SEARCH

Wednesday
Aug162017

911 calls reveal Charlottesville car crash suspect allegedly abused mother

MattGush/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New and disturbing information has been released about James Alex Fields Jr., the man who allegedly drove into a group protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville,
Virginia, Saturday, killing a woman and injuring several others.

ABC News has obtained transcripts of three 911 calls from 2010 and 2011, in which Fields was accused of terrorizing his mother, Samantha Bloom, who requires the use of a wheelchair.

In one call, according to dispatcher reports, Bloom told police that Fields "smacked [her] in the head" and "put his hands over her mouth."

Bloom had made the call after locking herself in the bathroom.

In another call, according to dispatcher reports, Fields allegedly stood behind Bloom with a 12-inch knife and "scared mom to death not knowing if he was going to do something."

Fields is charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count related to leaving the scene in connection with this weekend's violence.

Fields was denied bail Monday and his next scheduled court hearing is Aug. 25.

His appointed attorney did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

Officials break ground on new park honoring the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombing

SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Officials broke ground in Boston Wednesday for a new park dedicated to Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Martin was 8 years old when he killed on April 15, 2013, as he watched the marathon from near the finish line with his family. His mother was gravely injured, and his sister, who was 7 at the time,
lost a leg.

Photos from Wednesday's ceremonial groundbreaking show children in hard hats using shovels to dig dirt. Martin's Park, located next to the Boston Children's Museum at the Smith Family Waterfront,
is expected to open in the fall of 2018, according to a press release from the office of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

"This park will bring light & hope to that darkness, honoring his memory & allowing kids to be kids," Baker wrote on Twitter.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wrote on Twitter that the park will remind its visitors of "hope, compassion & love."

"Martin's spirit will always live on in Boston & in Martin's Park," Walsh wrote.

Both Baker and Walsh spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, as well as Martin's family.

Martin's sister, Jane Richard, said she knows that her brother is happy that the community is coming together.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

Missouri police poke fun at 'jorts-wearing bandit' who robs Walgreens stores

mokee81/iStock/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- Someone call the fashion police.

Missouri police poked fun at a "jorts-wearing bandit" who has burglarized multiple Walgreens stores in the St. Louis County area.

On Aug. 9, the St. Louis County Police Department tweeted a photo of the suspect, instructing the public to contact either them or the fashion police if they are able to identify the man.

On Monday, the police department tweeted that the man in the questionable garb was at it again.

"The jorts-wearing bandit is back," police wrote. "His disregard for the laugh is as offensive as his disregard for fashion trends."

In both instances, the man is seen wearing a baseball cap, short-sleeved shirt and "jorts," which are shorts made of denim.

It is unclear how many stores the unstylish suspect has robbed.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

University of Florida denies white nationalist's request to speak on campus

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) -- White nationalist Richard Spencer has been denied a request to rent space at the University of Florida to give a speech next month, according to a school statement.

The "likelihood of violence and potential injury – not the words or ideas – has caused us to take this action" to deny Spencer's request for a Sept. 12 speaking engagement at the Gainesville
campus, the school president W. Kent Fuchs said in the statement released today.

The denial comes after an eruption of violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, another college town, where a white nationalist rally Spencer attended and promoted on social media
collapsed into chaos and resulted in the death of woman protesting the gathering that included white supremacists.

Spencer has said he is neither a racist nor a white supremacist, which is someone who believes that white people are superior to other races. Instead, under the label of “alt-right,” which Spencer
is credited with coining, white nationalists like him espouse “white separatist ideologies,” as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a legal advocacy organization that monitors
extremist groups.

But it’s difficult for many critics, including the SPLC, to make a distinction.

“The term alt-right is really nothing more than a re-branding of white supremacy for the digital age,” Southern Poverty Law Center president Richard Cohen told ABC News in December. “I don’t think
anybody should be fooled by what it is at its core and that is white supremacy.”

Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, which says it is a white nationalist organization “dedicated to the heritage, identity and future of people of European descent in the United

States,” has become a lightning rod for criticism since the election of Donald Trump.

A December 2016 event he held at Texas A&M was swarmed with protesters.

“We triggered the world,” Spencer told ABC News at the time. “I think it’s good to trigger people a little bit. When you get triggered it means that you’re shocked, you thought something that you
haven’t thought before. It means that you have an open mind and you can start to see the world differently.”

