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Two Killed in Shooting at New York City Home Depot


Brian Jackson/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two people were shot inside a Home Depot store in New York City on Sunday.

ABC News has confirmed that two employees were shot at the Home Depot on 23rd Street and 5th Avenue on Sunday afternoon. Police believe the incident may have been a murder-suicide. The store was crowded at the time of the shooting as New Yorkers were stocking up for an approaching winter storm.

A handgun was recovered at the scene. The motive for the shooting was unclear.

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Winter Weather Expected to Hit Northeast


ashleymatheny/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With winter weather and a possible blizzard heading for the northeast, many are worried about the potential travel nightmare.

From northern Virginia up through Maine, the National Weather Service has issued winter storm watches and winter weather advisories. "Heavy snow and strong wind, even blizzard conditions, are possible in parts of the northern mid-Atlantic and New England," the NWS said.

Two to six inches of snow are expected in the Ohio Valley, with four to eight inches in northern Maryland and southern Pennsylvania. From New Jersey up through eastern Massachusetts could see between six and 12 inches of snow.

Conditions are expected to be worst between New York City and Boston.

On Sunday, in advance of the storm, JetBlue announced it would waive change and cancel fees and fare differences for passengers traveling on Monday or Tuesday in 14 northeastern cities. Passengers can rebook flights for travel through January 30, and any passengers whose flights are cancelled may elect to take a refund.

Similar travel advisories were released by American Airlines, U.S. Airways, Southwest Airlines and Delta detailing policies allowing passengers scheduled to fly Monday or Tuesday to change their flights to later in the week.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged residents to prepare for the possibility of closed roads and delayed or cancelled public transportation, as well as potential utility outages.

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Three Killed, 10 Injured in Omaha Shooting


aijohn784/iStock/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) -- Three people were killed and 10 more injured in a shooting at a house party in Omaha, Nebraska Saturday.

According to a press release from the office of Mayor Jean Stothert, dozens of people may have witnessed the shooting.

Two women and one man were killed and five others were shot. The incident occurred at about 1:45 a.m. Saturday, and when officers arrived at the scene, found more than 40 people at the home. Two victims were pronounced dead at the scene, while a third died at a hospital on Saturday afternoon.

Police believe there may have been multiple shooters.

Four of the individuals shot were documented gang members. "The violence is a product of gang members with no regard for human life," Police Chief  Todd Schmaderer said.

Police were later cdalled to Nebraska Medicine when large crowds gathered and a fight broke out. Two people were arrested for disorderly conduct and one person was subdued with a stun gun.

Police said a separate shooting hours earlier left two people wounded. It was not clear if the two shootings were connected.

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F-16s Scrambled to Escort Jets After Twitter Bomb Threat


Ivan Cholakov/Hemera/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) --Two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled on Saturday to escort two airliners enroute to Hartsfeld-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta for a possible bomb threat, NORAD said.

The fighters from McEntire Joint National Guard Base in South Carolina were dispatched at 1 p.m. ET and escorted the planes to Hartsfeld, where they both landed safely, NORAD spokesman Preston Schlachter said.

The fighters escorted both aircraft from a distance behind until they landed.

After landing teams swept the planes for explosive devices and passengers were scheduled to be interviewed by investigators. Video of the scene appeared to show passengers leaving the plane with their carry-on luggage.

The two passenger flights were Delta 1156 from Portland and Southwest 2492 from Milwaukee.

The threats appear to have originated from the Twitter handle @kingZortic, according to officials familiar with the incident. The account only has 11 tweets, 10 of which appear to be related to threats against Delta and Southwest Airlines.

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Patriots Coach Says 'Climatic Conditions' May Have Under-Inflated Balls


Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images(FOXBOROUGH, Mass.) -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on Saturday taht "climatic conditions" may have been to blame for the footballs that were under-inflated Sunday for the AFC Championship game, and said the team had not tried to tamper with them.

He said the team "followed the rules to the letter," denying any intentional wrongdoing by the Patriots.

"At no time was there any intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game or to gain an advantage," Belichick said.

The NFL acknowledged for the first time Friday that the Patriots used under-inflated balls in the first half of Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts, a game the Patriots won 45-7 to advance to the Super Bowl.

"While the evidence thus far supports the conclusion that footballs that were under-inflated were used by the Patriots in the first half, the footballs were properly inflated for the second half and confirmed at the conclusion of the game to have remained properly inflated," the league said in a statement.

