National Headlines

U.S. Border Patrol agents discovered 11 Chinese nationals concealed within various pieces of furniture inside a moving truck at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego, Calif., attempting to cross over from Mexico, on Dec. 7, 2019. - (Customs and Border Protection)(SAN DIEGO) -- Federal agents have arrested the driver of a moving truck at the southern United States border after finding nearly a dozen Chinese migrants hiding inside furniture within the vehicle.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers inspected the truck when it arrived on Saturday night at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego, Calif., attempting to cross over from Mexico.

As officers searched the contents of the vehicle, they discovered 11 migrants concealed within various pieces of furniture and appliances, including a wooden chest, a dresser and a washing machine, according to a press release from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

The driver, a 42-year-old U.S. citizen, was taken into custody and later transported to San Diego's Metropolitan Correctional Center to await criminal proceedings.

Federal authorities have placed an immigration hold on the 11 Chinese nationals for the pending criminal and immigration proceedings.

Pete Flores, director of field operations for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in San Diego, said he "cannot stress enough the dangers of smuggling people."

“These are human beings that smugglers subject to inhumane conditions that could have deadly consequences," Flores said in a statement Monday. "Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.”

Last month, officers at the same port of entry discovered six Chinese migrants concealed behind a false wall in another moving truck.

And in the United Kingdom in late October, 39 Vietnamese migrants were found dead in a refrigerated truck container that had traveled into England from Belgium.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A fast moving storm system with an arctic cold front brought up to 6 to 14 inches of snow from the Dakotas to Minnesota and into Wisconsin producing treacherous driving conditions during a busy Monday morning commute.

Further south, a quick burst of snow with this arctic cold front created numerous spinouts and accidents from Nebraska to Iowa and even a multi-vehicle pileup on I-80 was reported Monday.

On the warm side of this arctic cold front, heavy rain has been falling in the East from Texas all the way to Maine. Minor flooding was reported in spots.

On Tuesday morning, this cold front stretches from Texas to New England with heavy rain along with it, and even some snow is trying to mix in northern Texas and into Arkansas and Tennessee.

As this cold front moves east, rain will change to snow in Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, and all the way into the Northeast.

A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued from New Jersey to Massachusetts for 1 to 4 inches of snow Wednesday morning.

Snow accumulations will not be great in the South. There might be a dusting in Tennessee but, as we saw on Monday, it does not take much to make those roads slick once the temperature falls below freezing.

A dusting of snow is also possible in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, and New York City may get 1 to 2 inches while southern Massachusetts could see up to 4 inches. Roads could be very slick Wednesday morning during rush-hour.

Behind this cold front is an arctic air mass headed for the northern Plains, the coldest air of the season. Temperatures Tuesday morning in the Twin Cities has dipped below zero for the first time this year with wind chill near 20 below zero.

On Wednesday morning, temperatures will be even colder with wind gusts making it feel like it's 20 to 40 below zero. A wind chill advisory has been issued for the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin where frost bite can occur in as little as 10 minutes on any exposed skin.

Some of the coldest air will spill East and South by Thursday with wind chills in the single digits in the Northeast and it will feel like it’s in the 20s and 30s across the Deep South.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



amphotora/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Twenty-two police officers in the Southern United States have been killed by guns used by offenders in 2019 -- more than the rest of the United States combined, according to data from the FBI.

Nine officers were killed by felony gunfire in both the West and the Midwest, two were shot and killed in Puerto Rico and none were killed in the Northeast, according to the FBI's Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted program.

As the epicenter of gun violence against law enforcement, the South's death toll includes three officers who were shot and killed by felony gunfire in recent days.

Huntsville Officer Billy Fred Clardy III was shot and killed last Friday by a "known offender" during a drug bust in Alabama.

Houston Police Sgt. Christopher Brewster was killed while responding to a domestic violence situation on Saturday afternoon.

And on Saturday night, Fayetteville Police Officer Stephen Carr was "ambushed and executed" outside the Arkansas police department.

The suspects in the most recent shootings likely "decided that the way to exact their issue was to kill a cop," said Don Mihalek, executive vice president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation, retired senior Secret Service agent and ABC News contributor.

A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that law enforcement homicides were more likely to occur in states with higher gun ownership.

Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi were in the top 20% for both gun ownership and law enforcement homicides, according to the study, authored by a University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health research assistant professor.

