Photo by-John D Simmons
Charlotte NC June 18 2013 It’s a scene that happens in emergency rooms across the country: In the rush to care for a patient, evidence that can tie a suspect to a crime is often lost, unnoticed or disturbed.
Now an ER doctor at Carolinas Medical Center is spearheading a program to teach medical personnel from around Charlotte and the country the basics of crime scene investigation. It comes as hospitals and law enforcement agencies across the country increase their efforts to work together on the issue.
At a recent course, doctors, nurses, police officers, prosecutors and defense attorneys learned how evidence collection works in the ER. As the doctor begins treating the gunshot victim, a forensic-trained nurse cuts away clothing, mindful of preserving entrance and exit wound evidence. The nurse photographs the patient, measures the wounds, examines the gunshot residue and documents everything on standardized forms.
CMC officials held the first forensic training class in April and plan to continue to provide the 40-hour course throughout the year.
The class trains medical personnel and others how to collect forensic evidence – and how to ask victims questions that could lead to arrests and convictions.
It also reinforces the importance of carefully documenting evidence.
“I know how to determine entrance versus exits wounds,” said Dr. Jayne Batts, the ER physician at CMC who helped organize the forensic training at the hospital and expand it into a class for first responders all over the country. “I know what’s important to ask a patient about the crime.”
Sometimes those questions are the last words a patient hears before surgery or death.
Similar programs in the region collect evidence in sex abuse cases, but the Charlotte-Mecklenburg program was the first of its kind in the Carolinas applied to such a wide range of crimes.
The hospital evidence collection in Charlotte-Mecklenburg began in 2003 and since then has aided in the investigation and prosecution of serious assaults, domestic violence, rapes and murders, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officials and prosecutors with the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office.
The expanded program comes amid a national push to integrate emergency medicine and criminal investigations, according to the International Association of Forensic Nurses, a professional group dedicated to promoting forensic collection training in U.S. hospitals.
“We want to get physicians, nurses and law enforcement to work together in preserving evidence and interpreting wounds,” said Dr. Bill Smock, a police surgeon from Louisville, Ky., who taught CMC’s first forensic training class in April. “Carolinas HealthCare Systems is leading the country in evidence collection. In hospitals across the country, evidence gets lost every day.”
ER forensic steps
Before nurses began consistently collecting evidence, the police department dispatched crime scene technicians to the hospital. They’d come if they were available and sometimes after being delayed by forensic collection at the crime scene, which could take hours, Batts said.
She helped establish the Clinical Forensic Nurse Examiner course. For the past 10 years, the course has been offered twice a year to ensure that every victim of a violent crime in Mecklenburg County received the same standard of care.
Carolinas Medical Center, Presbyterian Hospital, Lake Norman Regional Medical Center in Mooresville and NorthEast Medical Center in Concord are among area hospitals with nurses trained in forensic medicine. Certification takes 40 hours over five days, CMC officials said.
Batts said her desire to see this kind of training become widespread stemmed from a mistake CMC made in 1999.
“We lost the victim’s clothing,” Batts remembered. “And I went to the police department and asked what we needed to do.”
At least one forensic nurse works each shift at CMC now – a goal of Batts’ when she was first developing the training and forensic collection protocols.
“When a patient is transferred from the crime scene to the hospital, the ER becomes the secondary crime scene,” Batts said.
CMPD Homicide Sgt. J.D. Furr said detectives undergo quarterly training with Batts to brush up on their own forensic collection skills.
Police say they rely on the skills of forensic nurses in about 90 percent of their assault cases.
The Mecklenburg County DA’s Office couldn’t say specifically what role the forensic evidence has played in securing cases. But in general, it’s better to have evidence that has been properly documented by people who know what they’re doing, prosecutors said.
“The hospital staff treat and give us their qualified opinion and we use that as a tool in our investigation and in our case at trial,” Furr said. “It’s invaluable.”
The forensic nurses also help police determine when patients are lying.
For example: One recent victim came to the hospital and told police he had been randomly shot in the calf by a passing car while walking down University City Boulevard.
But forensic nurses analyzed the wound, noting its size, the prominent tattooing and powder burns. They quickly determined the man had been shot at close range – probably from someone who had been standing no more than 15 inches away.
As it turns out, this wound wasn’t the result of a random violent act, Furr said.
What really happened? The man had accidentally shot himself and had been embarrassed to admit it.
“Through forensics we could see that what the man said was absolutely false,” Furr said.
Source- Charlotte Observer
BLOWING ROCK, N.C. — June 18 2013
A popular tourist attraction in Blowing Rock was forced to shut down because of a large sinkhole.
The hole opened up feet away from where hundreds of cars pass every day at the Tanger Outlets.
Workers believe the hole was most likely caused by the recent heavy rain. It is nearly 20 feet deep and about 15 feet across.
“We heard a pop and saw the bushes collapse,” said worker Mike Winebarger.
Workers at the Tanger Outlets Shoppes on the Parkway heard the noise and then saw bushes and a large portion of the median disappear. Much of the dirt is gone where several storm drain lines merged underground.
“Not shopping today. That hole is huge. That hole is huge. A car could go down in there,” shopper Christy VanHoy said.
More than two dozen businesses at the Tanger Outlets near Blowing Rock are closed as a construction crew scrambled to build a temporary entrance.
They hope to have that new entrance built by tomorrow so the businesses here can reopen. For now, the sinkhole has become another attraction here in the high country.
Workers put down sandbags around the hole to keep more water out of it to allow the repairs to be made a little quicker.
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas June 18 2013 – Deputies say a gunman opened fire on a clerk inside a northwest Harris County store on Sunday night, but thanks to bulletproof glass no injuries were reported.
It happened around 10:30 p.m. at the Antoine Express corner store on Antoine near Veterans Memorial Drive, according to deputies.
Witnesses said the shooter appeared to be a customer who was holding up the line at the clerk’s window. The clerk asked the customer to step aside for other customers, and that’s when the suspect started to verbally assault the clerk.
“I said, ‘please check behind you, we have a lot of customers,’ and then he started talking bad and started to fire,” said clerk Eli Nizr.
The clerk closed the window as the gunman fired three shots into the glass and fled the scene. The bullets did not make it through the glass.
A description of the shooter was not immediately available.
BY MARK BOWES
Richmond VA June 17 2013 Major reported crime — including violent offenses such as murder and serious assaults, as well as property crime — inched upward last year in central Virginia, snapping one of the region’s longest sustained drops in crime in a generation.
A total of 34,893 major offenses were reported in 2012 in the 25 localities that make up the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area. That is up 1.4 percent from the 34,409 crimes reported in 2011, according to Virginia State Police data reviewed by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Violent crime, which includes murder, robbery, rape and aggravated assaults, rose at a slightly greater rate — 1.7 percent — from 2,961 offenses in 2011 to 3,012 last year.
Property crime, which includes burglaries, motor vehicle theft and arson, rose 1.4 percent, from 31,488 offenses in 2011 to 31,881 last year.
