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Wednesday
Feb142018

What we know so far about the Florida school shooting suspect

iStock/Thinkstock(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- Authorities are scouring social media for clues to why Nikolas Cruz allegedly opened fire outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. on Wednesday, killing 17 people.
According to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, investigators have already found some “disturbing” content that could have provided warning signs.

“We have already begun to dissect his websites and things on social media that he was on, and some of the things that have come to mind are very, very disturbing,” Israel said.

Cruz, 19, was a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas who was expelled, according to Israel, for unspecified disciplinary reasons.

An ex-classmate and former teacher told ABC News that before Cruz was expelled from the school he was barred from carrying a backpack on campus. The classmate said the rule was put in place after the school found bullet fragments in his bag after a fight with another student.

Israel said Cruz entered the school on Wednesday afternoon with one AR-15 rifle and multiple magazines. The victims — 12 within the building, two outside the building, one on a nearby road and two who succumbed to injuries at the hospital — included both students and teachers.

He was able to leave the school after the shooting by blending in with other students who were trying to escape, but he was apprehended shortly thereafter.

There is still no clear motive for the shooting, but a portrait of the suspect is starting to emerge.

A family member of the suspect told ABC News that Cruz was adopted as an infant by Roger and Lynda Cruz, both of whom are now deceased. His adopted mother died just last year.

A student who told ABC News that he participated in Junior ROTC with Cruz described him as a “psycho.” Cruz was a well-known weapons enthusiast, the student said, who once tried to sell knives to a classmate and was even prohibited from bringing a backpack to school because bullet fragments had once been discovered in his bag.



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Wednesday
Feb142018

Alleged gunman threatened to 'shoot up' Florida school last year, classmate claims

iStock/Thinkstock(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- A classmate of suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz, who allegedly went on a shooting spree Wednesday killing at least 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, claims that Cruz threatened last year to "shoot up" the school.

"About a year ago I saw him upset in the morning," student Brent Black told ABC News. "And I was like, 'yo what’s wrong with you?' And he was like 'umm, don’t know.' And I was like 'what’s up with you?' He's like 'I swear to God I'll shoot up this school.' And then I was like 'watch what you’re saying around me,' and then I just left him after that. He came up to me later on the day and apologized for what he said."

Meanwhile, another student told WJXT that his classmates had "joked" that Cruz would indeed one day unleash a reign of terror and bullets upon Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

"Honestly, a lot of people were saying it was going to be him," the student, who did not provide his name, told WJXT. "A lot of kids joked around like that, saying he would be the one to shoot up the school. But it turns out everyone predicted it. That's it."

The student also said that Cruz would have known the layout of the Parkland, Florida, school and its schedule. "He was on the third floor," the student said. "He knows the school layout. He knows where everyone would be at right now. He's been in fire drills. He's prepared for this stuff."

And a math teacher at the school Jim Gard, told ABC News he believes Cruz had been banned from bringing a backpack to school when he was a student there.

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Wednesday
Feb142018

5 killed in fiery crash involving oil rig, stolen car on Long Island, NY

WABC(NEW YORK) -- Five people were killed in a multi-vehicle crash on Long Island, New York Wednesday morning, officials said.

The four-car pileup included an oil truck and stolen car on a major road in Ridge, New York, after 11:20 a.m., ABC New York station WABC reported.

One person in the stolen car was killed, and the other person in that car was injured, police said.

The remaining four who were killed were all in the same car, which burst into flames upon impact, according to WABC. The driver of the oil tank was injured as well.

There was no police pursuit that led up to the crash, WABC reported.

Middle County Road -- or Route 25 -- was closed in both directions after the crash.

Further details on the crash were not immediately available.

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Wednesday
Feb142018

Student describes Florida shooting: 'There were bullet holes everywhere'

iStock/Thinkstock(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- Just before wrapping up his final class of the day, student Matthew Walker heard the sound of rapid gunfire outside his classroom at Stoneman Douglas High School.

"He was shooting through the glass in the door," Walker told ABC News of gunman who turned his campus in Parkland, Florida, into the latest school mass shooting scene in America.

"It was really bad," said Matthew. "There were bullet holes everywhere. Everyone was freaking out. I did not see the shooter, but he did shoot through my class. He couldn't get inside because the door was locked."Matthew shared a video he took inside the classroom during the barrage of gunfire, in which students could be heard screaming, one yelling "Oh, my God!" as gunshots sounded in the background. Matthew said he 10 to 12 shots were fired into his classroom before the shooter moved on to other classrooms.

