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iStock/Thinkstock(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) -- A white University of Maryland student accused of fatally stabbing a black man on campus was held without bond after he made his first appearance in court Monday via closed-circuit TV.

The FBI is investigating the fatal assault of Richard Collins III, a student at Bowie State University, as a possible hate crime.

The suspect, Sean Christopher Urbanski, has been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree assault.

Before the early Saturday morning attack on the University of Maryland campus, officials said Urbanski allegedly said to Collins, “Step left, step left, if you know what’s good for you.” The victim looked “puzzled” and “said no," officials said. Urbanski then allegedly stabbed the victim in the chest, officials said.

Officials said Urbanski was a member of a Facebook group named "Alt-Reich." The Associated Press said that in the group "members post disparaging material about African-Americans and others."

Urbanski wore an orange jumpsuit Monday when he appeared via closed-circuit video from the Prince George's County Correctional Facility. Urbanski's attorney, William Brennan, said his client was intoxicated and incoherent and said he has no criminal record. Both of Urbanski's parents were in court.

Brennan asked for a combination bond of money and an ankle GPS monitor. Brennan asked to restrict travel to Urbanski's parents' home and said his client would undergo alcohol and substance abuse treatment as well as a mental health evaluation.

The judge said she will allow Urbanski's lawyers to research and evaluate the option of GPS monitoring, and in the meantime, he will be held without bond.

His preliminary hearing was scheduled for June 15.

Collins, who was recently commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army, was set to graduate this Tuesday from Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland, about 11 miles from the University of Maryland in College Park.

A candlelight vigil will be held at Bowie State University tonight for Collins and a moment of silence will be held during Tuesday's graduation ceremony.

“Richie wouldn’t hurt a fly," said Reverend Darryl Godlock of Calvert County Baptist Church, who is serving as a spokesperson for the Collins family. He called this a "random act of violence that has taken a young man as he’s about to start his career.”

Collins' younger sister attends the University of Maryland, according to Godlock.

Bowie State University President Mickey Burnim said in a statement, "Our first thoughts of condolence go to the family for this tremendous loss of a son, who had the promise of a bright future. Our prayers of concern also extend to those within the Bowie State University community as we try to cope with this tragic loss of life.

"As we struggle to deal with our emotions, let’s find appropriate ways to express our sorrow and hope for justice," Burnim added. "Let’s remember our words and actions have the power to heal and the power to hurt. Let's strive to use our actions to bring comfort and peace."

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh Statement said in a statement, "The horrific assault that took the life of a young man on our campus on Saturday morning has shocked, saddened, and angered our community and beyond.

"As we search for answers to this senseless crime, please continue to keep the family and friends of Lt. Collins, and the BSU community, in your thoughts and prayers," Loh continued.

Loh added, "The safety of our campus community remains a top priority. UMPD has increased substantially its visible patrols, on and off campus. The Prince George's County Police has also increased its patrols in the College Park community. UMPD is monitoring 24/7 the hundreds of video security cameras throughout the campus. The Department of Transportation Services has initiated NITE Ride, a curb-to-curb bus service that runs from dusk to 6 a.m."

"However, increased police security is not sufficient," Loh added. "We must all do more to nurture a climate -- on campus and beyond -- where we stand against hate, we fight against hate crimes, and we reaffirm the values that define us a university and as a democracy."

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- More than half a million foreigners stayed in the United States after their visas expired during the last fiscal year, according to a new report released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Monday.

Of the more than 50 million foreigners that entered the U.S., 1.47 percent -- or 739,478 people -- stayed in the country past the length of their visa. That includes those who stay one day over their allowable time, as well as people who have no intention of ever leaving the U.S.

This report shows that “we have a problem with visa overstays in the United States,” said a senior DHS official Monday, pointing out that the number of people who stayed in the U.S. illegally is close to the population of Seattle.

“The integrity of our immigration system is at stake,” the official added.