But when factoring in the region’s population increase of nearly 1 percent, central Virginia’s per-capita crime rate remained static. Overall crime rose only a fraction, from 27.1 crimes per 1,000 residents in 2011 to 27.2 crimes in 2012. The violent crime rate held steady at 2.3 crimes per thousand residents.
Last year’s 1.4 percent collective rise in crime ended a five-year run of decreases dating to 2007, when The Times-Dispatch began analyzing data for the region’s four cities, five towns and 16 counties.
“It looks like the streak has ended,” said Jay S. Albanese, a criminologist and professor of criminal justice studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, who last year described the 2007-11 period as one of the region’s longest sustained drops in crime in a generation.
“Like most social trends, crime is cyclical, and it appears we’re at the end of a five-year drop in crime,” Albanese added. “We may be at the end of one of the most sustained crime drops we’ve ever seen.”
But Albanese said it remains to be seen whether “this small, one-year increase is the beginning of a sustained trend upward, or whether it’s a small ‘bump’ in the general downward trend in recent years.”
Last year’s regional uptick was at odds with Virginia as a whole, which saw violent crime drop 3 percent in 2012 and property crime drop 3.3 percent, according to the state’s recently released Crime in Virginia report.
Nationally, violent crime increased 1.2 percent during 2012, while property crimes decreased 0.8 percent, according to preliminary Uniform Crime Reporting figures released by the FBI.
Mirroring the Richmond region, the nation’s rate of violent crime in 2012 rose for the first time since 2006 after years of steep decline.
On a positive note, reported rapes, robberies, burglaries and arsons collectively declined in the region last year. But homicides, aggravated assaults, larcenies and vehicle thefts increased.
Overall crime rose in 11 of the region’s 25 localities, and violent crime rose in 12.
Richmond accounted for 30 percent of the region’s major reported offenses last year, but the city’s crime rate remained stable. Overall crime increased 3.6 percent, but violent crime fell 5.6 percent, according to state police data.
In January, Richmond police reported that violent crimes dropped by 7 percent, which officials then said was the fewest violent offenses the city has seen since at least 1970. The January report was based on preliminary figures, officials said last week, and the department slightly adjusted its total crime numbers before reporting them to state police.
Richmond remained the region’s most dangerous place in terms of violent crime per capita, with 6.5 offenses per 1,000 residents in 2012, a slight decrease from the 7 violent offenses per thousand in 2011.
Petersburg and Hopewell in 2012 ranked second and third in per capita crimes, with 5.2 and 4 violent offenses, respectively.
Hopewell, which two years ago had the region’s highest per-capita violent crime rate, continues to show significant improvement under Police Chief John F. Keohane, who was hired in 2011.
Hopewell’s per-capita violent crime rate has dropped by half since 2010, when the city recorded 9.2 offenses per 1,000 residents. It fell to 6.2 in 2011 and then 4.0 last year.
Regionally in 2012, Goochland County saw the largest percentage decrease in violent crime — 50 percent — followed by Powhatan at 43 percent, New Kent at 40 percent, King and Queen County at 36.4 percent and Hopewell at 35.5 percent.
Goochland Sheriff James Agnew said he’s not sure what credit his department can claim for the county’s plunge in violent crime. There were two homicides but reported robberies and aggravated assaults dropped by more than half.
“I don’t know that there’s anything that we could claim credit for. Maybe it’s just the way it was last year,” Agnew said. “And hopefully it’s a trend that will continue. Frankly, I don’t know why it’s declined the way it has.”
Closer to Richmond’s core, Henrico and Chesterfield counties recorded overall crime increases at 2 and 2.6 percent, respectively, while Hanover County experienced a 9 percent drop. Violent crime increased 28 percent in Henrico, 2 percent in Chesterfield and 60 percent in Hanover. A doubling of homicides and robberies fueled Hanover’s violent crime rise.
“The violent crime we experienced last year, particularly as it relates to homicides and robberies, is disturbing,” said Hanover Sheriff David R. Hines. “Although these crimes account for a small percentage of overall crime in Hanover, it is the most concerning since the impact they have on the victims and their families, as well as the community.”
On a positive note, Hines said he was pleased with Hanover’s overall drop in crime. “The bottom line is, we have remarkably low crime and a high clearance rate,” he said.
In the Tri-Cities area, major crime dropped in Petersburg, Hopewell and Prince George County, but rose in Colonial Heights and Dinwiddie County. Hopewell showed the greatest improvement, with overall crime dropping 13 percent.
Hopewell’s Keohane said the department’s focus on burglaries, robberies and aggravated assaults paid dividends in 2012.
“We’re doing well,” Keohane noted. “We picked off some major offenders that were doing robberies. “If you can make arrests very quickly, which we did, it can impact your numbers.” Robberies fell 18 percent last year and 42 percent over the past three years.
Police also have continued to work with restaurant and club owners to reduce late-night crime and aggravated assaults. The number of aggravated assaults fell 43 percent last year, from 95 offenses in 2011 to 54 in 2012.
A local Veterans of Foreign Wars lodge has agreed to discontinue hosting hip-hop events after several shootings there, and early morning violence outside a Denny’s restaurant that had become a regional gathering spot has been significantly reduced, Keohane said.
“The uptick for last year is quite small, so we won’t know until next year if it is an anomaly, or whether there are countervailing social trends working against a continuing drop in crime,” Albanese said of the region’s crime increase.
“These factors might include long-term unemployment or a rise in drug use trends, which would require additional data to assess,” he added. “This is something to be considered if this one-year increase continues into this year.”
Baytown TX June 17 2013 A Texas mother’s determination to keep her family out of danger drove her to battle an alleged carjacker until he fled from her minivan — only to be struck by her vehicle as she tried to “stop him so he didn’t hurt anybody else,” the woman said.
While Dorothy Baker and her 2-year-old and 5-year-old sons were shopping Friday at a CVS in Baytown, Texas, a man identified as Ismael Martinez allegedly hid out in her unlocked van, police said.
When the family got back into the car, Baker said Martinez “popped up out of the backseat and said that if I didn’t want my kids to get hurt, that I would do exactly what he said.”
Martinez, 54, allegedly pulled a knife on Baker while she was driving and demanded she stop at an ATM for money, she said.
When she refused, Martinez allegedly became violent, she said.
Baker said she fought back, refusing to compromise the safety of her children.
“She’s got a cut that goes across her chest, and she grabbed the knife and he bit her hand,” Baker’s husband, Charles Flugence said.
“I took my fist and I hit him in the face, and I told him to get out of my car,” Baker said.
Baker intentionally drove her van into a telephone pole in hopes of sending Martinez through the front windshield, according to the Baytown Police Department crime report.
Police said she managed to dial 911 while she grappled with the suspect in hopes that a dispatcher might hear what was going on in the car and find a way to help, ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston reported.
“I thought, ‘If you swerve and hit the pole, he’s not wearing a seatbelt, he’ll go through the windshield or at least hit his head, and you can stop him. You can do something to make sure that he doesn’t hurt your kids,’” Baker told KTRK-TV. “That’s all I was thinking of really, was just to get him away from my kids.”
Police said Martinez eventually jumped out of the van and tried to flee. But before Baker knew it, she had run her car into him.