"The goals of the investigation will be to determine the explanation for why footballs used in the game were not in compliance with the playing rules and specifically whether any noncompliance was the result of deliberate action. We have not made any judgments on these points and will not do so until we have concluded our investigation and considered all of the relevant evidence," the league said, adding that it has conducted nearly 40 interviews, including "Patriots personnel, game officials, and third parties with relevant information and expertise."  

The NFL also said it is continuing to look the matter ahead of next week's Super Bowl.

In a statement Friday, Patriots owner Bob Kraft said, "Immediately after receiving the letter [from the NFL on Monday], I instructed our staff to be completely cooperative and transparent with the league's investigators. During the three days they were here, we provided access to every full- and part-time employee the league's representatives requested to speak with and produced every communication device that they requested to search. It is an ongoing process that the league and our team are taking very seriously. ... Competitive balance and the integrity of the game are the foundation of what makes our league so special and I have the utmost respect for those principles. Our organization will continue to cooperate throughout the league's investigation. Meanwhile, our players, coaches and staff will continue to focus on our preparations for Super Bowl XLIX and the many challenges we face as we prepare for the Seattle Seahawks."

Earlier this week, Belichick and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady denied knowing that the footballs used at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, were deflated.

Belichick said today the Patriots "welcome" the NFL's investigation of the incident.

The NFL's guidelines dictate that a ball must be inflated to about 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch and weigh between 14 and 15 ounces.

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Sexual Assaults Under Investigation at Iowa State University


Gloda/iStock/Thinkstock(AMES, Iowa) -- Iowa State students are being alerted about two recent reports of sexual assaults on campus.  

The first incident happened on Jan. 17 at a fraternity house.  The second assault happened last Monday at a residence hall, according to ABC News affiliate WOI-DT-TV.

Jason Tuttle of the Ames Police Department told the television station that police have executed a search warrant of the frat house.

“We search for any type of items that could have DNA on them.  It could be bedding. It could be underwear,” said Tuttle.

College campuses across the nation are now required to warn students of any ongoing threat against them, but those alerts left some like graduate student Maria Alcvivar unsettled.

"Just reading that made me afraid a little bit,” said Alcvivar. “It's still upsetting because nobody deserves to go through anything like that.”

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New York Man Dead After Killing Three, Including Daughter: Police


New York Police Department(NEW YORK) -- A New York City man accused of shooting two of his daughters, his girlfriend, and her mother as they slept - killing three of them - was found dead hours later.

Jonathon Walker was found in car near John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday, according to New York City police. His cause of death wasn't immediately released.

Investigators say Walker, 34, shot the four early Saturday morning inside their bedroom at their home in the Springfield Gardens neighborhood of Queens.

Police identified the three killed as 62-year-old Viola Warren, 31-year-old Shantai Hale, and 7-year-old Kayla Walker.

His 12-year-old daughter survived and told officers what happened, according to the NYPD. She was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition.

Police say they all were shot in the head as they slept.

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Hero Paramedics Save Man Whose Heart Stopped on Flight to Houston


Orange County Fire Authority(HOUSTON) -- Two paramedics on a flight from Southern California to Houston saved the life of a fellow passenger whose heart had stopped beating.

Donovan George and Alex Van swung into action on Friday when the Florida man in his 70s collapsed on the flight out of John Wayne Airport.

The Orange County paramedics happened to be on board United Flight 333 with their canines for a search-and-rescue conference being held by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The man was en route home via Houston when he stood up and felt light-headed and dizzy.

"He was really pale in color and he was sweating profusely," said Van. "I started noticing that he's not breathing, he does not have a pulse. I immediately started CPR ."

Van and George hooked the man up to an IV and an auto-external defibrillator provided by the flight crew.

The plane was diverted to Phoenix, where the man was taken to a hospital. He was alert and talking, said the paramedics.

"It doesn't matter if you're 30,000 feet up in the air or on the side of a freeway or in someone's home, our skill set allows us to help people in need when they need it," said George.

"This is not a career. It's a way of life," said Van. "Wherever you go, you will have to respond."


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Maryland Mansion Fire: Searchers Find Fifth Body


Obtained by ABC News(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) -- Investigators found a fifth body in the rubble of a mansion in Annapolis, Maryland, that caught fire earlier this week.

