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tillsonburg/iStock(NEW YORK) -- More than five years after the death of Eric Garner was captured on cell phone video, the officer responsible for causing his death was terminated from New York City's Police Department.

Since July 17, 2014, NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo has waited to learn whether he can remain on the force with the plainclothes anti-crime unit, lose vacations days or lose his job entirely.

Months after a disciplinary trial in May and June this year, Deputy Commissioner of Trials Judge Rosemarie Maldonado recommended to Police Commissioner James O'Neill that Pantaleo be removed from the force.

O'Neill announced Monday that Pantaleo was to be immediately terminated.

"It's an extremely difficult decision," O'Neill said at a news conference Monday. "If I was still a cop, I'd probably be mad at me... [but] it's my responsibility as police commissioner to look out for the city.”

O'Neill said that he called New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to inform him of the decision before making the public announcement. He noted that he did not inform either Pantaleo or the Garner family of the decision before his announcement.

"There are absolutely no victors here today," he added, noting that the inevitability of having to make this decision was something he knew he would have to face when he was sworn in as police commissioner in September 2016.

"Today is a day of reckoning but can also be a day of reconciliation," he said.

"It's in my DNA, it's who I am," O'Neill said of his background as a patrol officer himself. "But as police commissioner, I have to think about the city, and I have to think about the rules and [regulations] of the NYPD and make sure people follow them."

Pantaleo, 35, of Staten Island, was on desk duty while collecting an annual salary of more than $97,000, according to public records. However, he was suspended after the judge's recommendation -- a practice when a civil servant is recommended to be fired, the NYPD said.

Judge Maldonado ruled that Daniel Pantaleo used the prohibited chokehold that caused Eric Garner's death and Daniel Pantaleo must be terminated," said Fred Davie, chairman of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, at their monthly meeting on Aug. 14.

Chokeholds were banned by the NYPD in 1993.

Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, said that the judge's recommendation brought "some relief" after a Staten Island grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice declined to bring criminal charges against Pantaleo.

The New York City's medical examiner ruled that Garner's death was a homicide due to the sequence of evidence started by Pantaleo's chokehold that triggered a cascade of events and ended with a fatal asthma attack.

O’Neill’s decision elicited a swift rebuke from Patrick Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, who said that the commissioner "has chosen politics and his own self-interest over the police officers he claims to lead." "He has chosen to cringe in fear of the anti-police extremists, rather than standing up for New Yorkers who want a functioning police department, with cops who are empowered to protect them and their families,” Lynch said in a statement. “With this decision, Commissioner O’Neill has opened the door for politicians to dictate the outcome of every single NYPD disciplinary proceeding, without any regard for the facts of the case or police officers’ due process rights.”

Davie released a statement after the decision, saying that the Garner family and the public "finally have closure."

"Make no mistake: This process took entirely too long. And the tragic reality is that neither a verdict from a judge nor a decision by a police commissioner can reverse what happened on July 17, 2014," Davie said in the statement.

"Officer Daniel Pantaleo’s termination from the New York City Police Department does not make the death of Eric Garner any less harrowing. But it is heartening to know that some element of justice has been served."

New York Attorney General Letitia James released a statement after O'Neill's announcement.

"While we will never be able to change the events that transpired or bring Mr. Garner back, today, some semblance of justice is finally being served,” she said.

Cell phone video of Garner’s death was seen by millions around the world. His last words, "I can't breathe," became a rallying cry for grassroots organizations like Black Lives Matter, which continues to lead protest against police-involved deaths of unarmed civilians.

Chants of "Fire Pantaleo" interrupted Mayor Bill de Blasio during a Democratic presidential debate in Detroit in July.

Pantaleo's attorney, Stuart London, maintained that his client used a "seat belt" method -- a technique Pantaleo was formally taught -- to subdue Garner for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on Staten Island.

London has said that Garner caused his own death because of his weight and previously diagnosed health conditions.

Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch wanted O'Neill to support Pantaleo and not fire him in order to allow officers "to be effective again."

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DraganSaponjic/iStock(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- As the desperate search for two firefighters who disappeared during a fishing trip off the coast of Florida continues into its fourth day, the family confirmed that a bag located by civilian searchers did belong to one of the missing men.

Brian McCluney, a Jacksonville, Florida, firefighter, and Justin Walker, a member of the Fairfax, Virginia, fire department, were last seen on Friday launching a 22-foot fishing boat at Port Canaveral, near the Kennedy Space Center, U.S. Coast Guard officials said Sunday.

On Monday, officials had 37 boats out searching for them as well as 6 aircraft. Approximately 5,000 square miles of water was searched on Monday, according to Jacksonville Fire Rescue.

Around 11 a.m. Monday, an off-shore angular fishing bag was found by a civilian searcher about 50 nautical miles east of St. Augustine, officials said. Family has confirmed that the bag belonged to McCluney.

Search efforts will be increased Tuesday in the area where the bag was found. Officials are asking anyone with a boat that can go out 30 to 50 miles off shore to assist in the search.

Meanwhile, the wife of one of the missing men is speaking out about the circumstances surrounding the men's situation.