“I didn’t mean to run him over,” she said. “I was just trying to stop him so he didn’t hurt anybody else.”
Martinez was airlifted to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston with serious injuries after the alleged attack. He is expected to face felony charges once he is discharged.
Meanwhile, Baytown residents have rallied around Baker’s bravery.
“She was trying to protect herself and her kids. I would do the same thing,” resident Joyce Sparks said.
But Baker said she is just glad her family is safe.
“You don’t come after people with kids,” she said. “I told him he messed with the wrong witch.”
Source- ABC News
Cleveland Man Found Guilty of Trying to Use Explosives to Destroy a Bridge in Northeast Ohio www.privateofficer.com
U.S. Attorney’s Office
CLEVELAND OH June 15 2013—A Cleveland man was found guilty of trying to use explosives to destroy a bridge in Northeast Ohio, announced Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the FBI.
Joshua Stafford, 24, was found guilty of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, and malicious use of an explosive device to destroy property used in interstate commerce following a three-day trial before U.S. District Judge David Dowd. Stafford is scheduled to be sentenced on September 11 at noon.
“We all need to thank the FBI and its law enforcement partners,” U.S. Attorney Dettelbach said. “The evidence in this trial made clear that their actions saved innocent lives. By being diligent, smart, and responsible, law enforcement agents were able to not only literally defuse a dangerous situation, but they also were able to catch a dangerous group of violent men before they were able to harm anyone else.”
“This defendant took it upon himself to operate the cell phone he believed to be the device that would detonate two IED devices and cause potentially significant damage to the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge,” Speical Agent in Charge Anthony said. “This defendant’s callous disregard for our community, all in the name of making his own ideological views known, reinforces the need for law enforcement to work diligently to confront and stop terrorists from committing violent acts against our fellow citizens.”
Stafford is the last of five men to be found guilty for their roles in a conspiracy to destroy the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge. Cars travel over the bridge, which crosses from Brecksville, Ohio to Sagamore Hills, Ohio over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
•Douglas L. Wright, of Indianapolis, was sentenced to 11 ½ years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release.
•Brandon L. Baxter, of Lakewood, Ohio, was sentenced to nine years and nine months in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release.
•Connor C. Stevens, of Berea, Ohio, was sentenced to eight years and one month in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release.
•Anthony M. Hayne, 35, of Cleveland, was sentenced to six years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release.
Those four men pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, and malicious use of an explosive device to destroy property used in interstate commerce.
Hayne, Wright, Baxter, Stevens and Stafford were arrested on April 30.
According to court documents, Wright, Baxter, Hayne, Stevens, and Stafford were self-proclaimed anarchists who formed into a small group and considered a series of evolving plots over several months.
The initial plot involved the use of smoke grenades to distract law enforcement in order for the co-conspirators to topple financial institution signs atop high rise buildings in downtown Cleveland, according to the complaint.
The plot later developed to the utilization of explosive materials. The defendants conspired to obtain C-4 explosives contained in two improvised explosive devices to be placed and remotely detonated, according to the complaint.
The defendants discussed various bridges and physical targets in and around the Cleveland, Ohio metropolitan area over the course of several months. The final plan resulted in the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge being the designated target.
The public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were controlled by an undercover FBI employee. The defendants were closely monitored by law enforcement. The explosives that the defendants allegedly purchased and attempted to use were inoperable and posed no threat to the public.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Duncan T. Brown, Justin E. Herdman and Thomas E. Getz following an investigation by the FBI and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Agencies represented on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force include: Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office; Federal Air Marshal Service; Cleveland Police Department; Cleveland Heights Police Department; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service; Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Intelligence; Westlake Police Department; U.S. Diplomatic Security Service; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Customs and Border Protection; RTA Police; Ohio State Highway Patrol; Transportation Security Administration; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; Shaker Heights Police Department; North Olmstead Police Department; U.S. Postal Inspectors; and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. Assistance in this case was also provided by the U.S. National Park Service Park Rangers, Sagamore Hills Police Department, and Brecksville Police Department and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.
Roxborough PA June 15 2013 A uniformed and armed security guard punched a Roxborough resident in the face after a verbal dispute on June 1, police said.
At around 4:30 p.m., in the 7100 block of Ridge Avenue, a man got into a verbal dispute with a security guard over how the security guard was driving, police said.
The security guard showed the man his nightstick, and then punched him in the face while still in his vehicle, police said.
The security guard drove off, and police said that the man who was punched went to Roxborough Hospital where he received five stitches to the corner of his mouth.
Miami FLA June 14 2013 Twenty-four people were hurt, three of them in critical condition, after the deck of Shuckers Bar & Grill collapsed in North Bay Village Thursday night, authorities said.
The people were sent tumbling into the water of Biscayne Bay. One man said the water covered his head. He said his first instinct was to save himself and then others.
Most rescue vehicles have left at this point, but Miami-Dade Fire Rescue divers are still on the scene.
Miami Beach Police are assisting after the deck of the restaurant collapsed at 1819 79th Street Causeway, spokeswoman Det. Vivian Hernandez said.
Shuckers is a popular local hangout by Biscayne Bay in North Bay Village. Part of the establishment is on land.
WASHINGTON DC June 14 2013 — The State Department has hired an alarming number of law-enforcement agents with criminal or checkered backgrounds because of a flawed hiring process, a stunning memo obtained by The Post reveals.
The background problems are severe enough that many of the roughly 2,000 agents in State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security can play only limited roles in agency efforts to police bad conduct and prosecute wrongdoers.
The problems in the bureau are the latest revelation in an exploding scandal that also involves accusations that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s security detail and those of the US ambassador to Belgium solicited prostitutes overseas.
A whistleblower charges that State tried to cover up multiple scandals by removing them from an inspector general’s report.
“Department intakes of new . . . officers since the hiring surge a decade ago have reportedly been flawed, with ‘mitigation’ of troubling histories including criminal matters,” according to a December 2012 memo to State Deputy Inspector General Harold Geisel from a team leader in the IG’s Office.
The memo goes on to state that the troubling backgrounds can pose a problem if the agents are needed to testify at trials to assist prosecutors.
“Too many people entering the [Diplomatic Security and Information Management] communities end up as subjects of [Special Investigation Division] investigations and HR adjudications, become Giglio-impaired and can play only limited roles thereafter,” according to the memo.
“Giglio” refers to a US Supreme Court case dealing with jury notification that witnesses have made deals with the government to induce testimony.
Some Diplomatic Security field offices “have major problems just waiting to be discovered,” the memo adds.
An IG spokesman said he couldn’t comment on internal documents, but State has said it prosecutes misconduct, and that the internal draft reports contain “unsubstantiated information.”
A 2012 letter to State’s labor-management negotiator from the union for foreign-service agents, also obtained by The Post, asserts a pattern of “questionable tactics and unprofessional conduct” by Diplomatic Security agents.
In one case, aggressive interrogation techniques by Diplomatic Service agents drove an employee to attempt suicide when accused of raping his maid in Bangkok, Thailand, the memo suggests. The employee maintained the sex was consensual.
