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Police searching for man accused of shooting girl, 4, in Akron

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 12:49

AKRON, Ohio — Authorities say a 4-year-old girl sitting in a car with young siblings and her grandmother in northeastern Ohio has been fatally shot and a suspect is being sought.

Police haven't identified the girl shot around 10:30 p.m. Friday in Akron. Police spokesman Lt. Rick Edwards says the shooting happened after the children's mother pulled in front of a home to retrieve belongings and broke windows when no one answered the door.

Edwards says a man stepped outside with a rifle and fired one shot at the car, striking the 4-year-old, who was sitting in the backseat. She was pronounced dead at an Akron hospital. The other children are girls ages 7, 6 and 3.

Edwards says a murder warrant has been issued for 31-year-old Darnell Bitting.

Anyone with information is asked to call 330-375-2490.

Categories: Ohio News

13 killed in helicopter crash after Mexican quake

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 09:30

MEXICO CITY — A military helicopter carrying officials assessing damage from a powerful earthquake crashed Friday in southern Mexico, killing 13 people and injuring 15, all of them on the ground.

The Oaxaca state prosecutor's office said in a statement that five women, four men, and three children were killed at the crash site and another person died later at the hospital.

A state government official who was not authorized to be quoted by name said the chopper crashed into a group of people who had been spending the night in an open field after a powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the area. Aftershocks had caused people to flee their homes for fear they would collapse.

The Defense Department said the Blackhawk helicopter suffered the mishap when it was preparing to land on a vacant lot in the city of Jamiltepec, about 19 miles from the area of Pinotepa Nacional. The craft was carrying Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete and Oaxaca Gov. Alejandro Murat, neither of whom had serious injuries.

The accident was the latest embarrassment in Navarrete's short-term at the Interior Department, which oversees most political and security issues. Earlier this month, an intelligence agent from an agency overseen by Navarrete's department was caught tailing an opposition presidential candidate.

Both Navarrete and the defense department said they regretted the loss of life in Friday's accident.

Jorge Morales, a local reporter who was aboard the helicopter when it crashed, described harrowing moments as the pilot lost control and the helicopter attempted to land in a swirl of dust.

"The moment the helicopter touched down it lost control, it slid-- like it skidded-- and it hit some vehicles that were stationed in the area," he told a Mexican television news program. "In that moment, you couldn't see anything, nothing else was heard besides the sound that iron makes when it scrapes the earth."

Navarrete and Murat were evaluating reports of damage from an earthquake that struck earlier Friday when their helicopter crashed.

The U.S. Geological Survey originally put the magnitude of Friday's quake at 7.5 but later lowered it to 7.2. It said the epicenter was 33 miles (53 kilometers) northeast of Pinotepa in southern Oaxaca state and had a depth of 15 miles (24 kilometers).

President Enrique Pena Nieto said via Twitter that both officials and crew were fine, although the interior department said that they had light injuries.

Categories: Ohio News

Tax deductions: Things you may be able to write off on your taxes

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 06:39

COLUMBUS, Ohio - There are several tax deductions that many Americans may qualify for but do not know they can write off.

Christina Rosebrough from Jackson Hewitt shared these deductions you may want to discuss with your tax preparer.

  • Safety deposit boxes
  • College credits
  • Moving expenses
  • Tax-preparation fees
  • Products and supplies new mothers purchased
  • Job-search expenses
  • Wedding venues (church or historical site)
  • Medical expenses (transportation expenses from medical needs, medical products/aids, gym memberships)
  • Traveling for business

There are also common tax deductions for people who are self-employed.

  • Cell phone
  • Home office
  • Travel Expenses
  • Car and Mileage Expenses
  • Fees, Dues and Subscriptions
  • Office Supplies
  • Health Insurance Premiums

Rosebrough explained the difference between tax credits and tax deductions.

  • Tax credits directly reduce your taxes due. Deductions, on the other hand, reduce the amount of your income that is taxable.
  • Tax payers are allowed to go back three years to amend a tax return. Jackson Hewitt will review their clients returns and determine if they have any missing credits or deductions. This means that a taxpayer could get additional money in refunds from previous years.
Categories: Ohio News

Mall of America stabber sentenced to 15 years for attack

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 05:25

MINNEAPOLIS — A 20-year-old Minneapolis man who said he was inspired by the Islamic State group has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for attacking two brothers at the Mall of America.

