a statement from the Avant family Wednesday afternoon during a press conference, which described Jacqueline Avant as "an amazing woman, wife, mother, philanthropist, and a 55-year resident of Beverly Hills."

ABC News' Nicholas Kerr and Alex Stone contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Epstein's former house manager testifies, calls Ghislaine Maxwell 'lady of the house'

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(NEW YORK) -- The former house manager of Jeffrey Epstein's Palm Beach, Florida, estate testified on Thursday that the very first time he met Ghislaine Maxwell, in approximately 1991, she made it very clear to him that she occupied a central role in Epstein's affairs.

"She right away took over," Juan Alessi told the jury on the fourth day of Maxwell's criminal trial on multiple charges of child sex trafficking. "And right away she mentioned to me she was going to be the lady of the house."

Alessi, 72, said that from about 1991 to 2002 he was responsible for overseeing Epstein's house and its staff, and that in that role he communicated with Maxwell on "a daily basis" as she passed along orders for him from Epstein.

Maxwell, Epstein's former girlfriend and longtime associate, faces a six-count indictment for allegedly conspiring with and aiding Epstein in his sexual abuse of underage girls between 1994 and 2004. She has been held without bail since her arrest in July 2020 and has pleaded not guilty to the charges and proclaimed her innocence.

Alessi's testimony could provide prosecutors an important connection between Maxwell and the government's key witness. "Jane" has previously testified that she suffered sexual abuse by Epstein beginning in 1994 when she was 14 years old and continuing for several years, and she has accused Maxwell of facilitating and sometimes even participating in that abuse.

Alessi testified that, on multiple occasions, his orders included picking up "Jane" and driving her to and from Epstein's house at the behest of both Epstein and Maxwell.

"Do you remember Mr. Epstein instructing you to pick [Jane] up?" asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey.

"Yes," he said.

"Do you remember Miss Maxwell instructing you to pick [Jane] up?" Comey asked.

"Yes," he said.

He picked her up, he said, because, "I don't think she had a license."

Alessi testified that he didn't have any knowledge of what "Jane" did while she was at the house. He just "brought her to Miss Maxwell at her desk," he said, and "from there, it was not my job to see where they were."

On Tuesday, "Jane" testified that she recalled being picked up for visits to Epstein's house by a man who worked at the house.

"I don't remember his name, but he was a sweet Latin American man," she said.

Alessi, who was born in Ecuador, said he also recalled seeing Jane with luggage "maybe twice" at Epstein's house, and described an occasion where he drove Jane, along with Epstein, Maxwell and Maxwell's dog, a Yorkie named Max, to the Palm Beach airport to board Epstein's private plane. "Jane" testified on Tuesday that she traveled to both New York and New Mexico with Epstein and Maxwell, where she suffered further abuse, and that her travel was sometimes arranged by Maxwell.

Alessi testified that during his decade-plus tenure working for Epstein, he witnessed "two females ... who appeared to be underage." He identified "Jane" -- now a 41-year-old woman who testified earlier this week -- and Virginia Roberts, as the two females who appeared to him to be under age.

Roberts -- who is one of Maxwell's most high-profile accusers -- is not expected to testify in this trial.

Alessi described being in the driver's seat as Maxwell jumped out on a car ramp in front of Mar-a-Lago to talk to Roberts. The next time Alessi saw her, he said, was later that day at Epstein's Palm Beach home.

According to Alessi, during his time working for Epstein, there were "other girls constantly flying in" to the Palm Beach estate with Epstein and Maxwell.

One of Alessi's key responsibilities, according to a "Household Manual" that Alessi testified looked like an updated version of one originally by Maxwell and presented to him near the end of his tenure, was discretion.

"I am sorry to say that it was degrading to me," Alessi said.

During his testimony, prosecutors highlighted a passage in the manual that read: "Remember that you see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing, except to answer a question directed at you. Respect their privacy."

Asked to describe what he interpreted that instruction to mean, Alessi replied, "that I was supposed to be blind, deaf and dumb, and say nothing."

Another passage displayed in court instructed the staff to "NEVER disclose Mr. Epstein or Ms Maxwell's activities or whereabouts to anyone."

"Do not be bullied and do not show any reaction or impatience, simply be firm," the manual states.

Late in the afternoon Thursday, Alessi testified that he saw people who would come in to give Epstein massages, and that "98% of them were females." He added that Epstein took a majority of his massages in his bathroom -- attached to Epstein's master bedroom -- which Alessi said was shared with Maxwell.

Alessi said that he "never" went inside the room when Epstein was receiving the massages and that the door was "never" open during the massages. But Alessi said he would go into the room after massages "to clean up."

Asked by Comey if he ever found something "unexpected" after Epstein's massages, Alessi said he did on several occasions in the mid-1990s.

"I remember finding a large dildo. It looked like a huge man's penis with two heads," which he said he returned to a wicker basket in Maxwell's bathroom, which is where he said it he was told to put it.

According to Alessi, other items he observed in the wicker basket -- which he said was kept inside a garbage can -- included pornography tapes and a black leather costume.

Maxwell's attorneys are expected to begin their cross-examination of Alessi on Friday morning.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


2 Utah police officers shot by rape, robbery suspect: Authorities

ABC 4 News

(TAYLORSVILLE, Utah) -- Two Utah police officers are recovering after they were shot by a rape and robbery suspect Wednesday night, police said.

One officer, with the West Valley City department, was shot twice; he was initially in critical condition but has since been upgraded to stable condition, the department said. The second officer, with the Unified Police Department, was treated and released Wednesday night, the department said.

At about 10 p.m., the officers found the alleged suspect, wanted in rape and robbery cases, parked in a 711 parking lot in Taylorsville with a baby inside the car, West Valley City police said.

Officers negotiated with suspect, 20-year-old Anei Joker, to release the 9-month-old, which he did, though he refused to leave the car himself, police said.