But after “being told he would end up in a Thai prison, his wife would lose her job and his children would be pulled out of school, [the man] attempted suicide by jumping out of the 16th-story window at a hotel in Bangkok,” said the memo.
“Fortunately, he landed on a tarp on the 10th floor and sustained minor injuries.”“It depends on what team you’re on, whether they like you or not,” he said.
The man was flown back to Washington for in-patient psychiatric care, where the agents continued to harass him, the union charged. The rape charges were ultimately dropped.
The memo sites eight cases involving Diplomatic Security agents who resort to “false, misleading or incomplete statements in reports,” “privacy-act violations” or “lack of objectivity” in investigations.
Cary Schulman, lawyer for former IG investigator-turned-whistleblower Aurelia Fedenisn, said Diplomatic Security agents are “wrongfully overly pursuing some people” but letting other have a “free pass.”
Source- NY Post
HOUSTON TX June 13 2013 – The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide money to help rebuild the small Texas town where a deadly fertilizer plant explosion leveled numerous homes and a school, and killed 15 people
Maryland June 12 2013 A surge in gun sales in Maryland has led to a massive backlog in background checks, taking as much as 10 weeks instead of the required seven days.
|Maryland gun sales|
Fred Kirchner, vice president of the Maryland Association of Firearms Retailers, blamed the spike on hysteria created by politicians, the media and gun groups like the National Rifle Association.
Phoenix AZ June 10 2013 Stephen Rayleigh’s unmanned aircraft does aerial photography from an altitude of 300 feet with images so crisp a runner’s shadow is visible on the pavement.
Rayleigh, 24, a recent graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, is developing a remote-control aerial technology that among other uses could provide detailed imagery of agricultural fields, tracking which crops are healthy and pinpointing acreage that might need more water or fertilizer.
“I think like everybody trying to get into this industry, I see a lot of applications for this technology,” said Rayleigh, a former U.S. Army pilot of unmanned aircraft. “But the first one when it’s deregulated that will be big is agriculture.”
Rayleigh is among the entrepreneurs and companies who see unlimited potential for civilian uses of unmanned aircraft to do day-to-day tasks more efficiently and safely than traditional manned aircraft. But until the federal government develops the safety standards that are required before unmanned aircraft take to the skies for commercial and private use, the vehicles remain largely grounded.
The U.S. military has relied on remotely piloted aircraft in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the emerging technology is severely restricted in the general airspace of the United States, and commercial uses are prohibited. The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing the use of unmanned aircraft in U.S. airspace and is expected to make a decision in a little more than two years.
Unmanned aircraft are often referred to as drones, an unwelcome term for industry insiders who prefer unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, and unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.
Once the federal government signs off on commercial and civilian use of unmanned aircraft, the vehicles could be deployed for a wide range of uses, including crop dusting, tracking wildlife and cattle, and inspecting power lines, pipelines, bridges and windmills for structural damage. Freight deliveries, disaster relief, volcano monitoring and real-estate and construction-site photography are also possibilities.
Small unmanned aircraft could provide aerial video of disasters and crime scenes, replacing multimillion-dollar news helicopters.
This year, unmanned aircraft were used to evaluate flooding in the upper Midwest, and, last month, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported that it used an unmanned aircraft with an infra-red camera in Saskatchewan to find an injured car-accident victim who had wandered away from the crash scene.
The economic benefits of opening up unmanned aircraft for commercial uses are great, particularly for Arizona. An industry trade group, the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International in Washington, released a study in March that estimated civilian use of unmanned aircraft in the United States would create 70,000 jobs and $13.6 billion in economic growth in its first three years.
Arizona would rank fifth in the nation in direct employment from unmanned-aircraft technology, with 494 jobs and a total economic impact of $93 million in its first year. It would trail only California, Washington, Texas and Florida.
By 2025, the industry would boost direct employment in Arizona by 2,191 jobs and total employment by 4,260 jobs and would lift the economy by $414 million, the study said.
FAA to pick 6 test sites
The FAA must review and implement safety strategies for integrating unmanned aircraft into the national airspace with commercial and private air traffic by September 2015.
The use of smaller unmanned aircraft, those that weigh less than 55 pounds and fly below 400 feet, will be allowed starting in August 2014. Many emerging technologies will rely on these smaller aircraft.
The FAA is scheduled to pick six locations by the end of this year where unmanned aircraft can be tested for safety, reliability and performance standards in a variety of geographic and climatic conditions.
The Arizona Commerce Authority, with a team headed by retired Air Force Lt. Gen. John Regni, is one of 25 applicants from 24 states seeking to host one of the unmanned-aircraft test sites.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs like Rayleigh can do only so much to develop and test the technology.
“I can’t start a business here without breaking the law,” he said.
Rayleigh’s aerial mapping produces images 10 times sharper than those available from Google Earth’s satellite, and his flight costs are a fraction of those for manned flights, he said.
His aircraft, which he calls the Lynx, is polystyrene foam clad with Kevlar to protect it from hard landings. The 10-pound plane with a 7-foot wingspan is outfitted with a tiny camera that can capture images of agricultural fields.
It can be launched without a runway, almost like a giant paper airplane, and can fly for more than an hour on lithium-ion batteries, said Rayleigh. His four-year Army stint included two years in Iraq.
Rayleigh estimated the cost of the miniature aircraft at $5,000 to $10,000, depending on how much of the manufacturing could be automated.
Another unmanned aircraft under development in Arizona is a 5-pound helicopter called the Cyclone that can hover or fly at 40 mph.
The Cyclone Autonomous Design Group of Tucson developed the miniature helicopter for police and border enforcement, said John Waszczak, Cyclone chief operating officer. It is equipped with conventional and infrared cameras and costs about $20,000, he said.
The company also envisions a Cyclone application for ranchers, Waszczak said.
Instead of getting on a horse or into a pickup, a rancher could launch an unmanned aircraft that would transmit images of water troughs, fences and cattle on the range.
“This thing could take over for cowboys” and accomplish in 30 minutes what might take a full day on the ground, Waszczak said.
Police or Border Patrol agents could quickly launch the unmanned aircraft, giving them an eye in the sky for up to 40 minutes with a motor, like that on Rayleigh’s aircraft.
Some fear spy planes
The surveillance capability of unmanned aircraft has some civil libertarians worried about domestic spying.
During an FAA conference call soliciting public opinion in April, several callers expressed concerns about public safety, privacy and noise.
Anna Lanz of the San Pedro Valley in southeastern Arizona told FAA officials that noise from unmanned aircraft would be a “major intrusion” if Arizona was selected for one of the six test sites, according to an FAA transcript.
“No surveillance equipment should be used at all, ever,” Lanz said.
But Jerry LeMieux of Lake Havasu said in an interview last month that the FAA should focus on safety issues related to unmanned aircraft and leave the privacy issues to the U.S. Department of Justice.
LeMieux founded the Unmanned Vehicle University in Lake Havasu City in February 2012. The online school is focused on unmanned-aircraft engineering and operator training.
A former airline pilot, LeMieux said the United States is falling behind the rest of the world in developing civilian uses of unmanned aircraft.