Stephanie McCluney, wife of Brian McCluney, expressed her concerns – and her resolve -- to ABC's local affiliate station in Jacksonville, Florida, WJXX.

"It was supposed to be a fairly short day on the water," she said. "I gave them until 6 p.m. maybe because the fishing was great. But 6 o'clock, I didn't hear and I still could see that he didn't read my messages – they hadn't even been delivered yet … at 8 p.m. we called the Coast Guard."

One of the main reasons McCluney and Walker were taking the fishing boat out for the day was to honor Brian McCluney's recently-departed father.

"[Brian] wanted to get those lines wet one more time. You know, one big final hurrah for his dad and it was just supposed to be one great day in his honor … he was excited to get out there on the water," said Stephanie McCluney.

Instead, the day ended with a massive search party being launched for the two missing men.

About 50 firefighters from the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department joined the Coast Guard in searching for the lost firefighters, combing the waters between Daytona Beach and Vilano in 11 boats over the weekend.

Also looking for the men were crews from the U.S. Navy, the Florida Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Brevard County Sheriff's Office. The Coast Guard also deployed a C-130 plane to search from the air.

Search-and-rescue crews had covered an estimated 24,000 miles of ocean between Port Canaveral and north of the city of Jacksonville, Coast Guard officials said on Twitter Monday morning.

"He was prior military, navy veteran. He has SERE [Search, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape] training, survival training through the navy. Of course, firefighter, paramedic. So he is built to help people. He was a combat medical corpsman during the push through Fallujah so if there is anyone built of an iron man, that's him," said Stephanie McCluney of her husband.

 Her confidence in her husband's ability to survive is not just based in the skills he learned throughout his career, but also bolstered by her faith.

"I have an army of support. I know that the ocean is large and my God I serve is larger. He can change the wind and the waters at his command. I have faith. I have so many prayer warriors behind me … the fire department hasn't left my side. I feel so well held between my spiritual family, my fire family, and my family family," McCluney described.

"If there is ever two people," McCluney stated confidently, "I mean those two men are survivors and they are going to find their way home."

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vmargineanu/iStock(NEW MIDDLETON, Ohio) -- The alleged white nationalist who was arrested for making threats towards a Jewish community center in Ohio appeared in court and pleaded not guilty.

The home of James Reardon Jr., 20, was raided, and authorities seized dozens of rounds of ammo, multiple semi-automatic weapons, a gas mask and bulletproof armor. In light of the alleged threats he made against a local Jewish community center, Reardon has been charged with telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing.

If Reardon posts the $250,000 bond that was set against him, he will be released to house arrest and ordered to keep at least 500 feet away from Jewish places of worship or community centers. He will not be allowed to possess firearms, use social media, and be subject to random home searches.

The next hearing is set for Sept. 13.

Police have confirmed that Reardon, who was being held Monday morning in the Mahonging County Jail, was interviewed on camera in a National Geographic video during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. That rally turned deadly when a white nationalist plowed his car into a group of counterprotesters.

Police initially became aware of Reardon on July 11 when he posted a video on Instagram of a man shooting a semi-automatic rifle with sirens and screams in the background. He tagged the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown in the post.

"That kicked off an intense investigation, a very rapidly evolving investigation, because of the way the world is," New Middletown Police Chief Vince D'Egidio told Youngstown ABC affiliate WYTV-TV.

During the raid on his house on Friday, police also discovered anti-Semitic and white nationalist propaganda.

Reardon had publicly stated that he wanted to see a homeland established for white people when he was interviewed for the National Geographic documentary, according to D'Egidio. Police also discovered that his social media feed was filled with racial slurs and derogatory statements about minorities.

"This is a person that has declared himself as a white nationalist. With the hate crimes and everything else going on, we want to make sure we do our part to make sure this person was taken off the streets very quickly," D'Egidio said.

The FBI has not yet announced whether they will pursue federal charges against Reardon.

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Marco Curaba/iStock(NEW YORK) -- New York Police Department Commissioner James O'Neill announced on Monday the decision to fire the police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, who was seen putting Eric Garner in a chokehold before he died.

That 2014 incident, which led to Garner's death, prompted outcry against the police, but it wasn't until Monday that O'Neill announced Pantaleo was fired.

Over the past five years, Pantaleo has been working on desk duty. O'Neill announced that he will be immediately terminated, allowed to keep any contributions he put into his pension, but will not be able to keep the vested pension.

Here is the full text of O'Neill's speech as prepared for delivery:

Good afternoon, everyone.

Today, I’m here to announce my decision in the disciplinary case of Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is accused of violating NYPD policy while helping effect the lawful arrest of Eric Garner in Staten Island on July 17, 2014.

It is a decision that necessarily requires fairness and impartiality for Mr. Garner, who died following that encounter with police. It is also a decision that requires fairness and impartiality for Officer Pantaleo, who was sent by this department to assess a situation and take appropriate police action.

First, I will discuss how I reached my decision, and then I will answer any questions you have on this topic.

For some time prior to July 17, 2014, neighborhood residents purposely avoided the area in and directly around Tompkinsville Park in Staten Island. The conditions at that time arose from an array of criminal activity: Drug dealers worked the edges of the park, and across the street, selling narcotics. A handful of men regularly sold loose cigarettes made cheaper by the fact that New York State taxes had not been paid on them. A liquor store nearby sold alcohol to people who would drink that alcohol in the park – people who would sometimes use drugs, urinate, and pass out on benches there.