Of the total number of overstays last year, 628,799 people or 1.25 percent had no record of departure, known as an “in-country” overstay at the end of the fiscal year, according to DHS. However, due to continued departures and changes to immigration status, that number decreased over time. By January 10, the official number of people who overstayed visas in the fiscal year of 2016 had dropped to 544,676.

This is the second year that DHS has formally released these numbers.

The report, which is only a snapshot in time, represents about 96 percent of all people entering the U.S. on a temporary visa, including temporary workers, students, exchange visitors, personal travel and business travel – a larger pool of people than the 2015 report. The only exceptionsin 2016 were airline crews and transiting passengers.

However, the report does not include people entering the U.S through land checkpoints, but in some cases departures to Canada or Mexico are included to close out a case.

When determining if someone overstayed a visa, DHS needs to take into account whether they applied for a more permanent immigration benefit or legally extended their stay in the U.S.

The U.K. followed by Germany, Italy and France had the largest total number of people overstaying their travel visas for business or pleasure, among countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. for business or tourism without a visa.

The visa waiver program promotes commerce and ease of travel, but it also creates national security risks, as Europeans from those countries who have fought with ISIS in the Middle East return home.

“They have learned how to make IEDs, employ drones to drop ordnance, and acquired experience on the battlefield that by all reports they are bringing back home,” said DHS Sec. John Kelly at a recent speech.

“They can more easily travel to the United States which makes us a prime target for their exported violence,” he added.

This has been a national security concern for years. For example, two of the 19 hijackers on September 11, 2001, were visa overstays, prompting the 9/11 Commission to call for the government to track visitors to the U.S. on entry and exit.

Brazil had by far the most total overstays from countries that do not participate in the visa waiver program – followed by Venezuela, China, Colombia and Nigeria.

While DHS says it is confident in its data, there is a chance that someone could leave the U.S. as an “imposter” because departures are currently only tracked using biographic data, like an airplanes manifest.

Without biometric data – like fingerprints, facial recognition -- there is a chance that someone could lie about leaving.

Despite Congressional mandate and years of officials calling for biometric exit data, it still remains a challenge for DHS.

Airports were never designed to control customs departure from within the U.S., according to DHS. For example, international departures and domestic departures coming at airports.

In addition, if you scan someone too early in the check-in process, there is still a chance they could lie about leaving and if you scan at the gate, you run into time and space constraints.

There is currently a pilot program at the Atlanta airport that is using facial recognition to match people with their photos as they leave the country.

When people overstay their visas the data is shared with ICE to carry out enforcement. It’s provided daily and in conjunction with ICE’s priorities, like national security and law enforcement needs.

However, a DHS inspector general report earlier this month found that a “fragmented, ineffective” set of information technology (IT) systems hinder efforts by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to track visa overstays.

ICE relies on IT systems that lack integration and information-sharing capabilities, forcing ICE personnel to piece together information from up to 27 distinct DHS information systems and databases to accurately determine an individual’s overstay status.

This inefficient process has contributed to a backlog of more than 1.2 million visa overstay cases – taking months for ICE to determine a visa holder’s status and whether someone poses a national security threat, found the report.

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iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Tampa police are investigating after a man allegedly admitted to killing his two roommates because he believes they disrespected his Muslim faith.

Devon Arthurs, 18, was arrested Friday and faces two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault and three counts of armed kidnapping.

Around 5:29 p.m. local time on May 19, Arthurs entered Green Planet Smoke Shop in Tampa armed with a black semiautomatic pistol, according to a police report on the incident. He allegedly demanded that the employee and one customer who were in the store at the time get on the ground as he pointed the gun at one of the captives.

"Why shouldn't I kill you?" one victim says Arthurs yelled while holding them captive, according to the police report.

About two to three minutes after Arthurs entered the shop, a second customer entered and was also ordered to get on the ground.