Mahad Abdirahman was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty earlier to two counts of first-degree assault for the November knife attack at the Bloomington mall.

The Star Tribune reports Abdirahman declined to speak when the judge gave him the opportunity. When he pleaded guilty last month, Abdirahman said he was inspired by the Islamic State group and "went to Mall of America to answer the call for Jihad" because he believed the United States was "at war with Islam."

Investigators say he attacked 19-year-old Alexander Sanchez and 25-year-old John Sanchez while shopping. The brothers suffered serious injuries.

Categories: Ohio News

Trio of suicide bombers kill 20 at crowded market in Nigeria

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 04:59

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — A trio of suicide bombers detonated at a crowded fish market in northern Nigeria, killing at least 20 people, police said Saturday.

Borno state police spokesman Joseph Kwaji confirmed the Friday night attack to The Associated Press. Hospital officials said two patients later died from their injuries.

The bombers, all believed to be female, left dozens wounded at the fish market in Konduga, just outside the state capital, Maiduguri. The city is the birthplace of the Boko Haram extremist insurgency and has been a frequent target.

Musa Bulama, 32, said he was lucky to have survived the blasts.

"I came to the night market to buy fish for dinner when I heard a loud bang some yards behind me and I saw myself on the ground, and before I could pick up myself another one went off then, the third one again," he recalled. "I couldn't stand any longer and just laid down but everywhere was in total confusion."

He added: "From the wailings, one can tell that there are many casualties."

Boko Haram continues to carry out deadly suicide bombings in Borno state and other parts of northern Nigeria as part of its violent campaign to establish an Islamic state in the West African nation.

The extremists have increasingly used women and youth as bombers, often after abducting and indoctrinating them.

Categories: Ohio News

NYC subways delayed by poodle on the tracks

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 04:45

NEW YORK -- It doesn't take much to slow down the New York subway system. On Friday afternoon, one bundle of fur stopped train service on a transit line between Brooklyn and Manhattan. The dog named Dakota has a face that will stop traffic – or at least the F train, CBS New York reports.

It was coming to the end of a long Friday for Hill when the alert went out that a poodle had escaped from her dog walker by the York Street subway station and was lost somewhere on the tracks.

"We heard Control come on the radio that there was a dog that was lost in the system, and everyone was basically on the lookout," MTA supervisor Sanya Hill told CBS New York.

A/C/F train riders, apologies for the delay- Dakota escaped from the dog park and- you guessed it- onto the tracks. Thank @MTA NYCT for the assist on the rescue, job well done by all, service back up & dog on the way to the vet for a minor injury- Appreciate everyone’s patience!

— NYPD Transit (@NYPDTransit) February 16, 2018

"I basically respond to any situation that's going on that I'm in the area for," she explained, adding she's never responded to a situation like this.

The MTA re-routed the F train for about an hour, while police officers scoured the tracks for Dakota. As Hill's train was pulling into the Bergen Street station, a passenger said she spotted the poodle.

"Control held back the train so I could safely go down to the roadbed and look for the dog," she said. "As I was walking down, I actually saw the dog cuddled underneath the platform looking very scared. So I pattered her – I was a little leery at first, I didn't want to get bitten."

Hill has worked for the MTA for more than a decade and said helping a passenger – whether on two feet or four – is all part of the job.

"She was very happy, she was excited that we found the dog and everything. She was in tears, which is a good thing," she said.

To top off the tale – it all happened on the Lunar New Year and the first day of the Year of the Dog.

Categories: Ohio News

Bodies of newborn babies found in suitcase, authorities say

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 04:35

WYNNE, Arkansas -- Authorities say the bodies of two newborn babies have been found in a suitcase along a road in northeast Arkansas. The infants appear to be twins, Detective Sargeant Jeffrey Nichols told CBS affiliate WREG.

The Cross County sheriff's office says the bodies were discovered Friday afternoon in a purple suitcase, which was on a ditch bank along a county road.

Officials say the investigation is ongoing and they are asking the public for any information regarding the identity of the infants or a suspect. The Sheriff's Office said the bodies are being sent to the state crime lab for autopsies, which should help investigators determine how the infants died and when, WREG reports.