Joker later got out of the car and fired at the officers, striking two of them, police said.

Officers returned fire, hitting the suspect, who was taken to the hospital where he died, police said.

The suspect has with history with police and was known to be armed and dangerous, Roxanne Vainuku, public information officer for the West Valley City Police, said at a news conference.

The baby wasn't hurt, Vainuku said, adding that it's unclear what the 9-month-old's relationship was to the suspect.

ABC News' Timmy Truong contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Family of Casey Goodson react to former sheriff deputy's murder charges

Family of Casey Goodson

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Former Ohio sheriff's deputy Jason Meade was charged with murder on Thursday in the fatal shooting of a Black man who was shot and killed while entering his grandmother's house last December.

In March, the Franklin County Coroner said that Casey Goodson was shot in his back five times, according to ABC affiliate WSYX in Columbus, Ohio. Meade was charged with two counts of murder and one count of reckless homicide.

Goodson's mother, Tamala Payne, said it had been "a year of grief and a year of pain" at a press conference Thursday morning.

"I'm overwhelmed with joy," she said in response to the charges. "My emotions are everywhere. We did it y'all. We did it."

Meade's attorney, Mark C. Collins, said in a statement that his client "acted within his lawful duties as an officer of the law when he pursued Mr. Goodson," and said Meade fired his weapon at Goodson in "fear for his life as well as those inside the house."

Meade turned himself in Thursday and plans to plead not guilty, Collins said.

The attorney for Goodson's family, Sean Walton, announced that they also filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Meade and Franklin County on Thursday. The lawsuit alleges excessive force, wrongful death and that the practices of the Franklin County Sheriff's office contributed to Goodson's death.

Franklin County has declined to comment on the civil lawsuit, citing pending litigation, WSYX reported.

Payne said she ultimately wants Meade convicted and given a life sentence for her son's killing.

"We are fully aware that this is only the beginning of the fight," she said at the press conference. "This was the first part of the fight. The ultimate fight is the conviction and I want a life sentence, that's what I'm fighting for."

Payne also said that Thursday's indictment showed that her family's portrayal of Goodson was accurate.

"Casey is exactly who we say he is," she said. "Casey was a good son. He was a loving son. Casey was a good grandson. Casey was a good brother, a good role model. Casey was exactly who we portrayed Casey to be."

Initially, U.S. Marshal Peter Tobin said Meade confronted Goodson after Goodson waved a gun at him. According to the Associated Press, he later withdrew those remarks, saying they were based on "insufficient information."

Payne argued that the indictment showed that the claim Goodson was waving a gun is a lie, though Collins, Meade's attorney, pushed back on that claim in a statement, alleging that Goodson was "waving the firearm erratically and tracked Meade with the weapon," as he drove by Meade's vehicle.

Following Meade's indictment, Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin said in a statement that he asked his staff to review the investigation so the agency could learn from this situation.

"This office has a professional obligation to do everything in its power to ensure the community and our deputies are kept safe," he said. "As I've said from the very beginning, I pray for everyone involved in this tragedy."

Walton said that the family's lawsuit would bring some level of accountability to Goodson's family, who he said had been traumatized by the shooting.

"Since that day, they've had to deal with this daily sadness and grief for nearly a year," he said. "So this day could not come soon enough. But they stayed strong, they never wavered, and they told the truth. And the truth will prevail in this case."

Nine members of Goodson's family, including four children, were in his grandmother's home when he was shot, Walton said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Florida teen stabbed to death by 'homeless drifter,' police say

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office

(MIAMI) -- Investigators arrested a homeless man in Miami, who, they said, was responsible for the homicide of a 14-year-old boy in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Police said they took Semmie Lee Williams Jr., a 39-year-old "homeless drifter," into custody on Wednesday night on the charge of stabbing Ryan Rogers to death on Nov. 15.

According to an affidavit, Rogers' autopsy revealed that he had been stabbed numerous times in the head and face and his cause of death was stab wounds.

DNA evidence from a pair of headphones found near Rogers' body was entered into a database and provided a positive match to Williams, police said.

Police said they located Williams in Miami and found DNA belonging to Rogers on a bloody bandana.

The homicide was a "completely random act," Palm Beach Gardens Police Chief Clint Shannon said in a press conference Tuesday morning.

He described the incident as an "innocent child victim having a chance encounter with a very violent criminal."

Rogers left his house on his bike on Nov. 15 around 6:40 p.m. local time and was reported missing later that night by his mother when he didn't return home. His body was found the next day on Central Boulevard near an I-95 overpass, police said.

On Nov. 25, police ruled Rogers' death a homicide and announced a reward for information linked to it.

Williams has been charged with first-degree murder with a weapon and was presented in court Tuesday morning, where his bond was denied. He holds a criminal record and has been previously convicted for domestic violence, battery and aggravated assault.

Shannon called Williams "an animal who probably shouldn't be out on our streets" and thanked the public officers and investigators who "removed a very dangerous monster from our street" in the Tuesday morning press conference.

Williams' next court date is set for Jan. 3, 2022, according to local ABC affiliate WPBF.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


COVID-19 live updates: First omicron case in US identified in California

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(NEW YORK) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.2 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 780,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Just 59.4% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Dec 02, 9:33 am
Unvaccinated people will be barred from most businesses in Germany

Unvaccinated people in Germany will be barred from most businesses, except for grocery stores and pharmacies, officials announced Thursday.

In Germany, shops and restaurants check vaccination status at entrances.

Nearly 69% of Germans are fully vaccinated. The country has reported several cases of the omicron variant.

-ABC News'  Joe Simonetti

Dec 02, 8:33 am
Mask mandate on public transportation extended through March 18

Required masks on public transportation, including airplanes, rails and buses, will be extended through March 18, according to a new plan from the Biden administration.