That summer, the week before, there had been reports of theft and two robberies in the park. There were 911, 311 and other complaints from residents and merchants on an ongoing basis. In some cases, warnings or summonses were issued. In other cases, arrests were made.

And that was the situation at Tompkinsville Park on the day Officer Pantaleo was sent with another officer to conduct an enforcement operation. When the second officer observed Mr. Garner hand out cigarettes in exchange for money, they approached Mr. Garner to make an arrest. That offense could have resulted in a summons, but Mr. Garner refused to provide identification, which meant he would have to be brought to the precinct for processing.

For several minutes on the widely-viewed video, Mr. Garner makes it abundantly clear that he will not go willingly with the police officers.

He refused to cooperate with the arrest and to comply with lawful orders. The video also makes clear that Officer Pantaleo’s original efforts to take Mr. Garner into custody were appropriate – in that he initially attempted two maneuvers sanctioned by the police department.

Officer Pantaleo first grabbed Mr. Garner’s right wrist and attempted an arm-bar technique in preparation for handcuffs to be used. Mr. Garner immediately twisted, and pulled and raised both of his hands while repeatedly telling the officers to not touch him. Officer Pantaleo then wrapped his arms around Mr. Garner’s upper body.

Up to that point in the tense and rapidly-evolving situation, there was nothing to suggest that Officer Pantaleo attempted to place Mr. Garner in a chokehold. But what happened next is the matter we must address.

The two men stumbled backward toward the large plate-glass window of the storefront behind them, and Officer Pantaleo’s back made contact with the glass, causing the window to visibly buckle and warp. The person videotaping the episode later testified at the NYPD trial that he thought both men would crash through the glass. It is at that point in the video, that Officer Pantaleo is seen with his hands clasped together, and his left forearm pressed against Mr. Garner’s neck in what does constitute a chokehold.

The NYPD court ruled that while certainly not preferable, that hold was acceptable during that brief moment in time because the risk of falling through the window was so high. But that exigent circumstance no longer existed, the court found, when Officer Pantaleo and Mr. Garner moved to the ground.

As Mr. Garner balanced himself on the sidewalk on his hands and knees, Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado found that Officer Pantaleo “consciously disregarded the substantial and unjustifiable risks of a maneuver explicitly prohibited by the department.”

She found that during the struggle, Officer Pantaleo “had the opportunity to readjust his grip from a prohibited chokehold to a less-lethal alternative,” but did not make use of that opportunity.

Instead, even once Mr. Garner was moved to his side on the ground “with his left arm behind his back and his right hand still open and extended, [Officer Pantaleo] kept his hands clasped and maintains the chokehold. Mr. Garner’s obvious distress is confirmed when he coughs and grimaces.”

Moreover, Trials Commissioner Maldonado found that Officer Pantaleo’s conduct caused physical injury that meets the Penal Law threshold, and that his “recklessness caused multi-layered internal bruising and hemorrhaging that impaired Mr. Garner’s physical condition and caused substantial pain and was a significant factor in triggering an asthma attack.”

For all of these reasons taken together, even after reviewing Officer Pantaleo’s commendable service record of nearly 300 arrests and 14 departmental medals earned leading up to that day, Trials Commissioner Maldonado recommended that he be dismissed from the NYPD.

“In making this penalty recommendation,” she wrote, “this tribunal recognizes that from the outset Mr. Garner was non-compliant and argumentative, and further notes that the Patrol Guide allows officers to use ‘reasonable force’ when necessary to take an uncooperative individual into custody. What the Patrol Guide did not allow, however, even when this individual was resisting arrest, was the use of a prohibited chokehold.”

As you know, a number of external authorities have asked many of the same questions we have about this incident:

On August 19, 2014, about a month after Mr. Garner’s death, the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office announced it would empanel a grand jury and present evidence on the matter. On December 3, 2014, those 23 Staten Island residents voted to not indict Officer Pantaleo, clearing him of criminal wrongdoing.

That same day, the United States Attorney General announced that the U.S. Department of Justice would conduct its own investigation into Mr. Garner’s death, and weigh bringing federal civil rights charges against Officer Pantaleo.

In the intervening years, the Justice Department made ongoing requests to the NYPD – asking us to delay our internal disciplinary process until its civil rights investigation was complete. And we honored those requests as their process stretched from one administration to the next, with no action by federal prosecutors.

And so, on July 21, 2018, we decided to begin NYPD proceedings. Members of the public, in general, and Mr. Garner’s family, in particular, had grown understandably impatient. The trial began on May 13, 2019.

On July 16, 2019 – one day before the five-year statute of limitations expired, the Justice Department announced it would not file federal charges against Officer Pantaleo.

Then, on August 2, 2019, with Officer Pantaleo’s NYPD trial concluded, Trials Commissioner Maldonado ruled that: “[Officer Pantaleo’s] use of a prohibited chokehold was reckless and constituted a gross deviation from the standard of conduct established for a New York City police officer.”