It's still not clear if they died before or after they were placed in the suitcase.

Nichols told WREG his office has identified several persons of interest but did not elaborate.

News of the discovery struck a nerve with those who live in the area, WREG reports.

"When I left work this evening, I was shaken up. Like, I was in tears," Santia Wallace told WREG. "Here I am want to have kids and for you to, like, kill them? Like, who does that?"

"You could have taken him to the fire station, you know, something like that. You don't have to kill no kids," said Wallace.

"It's hard to comprehend. I mean, I wouldn't know why anybody would abandon two little babies like that," Walter Hill said.

Categories: Ohio News

Westerville community has "blue out" during basketball game for fallen officers

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 19:53

Westerville police officers made their way to Westerville South High School Friday night, where the community supported them once more.

Two rivals, one Westerville.

"This is a chance for our community to come together, not only the kids but the community as a whole," Jill Beck said.

You could see most of the crowd at the Westerville South basketball game wore the same color, blue.

"It's just a great feeling to see everybody in their blue, from the players to the coaches, to us," Jasmen Smoot said.

There's a reason behind it.

"Westerville is a great community and we value the people who take care of us so for us all to have on blue shows how much of a family we are," Jada Smoot said.

In between the Westerville South and Westerville Central girls and boys games, a special tribute was planned for the men and women in blue, who've had a tough week.

"To first honor these fallen police officers and their families but to help students with the healing process and help the community with the healing process," Westerville South High School Principal Mike Starner said.

It's community support that keeps showing up.

"It's phenomenal. This community is phenomenal," Beck said.

Neighbors say that support won't stop.

"It's a great thing, a great feeling. Everybody came together as one whole," Jada Smoot said.

Not even during a rival game, because this community says it best.

"Band together as Westerville strong as the hashtag says and begin to move forward," Starner said.

Money raised from donations and t-shirt sales will go to the families of Officer Joering and Officer Morelli.

Categories: Ohio News

Florida student survived shooting just as her grandfather did 70 years ago

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 19:04

A student who survived the shooting at a Florida school hid in a closet — just like her grandfather did to escape a 1949 shooting rampage in New Jersey.

Carly Novell tweeted a photo and said she hid in a closet just like her grandfather, Charles Cohen, did nearly 70 years ago when he was 12 and a gunman killed his family.

This is my grandpa. When he was 12 years old, he hid in a closet while his family was murdered during the first mass shooting in America. Almost 70 years later, I also hid in a closet from a murderer. These events shouldn't be repetitive. Something has to change. #douglasstrong

— carly (@car_nove) February 15, 2018

Howard Unruh gunned down 13 people, including Cohen's parents and paternal grandmother, during what was called his "Walk of Death" through Camden. Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, he spent the rest of his life in a state psychiatric hospital. He confessed to the killings but was never tried. He died in 2009.

Cohen's daughter, Lori Greenberg, tells the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill her father didn't like talking about the attack with his family.

"He wanted to live the rest of his life and not let this define him," Greenberg said. "But I think not talking about it and letting it be repressed is much worse."

She says her niece Carly met with counselors and is "doing OK" after Wednesday's shooting left 17 dead.

"She's a remarkable young lady, but this is hard on her," Greenberg said. "Carly did lose a friend. A friend of hers saw two people shot dead."

Novell told HuffPost that she didn't even learn about the Camden killings until after her grandfather died, also in 2009.

"But family was so incredibly important to him because of what happened," she said. "He wasn't as lucky as me."

Cohen told The Associated Press in 1999 that the killings haunted him.

"My memories don't dim," he told the AP. "Do you know how many times in 50 years I've relived that story? It could have been yesterday."

Categories: Ohio News

Columbus police searching for missing 35-year-old man

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 18:17

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Columbus police are asking for the public’s help in finding a missing 35-year-old man.

Police said Kyle Hill walked away from his home around 5 p.m. Friday and was last seen near Winchester Crossing Boulevard.

Police said he will not be able to verbalize where he lives or how to get there.

He was last seen wearing blue jeans, a black coat, and was carrying a bright green book bag.

He is described as 5’10” tall, weighs about 245 pounds, has blue eyes and is balding.

