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NBA Player Uses Twitter to Track Down Aunt's Suspected Killer


Jason Merritt/Getty Images(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- NBA player Matt Barnes is using his celebrity status to launch a social media manhunt.

The Los Angeles Clippers small forward is pleading with his hundreds of thousands of Twitter and Instagram followers to keep an eye out for Michael Williams, the prime suspect in the murder of Barnes’ aunt Tanganyika Hoover, 48.

Hoover was estranged from Williams, but the two were staying at a friend’s house on the morning of July 8, when the friend said he found Hoover outside, her neck slashed, struggling for life. Williams was nowhere to be found.

Police consider Williams extremely dangerous.

Following his aunt’s death, Barnes felt compelled to act. So he posted images of Williams, along with a plea: “This dude stabbed my auntie in the neck last week & left her for dead on the sidewalk, she ended up dying on the way to the hospital in the ambulance.”

The post quickly spread from Barnes’ friends to his fans, to strangers he’s never met.

“Having the platform that I have, I wanted to speak out on social media,” Barnes said.

“When it’s your family, you just feel like you…you can do more. You want to do more,” he said.

Hoover struggled to talk in her final moments, Barnes said. She was trying to say ‘M.’

“She was trying to say who did it and what happened,” Barnes said. “And she, you know, literally, with her throat being cut…lost her voice.”

Williams is the only suspect, Sacramento Police Chief Sam Somers said.

“I have some frustrated officers here because they thought they would be able to get this guy right away,” Somers said. “But we’re going to get him.”

Somers said the attention Barnes has given to the case has been helpful.

"He's a local kid. He has a following here in Sacramento. And having his name attached with us and helping in this investigation will help us actually solve this matter,” Somers said.

Police have set up a tip line, hoping someone can track down Williams. The tip line number is 800-222-7463.

As for Barnes, the offseason has been busy. He’s preparing to host the Matt Barnes Basketball Camp from Aug. 4-8. His 12th NBA season is approaching, too. Beyond the court, he promises to keep fighting for justice for his beloved aunt.

“In her unfortunate passing, I’m hoping to be her voice and, y’know, her eyes and ears and really try to help in any way possible,” he said.

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Three-Hour Tour Turns into Night at Sea for Stranded Whale-Watchers


iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A whale-watching boat was stranded 13 miles off the coast of northern Massachusetts overnight after the boat’s propeller got tangled in a tagline.

More than 160 people were aboard the boat, part of a three-hour whale-watching trip with Boston Harbor Cruises.

The group was supposed to return at about 4:30 p.m. Monday -- but the vessel, named the Cetacea, never made it back to shore. About 10 minutes into the return trip, the Cetacea got stuck.

Coast Guard crews responded as the passengers were forced to spend a long night at sea.

Divers cut the boat free Tuesday morning, allowing the boat to move again. It was expected that the boat would arrive at about 7:30 a.m.

All of the passengers are all right, a Boston Harbor Cruises spokesperson said.

The company is compensating passengers for their troubles. Each passenger will receive $500 in cash, a $100 gift card for another trip, and a full refund, about $50. The company will also pay to re-book any passengers who missed flights Tuesday morning.


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Legal Pot Adds to Denver's Homeless Problem


iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- They're going to Colorado to get high but instead, the lure of legal marijuana is leaving many young people high and dry.

Since the use of up to one ounce of pot became legal in December 2012, Denver, Colorado, has seen as influx of visitors who have come to stay. When sales of marijuana were allowed last January, even more people from out of state have shown up.

And therein lies the problem, one that supporters of legal pot probably didn't anticipate.  Denver says that its homeless population has grown in the past year-and-a-half and the majority of the newcomers are teens and people in their 20s.

Not everyone who comes to the city is necessarily a slacker. Some have said that they want to find work in Colorado's booming marijuana industry.

However, there seems to be more stoners than there are jobs for them. One worker at a Denver shelter says that about one in three of their new residents acknowledge that their main reason for being in Denver is to smoke grass.