Tighter requirements for travel into the U.S. will go into place early next week, the administration said. The rule calls for proof of a negative test within one day of travel to the U.S. for all passengers, regardless of their vaccination status or nationality.

President Joe Biden also announced a plan Thursday allowing for free rapid tests.

Senior administration officials say the more than 150 million Americans with private insurance will be able to submit for reimbursement to their insurance companies through the same rule that allows tests on site to be covered by insurance. To reach uninsured Americans and those on Medicare or Medicaid, the Biden administration will send 50 million at-home tests to 20,000 federal sites around the country to be handed out for free.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Labor and Treasury Department will put out guidance by Jan. 15 to determine exactly how many tests will be covered and at what frequency, the plan said, and it will not retroactively cover tests already purchased.

-ABC News' Cheyenne Haslett, Justin Gomez

Dec 01, 5:32 pm
CDC orders airlines to share contact info for travelers from southern Africa

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is directing airlines to provide the agency with the names and contact information of passengers who have entered the United States since Nov. 29 and had been in southern Africa the prior two weeks. Airlines must turn the information over within 24 hours of the flight's arrival into the U.S.

The directive, in effect indefinitely, applies to travelers from the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Zimbabwe.

The order, which does not mention the omicron variant specifically, is to "prevent the importation and spread of a communicable disease of public health importance."

Delta and United are currently the only two carriers that offer flights between the U.S. and countries covered by the CDC order.

ABC News' Cheyenne Haslett, Sam Sweeney and Mina Kaji

Dec 01, 3:23 pm
California governor on omicron case: 'This is not surprising'

Gov. Gavin Newsom said the first detected case of the omicron variant in the U.S. being found in California "is not surprising" due to the state's "aggressive testing protocols" and genomic sequencing.

During a previously scheduled press briefing Wednesday afternoon, he shared a timeline on the San Francisco resident who tested positive for the case. The person left South Africa on Nov. 21 and landed in the U.S. on Nov. 22, developed symptoms a few days later around Nov. 25 and got tested on Nov. 28, he said. The test came back positive on Nov. 29, he said.

On Nov. 30, initial lab testing determined the sample could be omicron, and a full sequencing confirmed it was early Wednesday morning, San Francisco health officials said.

Newsom encouraged Californians to get vaccinated and receive a booster shot as the winter approaches.

Dec 01, 3:02 pm
California omicron case 'not a cause for us to panic,' health director says

The individual who tested positive for the first case of the omicron variant detected in the U.S. had received a full dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine but was not yet eligible for a booster dose, according to San Francisco Department of Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax.

The person developed symptoms upon returning from South Africa, got tested in San Francisco and has since recovered, Colfax told reporters during a briefing Wednesday.

"They did the right thing and got tested and reported their travel history," he said.

Colfax said the case is "not a cause for us to panic," and that San Francisco "is prepared" for this.

The health department has no plans at this time to change its current COVID-19 health orders, Colfax said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


New York scientists double down on efforts to track new omicron variant

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(ALBANY, N.Y.) -- With mounting concerns over the potential threat of the newly discovered omicron variant, U.S. scientists are racing to try to determine whether there are any confirmed cases of the new variant circulating around the country.

Among those is the New York State Department of Health's Wadsworth Center Labs in Albany, New York, where for months, scientists have been on the lookout for dangerous variants, while monitoring the genetic changes in the COVID-19 virus.

In order to track new variants, the team sequences the virus's genetic material to identify its lineage, strain and mutations, as well as to see how the virus is evolving, and which viruses are entering the state of New York.

The lab has been on high alert since the discovery of the omicron variant, analyzing positive COVID-19 samples from across the state to see if the variant is already present within the community.

On Wednesday, scientists in California confirmed the first known case of omicron in the U.S.

It is "absolutely, entirely possible," that the omicron variant is already circulating in many other communities across the country, Dr. Kirsten St. George, director of virology and chief of the Laboratory of Viral Diseases at the Wadsworth Center, told ABC News on Tuesday.

"We only sequence a subset of samples in New York and elsewhere in the country. We're not sequencing 100% of positive specimens. It is entirely possible that it is already here, and we have yet to sequence the specimen that it's in," St. George said on Tuesday, prior to the news of the U.S.' first confirmed case.

St. George said she was taken aback when she first saw a 3D image, shared by South Africa, of omicron's mutations.

"You could see the individual mutations marked on that protein, and it was really pretty jaw dropping, because it had so many more mutations than anything we've ever seen. It was a fairly startling thing to look at," St. George said, adding that "the evolutionary change on that protein was more extensive than anything we had seen."

Omicron is concerning because it has mutations not seen before, and scientists still do not know how it will clinically affect those it infects, St. George said, adding that "there are mutations that we unfortunately know can be associated with reduced efficacy of immunity."

The lab has been sequencing over 800 COVID-19 samples per week, researchers explained, a number that has been greatly enhanced with the establishment of a sequencing consortium, which comprises four other sequencing laboratories around the state, and also by collaboration with other labs across the state.

"These are known positive COVID samples that have been collected from throughout New York state and they're sent to us and we're preparing them for whole genome sequencing," Alexis Russell, a research scientist for the lab, told ABC News.

With multiple labs, throughout the country, sequencing different percentages of the positive specimens, and sharing data as soon as it is available, "we will know immediately when we see it, when it comes through the pipeline," St. George said

Following the discovery of the omicron variant, South Africa, one of the first countries where the newest variant was first discovered, has begun to experience an uptick in coronavirus infections. According to St. George, it is possible that omicron is behind South Africa's latest surge.

"The correlation of the emergence of that variant in South Africa, combined with the rapid increase in positivity and increase in case count, is quite suspicious," St. George said. "I think it's quite possible that it correlates with that variant and that it is probably a rapidly transmissible variant."