The fifth body found at the home of Don and Sandra Pyle wasn't immediately identified by the Anne Arundel County Fire Department. The Pyle's 16,000-square-foot home caught fire Monday morning and quickly spread throughout the structure.

The couple had four of their grandchildren - Alexis (Lexi) Boone, 8; Kaitlyn (Katie) Boone, 7; Charlotte Boone, 8; and, Wesley (Wes) Boone, 6 - at their home at the time, according to relatives. All six are believed to have died in the four-alarm fire, though it's unclear what caused the blaze.

Relatives described Don and Sandra Pyle as loving grandparents nicknamed “Pop-Pop” and “Dee-Dee,” respectively, who loved the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles, as well as traveling.

In a statement released Thursday, members of the Boone and Pyle families thanked those who have offered them comfort but added, "Our loss demands time and quiet reflection to process these feelings. We ask that you respect our need for privacy.

"Life is fragile," their statement read. "Make time today to embrace your loved ones."

Don and Sandra Pyle had spend the night before the blaze treating the children to a special night at the Medieval Times restaurant, according to a family spokeswoman. The couple also took the children to Target so they could get costumes before going to the restaurant.

The fire is being handled as a criminal investigation, said officials. The U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also sent investigators.

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VIN Cloning: How Thieves Can Steal Your Car's Identity


ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Every year there are 700,000 car thefts in the United States, according to the FBI. Experts say many of those stolen cars are chopped up and sold for parts, but there's another way of selling a stolen car that’s even more profitable for car thieves.

It's called VIN Cloning, and it's a clever and popular scheme, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and Carfax, a company which makes vehicle history reports.

Here’s how it works: thieves steal a car. Then to mask the theft, they take a vehicle identification number or VIN number, from another similar make and model of car and make counterfeit VIN plates (see photo) that they will install onto the stolen car.

That's the big problem with VIN cloning is it leaves several innocent victims in its wake.

One of those victims was Mike Cella, a retired school teacher and football coach. Last November he went to trade in his 2008 GMC Yukon Denali for a new one, but received shocking news about his SUV instead.

A car dealer in Massachusetts said he couldn’t give Cella the full Blue Book trade-in value for his truck because a Carfax report showed that it had been in four accidents.

"I looked at him and said, ‘What are you nuts?’” Cella, 64, told ABC News. "He says, 'Well, your car shows up in Wisconsin.'"

Four accidents? Wisconsin? Cella knew something strange was going on.

It was. It turns out that over seven years ago, according to West Palm Beach County Sheriff's office, two thieves stole a 2007 GMC Yukon Denali similar to Cella's. Later on, thieves cloned a copy of Cella's VIN number and put it on the stolen Yukon Denali to mask the theft. The car was sold and switched several hands, and over the past seven years it’s been in four accidents, according to its Carfax report.

"It's a very expensive crime and there's a whole bunch of victims involved here," NICB Senior Special Agent Buzz Burzynski told ABC News.

The stolen Yukon Denali finally ended up in the hands of a woman named Misty, who asked that her last name be withheld. She unknowingly bought the SUV from an equally-duped dealership in a small town in Wisconsin –- and it has the identical VIN number as Cella’s truck. Two trucks, one VIN.

"It’s just crazy that something like this happens in a small town," Misty said.

In most states, drivers like Misty who buy the stolen clone are left holding the bag after the vehicle is seized by police.

"After the police take your vehicle, it’s your problem," Burzynski said. "You lost your car. You lost your money. So sorry for you. You have to get an attorney and try to be made whole by the people who sold the vehicle to you.”

But lucky for Misty, Wisconsin law mandates that the car dealer who sells someone a car with a stolen VIN number must pay the customer back, according to the NICB.

The people behind the West Palm Beach Denali theft have not been identified.

"I've got to give them credit though. The way they did it is pretty smart," says Cella. "Pretty clever."

Clever or not, buying a clone can be avoidable. Here are some helpful tips to help protect yourself:

  • Check the VIN in multiple places on the car for mismatches or signs of tampering.
  • Make sure the seller’s name and VINs match on all vehicle docs (title, registration, insurance, etc.).
  • Get a vehicle history report such as Carfax. Investigate further if something fishy comes up.

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NFL Says New England Patriots Used Under-Inflated Balls in First Half


Patriots' Tom Brady on Sunday, January 18, 2015. Elsa/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The National Football League acknowledged for the first time on Friday that the New England Patriots used under-inflated balls in the first half of Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts and that it is continuing to look into the matter ahead of next week's Super Bowl.