“We’re going to crawl in America,” he said. “We need to get UAVs up and running and demonstrate that it’s safe.”
Lexa Garrett, president of the Saguaro chapter of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, said unmanned aircraft with a pilot on the ground can do “the dull, the dangerous and the dirty” work of flying.
Safe integration of unmanned aircraft into the airspace also will help bring jobs to Arizona, said Garrett, a US Airways pilot.
“It’s the wave of the future, and there’s a lot of money in it,” she said.
Source- AZ Central
PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. June 10 2013 (AP) — Authorities in northern Arizona say a 4-year-old boy has accidentally shot and killed his father at a Prescott Valley home.
Prescott Valley police say the shooting occurred just after noon Friday.
The 35-year-old man and his young son were visiting from Phoenix and were at a friend’s house.
Police say the boy somehow found a gun in the home’s living room and accidentally fired it and a bullet hit his father, who was rushed to a hospital where he died. Police identified the man as Justin Stanfield Thomas.
Police say the boy is with his mother. No other details have been released.
Vermont June 9 2013 - Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill Thursday that made the state the 17th in the United States to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Under the law, possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana (28.3 grams) would be treated as a civil penalty with fines akin to a traffic ticket. Previously, possession of up to two ounces (56.6 grams) of pot was a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail for a first offense and up to two years in jail for later offenses.
“This change just makes common sense,” said Shumlin, a Democrat. “Our limited resources should be focused on reducing abuse and addiction of opiates like heroin and meth rather than cracking down on people for having very small amounts of marijuana.”
The law also decriminalizes possession of less than 5 grams of hashish, a more potent marijuana derivative. People younger than the legal drinking age of 21 caught with small amounts of marijuana would be treated the same as if they were in possession of alcohol, and be referred to a court diversion program for a first offense.
Vermont’s law is similar to those in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island, where non-medical possession of marijuana is treated as a civil offense.
But the state did not go as far as Washington and Colorado, where laws allowing the recreational use of marijuana by adults passed last year.
Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio treat marijuana possession as a fine-only misdemeanor offense, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which favors decriminalization.
“The trend is extremely good both in public opinion and the number of bills being introduced and being passed,” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the group.
He noted that New Jersey, New Hampshire and Hawaii have also taken up similar bills, though all three were defeated.
Opponents warned that decriminalizing marijuana would take a toll on public health, noting that marijuana smoke contains more cancer-causing substances than tobacco smoke, which also causes lung cancer.
“It’s a very unfortunate trend, the public perception of the dangers of marijuana has not caught up with the science,” said David Evans, special adviser to the Drug Free America Foundation. “Ten to 20 years from now when the science is more apparent to everybody, they’re going to be very sorry for what they did.”
Vermont passed a law in 2004 allowing for the use of medical marijuana with the supervision of a doctor.
Ohio June 6 2013 Seven people were indicted in federal court for their roles in a conspiracy to steal copper from two dozen different substations in Northeast Ohio owned by First Energy or Cleveland Public Power, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland Office.
“These defendants risked the safety of utility workers and the well-being of people served by these substations,” Dettelbach said. “This is a far cry from vandalism or simple theft. The targeting of energy facilities poses a significant threat to our critical infrastructure. The theft of copper and other scrap metal is a serious problem and will not be tolerated.”
“These defendants chose to enrich themselves while risking lives and posing serious threats to our community,” Anthony said. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners will aggressively pursue and bring to justice those individuals who threaten our critical infrastructure.”
Indicted are: Christopher M. Butts, 26, of Cleveland; Michael T. Butts, 33, of Brooklyn; Jon T. Lefort, 25, of Cleveland; William Bertini, 25, of Olmsted Township; Jason B. Kauffman, 34, address unknown; Keven Wenson, 22, of Lakewood; and Julio Torres, 45, address unknown.
The thefts took place between January and May 2013 and included substations in Brooklyn, Parma, Brecksville, Fairlawn, Medina, Cleveland, Wadsworth, Lakewood, Cuyahoga Heights, Independence, Vermillion, Lorain, Avon Lake, Westlake, and Valley View, according to the indictment.
The 24 substations listed in the indictment have copper material around its base that facilitated the transmission of electricity. Removal of the copper material from a substation causes a substantial risk of electrical blackouts as well as possible injury or death to utility company employees responsible for maintaining, servicing, and repairing the substations, according to the indictment.
According to the indictment, Christopher and Michael Butts instructed Lefort, Bertini, Kauffman, Wenson, and Torres how to remove the copper material from the substation in a way that would minimize the risk of physical harm to the person cutting the wire or cable. The defendants used bolt cutters to cut fencing and/or locks protecting the substations.
The defendants then unlawfully extracted the copper wire and materials from the substations, manually carrying it in garbage cans, duffel bags, contractor bags, and other containers to “staging areas.” From there, the copper material was transported to scrap yards, where it was sold for cash, according to the indictment.
The indictment details 25 copper thefts and five attempted thefts. It also lists 53 instances where at least some of the defendants sold stolen copper to area scrap yards between January and April 2013.
The defendants collectively sold the stolen copper for more than $15,000, although repairs to the substations will likely cost more than $100,000, according to the indictment.
Count one charges all seven defendants with conspiracy to damage energy facilities. Counts two through six charge specific individuals with destruction of an energy facility, in violation of a federal statute specifically directed at protecting facilities that produce, distribute, and store energy, such as electrical substations.
This prosecution is part of an on-going effort to focus on the damage to critical infrastructure that is caused by the theft of scrap metal. Earlier this year, representatives of approximately 20 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices attended a conference hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Northeast Ohio Regional Fusion Center, and the Cleveland Clinic addressing best practices to target these theft rings.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas E. Getz and M. Kendra Klump following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Avon Lake Police Department, Brecksville Police Department, Medina County Sheriff’s Office, Middleburgh Heights Police Department, Valley View Police Department, and Northeast Ohio Regional Fusion Center and assistance from the Medina County Prosecutor’s Office.
If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal records, the defendant’s role in the offenses, and the characteristics of the violation.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
HERNDON, Va. June 1 2013 — A pilot and a resident were taken to the hospital after a small plane nosedived into the living room of an apartment building in the 2200 block of Astoria Circle in Herndon at approximately 12:17 a.m., according to Virginia State police.
When you look at the apartment building you see the tail of a plane sticking out from the top floor. The plane crashed just a few feet away from the apartment building’s gas line.
The pilot of the plane was headed from Philadelphia to Manassas Regional Airport and we’re hearing his plane, a Cessna 177B, was low on fuel at approximately 12 a.m.
The pilot and passenger, we’re told, walked out of the plane after they crashed into the living room. They called 911 and spoke to residents who rushed out of their bedrooms to witness the unbelievable. Virginia State Police say four adults and two children were asleep in the apartment.
The residents say their bedrooms were completely intact. So the pictures remained on the wall and they didn’t see any damage to the house until they opened their bedroom doors and saw a plane inside their living room.