However, it is "very unlikely" that the increase in COVID-19 cases seen in the U.S., in recent weeks, is the result of the omicron. St. George said, "I think if that were the case, we would have seen it already in our sequencing pipeline."

It is still too early to know whether omicron will turn out to be more transmissible than delta, St. George said, though some of the existing PCR tests just happen to pick up an omicron marker, making it easier to detect than delta.

Positive samples for omicron have shown a phenomenon called "S-gene-dropout," which means that a target gene, linked to COVID-19 variants, appears to be missing from the new variant, allowing it to be distinguished easily from the dominant delta variant.

"It is a very suspicious indicator when you see it, a convenient indicator," St. George explained, making it potentially easier to detect omicron as compared to delta.

The discovery of new variants is not unexpected, St. George said, but it becomes particularly worrisome when it replicates at high numbers, increasing the chances of a mutation emerging.

"The more virus that it's producing, the more chance it has of producing a virus with a mutant. And then the more people who are infected, the higher the risk again, the higher the chance of producing it," St. George added.

It is possible that omicron could prove to be stronger than the delta variant, which has been shown to be far more transmissible than prior variants.

"The competition against delta is quite dramatic. It certainly looks as if it's got a very good fitness advantage against it, at this point," St. George said.

However, researchers cautioned that there are also times when viruses do develop mutations that seem to give them fitness advantages over dominant variants, but they ultimately "sort of burn out," and subside.

The protective measures that should be taken against omicron remain the same as with the other variants, wear masks, especially inside, and in crowds, wash your hands and get vaccinated.

"Even though we know that this virus has mutations that can be associated with evading immunity, be it prior infection, immunity or vaccine associated immunity. You have a better chance of not getting sick and having a decreased amount of viral replication in your system if your immune system is already primed with a vaccine," St. George said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Michigan school shooting: What we know about the victims

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(OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich.) -- A Michigan community is grieving after four students ages 14 to 17 were killed in a shooting at their high school.

Three victims died Tuesday in the wake of the shooting at Oxford High School in Oxford Township. The fourth victim died Wednesday. Seven were shot and injured, including one teacher.

The suspected gunman, a 15-year-old student, is in custody.

Here is what we know about the lives lost.

Madisyn Baldwin, 17

Madisyn Baldwin, set to graduate this year, loved to read, write and draw, according to clickonDetroit.com.

She had already been accepted to some colleges, including with full scholarships, her family said, according to clickonDetroit.com.

Tate Myre, 16

Tate Myre was an honors student who was "beloved by all" and had a "bright future," the Oxford football team said.

Myre, a junior, had been on the school's varsity football team since he was a freshman, the team said.

Myre died in a patrol car while deputies were taking him to a hospital, authorities said.

Hana St. Juliana, 14

Hana St. Juliana was a volleyball and basketball player.

Her father described her as a happy and joyful child, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said at a news conference Wednesday.

Justin Shilling, 17

Justin Shilling was the fourth victim to die. He died at McLaren Oakland Hospital in Pontiac, Michigan, on Wednesday morning, sheriff's officials said.

The teen "was a grandson, a brother, a cousin, a classmate, and without hesitation, a friend," his family said in a statement. "The loss of Justin leaves such a gaping hole in our family that we cannot conceive of life without him."

"Justin was a scholar, part of Oxford School Districts Baccalaureate program and a university scholarship awardee. He was a tireless worker with three jobs that he juggled along wit his studies," the family said.

Shilling was also a golfer and co-captain of a bowling team, McDonald said.

"His potential was boundless in life and yet in death he continues to give of himself as an organ donor," his family said. "We feel the world can't have too much of Justin."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Daunte Wright's family honors his memory as Kim Potter trial begins

Wright Family

(NEW YORK) -- The family of Daunte Wright is spending their first holiday season without him.

"On Thanksgiving, we sat there and we watched so many videos of my nephew," Wright's aunt Naisha Wright said tearfully in an interview with ABC News. "It was just such a beautiful thing, because everybody had a memory of him either cracking jokes or trying to dance -- because he could not dance, but he tried."

The 20-year-old Black man was fatally shot in Minnesota during a traffic stop in April by then-police officer Kim Potter.

Potter, who resigned from the Brooklyn Center Police Department two days later, is now headed to trial. She is charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter. She has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Officers initially pulled Wright over for an expired registration tag on his car but determined that he had an outstanding warrant for a gross misdemeanor weapons charge and tried to detain him, according to former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, who also resigned after the incident.

As officers tried to arrest him, Wright freed himself and tried to get back in his vehicle.

During the struggle, the defense says Potter accidentally grabbed her firearm instead of her stun gun when she shot him. After he was shot, he drove off and crashed the car a few blocks away.

Wright's mother, Katie Wright, told ABC News in an interview two days after the shooting that her son had called her during the traffic stop.

"I know my son was scared. He's afraid of the police, and I just seen and heard the fear in his voice," his mother said. "But I don't know why, and it should have never escalated the way it did."

She described her son as "an amazing, loving kid" who "had a big heart," "bright" smile and "loved basketball."

Naisha Wright said she wants the world to remember her nephew as a popular young man with a knack for humor -- earning himself a large group of close friends and being coined as an "honorary nephew" to those who knew the family. She also said he had a bright outlook toward a future of taking care of his family, particularly his 2-year-old son.

"He had a 2-year-old son that's not going to be able to play basketball with him. He had sisters and brothers that he loved so much," his mother said in April. "He just had his whole life taken away from him. We had our hearts pulled out of our chests. He was my baby."

"I'm just remembering that smile on that boy's face," his aunt said. "The memory of this young man trying to live his life … trying to be a father, becoming a father at a young age and trying to do something for his son."

Naisha Wright said he had hoped to "take care of his son, giving and doing whatever it was that he needed to do for his son."