"While the evidence thus far supports the conclusion that footballs that were under-inflated were used by the Patriots in the first half, the footballs were properly inflated for the second half and confirmed at the conclusion of the game to have remained properly inflated," the NFL said in a statement. "The goals of the investigation will be to determine the explanation for why footballs used in the game were not in compliance with the playing rules and specifically whether any noncompliance was the result of deliberate action. We have not made any judgments on these points and will not do so until we have concluded our investigation and considered all of the relevant evidence."

The statement stops short of saying the Patriots deflated the balls.

In a statement Friday afternoon, Patriots owner Bob Kraft said, "Immediately after receiving the letter [from the NFL on Monday], I instructed our staff to be completely cooperative and transparent with the league’s investigators. During the three days they were here, we provided access to every full- and part-time employee the league’s representatives requested to speak with and produced every communication device that they requested to search. It is an ongoing process that the league and our team are taking very seriously. ... Competitive balance and the integrity of the game are the foundation of what makes our league so special and I have the utmost respect for those principles. Our organization will continue to cooperate throughout the league’s investigation. Meanwhile, our players, coaches and staff will continue to focus on our preparations for Super Bowl XLIX and the many challenges we face as we prepare for the Seattle Seahawks.”

Earlier this week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have denied knowing that the footballs used at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, were deflated.

The NFL’s guidelines dictate that a ball must be inflated to about 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch and weigh between 14 and 15 ounces.

The league also said, "The playing rules are intended to protect the fairness and integrity of our games. We take seriously claims that those rules have been violated and will fully investigate this matter without compromise or delay. The investigation is ongoing, will be thorough and objective, and is being pursued expeditiously. In the coming days, we expect to conduct numerous additional interviews, examine video and other forensic evidence, as well as relevant physical evidence."

On Tuesday, ESPN reported 11 of the Patriots' 12 allotted game footballs were underinflated by two pounds per square inch of air, citing anonymous league sources.

"Upon being advised of the investigation, the Patriots promptly pledged their full cooperation and have made their personnel and other information available to us upon request," the NFL statement today read. "Our investigation will seek information from any and all relevant sources and we expect full cooperation from other clubs as well. As we develop more information and are in a position to reach conclusions, we will share them publicly."

The minimum disciplinary action for anyone, including the head coach or other club personnel, who is responsible for a non-approved football is a fine of $25,000, according to the NFL's game operations manual.

The Pats said they are cooperating with the investigation, which comes ahead of the Super Bowl where New England will play the Seattle Seahawks.


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Colorado Teen Who Tried to Join ISIS Gets Four Years in Prison


Ruskpp/iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- A teenager from Colorado who was caught heading overseas to fight for ISIS was sentenced on Friday in federal court.

The judge referred to Shannon Conley, 19, as "a bit of a mess" when describing her mental state before sentencing her to four years in federal prison.  

The 19-year-old was arrested last year at Denver International Airport on her way to Syria to marry a man she met online, admitting to FBI agents that she was planning use her military training from the U.S. Army Explorers program to help Islamic militants wage holy war on the U.S.

Prosecutors told the court that even in the Denver jail, all Conley wanted to talk about was violent jihad.

Conley pleaded guilty to providing support to a foreign terrorist organization.

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Canadian Due in Court Over Killings of Five US Soldiers


jerry2313/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The accused killer of five U.S. soldiers has arrived in New York to face federal terror charges.  

In April 2009, five U.S. soldiers were killed when a truck bomb exploded at the gate of Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq.

Federal prosecutors said Faruq Khalil Muhammed Isa helped orchestrate that attack through a group of Tunisian jihadists.  

He was arrest four years ago in Canada and has now been extradited to the U.S.  

His initial appearance is scheduled for Saturday in Brooklyn, and is the start of what the FBI called an effort to "bring some measure of justice to the families of those five servicemen" killed.

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Army Report Finds No Warning Signs That Triggered 2014 Fort Hood Shooting


Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Army has concluded there were “no clear warning signs” in the military and personnel records of the gunman responsible for last year’s mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, that would have indicated he would act violently.

On April 2, 2014 Specialist Ivan Lopez-Lopez went on a shooting spree on the sprawling base that killed three and injured 12 before he took his own life. The investigation found no single event led to the shootings, but it cited “potential contributing factors” that if they had not occurred “might have led to a different result.”