We spoke to some of the residents early Friday morning. One resident named David Ventura told us about his wife’s reaction:
“She went from her room to the living room and she saw the plane inside the living room and she was really nervous. She was screaming and everything and — one of the guys that was driving the plane told her to call 911. But she was so nervous that she — she said that she got her cell phone and she was trying to dial 911 and she couldn’t because she was in shock.”
Ventura lives on the third floor with his wife and his two small children, ages 2 and 6. He says no one was hurt and the kids even slept through the incident. His wife was obviously shaken up. She was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital for non-life threatening injuries according to Virginia State Police.
Virginia State Police say the pilot, 61-year-old William Larson of Vienna, Va., was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital for treatment of serious, but non-life threatening injuries. The plane’s passenger, Tache L. Alejandro of Orlando, Fla., suffered only minor injuries and was treated at the scene, according to police.
Many of the people at the apartment complex are saying they are blessed. Some folks are saying they should even play the lottery because they are very lucky.
The Red Cross is at the scene. They are assisting four families, 11 children and 11 adults.
Crews started moving cars out of the parking lot to prepare for removing the plane. A crane was put into place to remove plane, which was done at approximately 7:13 a.m. The plane was then loaded onto a flatbed truck at 7:23 a.m. The truck drove away at approximately 8 a.m.
Officials say the building had significant exterior damage so residents were evacuated by state police after then incident but the building appears to be structurally sound.
According to Virginia State Police, the plane belonged to Aerial Photographers, LLC in Vienna, Va. Virginia State Police say Larson and Alejandro were taking infra-red photographs when the plane had electrical problems and the engine cut off. Police say the plane was also running low on fuel and Larson had contacted Dulles International Airport to re-route its destination. The plane was originally headed from Northeast Philadelphia Airport to Manassas Regional Airport.
The NTSB and FAA are on the scene investigating the incident.
Source- The Arizona Republic
MYRTLE BEACH SC May 27 2013— Police are asking for help in identifying a woman who was found dead on the beach in Myrtle Beach.
Horry County deputy coroner Darris Fowler said the woman was found floating in the ocean near 24th Avenue South at about 8:45 a.m. Saturday morning. He said she was fully dressed and missing one shoe, but otherwise well-kept.
She is described as a 55- to 60-year-old white woman between 5’3” and 5’6”, weighing about 170 to 185 pounds. Fowler said she has blond hair and a bright yellow, red and orange tattoo on her left ankle of an ocean scene with a dolphin at the top.
Fowler encouraged anyone who might know someone who is missing or who knows of someone with what he called the woman’s distinctive tattoo to contact Myrtle Beach police at 918-1382.
“We do not have a clue of who she is or how she got there,” he said.
By RANDY LEE LOFTIS
Dallas TX MAY 27 2013 Victoria County, a little slice of the Texas chemical coast, has nearly 39 million pounds of concoctions that can poison and nearly 11 million pounds that can catch fire.
“A potential for a catastrophic event” is how one federal agency described the risk if they leak. A temptation for terrorists, added another.
But Victoria County cannot use a firefighter’s basic tool for preventing industrial disaster: a fire code.
Texas won’t let the county adopt one.
In piney-woods southeast Texas, nearly 250,000 people within 25 miles of a paper mill could breathe chlorine or chlorine-dioxide gas after a worst-case fire or accident. Some could die.
But Texas won’t let Jasper County adopt a fire code.
And on the Panhandle plains of Parmer County, 10 companies keep 2.3 million pounds of anhydrous ammonia on hand to fertilize crops or refrigerate meat. If ammonia leaks, it forms a killing cloud.
But Texas won’t let Parmer County adopt a fire code.
Those counties are the Texas norm.
Despite the lessons from the West Fertilizer Co. fire and explosions about the value of fire prevention, site security and safe storage of dangerous goods, Texas prohibits nearly 70 percent of its counties from having a fire code.
Fire codes aren’t just for fires. They also contain rules for managing explosive or toxic chemicals, including specific guidelines for ammonium-nitrate fertilizer, the substance that exploded and killed 15 people and injured 200 in West on April 17.
Fire code rules emerge from tragic history.
“We have these rules and regulations because of past experience,” said Dallas County Fire Marshal Robert De Los Santos, who enforces the fire code in the county’s unincorporated areas.
“It’s just like a stoplight. Most places don’t have them until we have so many fatalities and so many wrecks.
“It’s a shame that it has to be that way.”
Yet for 173 of Texas’ 254 counties, adopting rules based on that experience is illegal. They are either below 250,000 in population or don’t touch a county of that size.
Having fewer people doesn’t mean less risk. Those counties contain some of the most dangerous chemicals and industrial processes in Texas, The Dallas Morning News found.
“It’s not 1956 anymore,” said Jasper County Judge Mark Allen, whose county, while mostly rural, has multiple potential sources of industrial risks.
“It’s not 1964 or ’65,” Allen said. “We’re not Mayberry. We have life-threatening events every day.”
But 85 percent of the code-prohibited counties have no full-time professional fire department anywhere in the county, The News found. Only a few bigger industries have their own specially trained and equipped in-house fire brigades.
Training and gear for chemical emergencies are beyond the reach of most volunteer fire departments. In the 173 counties that cannot adopt a fire code, 21 have established local emergency-services districts, but few of those provide enough money even to cover the basics.
With a state-mandated tax cap of 10 cents per $100 in assessed property value, a $100,000 home provides an emergency-services district with no more than $100 a year.
Standard turnout gear for a volunteer firefighter can cost thousands. Many departments rely on fish-fry fundraisers and coin jars on local store counters just for essentials.
Chris Barron, executive director of the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas, said he’s seen local volunteers thrilled to be able to buy an aging water tank truck, paint it red and put a flashing light on top.
The association, based in Austin, advocates for better fire-service funding, including for volunteers.
Barron is also chief of the Manchaca Volunteer Fire Department south of Austin. He said he knows an alarm sends volunteers scrambling, even into a chemical crisis for which they can’t afford full training or equipment.
“That’s not going to stop them,” Barron said.
At 40 words, barely longer than a blurb, the Texas law barring most county fire codes rested in obscurity for years, tucked between arcane rules on building setbacks and structure improvements. Builders had objected to attempts to expand fire codes.
An attempt to scrap the law in this year’s legislative session failed. The death of a bill from Rep. Walter “Four” Price, R-Amarillo, without a full House vote, even after West, dismayed fire-safety advocates.
“I guess we’re just not there yet,” said Barron.
There’s no guarantee that the kinds of practices a fire code contains would have prevented an explosion like the one in West. But investigative results point that way.
A code inspection might have caught a wiring problem or a housekeeping risk from an old golf cart recharging in the warehouse where the fire started — two possible causes that investigators couldn’t rule out.
Site security, a code staple for hazardous chemicals, might have kept out an arsonist, another possible cause.
No matter the trigger, sprinklers — code-recommended for large-volume bulk storage of ammonium nitrate, but absent from West Fertilizer — might have doused the flames before the explosions.
“Industrial processes are an important part of fire-code protections — explosive dust, ammonium nitrate, hydrogen processing,” said Donald Bliss, vice president for field operations of the National Fire Protection Association, one of two major fire code-writing groups in the U.S.