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump has been retained by the family and has slammed the defense's argument that Wright may still be alive if he had not tried to escape police custody.

"We must look past the shameless victim blaming that has been and will be directed toward Daunte," Crump said. "Daunte Wright should not have been stopped or shot. He should be here with us, hugging his parents, siblings and young son during this holiday season."

ABC News' Stephanie Wash and Sabina Ghebremedhin contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


4th student dies from Michigan school shooting, 15-year-old charged as adult: Latest

mbbirdy/iStock

(OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich.) -- A fourth student has died following Tuesday afternoon's shooting at a Michigan high school.

Justin Shilling, 17, died at about 10:45 a.m. Wednesday in the wake of the shooting at Oxford High School in Oxford Township, sheriff's officials said. Three other students, ages 14 to 17, died Tuesday. Seven people, including a teacher, were injured.

The suspected gunman, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, was taken into custody and is being charged as an adult, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said at a news conference Wednesday.

There's no indication that the victims were specifically targeted, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said Wednesday.

McDonald said she is confident prosecutors can prove the shooting was premeditated "well before the incident."

A law enforcement official told ABC News that investigators are actively pursuing information that, Monday night, an undetermined number of students appeared to see a Snapchat video warning of a shooting on Tuesday. Some students who saw the video stayed home from school, though no calls were placed to police regarding the video, the official said.

During Crumbley's first court appearance Wednesday afternoon, Lt. Tim Willis of the Oakland County Sheriff's Office confirmed that videos were recovered from the suspect's phone. Willis said they included one video by Crumbley the night before the shooting in which he allegedly "talked about shooting and killing students the next day at Oxford High School."

Investigators also recovered a journal from Crumbley's backpack that allegedly detailed a desire to kill students.

According to the sheriff's office, "the suspect had been involved in a meeting over behavior issues the prior day and the day of the shooting."

"Nothing of concern was noted in his school file prior to the first meeting," the sheriff's office said. "There are also no documented cases of bullying of the suspect with the school."

Crumbley has been charged with one count of terrorism causing death; four counts of first-degree murder; seven counts of assault with intent to murder; and 11 counts of possession of a firearm in commission of a felony, she said. Additional charges are possible, McDonald said.

A judge entered a not guilty plea for Crumbley at his arraignment. He will be moved to Oakland County Jail and held in isolation with bond, the judge said. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 13.

The teen allegedly took his father's semiautomatic handgun, a 9 mm Sig Sauer pistol, with him to school, officials said.

Crumbley allegedly entered a bathroom just before 1 p.m. with a backpack and reemerged a minute or two later without the bag "but with a gun in hand," Oakland County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Marc Keast said during Wednesday's arraignment.

He allegedly walked down the hallway, aiming inside classrooms and at nearby students, according to Keast.

He never went into a classroom and was apprehended in a hallway, Bouchard said.

Thirty spent shell casings have been recovered, the sheriff said. The suspect had 18 live rounds left, he said.

The suspect's father purchased the weapon on Black Friday and officials are looking into how the family stored its guns and how much access the teen had to them, according to a source briefed on the investigation. The suspect had apparently used the gun prior to the school shooting, the source said.

McDonald said prosecutors are considering charges against both of the suspect's parents.

The first three students killed in the Tuesday shooting were Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16, and Hana St. Juliana, 14.

Four of the seven injured victims remained in the hospital on Wednesday, the sheriff said. Among those in the hospital is a 17-year-old girl who is in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the chest, he said.

In a statement released Wednesday evening, the Oxford Community Schools District said the community "has suffered a loss that is immeasurable."

The district said it is "fully participating" in the sheriff's office's investigation and warned against "significant speculation and misinformation" in the wake of the attack.

"The verified facts have been and will continue to be shared by law enforcement," the district said.

ABC News' Will Gretsky contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Wife of famed music executive Clarence Avant killed in apparent Beverly Hills home invasion

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(BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.) -- The wife of a famed music executive was killed during a possible home invasion in Beverly Hills.

Officers from the Beverly Hills Police Department responded to the 1100 block of Maytor Place just before 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, where they found a victim with a gunshot wound to the head, according to the department. The suspects were no longer on the scene, police said.

The victim was identified by a source close to the family as Jacqueline Avant, the wife of music executive and film producer Clarence Avant. Jacqueline Avant was transported to the hospital, where she later died, police said.

Jacqueline Avant, 81, may have been killed as the result of a home invasion, the source told ABC News. A back sliding glass door was shattered, Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook told ABC News.

It is unclear if anything was taken from the home, Stainbrook said. It is unclear who broke into the home, how the events unfolded and how long the suspects were there.

Clarence Avant, who is featured in the 2019 Netflix documentary "The Black Godfather," was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in October. Clarence Avant, 90, was popular among A-list celebrities such as Oprah, Jay-Z and even former President Barack Obama.

Police read a statement from the Avant family Wednesday afternoon during a press conference, which described Jacqueline Avant as "an amazing woman, wife, mother, philanthropist, and a 55-year resident of Beverly Hills."

Beverly Hills Police detectives will use all available investigative methods to follow up on leads, Stainbrook said.

Additional information surrounding the incident were not immediately available.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


COVID-19 live updates: CDC working to modify international travel testing guidelines

Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.2 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 780,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Just 59.4% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Dec 01, 5:32 pm
CDC orders airlines to share contact info for travelers from southern Africa

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is directing airlines to provide the agency with the names and contact information of passengers who have entered the United States since Nov. 29 and had been in southern Africa the prior two weeks. Airlines must turn the information over within 24 hours of the flight's arrival into the U.S.

The directive, in effect indefinitely, applies to travelers from the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Zimbabwe.

The order, which does not mention the omicron variant specifically, is to "prevent the importation and spread of a communicable disease of public health importance."