Fuchs, the University of Florida president, addressed Spencer's ideology directly in his statement.

"I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for," he wrote.

Spencer did not immediately respond today to ABC News’ request for comment.

He came to national attention when video surfaced of him at a Washington, D.C., conference in November shouting “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory,” as some members of the crowd raised
their hands in a Nazi salute.

Spencer said he yelled out “Hail Trump” in the “spirit of irony and exuberance.” He added that he saw the then-president-elect as someone who “sling-shotted our movement into fame.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

Charlottesville teachers sing 'Lean on Me' after violence

garytog/iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- More than 700 teachers and staff members from Charlottesville, Virginia, public schools broke into song Tuesday at a back-to-school convocation just days after protests
and deadly violence shook their city.

The school officials sang “Lean On Me” and held glow sticks to symbolize light coming from darkness during the convocation at the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center at Charlottesville
High School.

“It was emotional,” Rachel Wilson, a photography teacher at the high school who posted video of the moment on Facebook, told ABC News. “We’re all still kind of processing what happened here and
figuring out how to help our students process it and also continue on with what we need to do as educators.”

The convocation was planned before the protests at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville on Saturday, according to Beth Cheuk, the community relations liaison for Charlottesville City
Schools.

The tone of the event -- which was held on teachers’ first day back for the new school year -- was changed on Monday after a meeting among district officials and school principals.

“They were very emotional as they came together for the first time after the news [and] realized they needed an event where they could meet people where they were,” Cheuk told ABC News.

One woman was killed in the protests -- local resident Heather Heyer -- while two officers -- Virginia State Police Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M. M. Bates -- died in a helicopter
crash while responding to the violence. The three were honored at the convocation by a display of three heart shapes made out of glow sticks on seats in the auditorium.

Charlottesville City Schools will hold its first day of classes on Aug. 23.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

Total solar eclipse 2017: What is it and what will happen?

dreamnikon/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You've probably heard by now to watch out for a total solar eclipse in the United States on Aug. 21. But do you know exactly what it is and what will happen when it occurs?

Here's what you need to know:

What is a total solar eclipse?

To truly understand a total solar eclipse, you must be familiar with the different types of eclipses.

An eclipse is when one astronomical body, such as a moon or planet, moves into the shadow of another astronomical body. There are two types of eclipses on Earth: a lunar eclipse and a solar
eclipse.

A lunar eclipse occurs when Earth moves between the sun and the moon, with its shadow blocking the sunlight that causes the moon to shine. This can only occur when the moon is full, according to
NASA.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves between the sun and Earth, blocking the sunlight and casting a shadow onto Earth. There are four main types of solar eclipses: partial, annular, total and
hybrid, according to NASA.

A total solar eclipse is when the moon moves between the sun and Earth, lasting for up to about three hours from beginning to end.

Total solar eclipses occur once every 12 to 18 months while partial solar eclipses, when the moon blocks only part of the sun, occur more frequently, though visibility varies, according to NASA.

You must be in the path of totality to witness a total solar eclipse. The path of totality for the Aug. 21 eclipse is a 70-mile-wide ribbon that will arc across the continental United States from
west to east. This stretches from Lincoln Beach, Oregon, at 9:05 a.m. PDT to Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:48 p.m. EDT.

From there, the moon's shadow leaves the country at 4:09 EDT.

What happens during a total solar eclipse?

During a total solar eclipse, the lunar shadow will darken the sky and temperatures will drop while bright stars and planets will appear at a time that is normally broad daylight.

Retired NASA astrophysicist and photographer Fred Espenak said the experience usually lasts for just a couple minutes, but it's truly out of this world.

"It is unlike any other experience you've ever had," Espenak, popularly known as Mr. Eclipse, told ABC News. "It's a visceral experience; you feel it. The hair on your arms, on the back of your
neck, stand up. You get goosebumps.

"You have to be there," he added.

Espenak said the rare and striking astronomical event can last as long as seven minutes. For the Aug. 21 eclipse, NASA anticipates the longest period when the moon obscures the sun's entire surface
from any given location along its path will last about two minutes and 40 seconds.

Some animals may react strangely to the celestial phenomenon. Rick Schwartz, an animal behavior expert with the San Diego Zoo, said there have been observations of animals going to sleep during
total solar eclipses.

"The animals take the visual cues of the light dimming, and the temperature cues," Schwartz told ABC News.