After noting that Officer Pantaleo had admitted he was aware that chokeholds are prohibited by this department, she further concluded:

“With strongly-worded and repeated warnings about the potentially lethal effects of chokeholds found throughout multiple sections of the training materials, it is evident that the department made its 2006 recruits keenly aware of the inherent dangers associated with the application of pressure to the neck. Given this training, a New York City police officer could reasonably be expected to be aware of the potentially lethal effects connected with the use of a prohibited chokehold, and be vigilant in eschewing its use.”

From the start of this process, I was determined to carry out my responsibility as police commissioner unaffected by public opinions demanding one outcome over another. I examined the totality of the circumstances and relied on the facts. And I stand before you today confident that I have reached the correct decision.

But that has certainly not made it an easy decision.

I served for nearly 34 years as a uniformed New York City cop before becoming Police Commissioner. I can tell you that had I been in Officer Pantaleo’s situation, I may have made similar mistakes. And had I made those mistakes, I would have wished I had used the arrival of back-up officers to give the situation more time to make the arrest. And I would have wished that I had released my grip before it became a chokehold.

Every time I watched the video, I say to myself, as probably all of you do, to Mr. Garner: “Don’t do it. Comply.” To Officer Pantaleo: “Don’t do it.” I said that about the decisions made by both Officer Pantaleo and Mr. Garner.

But none of us can take back our decisions, most especially when they lead to the death of another human being.

I was not in Officer Pantaleo’s situation that day. I was chief of patrol and, later that year, chief of department. In that position, I proposed our Neighborhood Policing model so that the same cops would be in the same neighborhoods every day, so that relationships would replace preconceptions, so that problem-solving and prevention would become tools officers were trained in and supported in using.

And, therefore, one of the great challenges of the policing profession, here in New York City and elsewhere, will always remain arresting someone who intends to resist that arrest. Communication and de-escalation techniques are employed where possible, but – more often than the police and the public, alike, would prefer – varying levels of force are used to ensure compliance. Society gives our police the legal authority to use acceptable levels of force, when necessary, because police cannot otherwise do their jobs.

Every day in New York, people receive summonses or are arrested by officers without any physical force being used. But some people choose to verbally and/or physically resist the enforcement action lawfully being taken against them. Those situations are unpredictable and dangerous to everyone involved. The street is never the right place to argue the appropriateness of an arrest. That is what our courts are for.

Being a police officer is one of the hardest jobs in the world. That is not a statement to elicit sympathy from those we serve; it is a fact. Cops have to make choices, sometimes very quickly, every single day. Some are split-second life-and-death choices. Oftentimes, they are choices that will be thoroughly, and repeatedly, examined by those with much more time to think about them than the police officer had. And those decisions are scrutinized and second-guessed, both fairly and unfairly.

No one believes that Officer Pantaleo got out of bed on July 17, 2014, thinking he would make choices and take actions – during an otherwise routine arrest – that would lead to another person’s death. But an officer’s choices and actions, even made under extreme pressure, matter.

It is unlikely that Mr. Garner thought he was in such poor health that a brief struggle with police would cause his death. He should have decided against resisting arrest. But, a man with a family lost his life – and that is an irreversible tragedy. And a hardworking police officer with a family, a man who took this job to do good – to make a difference in his home community – has now lost his chosen career. And that is a different kind of tragedy.

In this case, the unintended consequence of Mr. Garner’s death must have a consequence of its own.

Therefore, I agree with the deputy commissioner of trials’ legal findings and recommendation. It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer.

In carrying out the court’s verdict in this case, I take no pleasure. I know that many will disagree with this decision, and that is their right. There are absolutely no victors here today – not the Garner family, not the community at-large, and certainly not the courageous men and women of this police department, who put their own lives on the line every single day in service to the people of this great city.

Today is a day of reckoning but can also be a day of reconciliation.

We must move forward together as one city, determined to secure safety for all – safety for all New Yorkers and safety for every police officer working daily to protect all of us.


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Bastiaan Slabbers/iStock(PHILADELPHIA) -- An "extensive" investigation is underway after a gunman shot six Philadelphia police officers in a dramatic, hours-long standoff that left the city "reeling," prosecutors said Monday.

All officers survived the Wednesday violence and the suspected shooter, Maurice Hill, is in custody on charges including attempted murder.

But Anthony Voci, the district attorney's homicide chief, warned Monday that the "the scale of this investigation ... is immeasurable" and will take months to complete.

Over 100 rounds of ammunition were fired, Voci said, and investigators are now digging bullets out of cars, ceilings and walls.

Investigators are also working to process footage from over 250 body-worn cameras as well as footage from home surveillance cameras, Voci said.

"That is why it would be premature to talk about any and all the details as it relates to these charges because it's our anticipation that there will be more based on what we see on the film and what we find throughout the investigation," Voci said at a news conference on Monday.

Officers were serving a narcotics warrant on Hill and had entered a North Philadelphia home when gunfire erupted Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.

Hill allegedly barricaded himself inside and fired from the first floor as he held two officers and three civilians hostage on the second floor, police said.

Gunfire rained down on police for hours. Gunshots ricocheted off sidewalks and homes as officers crawled and crouched behind cars to avoid getting hit.