"He was just going from class to class, just shooting at random kids," Matthew said. "When the police were escorting me out of the building, there was a dead guy ... on the floor next to me. I'm blessed to be alive."

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel called the shooting, a "horrific, homicidal, detestable act" committed by a former student at the school, who was arrested near the campus.

Michael Katz, 15, told ABC news he heard a loud bang at 2:20 p.m. from what he initially thought was a garbage truck.

"It was really loud. Then I heard it again," Michael, a freshman at the school, told ABC News. "Then I heard frantic screaming. I've never heard such loud screams in my life. Then we realized there was a shooting at my school."

He said his English teacher, Ms. Lyons, already had the classroom door locked, and was signaling with her hands for everyone to get down on the ground and stay silent. He said he heard a barrage of gunshots coming in such a rapid succession he couldn't count them all.

"Then I head more and more shots, and I heard banging next door," Michael said. "My first instinct was to text my mom and dad and tell them that I loved them in case I was killed. Then I called 911. I just said there's an active shooter at Stoneman Douglass and hung up because I heard footsteps coming back toward our classroom."

He said several of the roughly 20 students in the class started to cry and other student were trying to calm them down, telling them that everything was going to be fine.

Michael said that after about four or five minutes, the gunfire subsided. He said he heard the sound of police yelling in the halls and banging on his door.

"My teacher didn't want to open the door at first, then we heard them say, 'Police, open up!'" he said.

When the door flung open officers were swarming the hallway, he said. He said he and his classmates formed a single line, put their hands in the air and filed out.

"We moved in a single line, then lying around the wall from my room there were two dead bodies on the ground," he said. "There was a boy and a girl. They were both extremely pale and bleeding."

As he made his way to the exit, he said, "I saw one student walking with blood on his face. There was blood and glass all over the floor."

Once outside, he said, he and his classmates sprinted across the street with their hands still in the air.

He said his father, a former police officer, was waiting for him outside the school.

"I heard my dad say, 'Look over here,' and I just sprinted to the car and jumped in," Michael said.

Michael said the thought of dying crossed his mind as he was sitting under his desk in the classroom.

"I feel total shock, confusion," Michael said from the safety of his home. "I've never been more scared in my life."

Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie said there were "numerous fatalities" and the Broward County Sheriff's Department said at least 14 victims were transported to local hospitals.

Another student, Alexandra Robinson, told ABC News from her home that she was confused when she heard the fire alarm because they had already practiced a drill this morning. The principal voice then came over the intercom and ordered students to evacuate.

Alexandra said she thought it was a fire until she heard “two pops,” but she wasn’t able to gauge how close they were to her. She and two of her friends then ran “for their lives.”

At one point, they stopped running, and a security guard instructed them to keep going.

“That’s when I knew this was, like, a real shooting thing,” Alexandra said.

She and her two friends ran to a Walmart store near their school, which took about 10 minutes – five to get off of the sprawling campus, and another five to reach the store.



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Wednesday
Feb142018

Advocacy group highlights 18 cases of gunfire at US schools so far this year

iStock/Thinkstock(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- There have been 18 at schools in the first 45 days of 2018, according to a nonprofit group.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group, had recorded 17 school shootings on their website prior to Wednesday afternoon's shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Everytown defines a school shooting as "any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds, as documented by the press and, when necessary, confirmed through further inquiries with law enforcement or school officials," according to its website.

Their statistic has come into question by some new organizations including The Washington Post, which say that the number has been “inflated” by including shootings and gunfire on school grounds that, for instance, did not include attacks on students.

Wednesday's shooting marks the first of the year in Florida. There were three shootings at different schools in Texas, two in different California schools and two in different Michigan schools, according to Everytown's data. There are 10 other states that had at least one shooting.

In eight of the 17 school shootings recorded by Everytown prior to Wednesday, a gun was fired but no one was injured.

Two of the shootings were classified as being attempted or completed suicides with no intent to injure another person.

The Gun Violence Archive, which tracks reports of mass shootings -- defined as incidents where four or more people are shot, not including the shooter -- reports there have been 30 mass shooting incidents so far in 2018, including today's in Florida.

Schools have been some of the deadliest sites for shootings in the past.

The third deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history was at Virginia Tech University in 2007, when 32 people were killed, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which is tied for the fourth-highest casualty shooting, led to 26 deaths.