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Judge Sides with Shelly Sterling in Sale of LA Clippers


iStock Editorial(LOS ANGELES) -- A Los Angeles judge is siding with Shelly Sterling in her fight against Donald Sterling to sell the LA Clippers.

The judge says she acted properly in her actions to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.  

In a statement to ABC News, the NBA said, "We are pleased the court has affirmed Shelly Sterling's right to sell the Clippers to Steve Ballmer. We look forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible."

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Two US Marshals, Detective Shot in New York City


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Two U.S. Marshals and an NYPD detective were shot Monday while serving a warrant in New York City, authorities said.

The suspect, identified as Charles Mozdir, was a violent sex offender. He was killed in the shooting, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said.

The incident happened in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan.

The law enforcement officers have non-life threatening injuries and were taken to Bellevue Hospital, authorities said.


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Homes, Campgrounds Evacuated Near Yosemite Wildfire


iStock/Thinkstock(EL PORTAL, Calif.) -- Firefighters in northern California are battling large wildfires, attempting to extinguish a blaze near Yosemite National Park that quadrupled in size over the weekend.

The fire entered park grounds on Monday, according to park spokesperson Scott Gediman, though it represents a small percentage of the fire and flames don't yet pose a threat to any of the major tourist areas.

At least 100 homes and two campgrounds were evacuated over the weekend, and more than 700 firefighters are working to suppress the flames. Crews face difficult challenges in rough terrain, steep cliff sides, and extreme heat.

2014 marks the driest year on record for Yosemite, following three back-to-back years of extreme drought. The conditions bring up to triple-digit temperatures with the wildfire, and experts forecast similar conditions throughout the week.

Officials are also implementing helicopter water drops to pinpoint locations in steep terrain.

The fire began in the community of El Portal around 3 p.m. Saturday, according to park representatives. As of 9:45 p.m. Sunday, the fire had burned 2,100 acres. Since July 14, Yosemite Park has experienced more than 3,000 lightning strikes and at least 21 fire starts.

Still, the park remains open, including Yosemite Valley and Half Dome. While tourists are frequenting the area, they face possible road closures that could lead to delays.

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Girl Who Vanished for Nine Months Is Weak, Malnourished


Police are seeking information regarding the identity of the man depicted in this sketch, as described by Abigail Hernandez. (New Hampshire Department of Justice)(CONWAY, N.H.) -- The family of a teenage girl who disappeared nine months ago before reappearing at her New Hampshire home last week is severely malnourished and not eating solid foods.

"Right now, Abby is resting, extremely tired and in deteriorated health, and has lost a lot of weight. She is working to build her strength back and we hope soon she will be back on solid foods," the family said in a statement.

Fifteen-year-old Abigail Hernandez has reportedly met with investigators every day since she walked back into her Conway, New Hampshire, home on July 20.

Police have released a sketch of the suspect who they believe drove away with her when she was walking home from school on Oct. 9.

"Abigail described the man as having darkish skin, dark brown eyes, black stubble facial hair, and a large build, who was slightly overweight and slightly taller than she was (5-foot-4")," the New Hampshire Attorney General's office said last week.

She reportedly told investigators that the man was driving a navy blue pickup truck.

They have refrained from releasing any further details about the case because the investigation is ongoing, but they have maintained throughout that they believe one or more individuals were responsible for kidnapping and detaining her for nearly a year.

"We have said from the beginning and we continue to believe that this was a 14-year-old girl who went missing in October," Associate Attorney General Jane Young told ABC News. "She was gone for nine months. She didn't have the means to orchestrate and facilitate this on her own."

Abby has been visited by friends since returning home, some of whom have spoken out about her progress.

"Abby is very thin and weak. We continue to work towards getting her to eat," her friend Amanda Smith said on the family's website. "Abby has shown incredible courage thru [sic] this. She is beyond grateful to be home and is just relaxing, resting, trying to get her health back."

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One Dead, 13 Injured in Rare Southern California Lightning Storm


iStock/Thinkstock(VENICE BEACH, Calif.) -- A rare lightning storm struck packed Venice Beach, Calif., Sunday, killing a 20-year-old man and injuring up to 12 others, one critically, after the same storm had struck a person on Catalina Island.