If anyone has any information, they are asked to call the Columbus Police Missing Persons Unit at 614-645-4624.

Categories: Ohio News

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake slams south, central Mexico

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 17:10

MEXICO CITY — A powerful earthquake shook south and central Mexico Friday, causing people to flee buildings and office towers in the country's capital, and setting off quake alert systems.

Crowds of people gathered on central Reforma Avenue in Mexico City as the ground shook.

The U.S. Geological Survey put the quake's preliminary magnitude at 7.2 and said its epicenter was 33 miles (53 kilometers) northeast of Pinotepa in Oaxaca state. It had a depth of 15 miles (24 kilometers).

The epicenter is a rural area of western Oaxaca state near the Pacific coast and the border with Guerrero state.

The Oaxaca state civil protection agency said via Twitter that it was monitoring the coastline.

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake in central Mexico on Sept. 19 left 228 people dead in the capital and 369 across the region.

Categories: Ohio News

CPD: Officers involved in shooting of Henry Green acted within department policy

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 15:51

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The actions of the officers involved in the shooting of Henry Green in 2016, have been ruled to be within Division policy according to police.

The announcement was made by Deputy Chief Thomas Quinlan Friday evening after the investigation was reviewed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Columbus Division of Police.

Two plainclothes Columbus police officers, Zach Rosen and Jason Bare, say they spotted Green with a gun at the corner of Ontario and Duxberry on June 6, 2016.

They said they identified themselves as officers and told him to drop his weapon.

Instead, they say he fired at them. They returned fire, killing Green.

A grand jury did not bring charges against the officers.

Categories: Ohio News

Sheriff: His office got 20 calls about Florida school shooting suspect

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 14:45

PARKLAND, Fla. - A sheriff says his office received about 20 calls in the past few years about Nikolas Cruz, the suspect accused of killing 17 people at high school in Parkland, Florida.

Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County told a news conference Friday that his office would be investigating every one of those previous calls to see how they were handled. He did not disclose specifics about those calls, but says he would take action personally if anyone was remiss in handling any of the calls.

He also says seven of the wounded remain in hospitals.

The sheriff also clarified that Cruz never had a gas mask or smoke grenades during Wednesday's attack, but he did a balaclava or mask with eye slits.

Categories: Ohio News

13 Russians charged with meddling to help Trump in election

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 11:08

WASHINGTON — Thirteen Russians and three Russian companies were charged Friday with an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election through social media propaganda aimed at helping Republican Donald Trump and harming the prospects of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, prosecutors announced Friday.

The indictment, brought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, represents the most direct allegation to date of illegal Russian meddling during the election. It says Russians created bogus Internet postings, posed online as American political activists and fraudulently purchased advertisements — all with the goal of swaying political opinion during the bitterly contested race.

The intent of the meddling, the indictment says, was to "sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 presidential election."

The indictment arises from Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the election and whether there was improper coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. The charges are similar to the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community, which months after the election described a Russian government effort to meddle in the election on Trump's behalf.

The Russians' "strategic goal" was to sow discord, the indictment says. By early-to-mid 2016, their efforts "included" supporting Trump's campaign and disparaging Democrat Clinton. The charges say that Russians also communicated with "unwitting individuals" associated with the Trump campaign and other political activists to coordinate activities.

Trump himself has been reluctant to acknowledge the meddling. His spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said Friday that Trump had been briefed on the indictment but there was no other immediate comment.

The charges are the latest allegations arising from Mueller's probe and represent the first criminal case against Russians. Before Friday, four people, including Trump's former national security adviser and former campaign chairman, had been charged.

According to the indictment, the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm, started interfering as early as 2014 in U.S. politics, extending to the 2016 presidential election. The defendants, "posing as U.S. persons and creating false U.S. personas," operated social media groups designed to attract U.S. audiences by stealing U.S. identities and falsely claiming to be U.S. activists.

"Over time, these social media accounts became defendants' means to reach significant numbers of Americans for purposes of interfering with the U.S. political system," the indictment reads.

The defendants are charged with conspiring "to obstruct the lawful functions of the United States government through fraud and deceit," including by making expenditures in connection with the 2016 election, failing to register as foreign agents carrying out political activities and obtaining visas through false and fraudulent statements.