Broward County Public Schools superintendent Robert Runcie said that there were "numerous" fatalities in Wednesday’s shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School.

According to Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and current ABC News consultant, most school shootings last for about five minutes or less.

It takes much longer to clear the scene, however, since responding law enforcement officers need to methodically go through, room by room, to both secure and de-arm the shooter and to help students and faculty at the school, Garrett explained.

Former New York Police Department commissioner Ray Kelly said that bullying could be a possible factor in today's shooting, though the motive has not been confirmed.

"We've seen it in so many cases," said Kelly, who is now an ABC News consultant.

"We don't know for sure but I'm pretty sure there's an element of that here," he said, noting that the bullying could be "real or perceived."

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Wednesday
Feb142018

'We're safe mom, you stay away': Worried parents wait for students amid shooting situation at South Florida high school

iStock/Thinkstock(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- The mom of one of the students at a South Florida high school where a shooting took place Wednesday afternoon said her daughter texted her, telling her to stay away from the school.

The Stoneman Douglas High School student, named Crystal, texted her mother at the start of the shooting while still inside the school, telling her that she heard the gunshots and that she was scared.

"We're safe mom, you stay away," Crystal texted, according to her mother, who rushed to the school from the nail salon, where she saw the news break on television.

Crystal told her mother that she couldn't speak to her over the phone because teachers were instructing them to be quiet. Crystal also texted that she didn't want to go to school the next day.

"I said, 'Don't worry about it,'" the worried mother told ABC Miami affiliate WPLG.

Another mother said she told her son, freshman Dubby Johnson, to run after he called her in a panic, telling her, "There's a shooting at school!"

"It's the scariest thing ever for your son to call you and say there's a shooting in school," she told WLPG.

Dubby said he was outside the school when he heard two gunshots. He then saw a crowd of people running in his direction before teachers came out and instructed them to run as well.

"As soon as I saw a whole bunch of people running, I got scared," Dubby said.

Some of the students sought refuge at a Walmart near the school, but Dubby's mother said she couldn't get there at first.

"I think I'm gonna hold him a little tighter tonight," she said.

A grandmother who was visiting from New York cried as she told reporters that they couldn't get ahold of her granddaughter, a senior at the school. The grandmother said that a student close to her granddaughter was shot at the school.

One mother said her freshman daughter was locked down in the auditorium.

"She's texting back, thank god," she said of her daughter. "I'll be relieved when she comes out and I can give her a hug."

One shaking mother told WPLG that her daughter said she was OK, huddled in a locked classroom.

"She's terrified," the mother said. "She said she heard the gunshot."

"I'm glad that she's able to text," she added.

At least 14 people were taken to local hospitals, officials said. The extent of their injuries was unclear.

More than 3,000 people attend the school.

Video showed students running, some with backups on, with their hands up away from the school.

The suspected shooter was taken into custody, officials said.

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Wednesday
Feb142018

Los Angeles dentist arrested months after allegedly strangling mother to death for money

Daniel Yacobi/Facebook(LOS ANGELES) -- A Los Angeles dentist has been arrested months after he allegedly strangled his mother to death for financial gain, the Beverly Hills Police said.

The son had written in a Facebook post after her death, "Mom I love you and miss you dearly. No words can express what you mean to me."

The alleged crime dates back to Oct. 10, 2017, when a man and woman called 911 after finding their mother, 67-year-old Violet Yacobi, unconscious and not breathing inside her Beverly Hills home, the Beverly Hills Police Department said. The adult daughter and son – Daniel Yacobi -- had gone to the home to check on their mother after they weren't able to reach her, police said.

Violet Yacobi was pronounced dead at the scene and her death was ruled a homicide by strangulation, police said.

Physical, digital and other evidence led detectives to believe the victim's son, Daniel Yacobi, killed her for financial gain, police said.

Yacobi, 36, was arrested Monday and has been charged with one count of murder with a special circumstance allegation of murder for financial gain. He is set to appear at an arraignment today.

The alleged strangulation took place within 24 hours or so of the 911 call, Beverly Hills police spokeswoman Lt. Elisabeth Albanese told ABC News today.

Killings are "very uncommon" in Beverly Hills, Albanese said, adding one or two per year at the most and typically involve family members.

The most recent was in 2014 or 2015, she added.