After a tense, seven-hour standoff -- during which Hill and his lawyer spoke over the phone with the district attorney and police commissioner -- tear gas was deployed and Hill surrendered.

Hill, who has an "extensive" criminal record, has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, assault of a law enforcement officer, simple assault, unlawful restraint, reckless endangerment, violations of the uniforms firearms act, causing or risking a catastrophe and possession of an instrument of crime, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said at Monday's news conference.

Hill's attorney, Shaka Johnson, told ABC News last week that he believed the standoff wasn't planned. He said Hill, who welcomed a baby two days earlier, was caught up in the moment and the situation escalated quickly.

According to Johnson, Hill wasn't making demands to police and just wanted to end the situation in a way that ensured him no harm.

Hill will appear in court on Sept. 5, Krasner said. Johnson could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

Four others, whom Krasner did not name, were arrested in the case on charges including drug and paraphernalia possession and conspiracy, Krasner said Monday. They will appear in court on Sept. 3, Krasner said.

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Montgomery County Police Department(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- Police in Maryland are investigating why a newborn baby girl was left alone in the woods without so much as a diaper.

The baby was rescued in Silver Spring, Maryland, on Friday when a passerby heard her crying from a nearby street, police said. The baby's cries may have saved her life.

"He went to investigate the sound and found a naked baby approximately ten feet from the sidewalk in the woods," the Montgomery County Department of Police said in a statement on Friday. "The female newborn was transported to a local hospital where she is in stable condition."

Medical personnel at the hospital said the baby appeared to be just a few hours old. Investigators located the child's mother on Sunday, but they have not determined why the baby was left naked and unattended.

Police said the mother was receiving medical care at a hospital, but did not offer details on her condition. The baby was listed in stable condition as of Sunday evening.

The department said its Special Investigations division is handling the ongoing probe and said "no additional information will be released at this time."

It also shared a link to the Maryland Department of Human Resources website to make residents aware of the state's safe haven law.

The law allows a "distressed parent" who is unable or unwilling to care for their infant to surrender custody of the baby with no questions asked.

Under the law, a parent, or another adult with the approval of the mother, has up to 10 days from birth to anonymously leave a baby with a responsible adult at a designated Safe Haven location, according to the Department of Human Resources.

“In Maryland, no one ever has to abandon a newborn baby," Department of Human Resources said in a statement. "A person who invokes Safe Haven is immune from civil liability or criminal prosecution provided the child is unharmed."

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Mitshu/iStock(EL PASO, Texas) -- Two teachers in El Paso, Texas, who put out a call for people to send postcards to their students after a mass shooting at a local Walmart, have been inundated with more than 1,000 cards and counting.

“It has been a very humbling experience to receive such an outpouring of love and kindness from everyone,” Teresa Garrett, a fourth-grade teacher at Tom Lea Elementary School, told ABC News' Good Morning America.

"We’re just so blessed and overwhelmed and happy with the response," said Elvira Flores, a fourth-grade teacher at Hillside Elementary School. "The students’ reactions are priceless."

Flores, an El Paso teacher for the past 20 years, decided to post a request on Facebook for cards for her students after feeling "sad and in disbelief" herself after a gunman opened fire at the Walmart on Aug. 3, killing 22 people and injuring more than two dozen others.

The gunman allegedly targeted the Walmart in El Paso, which sits near the U.S. border with Mexico, because it is frequented by Mexicans who come there to shop, according to police.

"The following day was going to be our first day of school and I thought, I don’t know [my students] yet but I know they need to hear this message, as opposed to the message of the man who came to our city," she said. "We heard his message. I wanted them to hear the voices of other people who love them."

Flores posted the request in a closed teachers' group on Facebook.

Garrett had meanwhile also been trying to think of ways to help the El Paso community. She said that when she saw Flores' post, she asked that her name and school address be included too.

“We are teachers in El Paso. We would like to know if anyone is interested in sending us postcards to help our students know there is plenty of good in the world,” the post read. “As teachers, we may only be able to say so much. We think concrete messages of support would help us calm some fears. Any thoughts?”

The post was quickly shared more than 1,000 times, according to Garrett.

“On Monday we took the addresses out and asked everyone to message us for the address and by Tuesday we took it down as we were overwhelmed by the response,” she said. “After we breathed and discussed it, we decided to go forward with the project.”

The teachers then began telling their students about what strangers were sending them, which included not just postcards but t-shirts, books, school supplies and even a football signed by the Notre Dame football team.

"One card had a fire truck on it and a student was so excited because he wants to be a fireman and he started asking all these questions about becoming one," Flores said. "Another girl whose dad was actually there [at the shooting[, she just smiled at her card."

Garrett is having her students deliver the items to other classrooms and said they “loved doing this act of kindness and paying it forward.”

Because of the overwhelming response to their request, Flores and Garrett plan to distribute the gifts and postcards they’ve received to other schools in the district of around 57,000 students.

“We are a family,” Garrett said. “To be honest, El Paso is a family. We may be large but as our Texas Pledge says, ‘We are one and indivisible.’”