Some of the Russians traveled to the United States "under false pretenses" to collect intelligence, and they also used computer infrastructure based partly in the United States to hide the Russian origins of their work.

The indictment says the Internet Research Agency was funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a St. Petersburg businessman dubbed "Putin's chef" because his restaurants and catering businesses once hosted the Kremlin leader's dinners with foreign dignitaries. It was also funded by companies he controlled, according to the indictment.

Categories: Ohio News

Mourners line procession route for fallen Westerville officers

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 09:40

Mourners gathered in front of the Westerville Police Department Friday morning, to watch as the funeral procession for Officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli passed.

The plaza in front of the police department has been a gathering spot all week for folks wanting someplace to bring their grief.

Officer Morelli's cruiser is parked there, covered in flowers, mementos, and messages of love and support.

Friday, standing there in respect and support were the Centerburg middle and high school cheerleaders.

Centerburg is where Officer Joering lived with his family- his daughter Eva is a member of the cheer squad.

On this day of such sadness, the squad says there's no place else they should be.

"We wanted her to know that she is loved and that we'll just continue to support her any way we can. She's got 32 girls behind her," said Coach Mandy Gross.

Each of the girls was wearing a blue ribbon in their hair, with the badge numbers and names of Officers Joering and Morelli.

Friday night their support continues- admission to Centerburg's JV and Varsity basketball games will be donation only, with 100 percent of those donations going to the families of these officers.

Categories: Ohio News

How the 6-minute deadly rampage unfolded at Florida school

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 09:25

PARKLAND, Fla. -- Nikolas Cruz jumped out of an Uber car and walked toward building 12 of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, carrying a black duffel bag and a black backpack. A man inside the school spotted Cruz and knew he was a former student, a troubled kid. He radioed a co-worker, and within a minute heard gunshots.

The 19-year-old was wearing a maroon shirt, black pants and a black hat. The man, whose name was blacked out from a sheriff's affidavit, told detectives Cruz was moving "purposefully."

Cruz slipped into the building, entered a stairwell and extracted a rifle from his bag, authorities said. He shot into four rooms on the first floor -- going back to spray bullets into two of the rooms a second time -- then went upstairs and shot a single victim on the second floor. He ran to the third floor, where according to a timeline released by the Broward County Sheriff's Office, three minutes passed before he dropped the rifle and backpack, ran back down the stairs and quickly blended in with panicked, fleeing students.

Florida State Sen. Bill Galvano, who visited the third floor, said authorities told him it appeared that Cruz tried to fire point-blank out the third-floor windows at students as they were leaving the school, but the windows didn't shatter. Police told Galvano that it was not that difficult to open the windows.

"Thank God he didn't," Galvano said.

From the time Cruz entered the building until the time he left, only six minutes passed. During that brief time, he shot more than two dozen people, including 17 fatally.

After the rampage, he walked to a Wal-Mart and bought a drink at a Subway restaurant, then went to a McDonald's.

About 40 minutes later, a deputy saw him walking down a suburban South Florida street and grabbed him. He didn't put up a fight.

The details of Wednesday's carnage at the Parkland, Florida, high school emerged a day later from witnesses and law enforcement reports.

Among the dead: assistant football coach Aaron Feis, slain while shielding students from bullets; Joaquin Oliver, a student known for his unique look and who once dyed his hair bleach-blonde with tiger stripes; Alyssa Alhadeff, an avid soccer player and student; and 35-year-old geography teacher Scott Beigel, who helped students enter a locked classroom, only to be shot himself.

Among at least 1,000 people attending a candlelight vigil near the school Thursday night, some openly sobbed as the victims' names were read aloud. At one point, people began chanting, "No more guns! No more guns!"

Dressed in the school's red color, some held flowers while others wielded signs asking for action to fight school violence, including gun control.

"Kids don't need guns. No guns under 21," read one sign.

Ernest Rospierski, a teacher at the school, took several bracing breaths at the vigil as he talked to a reporter about the horror in the halls.

"Bang bang bang -- all of a sudden, the shooting stopped," he said. "I looked down. He was reloading. I yelled, 'Run.' And then I ran behind as many kids as I could."