Firefighters said a bolt of lightning hit the water and the electrical current then traveled, hitting swimmers and surfers.

"The fire department assessed a total of 13 patients, and transported a total of eight patients," Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Katherine Main said.

Five others were injured, but did not require hospitalization, she said.

Main said it appears to have been just one powerful lightning strike that hit the shoreline.

"Everyone that had a medical complaint was either in or near the water," Main said.

The man who died was swimming and went missing in the water after the lightning strike, according to ABC station KABC-TV in Los Angeles. After lifeguards found him in full cardiac arrest, emergency personnel performed CPR and transported him in critical condition to Marina Del Rey Hospital, where he died.

The other person who was critically injured was a surfer, officials said.

Thunderstorms are very uncommon in the Los Angeles area, and people on the beach were shocked by what they experienced. Some said it felt like they got hit over the head with a board and then they were tingling all over.

"It sounded like a sonic boom. It literally shook the buildings," Stuart Archer, who was playing volleyball on the beach, told ABC News. "Shook us on the courts."

He said it was like somebody punched him in the head, his muscles locked up, and he fell. "I looked up and everybody else was falling over," he added.

Many people who were on the beach said they were knocked down, and lifeguards ran to get victims out of the water.

"Out of nowhere, we heard like a thunderstorm," witness Jason Alas told KABC-TV. "It was like really, really loud."

Before hitting Venice Beach, the thunderstorm moved over Catalina Island where a golfer was injured by lightning.

According to the National Weather Service, before Sunday there had already been 15 lightning strike deaths nationwide this year, including six in Florida.

This was the first death attributed to lightning in California this year.


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Caught on Tape: Pilot Erupts with Anger


Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- A Delta Air Lines pilot was caught on tape losing his cool when an air traffic controller told him his plane was approaching the wrong taxiway.

“Hey, you know what, we'll taxi out there anyway we want when you tell us to. I don't like your attitude,” the unidentified pilot said to the controller on Friday after being told he rolled the plane onto the wrong taxiway at Atlanta's Hartfield International Airport.

The Charlotte-bound plane was on taxiway L, which controllers call Lima, instead of taxiway M, which they call Mike.

“I don't have an attitude, sir, I'm just saying its looks like you joined Lima instead of Mike. And I'm just trying to correct you before you stay on Lima,” the controller responded.

“Okay 'cause my God there's another plane out there it's like six miles away,” said the pilot. “Your attitude is really something sir, we're out here on Mike. Good morning.”

“Good morning, there was no attitude I was just trying to correct you. It's my job to correct you if you mess up,” replied the controller.

“All right, I make a mistake every two to three minutes but my attitude is not like yours. Route on Mike. And you didn't tell us how to get there so next time you can try doing that,” the pilot concluded.

While the pilot in question was not joking around, another pilot listening in on the same frequency chimed in to help ease the tension.

“Settle down, ‘Captain Hoppy,’” said the second pilot.

Atlanta-based Delta Airlines told ABC News they are looking into the exchange and that "Delta's values call for courtesy and professionalism in everything we do."

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Olympian's Relatives Safe After Getting Lost in the Wilderness


Streeter Lecka/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The brother of a U.S. winter Olympian -- along with his three young children -- are safe Monday morning after 24 hours lost in the wilderness.

Jared Pikus, brother of skeleton athlete Noelle Pikus-Pace, is thankful to be home after spending the night lost in the Idaho wilderness. The group got lost Saturday after leaving a campsite to hike to a nearby lake.

The group couldn’t find its way back.

“I came to a point where I didn’t know where I was,” Pikus said later. “At that time, I had to think about the kids and survival.”

The area was so isolated that there was no cell phone service. The family had only a few bagels to eat and spent the night outdoors, sleeping huddled together under a raft.

While rescue crews combed the area, Pikus-Pace -- who lives in Utah -- pleaded for support on social media, sharing photos of her family cheering at the Sochi Olympics, when she won a silver medal.

 

 

This time, Pikus-Pace said, she felt helpless.