The support for students in El Paso in the form of postcards and gifts is indicative of the support the community has felt as a whole, according to Melissa Martinez, a spokesperson for the El Paso Independent School District.
 
“I think people have just really opened up their hearts, whether they are here locally or from afar,” she said. “What the teachers experienced is really just indicative of what the community has experienced, an outpouring love and support.”

Flores said she wants the people sending postcards and gifts to El Paso students to know that "their message is being heard."

"I know that we won’t be able to respond to all of them but it’s made a huge difference for our community," she said. "I honestly believe there’s so much more good out there [than bad]."

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Tumultuous weather is expected to continue across much of the middle of the country after a weekend of heavy summer weather.

There were 422 damaging storm reports over the weekend from the central Plains into the Northeast corridor, including wind gusts of 94 MPH in Texas and winds topping 60 mph in Indiana, Ohio and Illinois.

The hot and humid air mass currently sitting over the Midwest will fuel storms expected to hit the Ohio Valley and the Northeast Monday and into Tuesday. Strong winds, lightning and heavy rain are expected.

By Tuesday, a new storm system is expected to replace the hot and humid air mass in the Midwest, and severe storms could be possible from Nebraska to Indiana with damaging winds, large hail and even isolated tornadoes.

The West Coast, however, will remain incredibly dry and hot for the early part of the week, with red flag warnings issued for most of Wyoming because of high fire danger.

Heat warnings that were in place over the weekend will also continue across much of the Southwest, all the way from California to Las Vegas and into Arizona with many areas anticipating record highs by midweek.

A similar weather pattern in the South will see the Heat Index close to 110 Fahrenheit through parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri.

That heat and humidity should stretch into the Northeast, with heat advisories issued up the east coast from Delaware to Massachusetts, where temperatures will approach 100 degrees Monday.

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Trinity County Sheriffs Office(NEW YORK) -- A Northern California hiker was found dead on Sunday after an intense three-day search, police said.

Rescuers found the body of Daniel Komins late Sunday morning in a remote wilderness area in the Trinity Alps, where he had embarked on a five-day solo hike on Aug. 10, according to the Trinity County Sheriff's Office.

His family reported the 34-year-old missing when he did not return home as planned on Aug. 14. Preliminary investigation indicates that he may have fallen "in the steep and rocky terrain," the office said.

"Komins’ remains were flown from the area via helicopter," the sheriff's office said in a statement Sunday. "Although this was not the outcome that was wanted, the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office as well as family members of Komins, wanted to thank the Search and Rescue members as well as all other volunteers, for assisting in bringing Daniel Komins home."

Komins, who is an experienced hiker, had spoken with his girlfriend on the night of Aug. 11 and "informed her that the trip was going as planned," according to the sheriff's office.

Komins' empty car was found near the trailhead on the same day, officials said. He had food, water and backpacking supplies with him on the hike.

"During the late morning, a California Highway Patrol helicopter observed what appeared to be a backpack. The backpack had been off trail, between L Lake and Mirror Lake," the statement said. "Ground search teams, who were already near the area, went to the location of the backpack in an effort to recover it. The backpack was recovered and later determined to have belonged to Komins."

Authorities had organized a 40-person ground search for him last week.

The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office, Trinity County Search, Butte County Search and Rescue, Marin County Search and Rescue, Contra Costa County Search and Rescue and the California Highway Patrol had all been involved in the search, which included ground and helicopter teams.

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Dallas Police Department(DALLAS) -- A vengeful aspiring rapper opened fire on the wrong Dallas home last week, killing a 9-year-old girl instead of the rival artist he intended to shoot, police said.

Brandoniya Bennett had just gotten her nails done and was preparing for the first day of the school year on Wednesday when she was fatally shot in the head, according to police.

Dallas Police Major Danny Williams said the gunman fired shots through the girl's front door "as she sat on the couch" and fled the scene on foot. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

"She was sitting in her house. She felt safe. She was 9 years old. She would've started school today," Williams said at a briefing on Thursday. "Those are the people that don't think about safety because -- as adults, as parents, as police officers -- we're supposed to make them safe. As community leaders, we're supposed to make them safe."

Tyrese Simmons, 19, surrendered to police on Thursday after a day-long manhunt and was charged with capital murder. Simmons and his intended target, a fellow aspiring rapper, had exchanged insults on social media ahead of the shooting, according to police.

"Both parties recorded rap songs and they dissed each other. That was the impetus that resulted in a homicide of a 9 year old girl," Williams said.

Police did not release the intended target's name, but they said he lived in the apartment next door to Brandoniya.

Witnesses said they broke up a fight between the two rivals moments before the shooting, but Simmons allegedly threatened to come back and "air out this place," Williams said.

"In their rap songs they dissed each other ... it got to the point where this group wanted to come over and solve it by fighting," he said. "There were some parents at the location and they made the kids leave, but before they left they said 'I'll be back to air out this place.' That's a common term saying that you're going to shoot into an apartment complex."

Police are still investigating the shooting and they have not ruled out the possibility of there being additional suspects.

Simmons was being held on a $500,000 bond as of Sunday evening. It's unclear if he has retained an attorney.