Authorities have not described any specific motive, except to say that Cruz had been kicked out of the high school, which has about 3,000 students and serves an affluent suburb where the median home price is nearly $600,000. Students who knew him described a volatile teenager whose strange behavior had caused others to end friendships.

Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder after being questioned for hours by state and federal authorities. He was held without bond at a brief court hearing.

Cruz wore an orange jumpsuit with his hands cuffed at his waist. His public defender did not contest the order and had her arm around Cruz during the short appearance. Afterward, she called him a "broken human being."

Cruz was under a suicide watch, said Executive Chief Public Defender Gordon Weekes.

Wednesday's shooting was the 17th incident of gunfire at a U.S. school this year. Of these, one involved a suicide, two involved active shooters who killed students, two involved people killed in arguments and three involved people who were shot but survived. Nine involved no injuries at all.

Officials were investigating whether authorities missed other warning signs about Cruz's potentially violent nature.

He had been expelled from the school for "disciplinary reasons," said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who said he did not know the specifics.

One student said Cruz had been abusive to his ex-girlfriend and that his expulsion was over a fight with her new boyfriend.

Two federal law enforcement officials said the Smith & Wesson M&P15 .223 was purchased legally at Sunrise Tactical Gear in Florida.

Cruz passed a background check and legally purchased the assault weapon in February 2017, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press. The official was not authorized to discuss the information publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Categories: Ohio News

Next generation of women find inspiration through local organizations

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 08:39

While many women are leading the way in their individual fields, many are also out there paving the way for the generations to come.

The local YWCA is an example of that. It is why they started the Bright Futures Program, which exists to help local female high school juniors explore social change and develop leadership skills.

The group is made up of students at more than 70 central Ohio high schools and meets on Saturdays throughout the spring semester for their workshops.

"I think everything that we can do to empower young leaders and enable them to help them to realize that they have the pwoer to start now," said LC Johnson, director of leadership & social justice programs at the YWCA Columbus. "They don't have to wait until they’re in college."

10TV talked with one of the young participants who was nominated by her school counselor.

"With only one session it has helped me understand more about myself and my worth and what I want to be and what I want to do," said Bariah Brown, a junior at New Albany High School.

Another local organization, TRANSIT ARTS, not only works to empower the next generation, but also helps kids ages 12 to 21 find their inner artist.

"I think it's important everyone receives a voice," said Katerina Harris, a program associate for TRANSIT ARTS. “No one is shut down.”

The message is one Harris learned herself at a young age when she joined TRANSIT ARTS in the 8th grade.

“What I really liked about it is that it is a second home for me,” Harris said.

Now she spends her time helping others feel at home by working through different art mediums, such as painting, music and dance.

“There is a positive environment here. And the young women can come together and be in this space where there is no judgement in how, you know, they dress and how they may act,” Harris said.

While the organization welcomes children of all genders, Harris believes that through art, young women like herself several years ago, can gain something she believes is special.

“Young women are often told to be quiet and the fact that we can, even if they are not as outspoken as others, through their art they’re able to speak as loud as they want to,” Harris said.

For more information on these organizations and others that inspire young women, click here:

Do you know of an organization working to empower the next generation of women? Let us know! Email us at

Categories: Ohio News

Did FBI miss a warning before Florida high school shooting?

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 07:54

The massacre at a Florida high school is again raising concerns about whether the FBI missed signs that might have stopped a mass shooting.

Last fall, a Mississippi bail bondsman and video blogger noticed a comment on one of his YouTube videos that said, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter." He immediately reported it to YouTube and the FBI and the next day two agents came to his office to take a printout of the comment and ask him whether he knew anything about the person who posted it.

Although the commenter's username was "Nikolas Cruz" — the same name as the 19-year-old man who authorities say killed 17 people at his former high school on Wednesday — the FBI couldn't identify the poster, Robert Lasky, the special agent in charge of the FBI office in Miami, said Thursday.

Federal agents interviewed the man who reported the comment and searched public records databases, actions in line with those done during an FBI assessment — the lowest level, least intrusive and most elementary stage of an FBI inquiry — but came up short. The FBI says it still hasn't conclusively linked the account to the alleged shooter.

Cruz walked into his former high school in Florida with an AR-15 rifle on Wednesday and opened fire, shooting at students and teachers in hallways and on school grounds.