“You want to do something, and there is nothing you can do,” she said.

By Sunday afternoon, Pikus and his children found their way to a road, meeting people who brought them to rescue crews. Despite some mosquito bites and poison ivy rashes, they were otherwise OK, something that left Pikus-Pace relieved.

“We were left to imagine life without them and it was an awful feeling,” she wrote. “We are so incredibly blessed to have them back safe and sound!”

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FSU Professor Was Talking on Cell Phone When Shooting Happened


Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- A Florida State University criminal law professor was pulling into his driveway and talking on his cell phone when he was fatally shot, ABC News has learned exclusively.

Professor Dan Markel, 41, was shot July 18, dying hours later.

The killer was waiting for Markel outside his home in Tallahassee’s Betton Hills section, a source told ABC News, and followed Markel into the garage, shooting him in the side of the head through the window of his car.

The bullet entered just beneath Markel’s jawline.

Markel was alive when cops arrived, with the keys in the ignition of his car, before being pronounced dead at the hospital hours later, police said. Markel was apparently on the phone at the time of the shooting, remarking to the person on the phone that someone was in the driveway, ABC News has learned.

A police report has revealed more information about the shooting, specifying that a neighbor, apparently different from the person on the phone, heard a single gunshot. That neighbor called 911 and reported seeing a silver Toyota Prius drive away from the scene. Police later released a grainy surveillance image of that car.

Tamara Demko, a longtime friend of Markel’s, was stunned by the shooting.

“I cannot imagine a person wanting to hurt him. I don’t think any of his friends can,” Demko said.

Two days before he died, Markel posted a blog to his website, PrawfsBlawg.blogs.com, about the death penalty, the same website on which he received threatening comments in 2012 after a writer alleged he had censored anonymous comments.

Reggie Garcia, a friend of Markel’s, wondered whether Markel’s blog and other law endeavors could have motivated the attack.

“Is it possible his scholarship and literature created some enemies? It’s as possible as any of the other scenarios,” Garcia said.

Markel left behind two young sons and an ex-wife, Wendi Jill Adelson, also an FSU professor. Their divorce was acrimonious, punctuated by dozens of court dockets, hearings and a protracted custody battle over their two boys. Markel described the day Adelson left him as his “Pearl Harbor,” friends told ABC News. Markel told friends that, without warning, Adelson had packed up the house and the children and left while he was away on a business trip.

Police spent hours questioning Adelson, and questioned many others who knew him well, but have named no suspects.

The new details reveal why police have classified Markel as the shooter’s intended target, ABC News Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams said.

“Now we know why the authorities were so quick to say they believed this was a targeted killing and the neighbors don’t need to worry,” Abrams said.

The fact that a Prius was possibly being driven by the shooter was also notable, Abrams said.

“A Prius isn’t a typical hit-man vehicle," he said. "[Was it] the person who wants to protect the environment and kill someone?”


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Diaper-Clad Boy, 3, Crashes AuntÂ’s Jeep, Runs Home to Watch Cartoons


iStock/Thinkstock(MYRTLE CREEK, Ore.) -- The mother of a diaper-clad, 3-year-old boy who got behind the wheel of his aunt’s Jeep Wrangler and accidentally put it into gear, sending it crashing into the side of a neighbor’s house, has been cited for failing to properly supervise her child.

The woman, identified by police as Brennan Pennington, of Myrtle Creek, Oregon, was issued the citation after the Tuesday evening incident, which was the second involving the boy and police that day.

At about 9 a.m. the same day, a Myrtle Creek Police office had spotted the boy by himself in the Jeep Wrangler outside his Northwest Second Avenue home. He was in the vehicle by himself for about five minutes, according to police logs.

The officer asked the boy about his parents’ whereabouts, and the boy said they weren’t home but that a relative was asleep inside. According to the log, the officer woke the relative and turned the boy over to him, warning the relative -- who was not named in the log -- that the boy had the keys to the car and it was not secure.

At about 7:30 p.m., police were called to the same scene. They said the boy got into the car again and knocked it out of gear, and it traveled down the street, up over a curb and through the neighbor’s yard, hitting the neighbor’s home. The homeowner was not home, and no one was hurt.