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Port Canaveral/Twitter(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- A desperate search continued Sunday for two off-duty firefighters who never returned from a fishing trip off the eastern coast of Florida, officials said.

Brian McCluney, a Jacksonville, Florida, firefighter, and Justin Walker, a member of the Fairfax, Virginia, Fire Department, were last seen on Friday launching a 22-foot fishing boat at Port Canaveral, which is near the Kennedy Space Center, U.S. Coast Guard officials said on Sunday.

Relatives reported the men missing Friday night when they failed to return as scheduled from their fishing trip.

About 50 firefighters from the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department joined the Coast Guard is searching for the lost firefighters, combing the waters between Daytona Beach and Vilano in 11 boats over the weekend.

Also looking for the men were crews from the U.S. Navy, the Florida Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Brevard County Sheriff's Office. The Coast Guard also deployed a C-130 plane to search from the air.

Search-and-rescue crews had covered an estimated 4,800 miles of ocean between Port Canaveral and the city of Jacksonville, about 80 miles to the north, Coast Guard officials said in a statement on Twitter Sunday.

Surveillance footage released by the Coast Guard showed McCluney and Walker on Friday at a boat ramp in Port Canaveral putting a fishing vessel into the water.

Patrick Gouin, the district chief from McCluney's fire station, told ABC affiliate WJXX-TV said that seven of the Jacksonville firefighters helping in the search are from McCluney's shift, and that colleagues are covering their shifts to free them up to search for McCluney and Walker.

Jacksonville Fire Chief Keith Powers said McCluney's wife, Stephanie, was also in Port Canaveral monitoring the search.

"In our business, you feel like you need to be doing something," Powers told WJXX. "But in this situation, our doing is just helping them try to coordinate and provide support for the family and coordinate any needs that they have."

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A stalled weather system that has been bringing rain to parts of the Southeast will begin to slide northward over the next day bringing with it pop up thunderstorms and heavy downpours up and down much of the east coast and to parts of the Midwest.

The result of this weather pattern means that 1 to 3 inches of rain and possible flash flooding could affect regions in New York and Pennsylvania, parts of Illinois and Indiana, and northern Florida and southern Indiana.

As a cold front slides eastward and interacts with tropical moisture, it will likely cause pop up thunderstorms in parts of the northeast on Monday, with locally heavy downpours possible.

Meanwhile, the Midwest had over 150 reports of severe weather on Saturday including 114 reports of strong winds. The severe weather occurred in parts of the Northeast, parts of the upper Midwest, and parts of the central plains.

An intense weather system is also expected to move across southeast Kansas and into parts of Missouri, Arkansas, and northeast Oklahoma today.

It is in this area that a Severe Thunderstorm Watch will remain in effect until 10AM CDT with damaging winds being the main threat along with heavy rainfall of up to 1 to 2 inches per hour which could cause flash flooding as well.

A similar – but less intense – system is also expected to move through parts of Minnesota and Iowa with the possibility of heavy rain and localized flash flooding.

Dangerous summer heat will be making its return to much of the country over the next few days as well.

Temperatures in parts of the northeast will get into the 90’s again, including Philadelphia, where a heat advisory has been issued. Luckily this stretch of heat doesn’t look as pronounced or as long as some of the periods of heat the region had in July.

Meanwhile, in the southern states it will be another hot day with heat indices well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

In the west the heat will increase once again this upcoming week with temperatures approaching 115 or higher in Death Valley and Palm Springs by Wednesday.

In Phoenix temperatures could reach as high as 112 on Wednesday and Las Vegas will be near 109 by Thursday.

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Mahoning County Jail(NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio) -- An Ohio man has been arrested for making threats toward a local Jewish community center in New Middletown.

James Reardon Jr., 20, has been charged with telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing and is being held in the Mahoning County Jail on $250,000 bond with a court hearing planned for Monday morning.

On Friday, the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force raided Reardon’s house and seized a cache of weapons and ammunition, including dozens of round of ammo, multiple semi-automatic weapons, a gas mask and bulletproof armor.

"Grateful for the work of the FBI, local law enforcement and our community partners in the Youngstown Jewish community. We will continue to employ all our resources to stop the spread of white nationalism and violent extremism," the Anti-Defamation League in Cleveland tweeted.

Grateful for the work of the FBI, local law enforcement and our community partners in the Youngstown Jewish community. We will continue to employ all our resources to stop the spread of white nationalism and violent extremism.https://t.co/T4pcDHSRI6

— ADL Cleveland (@ADL_Cleveland) August 18, 2019


Police initially became aware of Reardon on July 11 when he posted a video on Instagram of a man shooting a semi-automatic rifle with sirens and screams in the background. He tagged the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown in the post.

"That kicked off an intense investigation, a very rapidly evolving investigation, because of the way the world is," New Middletown Police Chief Vince D’Egidio told Youngstown ABC affiliate WYTV.

Reardon is an avowed anti-Semite and white nationalist and attended the deadly "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, according to WYTV. During the raid on his house on Friday police also discovered anti-Semitic and white nationalist propaganda.

Extra security was given to the community during the police investigation, which will remain in place for the near future, police said. But even though the active threat has ceased, there is still active concern among some in the community.