Maria Haberfeld, professor of police science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told ABC News that the availability of guns in the South is likely one of the reasons for the level of violence against police officers in the region.

"You have guns; you have more violence," she said. "In the United States, it seems to be a direct correlation."

Alabama and Texas had the most police killings by gunfire in 2019 at six each -- according to data from the Officer Down Memorial Page. A seventh officer killed in the line of duty in Alabama this year died in an automobile crash.

The state of Georgia saw four of its law enforcement agents killed by felony gunfire this year, according to the memorial page. Three officers in the U.S. were also killed in accidents involving firearms in 2019, according to the FBI.

The percentages of felony law enforcement killings are similar in past years as well. In 2018, 26 of the 55 law enforcement officers who were feloniously killed were in the South, and in 2017, 24 of the 46 law enforcement officers feloniously killed were in the South, according to the FBI.

By contrast, Northeast states such as Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island were in the lowest quintile for gun ownership and police officer homicides, according to the 2015 study.

Guns "were always considered bad" in the region, while in the South, it's a "normal course of life" for people to own them, Mihalek said.

"A gun is a tool to defend and protect people, or for recreation and sport, but when placed in the hands of somebody who is not right, it can inflict terror," he added.

Retired New York City Police Department Chief of Detectives and ABC News contributor Robert Boyce hypothesized that the number of police deaths due to felony gunfire appear to be down due to state laws that make it "very difficult" to purchase a firearm, although assaults on New York Police Department officers without guns have increased.

Both Boyce and Mihalek agree that there is an uptick in anti-law enforcement rhetoric around the country.

"Attacks on police are up across the nation," Boyce said, describing it as a "general disrespect for law enforcement."

Mihalek added that some of the anti-police rhetoric might be coming from people who have a grievance or "maybe had a bad experience with an officer," causing them to "label all as bad."

"All that does is undermine the authority of officers," paving the way for those predisposed not to want to obey the law to break it, he said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



RyanJLane/iStock(LOS ANGELES) -- A California church has sparked widespread debate by sharing images of a Nativity scene depicting baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph as refugees in cages in protest of the Trump administration's immigration policies.

Pastors at the Claremont United Methodist Church, located about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, shared the images on Facebook, using the display as a way to speak out against the administration's past policy to separate families who entered the country illegally at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The church's pastor, Karen Clark Ristine, said she was "stirred to tears" when she first saw the display over the weekend.

"In a time in our country when refugee families seek asylum at our borders and are unwillingly separated from one another, we consider the most well-known refugee family in the world. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family," she said in a Facebook post on Saturday. "Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant. They feared persecution and death."

Ristine also urged her followers to imagine what would have happened if the biblical family existed in modern times, saying "What if this family sought refuge in our country today?"

"Imagine Joseph and Mary separated at the border and Jesus no older than two taken from his mother and placed behind the fences of a Border Patrol detention center as more than 5,500 children have been the past three years," she wrote. "Jesus grew up to teach us kindness and mercy and a radical welcome of all people."

"Inside the church, you will see this same family reunited, the Holy Family together, in a Nativity that joins the angels in singing 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and good will to all.' Luke 2:14," she added.

The post had acquired more than 60,000 shares, comments comments and Facebook reactions late Monday with a majority of the people tapping the "love" button.

"Thank you for this. Thank you for this poignant statement," one user commented. "I hope it helps open peoples' eyes. We are all people, we are all deserving of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Many also took issue with the display and accused the church of attacking President Donald Trump and taking it easy on former President Barack Obama.

"Why didn't you put them up during Obama's administration?" one person asked.

Another added: "Didn't Obama separate family? How is every thing Trumps fault?"

The Trump administration has repeatedly pushed back against claims it intentionally sought to separate children from their parents at the southern border. Controversy about the separations hit a fever pitch last year when lawmakers accused the president of using migrant children to force Congress to pass immigration reform.

Trump attributed the family separations to "crippling loopholes" in immigration law supported by Democrats and not the Justice Department's "zero-tolerance" policy to prosecute anyone who crossed the border illegally. About 2,600 children were separated from their parents during the zero-tolerance policy.