Headed by Lt. General Joseph E. Martz, the investigation concluded: “We find no indication in his medical and personnel records suggesting SPC Lopez-Lopez was likely to commit a violent act" or "sufficient evidence that he pre-planned the shooting.”

In the weeks and months before the shootings Lopez-Lopez was experiencing financial stress and dealing with the emotional blow of the deaths of his mother and grandfather six months before.

However, the report determined, “We cannot reasonably conclude that any single event or stressor, in isolation, was the cause of the shooting. We find that the cumulative effect of these stressors overwhelmed SPC Lopez-Lopez’s ability to effectively cope with them, and led to his irrational, violent outburst.”

Lopez-Lopez had been recently transferred to Fort Hood and upon assignment to his new unit had requested time off, Permissive Temporary Duty (PTDY) to finish his move from his previous posting at Fort Bliss, Texas.

He spent much of April 2 trying to get his time off request processed by his unit’s personnel office, a request they ultimately denied because he had already secured housing in nearby Killeen, Texas.

Later that same day Lopez-Lopez used a recently purchased handgun to begin shooting soldiers assigned to the personnel office, targeting several soldiers “he believed were not supporting his PTDY request.”

Martz’s report says the PTDY request could have been handled better “but we do not find—nor do we intend to create the perception—that personnel in the S-1 shop are to blame for the shooting.” S-1 being the Army acronym for a battalion personnel command.

“No other soldier could reasonably have foreseen that he would react as he did to the denial of his PTDY request, and none of them had the opportunity to stop him,” said the report. “He alone had the opportunity to avoid the shooting, and he chose not to do so.”

The report also found that his unit’s command was in such transition that they “were hampered by a lack of awareness of the stressors affecting him."

The review found “no indication in his medical and personnel records suggesting SPC Lopez-Lopez was likely to commit a violent act.” But it also determined that they could not conclude that if his PTDY request had been granted whether “he would not have reacted violently at some other time.”

Noting the limited interactions that Lopez-Lopez’s commanders had with the newly assigned soldier the report makes several recommendations to improve the level of contacts with new soldiers in their units.

The report recommends further exploration of the idea that soldiers register their personally owned weapons with their commander. Currently, soldiers are required to register their personally owned guns only if they live on base housing.

"This impacts a commander's ability to maintain situational awareness over a service member and their actions involving a firearm that could be concealed and brought onto the installation for unauthorized purposes," said the report.

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Dad Posts Meddling Note Sent Home by Teacher over Packed Lunch


PhotoObjects.net/Thinkstock(KIRKSVILLE, Mo.) -- A fed-up Missouri father posted a photo of the letter he received from his daughter's substitute teacher who criticized the girl's lunch.

One problem: the teacher didn't see her whole lunch.

Dr. Justin Puckett was asked to sign a note sent home with his daughter Alia after the teacher saw her eating marshmallows and chocolate at lunch earlier this week.

He refused to do so, and posted it online instead, saying that it was just the latest in what he sees as a growing trend of overreaching by authorities.

"I think that this was just the straw that broke the camel's back for me," Puckett told ABC News.

The substitute teacher wrote in the note sent home on Tuesday that a cafeteria employee said that her lunch consisted of four chocolate bars, a bag of marshmallows, Ritz crackers and a pickle.

"Please see that she packs a proper lunch tomorrow," the teacher wrote. An attempt to reach the teacher for comment wasn't immediately successful.

Puckett told ABC News that, since the note was addressed to "Dr. and Mrs. Puckett," it was clear that the teacher knew he was a physician which he said "just adds to the irony of it all."

What the cafeteria worker and the substitute missed, however, was that the 8-year-old also had four pieces of ham and a low fat string cheese rather than a sandwich, since "we don't eat a lot of bread," said Puckett, who is double board certified in osteopathic family medicine and obesity medicine.

"We leave it up to her and she looks at the school menu and she packs her own lunch and she's a very independent second grader," he told ABC News.

"Sure, I'd liked her to pack a few more veggies and maybe a piece of fruit, but we compromise on pickles occasionally," he wrote in his original Facebook post.

Kirksville, Missouri, school superintendent Damon Kizzire has apologized for the incident and said that the way it's "being blown out of proportion is way out of line with how it was intended. It was all meant with the best of intentions."


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