A fire code has no power until a local government adopts it. The International Fire Code, a product of the International Code Council, is the most widely used in Texas.
Studies have documented the benefits of fire codes many times. Fire calls in the U.S. have dropped by roughly half since 1977, with code-related steps such as safer building practices, smoke alarms and sprinklers getting credit.
In practice, code enforcers can’t inspect every business all the time, Bliss said. As with police radar, it’s focused on the streets with the most speeders.
Not that expensive
Despite fears that a fire code would force businesses to spend big sums on compliance, many problems can be fixed for little or no money, with the inspector serving as an adviser, Bliss said. Codes tend to teach more than punish.
“The application of a fire code is 95 percent educational,” Bliss said.
Bruce Johnson, director of fire-service activities for the International Code Council, said codes have been proved to save lives and property for a fraction of the cost of disasters.
In addition to those killed or hurt, the West blast may have caused $100 million in damage. The investigation cost $1 million more.
Experts have estimated that $40,000 worth of sprinklers might have prevented it.
“What you save by not adopting a code upfront can cost a lot more when disaster strikes, both in the cost of property damage and the loss of life — occupants and the firefighters who have to battle the fire,” Johnson said.
“Code adoption is an investment in safety.”
Still, a local government’s power to adopt a fire code does not guarantee that it will do so, even if risk sits right next door.
West Fertilizer is an example.
Its property is split between the town of West and unincorporated McLennan County. To the east are farms. To the west, until the blast, were homes, schools and people.
The town and county could have adopted a fire code under state law, but they didn’t. Still, they have said they were prepared. Officials cite a limited evacuation that the explosion cut short 22 minutes after the fire was reported.
At a Texas House committee hearing May 1, state public safety officials said the system worked. But that assumption leaves out preventing a disaster.
It is an assumption that prevails either by local choice or state order in most of Texas. Uninspected risk sources include chemical handlers, factories and hundreds of other businesses types.
The ammonium-nitrate fertilizer trade illustrates the point. The News checked the locations of 28 retailers and one wholesale custom blender. Each reported its stockpiles under federal law.
Some dealerships are out in the country, shielded by farms and fields. Others are in the middle of towns.
Of the 29 businesses, 17 are in cities or counties that could adopt a fire code if they chose. Only three have done so: Terrell and Corsicana, sites of El Dorado Chemical outlets; and Amarillo, where Gavilon Fertilizer operates.
The rest are in towns that haven’t adopted a code or in unincorporated parts of counties that are prohibited from adopting one.
Ammonium nitrate isn’t the only such risk. The News found that 137 of the 173 code-prohibited counties have one or more industries that must file a risk-management plan with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The facilities handle chemicals that could kill or injure people, often large numbers, if they escaped. The plans were a response to the 1984 Union Carbide plant leak in Bhopal, India, that killed unknown thousands.
In 47 of the counties, companies use or store chemicals that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security considers “of interest” for possible misuse by terrorists or other criminals. Those chemicals rank high as explosive or poisonous threats.
An undetermined number of the counties have companies that use chemicals on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s high-hazards list. They pose an imminent hazard to workers and the public if mishandled.
In 26 of the counties, at least one local industry ranks among the 100 most toxic air polluters in Texas.
In five of the counties, all of those risks occur at once — and the counties have no full-time fire departments: Calhoun, Fayette, Goliad, Jasper and Robertson.
In Jasper County, the six volunteer fire departments rolled on 342 fire calls in 2011, according to state figures. Most were “other fires,” meaning grass and woodlands.
One-third were structure fires. In all the fires, one resident was killed and four were injured.
Jasper County — population 36,296, hidden behind what locals call the “Pine Curtain” — has 437 businesses that raise some kind of environmental issue, EPA files show. They include an assortment of large and small industries, gas companies, filling stations and others.
And it has a big paper mill, Meadwestvaco Texas L.P., that reported to the EPA having 83,280 pounds of chlorine dioxide on site. It’s also one of Texas’ top toxic air polluters.
Jasper County Judge Allen said he’s heard no local calls for a county fire code since the West Fertilizer explosion. Perhaps the county wouldn’t adopt one even if it could, he said.
But he’s not happy that the state won’t let Jasper County decide.
“The state should allow that local government body to have that option,” he said.
A fire code would be an extra tool to keep the public safe by preventing risks before they occur. He called that the county’s top job. Nobody, including the state, should tell the county otherwise, he said.
“I’m pro-business,” Allen said. “I’m pro-economic development.
“But I’m also pro-public safety.”
AT A GLANCE
Among The News’ findings
State law forbids 173 of Texas’ 254 counties from adopting a fire code, based on population. Within those counties:
150 have no full-time fire departments.
137 have companies that use hazardous chemicals covered by a mandatory risk-management plan.
47 have companies that use chemicals the U.S. Department of Homeland Security considers risks for terrorist or criminal misuse.
26 have industries that rank among the top 100 toxic air polluters in Texas.
An undetermined number have chemicals that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says pose severe risks to workers and the public.
Five counties have all those risks at once: Calhoun, Fayette, Goliad, Jasper and Robertson.
The Federal Aviation Administration says the helicopter crashed late Friday night in southwest Missouri after taking off from the Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland. FAA regional spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory says both people on board died in the crash. She says the wreckage was found early Saturday.
The identities of the victims have not been released.
The helicopter was registered to Lucas Oil, which declined comment Saturday. source-komu
Virginia Couple Outraged, Walmart Security Accused White Dad of Kidnapping Biracial Daughters www.privateofficer.com
Prince William County VA May 25 2013 Joseph and Keana, an interracial couple from Virginia, are already used to getting stares from other people. However, they were shocked and outraged when a police officer suddenly appeared at their doorstep to investigate if the three biracial children were theirs as a response to Walmart security’s concern that they may have been kidnapped.
The couple has been married for 10 years now and they were blessed with a 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old twin girls. Joseph, who did not want to reveal his last name, took his girls to the Walmart store close to their Prince County home.
He was there to cash a check and then spent some time in the parking lot. A concerned security staff reported to the Prince William County Sheriff’s Department that a white male appears to have kidnapped the three biracial girls.
“He asks us very sincerely, ‘Hey, I was sent here by Walmart security. I just need to make sure that the children that you have are your own,’” Joseph shared. His wife Keana interjected and said she was dumbfounded.
“He took my ID and asked my 4-year-old to point out who her mother and father were. I sat there for a minute and I thought, ‘Did he just ask us if these were our kids knowing what we went through to have our children?’” Keana revealed.
After clarifying the issue with the police officer, the outraged couple called the Walmart store asking for a good explanation. However, Walmart denied that it was their security staff who contacted the police but it was a customer.
According to Keana, the customer was alarmed after seeing Joseph with the three girls. “Well, the customer was concerned because they saw the children with your husband and he didn’t think that they fit,” Keana told the news station Fox5DC.
“And I said, ‘What do you mean by they don’t fit?’ And I was trying to get her to say it. And she says, ‘Well, they just don’t match up,’” Keana further added. Walmart has issued a statement to the TV news station assuring that they are looking into the situation. Regardless, the couple decided that they will begin to boycott the Walmart store.