"Under current law, we have only two policy options to respond to this massive crisis. We can either release all illegal immigrant families [of] minors who show up at the border from Central America or we can arrest the adults for the federal crime of illegal entry," the president during a June 2018 speech. "Those are the only two options, totally open borders for criminal prosecution for lawbreaking. And you want to be able to do that. If we don't want people pouring into our country. We want them to come in through the process, through the legal system and we want ultimately a merit-based system where people come in based on merit."

The government has since changed the policy -- with Trump signing an executive order in June 2018 -- and said separations only happen when a parent has a criminal history or is unfit to care for a child.

The Obama and George W. Bush administrations only separated families tied to serious crimes, such a drug trafficking.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



BlakeDavidTaylor/iStock(RED BLUFF, Calif.) -- A California police department has arrested two “Grinches” after the pair allegedly stole large amounts of presents that were supposed to be given to foster children.

The Red Bluff Police Department said that they received a call at 10:51 a.m. last Friday from the Children First Foster Family Agency reporting a burglary from the night before and that a large amount of toys that were supposed to be given to foster children had been stolen from the premises.

Police responded to the scene and reviewed surveillance footage from the agency to discover that two suspects were coming and going from the residence right next door to the non-profit.

Officers then located the two suspects inside the house next to the scene of the crime, apprehended them and booked them into Tehama County Jail.

“These ‘Grinches’ will not be stealing Christmas from the kids on our watch," Red Bluff County Department said in a statement on Facebook.

The suspects were identified as Joseph Betancourt, 24, and Marie Bennett, 40, both from Woodland California.

The story does, however, have a happy ending.

Authorities were able to recover all of the stolen toys and items from the premises next to the foster agency and Christmas is expected to continue as originally planned.

“THANK YOU Red Bluff Police Department!” the Children First Foster Family Agency said on Facebook. “With their swift response, RBPD reviewed our surveillance and caught these wto, ultimately saving Christmas! We appreciate you!”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



(Ordonez Family/Facebook) An undated photo shows Frank Ordonez, who was killed in a shootout in Miramar Fla., on Dec. 5, 2019, in a UPS uniform. (MIRAMAR, Fla.) -- UPS workers around the country were asked to pause for a moment of silence on their routes Monday to honor fellow driver Frank Ordonez, who was taken hostage and killed last week in a police shootout.

Teamsters Local 769, Ordonez’s UPS union chapter, asked drivers to participate in the moment of silence in a tweet on Sunday, sharing an image of the slain 27-year-old in his uniform along with the time and date of the planned nationwide event.

"If in a safe place to do so, UPS drivers across the nation will have a moment of silence with four-way flashers on while parked," the union said. "#RIPFrank If you are able to safely participate in the planned moment of silence tomorrow at 5pm EST, do it for #FRANK."

UPS said the moment of silence was not a "coordinated company-wide effort," but said workers could "honor this moment" as long as it is safe to do so.

Ordonez was killed last Thursday after being held hostage at the scene of an attempted robbery at Regent Jewelers in Coral Gables, Florida. Police said two suspects opened fired while fleeing the store and carjacked Ordonez’s UPS truck before leading authorities on a high-speed chase.

Ordonez and Richard Cutshaw, another bystander, were both killed in the shootout along with suspects Lamar Alexander, 41, and Ronnie Jerome Hill, 41, according to the FBI.

“We are deeply saddened to learn a UPS service provider was a victim of this senseless act of violence," UPS said in a statement Thursday. "We extend our condolences to the family and friends of our employee and the other innocent victims involved in this incident."

Ordonez began working with the company in July 2016, first as a package handler and then as a driver.

He leaves behind two daughters, ages 3 and 5. Cutshaw leaves behind his 99-year-old mother and five brothers and sisters.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



recep-bg/iStock(WESTON, Fla.) -- A 12-year-old Florida girl was arrested for posting a "death list" on social media and threatening to attack students at her middle school, police said.

A student and her parent at Falcon Cove Middle School in Weston contacted the Broward County Sheriff's Office on Dec. 6 around 7 p.m. to report a threat posted on Snapchat, the sheriff's office said in a press release.

The threat "included a death list with student names" from the school, police said.

A second threat was also posted to Snapchat the same afternoon that allegedly said the "students were not safe and that they would be killed on Monday, Dec. 9," according to police.

Detectives with the Threat Management Unit and Real Time Crime Center were able to identify that the source of the threats belonged to a 12-year-old girl from Weston, who is also a student at the same middle school.

The girl allegedly confirmed she made the threats, which were determined to be false, police said. She was arrested on Saturday evening and taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.