"Arthurs informed all three victims in the store that he had already killed somebody," said the police report. "He further informed all three victims that he was upset due to America bombing his Muslim countries."

Approximately five minutes after the third victim entered the store, two Tampa police officers arrived to the scene and confronted Arthurs.

According to the police report, one victim was able to run away from the scene, while the officers convinced Arthurs to let the remaining two victims go. After minutes of negotiating, Arthurs surrendered and allowed officers to arrest him.

While being walked to the police car, Arthurs made references to "Allah Mohammed" and stated, "I had to do it. This wouldn't have had to happen if your country didn't bomb my country," according to the police report.

While under arrest, Arthurs was asked if anyone else was hurt, to which he replied, "The people in the apartment, but they aren't hurt, they're dead," according to the police report.

Arthurs then directed police to the apartment, where two male victims were found dead. He identified the victims to police as his roommates Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk,18, and provided details of the shooting, including the rifle he used, the sequence of events, and the exact location of the shooting and the placement of the shot on each victim, according to the police report.

Arthurs stated that he had once shared a common neo-Nazi belief with his two roommates before converting to Islam, and that the shooting deaths were caused by the individuals disrespecting his Muslim faith.

Arthurs’ fourth roommate, Brandon Russell, was also arrested May 21 after allegedly being linked to explosive devices found in the apartment.

When police arrived to the apartment where Himmelman and Oneschuk were found dead, Russell was seen outside of the apartment dressed in full U.S. Army camouflage "crying and visibly upset," according to the police report.

"That's my roommate (Russell)," Arthurs said, according to the report. "He doesn't know what's going on and just found them like you guys did."

Arthurs also told police that before the murders he had been aware of "Russell participating in online neo-Nazi internet chat rooms where he threatened to kill people and bomb infrastructure," according to the report.

"From our point of view, there was a double homicide and we arrested the guy who did the homicide," a spokesperson for Tampa Police Department told ABC News. "When we started talking to him and got info about neo-Nazi and stuff in the apartment we called the FBI and we are certainly working with [them]."

Tampa police obtained a state search warrant for the apartment, where law enforcement discovered a cooler in the garage with a white, cake-like substance. Two FBI and Tampa Police Department bomb squad officials identified the substance as an explosive known as hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, according to a criminal report from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Other bomb-making materials and firearms were also found in the apartment. Nazi and white supremacist propaganda were discovered in Russell's bedroom, including a framed photo of Oklahoma City federal building bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Russell, who is associated with the Army National Guard, allegedly admitted to law enforcement officials that he was a national socialist, a neo-Nazi and a member of a self-organized group called "Atom Waffen," which is German for atomic weapon, according to the criminal report. They say he also admitted to owning the explosive devices found in the garage, and said they were used to make homemade rockets in 2013 when he was in an engineering club at the University of South Florida.

Russell was arrested by the FBI on May 21 and is charged with possession of unregistered destructive device and unlawful storage of explosive material. It is unclear if he is represented by an attorney and has not been scheduled a court date yet.

Arthurs, who is represented by a public defender, has a hearing set for May 24 at 10 a.m. local time.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- FBI and other law enforcement officials are privately knocking down a conspiracy theory Monday, fueled by conservative commentators on Fox News, that seeks to divert attention from Russia’s involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee last year by suggesting a DNC staffer was murdered to cover up his involvement in passing the information to WikiLeaks.

According to officials with knowledge of the matter, the FBI is not investigating the unsolved murder of Seth Rich last year in what agents have determined was “a possible attempted robbery” gone wrong. Asked about the possible connection between Rich and WikiLeaks, one official told ABC News that “the only place I've seen that is through the conspiracy theories online."

The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., continues to investigate his death as a homicide.

On July 10, 2016, the 27-year-old voter outreach coordinator was shot multiple times near his home in Washington, D.C., a few weeks before WikiLeaks published thousands of hacked emails from several DNC staff members.