Even though the US state Virginia leads the percentage of black and white marriages, Joseph and Keana are still one of the many interracial couples who become a topic under discussion on racial prejudice. The couple disclosed their story to increase awareness on the issue.
Palm Beach Gardens Man Sentenced for Committing Five Bank Robberies During 2012 Holiday Season www.privateofficer.com
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Miami Fla May 22 2013 Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced today’s sentencing of Crispian Carl Sprague, 38, formerly of Palm Beach Gardens. U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra sentenced Sprague to 66 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for five bank robberies he committed between November 21, 2012 and January 3, 2013. Judge Marra also ordered Sprague to pay $11,620 in restitution.
As Sprague admitted in his guilty plea, on the day before Thanksgiving, November 21, 2012, Sprague robbed the BB&T Bank in Palm Beach Gardens. Sprague approached a teller and handed her a note that demanded money and implied that he had a weapon. The teller handed Sprague the money. A few days later, on December 4, 2012, Sprague robbed the JP Morgan Chase Bank in Palm Beach Gardens. During this robbery, Sprague approached a teller and handed her a note that read: “This is a robbery open your drawer[.] Give me all your 100s and 50’s[.] Nobody will be hurt[.] I am armed[.]” The teller handed Sprague the money. On December 20, 2012, Sprague robbed the JP Morgan Chase Bank in Jupiter, Florida. Sprague handed the teller a note that demanded money and stated that he was armed. Again, the teller complied and handed Sprague some money. On Christmas Eve, Sprague robbed the JP Morgan Chase Bank in Lake Worth, Florida. Sprague handed the teller a note demanding money and stating that he was armed. The teller complied and gave Sprague the money. On January 3, 2013, Sprague entered the TD Bank in Juno Beach, Florida. Sprague entered the bank, approached the teller, and handed the teller a note that stated: “This is a robbery[.] No dye packs no alarms[.] 100s, 50s, 20s only[.] I am armed[.]” The teller gave Sprague bank-owned funds.
On January 8, 2013, the note used by Sprague during the January 3, 2013 TD Bank robbery was processed by a CSI/Certified Latent Fingerprint Examiner and a partial print was located on the top area of the note. The fingerprint was subsequently positively identified as that of Crispian Carl Sprague. On January 10, 2013, Sprague was arrested at his residence.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. Mr. Ferrer also thanked the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, West Palm Beach Police Department, Juno Beach Police Department, and Palm Beach Gardens Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Marie Villafaña.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
According to neighbors, at least two other local homes have been targeted by robbers recently. The latest incident happened a week ago when burglars kicked in the door on a nearby house. Craig Gaddis, who told the paper that he owns several handguns, said he and his neighbors are certain that the home invasions are related. ‘What happened today is exactly what guns are supposed to do – to protect your home and defend your life and your family,’ Gaddis said. Police say the homeowner who shot the burglary suspect will not be face charges. Texas has a self-defense law based on the ‘castle doctrine.’ The legislation has a ‘stand your ground’ clause, meaning the person using physical or deadly force against an attacker does not have a duty to retreat. Deadly force is permissible under the law when a person is attempting to defend himself from an armed attacker in his home.
FBI Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES CA May 21 2013 —Three Los Angeles men have been charged federally for their roles in a bank robbery that occurred in Los Angeles, California, on September 5, 2012, in which a bank employee was outfitted with a hoax explosive device, announced United States Attorney in Los Angeles, Andrė Birotte, Jr.; FBI Assistant Director in Charge Bill Lewis; and Huntington Park Police Chief Jorge Cisneros.
On April 25, 2013, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles returned an indictment filed under seal charging Reyes “Ray” Vega, Richard Menchaca, and Bryan Perez with conspiracy to commit bank robbery, bank robbery, and aiding and abetting each other by force, violence, and intimidation. The indictment was unsealed this morning.
The three defendants were arrested during the evening on Friday, May 17. Ray Vega, 34, was taken into custody by FBI Agents in Atlanta, Georgia, and was held in federal custody over the weekend. Richard Menchaca, 36, was arrested in Fontana, California, by members of the FBI’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team. Bryan Perez, 27, was arrested following a vehicle stop in Los Angeles by detectives with the Huntington Park Police Department. Menchaca and Perez were held at the Huntington Park Police Department over the weekend and were transferred to federal custody this morning. All three are scheduled to have an appearance today in United States District Court. Menchaca and Perez will appear in Los Angeles and Vega, in Atlanta.
The indictment alleges that Ray Vega planned and made arrangements to rob the Bank of America located at 941 South Atlantic Avenue in Los Angeles, where one of his girlfriends worked as an assistant branch manager. The girlfriend is identified in the indictment only by the initials “A.B.”
The indictment alleges that defendants Perez and Menchaca traveled to examine the bank and surrounding area prior to the actual robbery and that defendant Vega secured vehicles registered to a family member for use during the robbery. The indictment further alleges that, on the morning of the robbery and during it, Vega arranged for A.B. to wear a device resembling an explosive on her person so that she would appear to be a hostage. The device was rendered safe by explosives experts who responded to the bank robbery and later determined that the device was a hoax. According to the indictment, the purported device was used so it would appear that explosives would be detonated unless an employee of the bank assisted A.B. by accessing the bank’s vault.
The indictment alleges that defendant Menchaca picked up the cash placed outside the bank by A.B. The defendants later met at a hotel to split the proceeds of the bank robbery, according to the indictment. The stolen money has not been recovered.
If convicted of the charges in the indictment, the defendants face a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison.
Law enforcement investigators believe there is a strong possibility that additional individual/s have knowledge of the bank robbery and/or the whereabouts of the stolen cash. This investigation, therefore, remains active.
Anyone with information about the planning and execution of the September 5 bank robbery or the whereabouts of the money stolen during the bank robbery is urged to contact the joint investigative team at 1 888 CANT HIDE (or 1 888 226-8443). Bank of America officials are offering a reward of up to $10,000 in exchange for information leading to the arrest and conviction of additional person/s responsible for this crime.
This matter is the subject of a continuing investigation by detectives with the Huntington Park Police Department and agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Explosives experts with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department assisted during the response to the bank robbery. The defendants will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles
HOUSTON TX May 20 2013 – A man wanted in connection with the slaying of a rural route postal carrier was taken into custody Sunday morning by postal inspectors and Texas Rangers, police said.
Investigators said that James Wayne Ham, 36, was found in a vacant house located near his home in San Jacinto County. Postal inspectors said Ham is considered the lead suspect in the murder of U.S. Postal carrier Marie Youngblood, 52, whose body was found at 10 p.m. Friday on Morris near Harrell, right outside of Coldspring.
Investigators think Youngblood was shot somewhere else and driven to where her Jeep Cherokee was set on fire.
Law enforcement agents from around the country have been looking for Ham since Friday night. Federal agents are pointing fingers at Ham, because they say he was complaining to postmasters about not getting his mail delivered properly.
Inspectors said the last time a postal worker was killed in Texas was about 30 years ago.