The 12-year-old suspect currently faces two counts of a written threat to kill and false reporting concerning a firearm.

Police have not said why she made the threats.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Over the weekend a storm system that moved into the West Coast brought more than 5 inches of rain to northern California around the Bay area. This heavy rain flooded streets and even produced a few mudslides in the state.

In the mountains, heavy snow of 12 to 17 inches fell from California to Montana making driving extremely difficult on the roads.

Now this storm system is in the Midwest and the Great Lakes, bringing with it heavy snow from the Dakotas to Minnesota and into Michigan. A treacherous Monday morning commute is expected in the Twin Cities.

Numerous snow alerts have been issued this morning from the Upper Midwest and into the Great Lakes.

Further south, heavy rain is moving through Indianapolis and Detroit.

Some of the heavy rain will move into the Northeast later this afternoon into the evening hours, just in time for evening rush hour. Snow will be ending in the Midwest by Monday afternoon.

By Tuesday, the cold front will move through the Midwest and the Northeast and, behind it, colder air will mix with precipitation changing it to snow from the Mid-South all the way into the Northeast.

By Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, the rain will change to snow for most major cities along I-95 and there could be several inches of accumulation.

The Wednesday morning rush could be messy from Washington, D.C. to New York City and Boston.

Snow could even fall Tuesday evening in the South from northern Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee and into West Virginia.

At the moment, it looks like the heaviest snow Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning will be from the southern Appalachians and into southeast New England where 3 to 6 inches of snow could fall in Boston.

New York City and Philadelphia could see 1 to 3 inches of snow with Washington, D.C. getting a possible dusting.

Behind this storm system, the coldest air of the season is expected for the Midwest and the Great Lakes with winds chills well below zero.

Actual temperatures will be below zero across the Upper Midwest. Some of this cold air will move into the Northeast Wednesday, but it is not expected to be as cold as the Midwest.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Sjo/iStock(NEW YORK) -- If you have a thing for moon phases or numbers then mark your calendar for this upcoming celestial event.

On Dec. 12 (12/12) at 12:12 a.m. ET the Cold Moon will become a full moon, according to the Farmers' Almanac.

🌕Feeling superstitious?🤞Lucky? Here's why next week's full Moon may be significant for some... https://t.co/IwyDR1EZS9#thatsalotof12s#fullmoon

— The Farmers' Almanac (@FarmersAlmanac) December 6, 2019

"The midwinter full moon has a high trajectory across the sky, causing it to sit above the horizon for a longer period of time," Farmers' Almanac explained.

The final full moon of the lunar cycle this year, and of the decade, is also known as the "Long Night's Moon" -- a fitting title as winter solstice nears which brings longer, darker nights.

And to top off the numerical calendar fun, the next day is Friday the 13th.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



MikhailPankov/iStock(LARIMER COUNTY, Colo.) -- A 29-year-old woman died on Sunday afternoon after getting caught in an avalanche while backcountry skiing in Colorado, officials said.

The skier was completely buried by snow from the avalanche on Diamond Peak near Cameron Pass in northern Colorado's Larimer County.

The avalanche occurred at 11,400 feet and was described as "2 to 3 feet deep, very wide and running close to 500 feet vertically," according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Other skiers dug her out and called for help. But the woman wasn't breathing, and she was pronounced dead at the scene by first responders, according to the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.

It's the first fatality from an avalanche in the state this season.

The woman, whose name has not yet been released, was from the nearby city of Fort Collins. Her body was recovered from the mountainside, the sheriff's office said.

The cause and manner of her death will be determined by the Larimer County Coroner's Office.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



400tmax/iStock(CHICAGO) -- A female Chicago police officer, allegedly seen drinking with then-police superintendent Eddie Johnson before he was found asleep in his vehicle, has been accused of tampering with evidence linked to an ongoing investigation of the incident.

Cynthia Donald is under investigation for allegedly damaging her police-issued mobile phone and removing the SIM card, which stores the cellphone data. The device reportedly had been sought as potential evidence by the city's Office of Inspector General, which is investigating Johnson over the October drinking incident.

Authorities discovered the damage on Oct. 20, three days after Chicago police officers found Johnson asleep behind the wheel of his SUV. Donald was required to return the device after being transferred out of the then-superintendent's security detail.