Delta and United are currently the only two carriers that offer flights between the U.S. and countries covered by the CDC order.

ABC News' Cheyenne Haslett, Sam Sweeney and Mina Kaji

Dec 01, 3:23 pm
California governor on omicron case: 'This is not surprising'

Gov. Gavin Newsom said the first detected case of the omicron variant in the U.S. being found in California "is not surprising" due to the state's "aggressive testing protocols" and genomic sequencing.

During a previously scheduled press briefing Wednesday afternoon, he shared a timeline on the San Francisco resident who tested positive for the case. The person left South Africa on Nov. 21 and landed in the U.S. on Nov. 22, developed symptoms a few days later around Nov. 25 and got tested on Nov. 28, he said. The test came back positive on Nov. 29, he said.

On Nov. 30, initial lab testing determined the sample could be omicron, and a full sequencing confirmed it was early Wednesday morning, San Francisco health officials said.

Newsom encouraged Californians to get vaccinated and receive a booster shot as the winter approaches.

Dec 01, 3:02 pm
California omicron case 'not a cause for us to panic,' health director says

The individual who tested positive for the first case of the omicron variant detected in the U.S. had received a full dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine but was not yet eligible for a booster dose, according to San Francisco Department of Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax.

The person developed symptoms upon returning from South Africa, got tested in San Francisco and has since recovered, Colfax told reporters during a briefing Wednesday.

"They did the right thing and got tested and reported their travel history," he said.

Colfax said the case is "not a cause for us to panic," and that San Francisco "is prepared" for this.

The health department has no plans at this time to change its current COVID-19 health orders, Colfax said.

Dec 01, 1:57 pm
1st omicron case in US identified in California

The first case of the omicron variant in the U.S. has been identified in California, the California and San Francisco Departments of Public Health said.

The CDC said the person traveled from South Africa on Nov. 22.

The individual tested positive on Nov. 29, Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a briefing Wednesday.

The individual, who was fully vaccinated, had mild symptoms that are improving, the CDC said.

"All close contacts have been contacted and have tested negative," the CDC said.

"We knew that it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the United States," Fauci said.

Fauci cautioned not to read into the mild symptoms of this single case and said the person was fully vaccinated but not boosted.

Dec 01, 1:38 pm
US hospital admissions up 20%

COVID-19-related hospital admissions in the U.S. are up by 20% since the beginning of November, according to federal data. About one-quarter of the patients are between the ages of 18 and 49.

Nearly 58,000 Americans are in the hospital with COVID-19, including more than 1,300 children, according to federal data.

-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Dec 01, 10:32 am
Hospital admissions, deaths predicted to increase in weeks to come

Forecast models used by the CDC -- the COVID-19 Forecast Hub at UMass Amherst -- predict weekly death totals and hospital admissions to increase over the next four weeks.

The model predicts that more than 15,000 Americans will die over the next two weeks, with a total of nearly 810,000 deaths recorded by Christmas.

-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Dec 01, 8:57 am
South Korea confirms 1st cases of omicron variant

South Korea on Wednesday confirmed its first cases of the omicron variant.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said the new variant was initially detected among three people -- a couple who arrived from Nigeria on Nov. 24 and their friend who drove them home from the airport. Since then, the variant was found in two other people who also traveled to Nigeria and returned to South Korea on Nov. 23, bringing the total of confirmed cases to five.

Health authorities are conducting genetic sequencing tests on the couple's child and relatives of the friend who drove them home to determine if they were also infected, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

In an effort to fend off the omicron variant, which was first identified in southern Africa last week, South Korea has banned foreign short-term travelers from eight southern African nations. South Korean citizens arriving from those countries must quarantine for at least 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.

South Korea's daily tally of newly diagnosed COVID-19 infections exceeded 5,000 on Wednesday for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The surge, which officials attributed to the highly contagious delta variant, has pushed COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the country to record highs.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said most of the 5,123 new cases were reported in the capital, Seoul, and its surrounding metropolitan region, where officials said earlier that more than 80% of intensive care units designated for COVID-19 patients were already filled.

-ABC News' Joohee Cho

Dec 01, 8:07 am
Nigeria confirms 1st cases of omicron variant

Nigeria confirmed on Wednesday its first cases of the omicron variant.

The new variant was detected among three people with a recent history of travel to South Africa who tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, according to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control.

"These cases were recent arrivals in the country in the past week," Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, director-general of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, said in a statement Wednesday. "Follow up to ensure isolation, linkage to clinical care, contact tracing and other relevant response activities have commenced. Arrangements are also being made to notify the country where travel originated according to the provisions of the International Health Regulations."

Following confirmation of the variant on Nigerian soil, the national travel advisory was revised and now requires all inbound travellers to present proof of pre-booked day 2 and day 7 COVID-19 tests as well as a a negative test result that was taken no more than 48 hours before departure. All outbound passengers, regardless of the requirements of the destination countries, are expected to present evidence of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result done no later than 48 hours before departure.

"The NCDC assumes Omicron is widespread globally given the increasing number of countries reporting this variant," Adetifa said. "Therefore, it is a matter of when, not if, we will identify more cases."

The cases of omicron in Nigeria are also the first to be confirmed in West Africa.

-ABC News' James Bwala

Nov 30, 9:41 pm
CDC working to modify international travel testing guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday it is working to change its international travel guidelines to require COVID-19 testing one day before departure to the U.S. in light of the omicron variant.

"CDC is working to modify the current Global Testing Order for travel as we learn more about the Omicron variant; a revised order would shorten the timeline for required testing for all international air travelers to one day before departure to the United States," the CDC said in a statement. "This strengthens already robust protocols in place for international travel, including requirements for foreign travelers to be fully vaccinated."

The CDC continues to recommend that all travelers get a COVID-19 viral test three to five days after arrival in the U.S. and that unvaccinated travelers quarantine for seven days even if they test negative.