The police log said a 911 caller witnessed the crash and “saw the boy run from the Jeep wearing only a diaper.”

Right afterward the boy “bailed out and ran back home, and when the officer arrived at the house [the boy] was sprawled out on the couch watching cartoons like it was just another day,” Myrtle Creek Police Officer Kevin Taggart told ABC News on Sunday.

ABC News was unable to reach Pennington Sunday evening on a cell phone that was registered to her, according to public records.

The ticket issued to Pennington was a violation and carried a fine.

The home sustained minor damage and the boy’s mother came to “a civil compromise” with the neighbor, police said.

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Judge Lifts DC Ban on Guns in Public


Image Source/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A ruling that would allow registered gun owners to carry firearms in public has thrown Washington, D.C. for a loop.

On Saturday, Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. ruled that a "total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is unconstitutional."

The judge said he would stop enforcement of the ban until D.C. came up with a "constitutionally valid licensing."

However, ABC News legal analyst Royal Oakes explains, "This won't be the last word on the subject. The District of Columbia will likely appeal the order, and ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court may be called on to clarify when and how lawmakers are allowed to impose restrictions on the right of citizens guaranteed by the Second Amendment to carry guns."

Attorney Alan Gura, representing the group challenging the ban, says the ruling should be in effect immediately and will lead to less crime on the streets as people will be able to defend themselves.

However, Ted Gest, a spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, says the AG is asking Judge Scullin to stay his ruling pending appeal.

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Small Plane Lands on Florida Beach, One Dead


Photo Credit: Zack Arceneaux(VENICE, Fla.) -- A man was killed and his daughter critically injured Sunday when they were hit by a plane making an emergency landing on a Florida beach, officials said.

"One man is deceased, and a young girl, possibly around the age of 10 is very critically injured," Sarasota County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Wendy Rose told ABC News.

Ommy Irizarry, 36, and his daughter, Oceana Irizarry, 9, were walking along the beach in Sarasota County, Fla., when a small plane made an emergency crash landing along the shore, killing the man on impact, Rose said.

The little girl was transported via helicopter to to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, where she was in critical condition.

Neither the pilot, identified as Karl Kokomoor, 57, of Englewood, Fla., nor the passenger on the plane, David Theen, 60, also of Englewood, were injured in the landing, Rose said.

"The pilot radioed that he was not going to be able to make it back to the airport, and he was going to try to land on the hard-packed sand of the beach," she said. "He landed about the water's edge and the pilot and his male passenger were both unharmed."

From the time the pilot radioed in distress to the crash landing, the whole thing happened very quickly.

"I do know the timing of his radio to the Venice Airport and immediate response was minutes so there was not, from what I understand, there was not a lot of time between his radio dispatch and the crash," she said.

Venice Mayor John Holic, a former air traffic controller, said it is likely the plane lost power in flight and was trying to land in an open space or at nearby Venice Airport.

"One of the first things that you learn when you're flying is to always be aware of your surroundings and where you may be able to touch down in the event of loss of power. A beach is a viable place," he told ABC News.

A woman who witnessed the crash was also taken to a hospital after having stress-induced cardiac issues not directly related to the crash, according to Rose.

Police have not yet released the names of the victim.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators are on their way to the scene of the accident to begin investigating, in cooperation with the FAA.


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California Wildfires Spread, Force Evacuations


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(YOSEMITE, Calif.) -- A fire near Yosemite National Park has burned over 2,000 acres of land, more than four times as much land as it had on Saturday.

Officials called in planes and helicopters and about 400 personnel to help battle the flames. Park spokeswoman Ashley Mayer told ABC News that there have been some evacuations, but officials were not certain whether any structures were lost in the fire.

No injuries have been reported in the fire.

The Sand Fire in northern California also continued to spread over the weekend with more than 3,800 acres burning on Sunday. Officials say that fire is 35 percent contained, but 10 homes have been destroyed and more than 500 are still at risk. Mandatory evacuations for the area remain in place.

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