It was the latest attack to raise questions about whether people who once caught the attention of law enforcement should have remained on the FBI's radar. In the last two years, a man who massacred 49 people at an Orlando nightclub, another who set off bombs in the streets of New York City and a third who gunned down travelers at a Florida airport, had each been looked at by federal agents but later determined not to warrant continued law enforcement scrutiny.

FBI assessments are routinely opened after agents received a tip, which could be sparked by something as simple as noticing odd activity in a neighbor's garage or a classmate's comments. Agents routinely face a challenge of sifting through which of the tens of thousands of tips received every year — and more than 10,000 assessments that are opened — could yield a viable threat.

Had agents been able to confirm Cruz was the same person as the YouTube poster, they would have found dozens of photos of rifles, ammunition, targets filled with bullet holes, which likely would have led to a face-to-face interview. The FBI did not notify police in Florida about the post before the mass shooting.

"They owe us some more detail on what they did," retired FBI assistant director Ron Hosko said.

The questions come as the FBI is already under intense scrutiny and facing unprecedented attack from President Donald Trump and some congressional Republicans, who have seized on what they say are signs of anti-Trump bias, particularly as it relates to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

But it's not clear the agency dropped the ball, in this case, Hosko said.

"With anything that the FBI receives they are constrained to act based on what they have in front of them," said Hosko. "You have a random internet posting that suggests the person wants to do something, not that they are planning on doing something."

FBI guidelines meant to balance national security with civil liberties protections impose restrictions on the steps agents may take during the assessment phase.

Agents, for instance, may analyze information from government databases and open-source internet searches and can conduct interviews during an assessment. But they cannot turn to more intrusive techniques, such as requesting a wiretap or internet communications, without higher levels of approval and a more solid basis to suspect a crime.

"It's a tricky situation because sometimes you get information regarding individuals and they may be just showing off, blustering," said Herbert Cousins Jr., a retired FBI special agent in charge.

A vague, uncorroborated threat alone may not be enough to proceed to the next level of investigation, according to Jeffrey Ringel, a former FBI agent and Joint Terrorism Task force supervisor who now works for the Soufan Group, a private security firm.

Many assessments are closed within days or weeks when the FBI concludes there's no criminal or national security threat, or basis for continued scrutiny. The system is meant to ensure that a person who has not broken the law does not remain under perpetual scrutiny on a mere hunch — and that the FBI can reserve its scarce resources for true threats.

Had he had pledged his allegiance to the Islamic state, for example, investigators might have had enough evidence to proceed with a more intrusive probe.

Tips like the one that came in about the Florida gunman are among countless complaints that come into the FBI daily with varying degrees of specificity.

"How many of these do you expect the FBI to handle before it becomes the Federal Bureau of Complaints," said Hosko. "They could spend their entire workforce tracking down internet exchanges that never going to go anywhere."

Categories: Ohio News

Romney makes it official: He's running for Utah Senate seat

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 06:42

SALT LAKE CITY — Republican Mitt Romney is trying for a political comeback as he launches a Senate campaign in Utah.

The former presidential nominee made his campaign official Friday in an online video after a delaying his launch following a deadly shooting at a Florida high school.

Romney is considered a heavy favorite for the Senate seat held by Orrin Hatch. The longtime Republican senator is retiring.

Romney has been a persistent critic of President Donald Trump, but those close to Romney say he'll focus his campaign instead on Utah.

They say Romney will suggest Washington has much to learn from the state the former Massachusetts governor now calls home. Romney is well-known in Utah for having managed the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. His 2012 presidential bid was lost to incumbent Barack Obama.

Categories: Ohio News

Russian cargo ship docks at International Space Station

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 04:28

An unmanned Russian cargo ship has docked successfully at the International Space Station, delivering a fresh batch of supplies for the crew.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos said the Progress spacecraft moored at the station Thursday in automatic mode, bringing 2.7 metric tons (3 tons) of food, fuel and instruments. It was launched Tuesday from the Russian space complex in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

The launch initially set for Sunday was postponed at the very last minute due to an unspecified glitch. And instead of the original plan to test a new regime for docking less than four hours after launch, it performed a standard two-day approach maneuver.

There are six astronauts aboard the space station — three Americans, two Russians and one from Japan.

Categories: Ohio News