"You hear the increase of bird calls and insects that you usually associate with nightfall," he added. "Farmers have said that the cows lay down on the field or the chickens go back into the coop."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

US military service chiefs condemn racism, stand up for military values after Charlottesville

zabelin/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The heads of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps have weighed in on Twitter in the wake of last weekend's violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, condemning racism and standing up for military values.

It is rare for the nation's top military leaders to weigh in on political events because of the Department of Defense's tradition of remaining apolitical.

Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, first posted on Saturday night, calling the events in Charlottesville "unacceptable" and saying the U.S. Navy "stands against intolerance and hatred."

Earlier that day, a woman was killed and several others were injured after a car rammed into demonstrators protesting against white nationalists. James Alex Fields Jr., 20, is charged with second-
degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count related to leaving the scene in the incident.

The Army confirmed Sunday evening that Fields had briefly attended Army basic training in 2015, but was released due to a failure to meet training standards.

Gen. Mark Milley, the Army's chief of staff, tweeted Wednesday morning, "The Army doesn't tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks. It's against our Values and everything we've stood for
since 1775."

Also weighing in was Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, who posted on social media Tuesday, shortly after it was reported that a leader of a white supremacist group -- whose
members marched in Charlottesville over the weekend -- was a former Marine recruiter.

Neller tweeted that there is "no place for racial hatred or extremism" in the Marines.

Former Staff Sgt. Dillon Hopper, the reported leader of the neo-Nazi group "Vanguard America," served in the Marine Corps for 11 years and completed two deployments, later becoming a recruiter.

The Marines issued a statement in response to Hopper's service, condemning hate and extremist groups.

"We are proud of the fact that Marines come from every race, creed, cultural background and walk of life," the statement said, adding, "The guidance to Marines is clear: participation in supremacist or extremist organizations or activities is a violation of Department of Defense/Marine Corps orders and will lead to mandatory processing for separation."

On Wednesday morning, Gen. Dave Goldfein, chief of staff for the Air Force, joined his fellow service chiefs, saying "we're always stronger together" and espousing Air Force values of "integrity,
service and excellence."

On Monday, Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters he was "very saddened" by the violence he saw in Charlottesville, but wouldn't comment further about the events of that weekend or
Fields' military service.

“I don't know the circumstances around this young man's four months,” he said in reference to Fields' short stint in Army basic training.

“I don't want to comment on it, but generally speaking we don't sign people up for four-month tours of duty. So, once the full reality is out, I'm sure you'll have an explanation how he came in and out, but I can't comment on it. Right now, I just haven't seen it," Mattis said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

Mother of woman killed in Charlottesville: 'This is just the beginning of Heather's legacy'

La_Corivo/iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- At a memorial service on Wednesday Heather Heyer, the woman killed Saturday when a car rammed into a crowd of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Heyer's mother was met with a standing ovation as she said, "They tried to kill my child to shut her up -- well, guess what -- you just magnified her."

"Although Heather was a caring, compassionate, person, so are a lot of you. A lot of you go that extra mile," Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, said to those at the memorial service. "And I think the
reason that what happened to Heather has struck a chord is because we know that what she did was achievable."

Heyer, 32, of Charlottesville, had dialogues on Facebook, her mother said, telling the mourners, "Conversations have to happen. That's the only way we're going to carry Heather's spark through.

"Find what's wrong, don't ignore it, don't look the other way," Bro said. "Say to yourself, 'What can I do to make a difference?' And that's how you're going to make my child's death worthwhile.

"I'd rather have my child, but by golly, if I have to give her up, we're going to make it count," Bro said to a round of applause.

"I want this to spread, I don't want this to die," she said. "This is just the beginning of Heather's legacy."

Heyer's memorial was held Wednesday morning at Charlottesville's Paramount Theater. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., were among the over 1,000 attendees.

"You never think you're going to bury your child," Bro said at the service, adding that a public memorial is what her daughter would have wanted.

She "had to have the world involved, because that's my child," Bro said. "Always has been."

Heyer's grandfather, Elwood Shrader, said at the service, "She showed her passion at an early age."

As a child, when Heyer would return home from school, she was animated as she explained her day, Shrader recounted. She would stand at the corner of the dining room table, waving her hands, almost
dancing as she went over a story, Shrader said.

Heyer wanted fairness and justice in her early years, he said, and "could call out something that didn't seem right to her." And even if she didn't agree with someone's viewpoint, she still wanted
to understand it, he said.