-ABC News' Cheyenne Haslett

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Thousands demonstrate outside Supreme Court as justices consider abortion case

OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Thousands of protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court of the United States on Wednesday as it hears arguments in the most serious legal challenge to Roe vs. Wade in 30 years, sparking passion on both sides of the heated abortion battle.

Hundreds more are expected in what's devovled into a dramatic scene of dueling rallies ahead of the most significant abortion rights case in decades.

The nation's highest court on Wednesday morning is considering a law from Mississippi that bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest -- breaking the precedent set by Roe which doesn't allow states to prohibit the termination of pregnancies prior to fetal viability outside the womb at roughly 24 weeks.

Outside the court, two sides formed, separated by an invisible but deeply ideological barrier.

In the group for pro-abortion rights, where women told ABC News they travelled from all of the country -- including from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York and Rhode Island -- taking time off work to hoist signs reading, "abortion is healthcare," "grow abortion power," "defend women," "hands off my body'" and "equality begins in the womb. They repeatedly chanted in unison, "My body, my choice!"

Asked about the possibility of the justices crafting a middle ground, a woman from Washington told ABC News there is no such thing.

"These are our rights. They've been recognized for years. It's settled," she said.

Meanwhile, abortion opponents carried crosses, prayed the rosary and sang hymns. ABC News' Devin Dwyer reported the sense form many is that this is the consequential moment they've been praying God would deliver.

Ibah, a NICU nurse form Virginia, arrived after her shift with a coworker to show protest abortion.

"I just helped save a child born at 21 weeks," she said. "Life is precious."

Across the street, anti-abortion activists lined the sidewalk in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol holding dozens of oversized images of bloody aborted fetuses.

Speeches from both sides boomed over separate microphones, as each side fought to dominate.

Amber Gavin, 33, an independent abortion provider from Philadelphia who travels to North Carolina and Florida for her work, took the train to the nation's capital, instead, on Wednesday to show her support.

“Unfortunately, you know, we see a lot of anti-abortion protesters outside our clinic, harassing our staff and our patients. It's something that we deal with on a daily basis and it does make care, nobody should be forced to go through that as they're accessing basic health care,” Gavin told ABC News.

Kimberly McGuire, 36, executive director of Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, said she came to the court on behalf of young women and people of color living in the Midwest and the South who were unable to come and speak for their own constitutional right.

“There are people in every single state who are poised to fight back if this court decides the wrong way, who will be on the steps of their state legislatures, who will be speaking out and fighting to get this right back,” McGuire told ABC News.

The state of Mississippi, bringing its case to the high court after lower courts rejected it, argues Roe was wrongly decided and that each state should be allowed to set its own policy.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion rights organization, which argues the decision to have an abortion should be left to a woman and her doctor, held a morning rally to kick off the historic day where women defended their constitutional right to an abortion and shared their own stories of having one.

“Having access to abortions made me a better parent because I was able to parent on my terms," said Kenya Martin, a pro-abortion rights activist outside the court.

A sea of abortion rights advocates huddled around a podium as movement leaders rallied the crowd's spirits.

“Abortion is not our dirty little secret. We did what’s best for us and that’s what matters," Martin added.

In the afternoon, abortion providers, clinic escorts, patients and other advocates are expected to engage in civil disobedience.

Shannon Brewer, director of Jackson Women’s Health, the last abortion provider in Mississippi and backbone of the case being heard this morning, made an argument for public health as well, reminding of the days before Roe when women died in resorting to so-called "back-alley" abortions.

"If you make abortion illegal, abortion does not stop," she said.

Majorities of Americans support the Supreme Court upholding Roe v. Wade and oppose states making it harder for abortion clinics to operate, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll this month. Three in four Americans, including majorities of Republicans, independents and Democrats, say the decision of whether or not to have an abortion should be left to a woman and her doctor.

Separately, the Supreme Court has a still-pending decision in a separate dispute over Texas' unprecedented six-week abortion ban, SB8, which has denied women in Texas of the constitutional right to an abortion for nearly three months. Activists on Wednesday took aim at the Texas law, as well.

ABC News' Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


New search warrant details possible source of live bullet in fatal 'Rust' shooting

Sam Wasson/Getty Images

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) -- Investigators may have found the source of the live bullet fired by actor Alec Baldwin on the Rust set in New Mexico last month that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, according to a new search warrant.

Longtime Hollywood armorer Thell Reed, the father of the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, said in a statement to investigators that ammunition once in his possession "may match the ammunition found on the set of Rust," according to a search warrant issued Tuesday by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office as part of the ongoing investigation.

The new warrant authorized the search of an Albuquerque prop house, PDQ Arm and Prop LLC, owned by Seth Kenney. According to the search warrant affidavit, Kenney told detectives that he was hired to supply Rust with guns, as well as dummy rounds and blanks from a manufacturer identified as Starline Brass.

In his statement, Reed told investigators that he worked with Kenney on another production in August and September, according to the affidavit. During that time, Kenney reportedly asked Reed to bring live ammunition to a training session with actors on a firearms range, "in case they ran out of what was supplied," according to the affidavit.

Reed told investigators he brought an "ammo can" with 200 to 300 live rounds to the range, according to the affidavit. "This ammunition was not factory made rounds," the affidavit stated.

After production ended, Reed told investigators that Kenney took the ammo can and remaining ammo back to New Mexico and told Reed to "write it off" when the armorer tried to get it back, according to the affidavit.

Through his attorney, Kenney denied providing live ammunition to the set.

"Mr. Kenney is fully-cooperating with the authorities, as he has been since the tragic incident took place," Kenney's attorney, Adam Engelskirchen, told ABC News in a statement. "Neither Mr. Kenney nor PDQ Arm & Prop, LLC provided live ammunition to the Rust production."