The city's inspector general is now investigating why the phone was returned damaged, according to the police department. Sources with knowledge of the matter told ABC Chicago station WLS-TV Johnson was seen dropping Donald off at Chicago Police Headquarters around two hours before he was found asleep behind the wheel. The department declined to comment on local media reports that claimed the phone had been sought as evidence by the office of city Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.

"I can confirm media reports that we opened an investigation to determine why the phone was returned damaged," Chicago Police Department spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi told ABC News in a statement Sunday. "At this point, we are not making any additional statements as we are awaiting the final report from the Inspector General and cooperating fully with his review."

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired Johnson on Dec. 2, just weeks before he was scheduled to retire, due to what she called "ethical lapses." Johnson said he pulled over because he was feeling light-headed and later fell asleep, but Lightfoot accused him of intentionally misleading city officials and the public in the aftermath.

Lightfoot also said the inspector general's report, which hasn't been released publicly, showed Johnson exhibited "flawed decision-making."

"It has become clear that Mr. Johnson engaged in a series of ethical lapses that are intolerable," Lightfoot said in a statement last week. "Mr. Johnson was intentionally dishonest with me and communicated a narrative replete with false statements regarding material aspects of the incident that happened in the early morning hours of October 17."

"Had I known all the facts at the time," she added, "I would have relieved him of his duties as superintendent then and there."

An official briefed on the probe into Johnson's conduct told ABC News that during the traffic stop in question, the superintendent showed his police ID when asked to present identification. The officers apparently didn't recognize Johnson immediately. Once the superintendent showed ID, he and the officers exchanged some words, and Johnson said he was OK to drive away. The cops let him, raising questions about why Johnson wasn't given a field sobriety test.

Johnson acknowledged on Tuesday that he made a "poor decision and had a lapse of judgment" on that October night, but disputed the mayor's claims that he had intentionally mislead the city.

"I know in my heart that I have always tried to act in a way that is in the best interests of the great city," Johnson said in a statement, noting that he had no interest in fighting for his reputation. "Reputations are not built in a day and not damaged in a day either."

"I will simply rely on the reputation for integrity that I think I have earned during my long career," he added, "with the faith that we should all be judged by the entirety of our lives and not on what happened on our worst days."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



vmargineanu/iStock(SAN ANTONIO) -- A San Antonio man has been arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend and carving his name on her forehead with a knife.

Jackub Hildreth, 19, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after his girlfriend, 22-year-old Catalina Mireles, accused him of attacking her, according to police.

Mireles said the pair met on Facebook about four weeks ahead of the horrific attack, which left her with a broken jaw, a black eye and extreme swelling and bruising on her face.

She said the attack started on Thursday morning and lasted until the afternoon. The altercation started over an argument about their relationship.

The young woman said she thought Hildreth was going to kill her.

"He was going to put me in the closet until he figured out what he was going to do with my body," Mireles told ABC affiliate KSAT-TV in an on-camera interview on Saturday. "Don't trust everybody you think you might know."

Hildreth previously was wanted for burglary assault, court records show.

He was being held on $75,000 bond as of Sunday evening and is scheduled to appear in court next month.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Bexar County Sheriff's Office(SAN ANTONIO) -- A Texas sheriff's deputy has been arrested for allegedly conducting illegal strip searches, authorities said.

Bexar County Sheriff's Patrol Deputy Floyd Berry, 49, had been recently placed on administrative duty after several victims "made outcries" to the department's internal affairs unit, which prompted an investigation, according to a news release from the sheriff's office. He allegedly conducted the unlawful strip searches on at least six women between Nov. 24 and Dec. 4, authorities said.

Berry has been charged for three counts of official oppression. He was arrested on Saturday around 11 p.m. when he reported for duty at the adult detention center, authorities said.

Following his arrest, Berry was placed on administrative leave and has been served with a proposed termination, according to the sheriff's office. He has been working with the sheriff's office since November 2001 and was transferred to patrol in December 2015.

The sheriff's office internal affairs unit and public integrity unit are conducting separate administrative and criminal investigations into the allegations against Berry.

Authorities are asking anyone who may have been victimized by Berry or have information regarding the investigation to call the sheriff's office.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Fudio/iStock(NEW YORK) --  A police officer has been injured after biting into a sandwich that contained a razor blade in New York City in what police have since called an accident.