Investigators determined that Rich had been the victim of an attempted robbery, but theories to the contrary first took hold when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange suggested Rich might have had a role, and WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information about his murder.

“Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material, and often very significant risk,” Assange said in an interview with the Dutch television program Nieuwsuur. “There's a 27-year-old who works for the DNC, who was shot in the back, murdered.”

When pressed to explain his suggestion, Assange refused to identify Rich as a source, saying “we don't comment on who our sources are.”

The theory resurfaced last week when a private investigator named Rod Wheeler who claimed to have been hired by the Rich family told Fox 5 DC that his sources within the FBI had told him that there was evidence suggesting Rich had contacted WikiLeaks before his death. He repeated the story in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity the following day.

"There was a federal investigator that was involved with the inside, a person that is very credible," Wheeler told Hannity. "Very credible, and he said he laid eyes on that computer and he laid eyes on the case file. And he came across very credible. When you look at that with the totality of everything else that I found in this case, it's very consistent for a person with my experience to begin to think, ‘Well, perhaps there were some email communications between Seth [Rich] and WikiLeaks.'"

Wheeler’s story changed in subsequent statements to other media outlets, prompting the local station to attach an editor’s note to its original story, acknowledging that Wheeler has “backtracked” on his claim that his information came from FBI sources.

That didn’t stop former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, however, from spreading the conspiracy theory in an appearance on Fox News Sunday a few days later.

“At the same time we have this very strange story now of this young man who worked for the Democratic National Committee who apparently was assassinated at 4:00 in the morning having given WikiLeaks something like 23,000, I'm sorry, 53,000 emails and 17,000 attachments,” Gingrich said. “Nobody is investigating that, and what does that tell you about what was going on, because it turns out it wasn't the Russians, it was this young guy who I suspect was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee. He's been killed and apparently nothing serious has been done to investigate his murder.”

The family, meanwhile, has sent Wheeler a cease and desist letter, and Brad Bauman, a family spokesperson, told ABC News that this latest report is just further proof of what the family already knows.

“So much of the conspiracy theory has been dependent on the allegation of federal investigators being involved, and the fact that the FBI has not and never had been involved with this investigation is critical to understanding just how false these conspiracy theories are,” Bauman said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) -- The Turkish national who forced the emergency landing of American Airlines flight 31 in Honolulu on Friday allegedly told FBI agents "we all have" terroristic ideas, and pantomimed shooting an agent during his interview, according to a criminal complaint filed in Hawaii on Monday.

En route from Los Angeles to Honolulu, 25-year-old Anil Uskanli alarmed passengers and crewmembers while acting "strange," forcing the pilot lock down the flight deck and prompting the U.S. Pacific Command to send two F-22 fighter jets to escort the aircraft into Hawaii.

F22's taking off from Honolulu to escort American Airlines flight 31 #Hawaii pic.twitter.com/8cauepQ7Yt

— Anthony Quintano 🌴 (@AnthonyQuintano) May 19, 2017

"We all have those ideas," he said when asked if he ever had terroristic thoughts.

According to the complaint, Uskanli boarded the plane without any luggage, carrying only a phone, laptop, charger, and miscellaneous items in his pockets.

Not long after he was arrested for misdemeanor trespassing at LAX after breaching a security door while under the influence, crew escorted him down the jet bridge in a wheelchair.

Once aboard the Airbus 321, he plopped into a seat in first class. At a flight attendant's repeated urging, Uskanli eventually moved to 35B, his assigned seat.

After the flight took off, Uskanli began repeatedly moving his laptop from the seatback pocket to the space under the seat, "uttering things and talking to himself," one passenger told FBI agents.

He then got up to use the lavatory, but failed to lock the door, the complaint adds. When another passenger attempted to enter the lavatory, Uskanli allegedly began "yelling and pounding on the walls."