Engelskirchen said the search warrant affidavit "includes material misstatements of fact, particularly with regard to statements ascribed to Mr. Kenney."

"Reports in other media outlets that Mr. Kenney was part of the crew of Rust or was employed by the production to provide any sort of supervisory services are patently false," he added.

Albuquerque ABC affiliate KOAT captured footage of the search warrant being served at the facility Tuesday afternoon. It is unclear at this time what, if anything, may have been seized from the business.

Authorities were looking for several items, including live or spent ammunition; all boxes that may hold ammunition with the "Starline brass" logo for "evidence comparison"; documents related to products, equipment and ammunition supplied to Rust; and "any record documented on any media, which establishes and/or tends to establish the state of mind(s), motive(s), action(s) or intention(s) of any person(s) with knowledge or apparent knowledge of a crime(s)," including diaries or videotapes.

Gutierrez-Reed's attorney, Jason Bowles, called the execution of the latest search warrant "a huge step forward today to unearth the full truth of who put the live rounds on the Rust set."

"We trust that the FBI will now compare and analyze the 'live rounds' seized from the set to evidence seized in the search warrant to conclusively determine where the live rounds came from," Bowles told ABC News in a statement. " The questions of who introduced the live rounds onto the set and why are the central questions in the case."

The fatal shooting occurred on Oct. 21 at the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe. Rust director Joel Souza was also wounded in the incident.

The film's first assistant director handed a Colt .45 revolver to Baldwin while proclaiming "cold gun," to let the crew know a gun with no live rounds was being used, according to an earlier search warrant affidavit. The assistant director told investigators he did not know there were any rounds in the gun he gave to Baldwin, according to the affidavit.

As the film's armorer, Gutierrez-Reed was in charge of all weapons on set. Her attorney has stated that Gutierrez-Reed had no idea where the live rounds came from.

Kenney was present on set six days after the shooting to give authorities access to a gun safe on the prop truck, according to the latest search warrant.

Speaking with detectives on Oct. 29, Kenney "advised he may know where the live rounds came from," according to the search warrant affidavit. "Seth described how a couple years back he received 'reloaded ammunition' from a friend" with the Starline Brass logo on it, the affidavit stated.

Investigators initially seized 500 rounds of ammunition from the set -- a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what appeared to be live rounds. Industry experts have said live rounds should never be on set.

No charges have been filed in the case. Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies has previously said, "everything is on the table" and any decision to bring charges could take weeks or months.

ABC News' Vera Drymon and Doug Lantz contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


COVID-19 live updates: Greece to mandate vaccines for people 60 and older

Tempura/iStock

(NEW YORK) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.2 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 779,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Just 59.4% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Latest headlines:
-Variant-specific vaccine could be completed in about 3 months: White House
-Greece to mandate vaccines for people 60 and older
-Global case count of omicron variant tops 200
-Omicron variant was in the Netherlands earlier than thought

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern.

Nov 30, 7:01 pm
Pfizer requests FDA authorization to expand booster eligibility

Pfizer has officially requested Food and Drug Administration authorization of its COVID-19 booster for 16- and 17-year-olds, the company's CEO said Tuesday evening.

"It is our hope to provide strong protection for as many people as possible, particularly in light of the new variant," Albert Bourla tweeted, referring to omicron, a recently discovered variant of concern, according to the World Health Organization.

ABC News' Sony Salzman

Nov 30, 6:30 pm
Pediatric COVID-19 cases in US remain 'extremely high,' report says

Nearly 132,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 last week, as pediatric cases remain "extremely high." according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

This marks the 16th consecutive week that weekly pediatric COVID-19 cases have been above 100,000. Prior to the recent increases, infections among children had been steadily dropping since the pandemic peak of 252,000 child cases, recorded over the span of a week in early September.

At this time, severe illness due to COVID-19 remains "uncommon" among children, the two organizations wrote in the report. However, they warn that there is an urgent need to collect more data on the long-term consequences of the pandemic on children.

The latest report comes amid growing concerns surrounding the new omicron variant, launching a renewed push to get all eligible Americans vaccinated against COVID-19. To date, about 36% of children ages 5 to 17 have received at least one dose, according to federal data.

ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Nov 30, 5:50 pm
Merck pill now awaiting FDA authorization after adviser endorsement

Advisers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have narrowly approved an endorsement of the Merck COVID-19 pill, voting 13 to 10 in favor of the authorization.

If authorized, it would be the first easy-to-take antiviral pill for COVID-19. Pfizer is also working on a COVID-19 pill, which it hopes will be authorized early next year. The FDA typically takes the advice of its advisers but will make its own final decision.

During Tuesday’s meeting, advisers spoke positively on Merck's pill, even though it was not found to be quite as effective in the final analysis as it was in an early, preliminary analysis.

However, the advisers expressed doubt about whether it would be safe for pregnant people to use Merck's pill because of the potential risk of harm to the fetus as well as its use in children due to lack of data and similar concerns as in pregnancy.

ABC News' Sony Salzman

Nov 30, 2:45 pm
Variant-specific vaccine could be completed in about 3 months: White House

If a variant-specific vaccine is needed, the process, including FDA and CDC authorization, would take about three months, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said at Tuesday's White House briefing.

The omicron variant has still not been detected in the U.S. Delta "remains the predominant circulating string representing 99.9% of all sequences sampled," CDC director Rochelle Walensky said.

Walensky said the CDC is also working on expanding a surveillance program through JFK International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport that would conduct more tests on international arrivals.

Walensky added, "To be crystal clear, we have far more tools to fight the variant today than we had at this time last year."

ABC News' Cheyenne Haslett

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



BLACK FRIDAY THROUGH CHRISTMAS DAY 1340 AM IS PLAYING NOTHING BUT THE CLASSIC CHRISTMAS SONGS YOU GREW UP WITH!  TELL YOUR FRIENDS!