The suspect, who is a dentist, last year posted a photo to Facebook of his smiling next to "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" actor Alfonso Ribeiro, writing that Riberio "came by the office today to get some work done" and is "leaving with a smile on his face."

In a January Facebook post marking his mother's birthday, Daniel Yacobi wrote, "Not a day goes by that I think about her. She was an amazing mom who wanted nothing more than to see her children and loved ones happy around her and would do all in her power to achieve it."

"She had an everlasting presence that made those around her feel comfortable and joyous seeking her companionship and love. Her unrelenting and everlasting love held our family together to give us strength necessary to endure moments of struggle and consternation allowing us to grow and blossom," he wrote. "I will never forget the hockey games and the trips around the world we shared together. She always shared a positive outlook on the world around even at the darkest hours and provided us with unique tools and the right mindset overcome any obstacle in our path.

"Mom I love you and miss you dearly," he wrote. "No words can express what you mean to me and I know you and Dad are up there smiling down upon us now. Love you dearly!"

Anyone with information is asked to call the Beverly Hills Police at (310) 285-2158.

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Wednesday
Feb142018

Woman accused of swindling people she met online out of $375,000

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Nebraska woman is accused of swindling people she met on dating websites and online fish forums out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Julie Cahlaway, 38, sought out men on dating websites for women seeking affluent men and online forums for exotic fish enthusiasts, and convinced them she was suffering from medical and legal issues, Lt. William Rinn with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department told ABC News

Cahlaway targeted a “lonely and recently divorced” man and “solicited funds of sympathy” from him and his mother, according to an affidavit obtained by ABC News. She even showed the man and his mother ultrasound pictures to convince them she was pregnant, the affidavit states.

She stole nearly $280,000 from the pair, including $75,000 she told them she would invest for them in oil, according to the affidavit. Instead, Rinn said, she used that money to buy herself a BMW X5 in cash the same day.

Cahlaway is being held without bond on two felony theft by deception charges.

“She has the same MO with everyone she deals with. She feigns or exaggerates medical problems and gets people to loan or give her money with promises to repay or invest it,” Rinn said. “Of course she never repays because she spends it on personal shopping, cars and shoes.”

The man and his mother got suspicious and tipped off investigators to Cahlaway’s apparent scam in December.

Court documents state that Cahlaway also stole money from other people, totaling $375,000, which she used to bankroll her personal shopping habit and her business of brokering exotic fish sales.

Cahlaway had been convicted on similar charges in Minnesota and Illinois and was on “high risk” probation from Illinois when this alleged scam occurred, Rinn said.

A preliminary hearing will likely be scheduled next month, according to the Douglas County Attorney’s office. It's unclear if Cahlaway has obtained a lawyer.

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Wednesday
Feb142018

Judge to decide if New Hampshire Powerball-winning woman can remain anonymous

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NASHUA, N.H.) -- One woman wants New Hampshire to give her a $560 million mulligan.

The lawyers for the winner of last month's massive Powerball jackpot faced a judge Tuesday, making the case she is just a humble, working New Hampshire woman who didn't realize that when she endorsed her winning ticket, by state law she forfeited her rights to remain anonymous.

Through her attorneys, the winner is hoping to compel a judge at the Hillsborough Superior Court in Nashua to let her "white out" her signature on the ticket and write over it her newly minted trust: Good Karma Family Trust.

The unidentified woman's attorneys were in court pressing their case after filing an injunction in court to "maintain her privacy."

"The ticket and the prize sits in limbo pending this court's ruling," her attorney Steven Gordon said in court on Tuesday.

After the hearing, her other attorney, William Shaheen, explained that the woman has already suffered an "unreal" amount of stress with people's hands out, even despite her managing to remain an unknown since winning the historic Jan. 6 drawing.

"A lot of people thinks it’s just glitter," Sheehan said. "There’s a lot of stress involved. A lot of people ask for things."

The attorney also said that the frustration was evident when the winner learned she could have waited to sign the ticket and collect the cash through a trust.

"She was very upset," Sheehan said. "She didn’t know that she lost her right of anonymity by signing the ticket."

This was a far cry from the "awe" and "disbelief" she experienced learning she had won, according to the injunction court document.

Sheehan suggested that the lottery should have better language on the back to warn winners about their options.

"The back of the ticket could have said that, 'You sign the ticket, you lose your anonymity.' That’s a phrase, but it's not there," he said.

But Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery, doesn't believe outside of their urging winners claiming lottery prizes to "seek legal advice" and touting the lottery's website which reads: "You may wish to seek legal or financial advice, for we do not offer such services."