After flight attendants escorted him back to his seat, they found what appeared to be cigarette pieces around the toilet.

A short time later, Uskanli "wrapped a blanket around his head, picked up his laptop," and shuffled towards the front of the aircraft.

A flight attendant used a beverage cart to block the aisle, but Uskanli shoved back, then set his laptop on the cart, triggering immediate alarm among the crew. The flight attendant was concerned following reports that terrorists are attempting to target aircraft with explosives concealed inside electronics, the complaint explains.

While an off-duty law enforcement officer steered Uskanli back to his seat, a flight attendant barricaded the laptop in the rear of the aircraft -- standard procedure for handling a possible explosive device. To further mitigate the impact of a potential in-flight bomb, the pilot descended to 5,000 feet, according to the complaint.

Uskanli was restrained with duct tape, witnesses say.

Upon landing, Uskanli was escorted off the flight by law enforcement, and bomb technicians and canine units seized the laptop and secured the plane. No explosives were found inside the laptop, authorities say.

Uskanli's urinalysis came back positive for benzodiazepine. Other field sobriety tests indicated he may have been high on stimulants or cannabis, according to the complaint.

During a post-incident interview with FBI agents, Uskanli "made a gun shape with his fingers and pretended to shoot,"simulated a ‘chopping motion’" at an agent's neck, and threatened to kill a female agent, according to the complaint.

Asked if he planned to hurt anyone, he told agents, "it depends on the day."

He was charged with interfering with a flight crew, and was scheduled to appear in court Monday.

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Emilie Richardson/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The father of 18-year-old Alyssa Elsman, who was killed when a driver plowed into a crowd in New York's Times Square last week, wrote an emotional letter to his daughter, saying, "I have a hole in my heart that can never be filled."

The framed letter was placed at a memorial near the crash site.

"My world changed when you came into it and it is unexplainable with you leaving it," wrote Thomas Elsman, father of Alyssa Elsman, a tourist from Michigan who was killed last Thursday when a driver sped into a crowd in Times Square. Alyssa Elsman's 13-year-old sister was among the 20 people injured in the crash.

He wrote that his daughter "loved Times Square."

"She would appreciate all your kind words but she would also tell us all to get back up and continue," he added.

Read the full letter here:

"There is no words that can express our gratitude with the outpouring of love and support this city has shown us. Our medical staff, The NYPD and most of all YOU. This impromptu memorial dedicated to our daughter and seeing and talking to many of you has helped me cope with our loss. I have met so many people from different countries, religions, creeds etc......it doesn't matter..you have shown us that when you remove bias..racism..and ignorance..WE ARE ALL ONE... Your condolences have been sincere and taken to heart. Please also remember there are 20 other families affected by this and please keep them in your thoughts too. Alyssa loved this city...she loved Times Square. She would appreciate all your kind words but she would also tell us all to get back up and continue. That's how full of life my daughter was This city and our hearts are scarred, cut to the core, but in true New York City fashion..We will heal..We will prevail..and we will never forget. Alyssa Lynn Elsman... my beautiful 18 year old girl. I look at myself and will never understand how I could ever have made such an angel...Im glad you got your mothers looks..... I don't know anything currently..I always have the answers..but I am blank...I have a hole in my heart that can never be filled. My world changed when you came into it and it is unexplainable with you leaving it. I love you kid. Just no words <3 Love you love you love you.... Dad"

The suspected driver, 26-year-old Richard Rojas, was taken into custody at the scene of the crash after he plowed through pedestrians from 42nd Street to 45th Street. He was arraigned on charges of murder, attempted murder and aggravated vehicular homicide. Rojas was remanded to custody and will next return to court on May 24. He has not yet formally entered a plea. His defense attorney declined to comment.

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Courtesy Leanndra Cheatham(ST. LOUIS) -- A poignant Facebook video is racking up views with its message of peace.