"I’m confident that we are doing what we need to do at this point, but the world has changed and we always have to assess what we are doing moving forward," said Andrew Lipkin, from the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation.

A man killed 11 people when he opened fire on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, only an hour southeast of Youngstown, last October.

Reardon had publicly stated before that he wanted to see a homeland established for white people when he was interviewed for a documentary, according to D'Egidio. Police also discovered that his social media feed was filled with racial slurs and derogatory statements about minorities.

"This is a person that has declared himself as a white nationalist. With the hate crimes and everything else going on, we want to make sure we do our part to make sure this person was taken off the streets very quickly," D’Egidio said.

The FBI has not yet announced whether they will pursue federal charges against Reardon.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Two people are dead after a small plane crashed into a home in upstate New York on Saturday. A person on the plane was killed as well as one person on the ground, officials said.

The Cessna 303 aircraft crashed into the home at about 4:30 p.m. in Union Vale, New York, near Poughkeepsie. There were three people on board the plane, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, and three people in the house, New York State Police Capt. Paul DeQuarto said.

"The aircraft departed from Republic Airport in Farmingdale, N.Y., and was headed to Sky Acres Airport in LaGrangeville, N.Y.,” a statement from the FAA said.

Two people on the plane survived the crash, but one on board was killed, according to officials.

"I saw the house completely engulfed in flames," neighbor Rick Plambeck said. "There was a woman in the house and she jumped out of the window onto a ladder with her dog and she told us that there was a man in the house, which was her father. But we didn't know, or see him at all.

"The plane was in the back of the house, on the back porch."

DeQuarto initially said there were three people inside the house, with one uninjured, one suffering life-threatening injuries and another that was unaccounted for. Hours later, a New York State Police spokesperson said one of the people inside the house had died.

The spokesperson was unsure if it was the person with life-threatening injuries or the missing person who was dead.

The FAA is investigating the accident, while the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the cause.

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iStock(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Thirteen people were arrested and six were injured, as over 1,000 right-wing demonstrators and counter-protesters descended on downtown Portland on Saturday, police said.

There were "at least 13 arrests," in six hours, Portland Police Lieutenant Tina Jones said in a statement. "We are aware of four individuals who have been evaluated by Portland Fire medics," the statement said.

Jones also said that one person had been taken to a hospital and that "Portland Fire medics report that all known injuries are considered to be minor."

However, as the day progressed, tensions seemed to be mounting. At around 4:30 p.m. local time, and the Portland Police tweeted, that "Police are having plastic water bottles thrown at them as they are making an arrest on SW Yamhill and Park." After that, police began advising people to clear the streets or face arrest.

"Police are advising this is now a civil disturbance. Crowd needs to leave the area and go Northbound on Park or any direction eastbound. This means everyone," Portland Police tweeted.

The city has been bracing for several militant right-wing groups to arrive in the city, along with scores of counter-protesters.

Enrique Tarrio, national head of the Proud Boys, who describe themselves as an all-male "western chauvinist" group, and former InfoWars personality Joe Biggs, organized the “End Domestic Terrorism” rally on Saturday that started at 11 a.m. local time. Initially, the crowds moved in slowly, and were met by a heavy police presence, in which local police were bolstered by more than a dozen other law enforcement agencies.

Members of other far-right extremist groups, including the American Guard, the Three Percenters, and the Daily Stormers, were also expected to attend in the hopes of declaring militant leftists, or anti-fascists known as "anitfa," a domestic terrorist group.

One right-wing militia group, Oath Keepers, disavowed the rally for fears of being associated with white supremacists.

“We do not believe the organizers are taking the steps necessary to ensure that white nationalist and suspected white nationalist groups and individuals will be excluded," said Stewart Rhodes, the group's founder, in a statement on its website.

 

https://t.co/BAUm1eFJWt

— Oath Keepers (@Oathkeepers) August 15, 2019

 

Early Saturday, Trump criticized antifa in a tweet, and said Portland is "being watched very closely."

 

Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an “ORGANIZATION OF TERROR.” Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2019

 

"Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an 'ORGANIZATION OF TERROR,'" the tweet read. "Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!"

The president did not, however, criticize the right-wing organizers.

Previous rallies featuring right-wing groups and antifa have turned violent in Portland, prompting a warning from Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

Ahead of Saturday's rallies, Wheeler issued a video message stating, "if you're planning on coming here on August 17th with the intent to commit violence, we don't want you here."

It was unclear whether Joey Gibson, the leader of right-wing Patriot Prayer, will attend the rally. He and five other men have been arrested this month, on charges stemming from a violent outburst on May 1 at Cider Riot, a bar that is a haven for the city's leftists. Videos of the May Day incident show men associated with the group spraying pepper spray, fighting and striking people with batons.

He turned himself in to authorities and bailed out on Friday.

Local authorities have beefed up security and have been joined by an array of other law enforcement agencies "on a scale that this city hasn't seen in years," Wheeler said.

 

A message to anyone who plans on using Portland on August 17th to commit violence and spread hate:

We.
Don't.
Want.
You.
Here.

Stop using our beautiful city and our home to spread fear and disrupt our lives. https://t.co/CtkoxMz6rQ

— Mayor Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) August 7, 2019

 

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