"It’s on our website and the back of the ticket references our website. And we think it’s a fair process," he said outside court.

Deputy Attorney General of New Hampshire John Conforti also drew a hard line in the legal sand.

"We feel that our obligation under the law is to disclose this information," he said. "We don’t feel we can choose when we follow the law and when we don’t."

Under New Hampshire law, the winning lottery player's name, town and prize amount are public information and the state lottery commission in a petition, confirmed it would be compelled to out the winner's identity if a "Right to Know" request was filed.

The winner, according to the complaint, printed her name, address, city and phone number, and signed the back of the ticket.

It was only when she "secured the ticket in a safe place" that she reached out to an attorney that she learned she "could have maintained her privacy" by signing the ticket with a trustee instead of her own name and "that by signing the ticket her privacy was forever lost."

To reverse what the injunction refers to as "a huge mistake" and to stop bleeding thousands of dollars in interest every day she doesn't come forward to collect, the winner wants a second chance.

"Time is of the essence," the complaint states.

"In the alternative," the complaint states, the winner "requests she be allowed in the presence of the Commission -- to white out her name, address, phone and signature and replace the information with that of the trust."

But McIntyre remains stern that there is no way to go back in time.

"I don't have discretion," McIntyre explained. "This is a public document. Her name is on the back of it. I cannot, by law, alter it."

The decision now rests with the judge.

And perhaps to help coax him to let her get a do-over, the winner has stated her intent to give much of her winnings to charity, but doesn't wish to do so at the cost of losing her autonomy.

"She wishes to remain in New Hampshire and give back to the State and community that has given so much to her. ... She wishes to be a silent witness to these good works, far from the glare and misfortune that has often fallen upon other lottery 'winners.'"

Indeed, the complaint documents a series of winners who have been "victims of violence, threats, harassments, scams and constant unwanted solicitation."

"There are countless stories of the other winners who have suffered significantly after receiving their money, many of which could have been avoided if the winners' identities had not been published," the complaint states.



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Wednesday
Feb142018

National Security Agency investigates reports of shooting near its headquarters 

ABC News(FORT MEADE, Md.) -- Shots were fired Wednesday morning as an unauthorized vehicle tried entering the secure campus of the National Security Agency (NSA)'s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, authorities said.

The incident happened shortly after 7 a.m. ET, and "weapons were discharged in the course of the incident, which remained under investigation at this time," NSA spokesman Tommy Groves said in a statement.

Several people were transported to a hospital, Groves said, but preliminary reports indicate their injuries were not from gunfire.

"The situation is under control, and there is no ongoing security or safety threat," Groves added. "The FBI is presently leading the investigation."

Injuries associated with Wednesday morning's incident were vehicle-related, sources told ABC News.

An earlier statement from the NSA said the agency's police and law enforcement were "addressing an incident that took place this morning at one of NSA’s secure vehicle entry gates."

An FBI official confirmed that agents responded to reports of a shooting near the NSA's headquarters.

FBI agents were on the scene, and the agency's Evidence Response Team Unit from the Baltimore field office has responded to the incident, working in collaboration with NSA police, sources told ABC News.

There is no terrorism associated with the incident, which remains under investigation, a law enforcement source told ABC News.

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(FORT MEADE, Md.) -- Shots were fired Wednesday morning as an unauthorized vehicle tried entering the secure campus of the National Security Agency (NSA)'s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, authorities said.

The incident happened shortly after 7 a.m. ET, and "weapons were discharged in the course of the incident, which remained under investigation at this time," NSA spokesman Tommy Groves said in a statement.

Several people were transported to a hospital, Groves said, but preliminary reports indicate their injuries were not from gunfire.

"The situation is under control, and there is no ongoing security or safety threat," Groves added. "The FBI is presently leading the investigation."

Injuries associated with Wednesday morning's incident were vehicle-related, sources told ABC News.

An earlier statement from the NSA said the agency's police and law enforcement were "addressing an incident that took place this morning at one of NSA’s secure vehicle entry gates."

An FBI official confirmed that agents responded to reports of a shooting near the NSA's headquarters.


FBI agents were on the scene, and the agency's Evidence Response Team Unit from the Baltimore field office has responded to the incident, working in collaboration with NSA police, sources told ABC News.

There's no terrorism associated with the incident, which remains under investigation, a law enforcement source told ABC News.



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