The incident occurred on Thursday, Dec. 5 at a Bon Appetit Special Food Store in Belle Harbor, Queens.

The officer, who works for the New York Police Department’s Strategic Response Group, was dressed in plain clothes when he entered the establishment and ordered the sandwich.

As he took a bite of his food he felt a sharp pain in his mouth only to discover that he had chomped down on a razor blade that was located in the sandwich, according to ABC News' New York City station WABC.

The officer was taken to hospital, treated and released.

New York Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea initially tweeted that the NYPD would investigate the incident and that violence against New York City police officers would not be tolerated.

“The NYPD has ZERO tolerance for acts of violence against our police officers. A sandwich bought at a Queens deli on Thurs. contained a razor blade that cut the inside of a @NYPDCT cop’s mouth. He’ll be OK, but a full investigation into this abhorrent act is underway,” said his initial tweet addressing the razor blade incident.

But after an investigation, the NYPD deemed that the razor blade incident was, in fact, an accident.

 "After a thorough investigation by NYPD Detectives, it's been determined that the razor incident was indeed an accident," Shea said on Twitter. "Thankfully, our officer or another customer wasn't seriously injured. Appropriate agencies have been notified for follow up to ensure this never happens again."

Bon Appetit issued a statement apologizing to the officer and said that they are undertaking an internal investigation to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.

"First, we would like to extend our deepest apologies to the officer involved in this unfortunate incident,” the statement read. “We use a variety of tools to prepare our food, but none should ever be found in any food item meant for customer consumption … In over 10 years of management in this location, we have never had an incident like this and look forward to providing the highest quality service to all of our customers in the future."

Nobody has been charged in the incident.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



chelovek/iStock(PENSACOLA, Fla.) -- Just a few miles down the road from where three people were killed by a gunman at a Florida naval base, a community came together to heal.

About 50 people gathered Saturday for a vigil in honor of the victims at the Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, located about 3 miles from Naval Air Station Pensacola where the shooting broke out Friday morning.

The victims were identified Saturday night as Ensign Joshua Watson, 23; Airman Mohammed Haitham, 19; and Airman Apprentice Cameron Walters, 21.

The shooter, identified by authorities as Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, a Saudi national and member of the country's air force who was in the U.S. for flight training, was shot and killed at the scene by officers, according to the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.

"This was a terrible event. I think we're all questioning why," Pensacola Mayor Grover C. Robinson IV, told the audience. "We can't control some of these individuals who wish to do harm."

Yet, amid the tragedy, Robinson said he was reminded of the city's spirit.

"Everyone working together to work in support of a mission … that's what this community is," he said.

Chief Deputy Chip W. Simmons, of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, also attended the vigil and described getting the call about the active shooter.

While officials often get reports of an active shooter, this was the first at the naval base, "at a facility that we take so much pride in."

He remembers the closer he got to the facility, "the more gunshots I heard over the police radio."

"It isn’t until everything’s settled down you realize what you’ve seen," Simmons said. "What you’re experiencing is the loss of life, hatred … but also you realize what you’re seeing is heroism.”

Simmons said officials are still working to determine exactly what unfolded and why, including whether or not the incident was terror-related.

According to two law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation, authorities are urgently focused on two likely possible motives: whether the shooter had religious or ideological reasons, or whether there was a problem that developed in the course of his training at Pensacola.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper echoed that the investigation is ongoing at the Reagan Defense Forum Saturday afternoon: "I can’t say it’s terrorism at this time." He said he will let the FBI do its work to determine the cause.

Eight people were transported to the hospital with injuries, police said. The conditions of those victims have not yet been officially released.

However, Simmons said the three police officers among the injured are "going to be fine." He said he didn't know the conditions of the others.

None of those injured have been identified.

Pastor Ted Traylor urged the community to support one another during this time. He also called on residents to be mindful when speaking about the tragedy.

"There’s gonna be conversations about what’s happened over here and I’m gonna ask you be mindful when you have those conversations," Traylor said. "It’s a small community here and the person standing to the left or right could be involved."

Just as there will be heightened security around the base, he said, "I pray that our community has a heightened sense of sensitivity.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Local News

WJTN News Headlines for Dec. 10, 2019

Firefighters from multiple departments were hard at work after a structure fire was reported at the Mayville Diner last night.  Chautauqua County Dispatchers say the blaze was called in by a p...

Read More


Join Us Facebook