Heyer, who worked as a paralegal, had that desire for justice throughout her life, Shrader said, adding, "how ironic that she ended up in a law office."

"She realized we all need forgiveness and we all must extend forgiveness," he said. "As we think about her today, we're very proud of her."

Shrader also expressed his appreciation for the community's support at this time.

Heyer's father, Mark Heyer, gave an emotional speech, saying, "No father should have to do this."

"She wanted equality," he said, "and in this issue of the day of her passing, she wanted to put down hate. And for my part, we just need to stop all this stuff and just forgive each other.

"I came here today and I was overwhelmed," he said. "I was overwhelmed at the rainbow of colors in this room. That's how Heather was. It didn't matter who you were or where you were from. If she
loved you, that was it. You were stuck. So for that, I'm truly proud of my daughter. "

The Saturday crash that killed Heather Heyer took place at a Unite the Right rally spurred by Charlottesville's plan to remove a Confederate statue from a local park. The rally was attended by
neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members. They were met with hundreds of counterprotesters, which led to street brawls and violent clashes.

A driver plowed into counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring several others. The suspected driver is in custody, facing charges including second-degree murder.

Two Virginia State troopers helping with the response to the clashes also died that day in a helicopter crash.

The Paramount said friends and family attending the service were asked to wear purple, Heather Heyer's favorite color.

Heather Heyer's cousin, Diana Ratcliff, read a letter at the service she said she wished she could have shared with her.

Emotionally, Ratcliff read, "Did I ever tell you how much I loved you? Heather, when my children ask me who I admire most I will tell them you. My baby cousin, who is larger than life and too good
for this world.

"You will always be in our hearts," she added.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

Five missing after report of downed Army helicopter off Hawaii

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Responders are searching for five missing crewmen after receiving a report of a downed U.S. Army helicopter off the coast of Hawaii, the U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday.

The search was reported late-Tuesday night local time, about 2 miles west of Kaena Point, the westernmost tip of land on the island of Oahu.

Lt. Colonel Curtis Kellogg, a spokesman for the 25th Infantry Division, said two helicopters were taking part in a nighttime training mission off the shore of Kaena Point Tuesday night and, at 9:30 p.m., the second helicopter lost visual and radio contact with the first one.

The helicopter was reported down and a search-and-rescue mission was launched immediately, Kellogg said.

A debris field was spotted near Kaena Point at 11:28 p.m. local time Tuesday, the Coast Guard said.

Helicopter and boat crews are involved in the search, the Coast Guard said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

Confederate monuments taken down in Baltimore overnight

Win McNamee/Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- Four Confederate monuments were removed in Baltimore, Maryland overnight, days after Charlottesville, Virginia, became the center of a deadly clash over the planned removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.

The removed statues, according to ABC's Baltimore affiliate WMAR, included the monument of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas. J. “Stonewall” Jackson; the Confederate Women's Monument; the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument; and the monument of Roger B. Taney, who wrote the 1856 Supreme Court ruling that denied citizenship to African Americans.

Dozens of people cheered as the statues came down, WMAR reported.

According to The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said the removal process began Tuesday at 11:30 p.m. and was completed today at 5:30 a.m.

Pugh said at a news conference this morning, "I felt that the best way to remove the monuments was to remove them overnight."

She thought it was important to move quickly and quietly because of "the climate of this nation," she said.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement Tuesday that he is asking the State House Trust to remove the Justice Roger B. Taney statue from the State House grounds.

"As I said at my inauguration, Maryland has always been a state of middle temperament, which is a guiding principle of our administration. While we cannot hide from our history – nor should we – the time has come to make clear the difference between properly acknowledging our past and glorifying the darkest chapters of our history," Hogan said.

The removal of Baltimore's statues comes days after a protest in Charlottesville turned deadly.

White nationalists, neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members joined together in a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville to protest the removal of the Lee statue. Hundreds of counterprotesters also showed up, which led to street brawls and violent clashes.

A driver plowed into a group of people who were protesting the white nationalists, killing one and injuring many others. The suspected driver is in custody and facing charges.

Two Virginia State Troopers helping with the response to the clashes also died that day in a helicopter crash.

Beyond Baltimore, the violence in Charlottesville has put a new spotlight on Confederate monuments around the nation, and from California, to Kentucky, to New York, there are calls for some Confederate symbols to be removed.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







ABC News Radio