The messenger is "Lil J," a 6-year-old boy who asks people to "stop killing each other" in the video that was posted by his mother, Leanndra Cheatham, one week ago.

Since that time, the video, which Cheatham told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was her son Jeffrey's reaction to the drive-by-shooting death of her cousin, has received 80,000 views.

"I'm really serious," the boy says before mentioning the drive-by-shooting. "Because I'm really scared to die. And, I'm really scared for my family to die."

Cheatham calls the video a "PSA" in her post, and its message is in part a request for older people to pay attention to the impact violence has on children.

"I'm a kid," the boy says at one point. "I'm not supposed to be knowing about all this stuff. I'm not supposed to be knowing about all these guns."

Jeffery also passes along a message of faith in the video.

"God is my weapon," he says to the camera.

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University of Maryland Police Department(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) -- Federal investigators are trying to determine whether the weekend stabbing of a black college student in Maryland was racially motivated, authorities said Sunday.

Sean Urbanski, a 22-year-old University of Maryland student, has been charged with first and second-degree assault in the stabbing death of 23-year-old Richard Collins III, authorities said.

Police called the attack random and "totally unprovoked.”

The university’s police department said it asked the FBI to assist in the investigation after it discovered that Urbanski, who is white, belonged to a racist Facebook group called "Alt-Reich."

“New information obtained today from witnesses and other sources has led law enforcement officials to consider a hate-bias motive in this case,” University of Maryland President Wallace Loh said in a statement Sunday. “To ensure a comprehensive investigation, UMPD today asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to provide technical and forensic expertise, which it agreed to do.“

Urbanski is being held without bond, according to police. He is due in court next month.

Collins, a student at Bowie State University, was visiting the UMD campus when he was stabbed in the chest by a man who he apparently did not know, according to police.

Collins was set to graduate on Tuesday and he had recently commissioned in the U.S. Army as second lieutenant, officials said.

Collins was waiting for an Uber with friends at around 3 a.m. when Urbanski allegedly approached him, screaming, according to officials.

Urbanski reportedly told the victim to "step left if you know what's best for you," according to police. Collins replied with "no" before Urbanski stabbed allegedly him once in the chest, authorities said.

College Park Police Chief David Mitchell said the attack has caused some students, particularly “students of color,” to fear for their safety on the campus.

"We’re seeing tension here. We’re doing our best to combat that,” said Mitchell while speaking at a press conference on Sunday. “We love our freedom and we are not giving it up.”

When asked if the university had previous knowledge of the hate group’s existence on campus, Mitchell stated that there is “a fine line here between criminal misconduct and first amendment free speech.” He said the university is looking into other students who may be involved with the Facebook group and their involvement on campus.

Officials said that they do not know yet if any drugs were in the suspect’s system but said they would seek to find out.

University of Maryland President Loh said the school has substantially increased visible patrols, on and off campus, but he said that is not enough.

"We must all do more to nurture a climate -- on campus and beyond -- where we stand against hate, we fight against hate crimes, and we reaffirm the values that define us a university and as a democracy,” he said. “We all grieve together for a promising life ended far too early."

A vigil is scheduled for Collins on Monday evening at Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland.

“It is a tragic loss to see our national treasure, in the form of Lt. Collins, taken away from us in this manner,” FBI spokesman Gordon Johnson said at a press conference Sunday.

People who knew Collins described him as a "good young man" who was excited about his future.

Collins’ pastor, Darryl Godlock, said the victim’s family is taking the loss hard.

"The family is just devastated,” Godlock told ABC’s Washington, D.C. affiliate WJLA-TV on Sunday. "[T]his young man’s career was ready to excel."

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ABCNews.com(NOTRE DAME, Ind.) -- A group of graduating seniors from the University of Notre Dame turned their backs on their own graduation ceremony in protest of Vice President Mike Pence, who gave their commencement address there on Sunday.

The protests, which were organized by a student activist group at Notre Dame called We Stand For, were staged in response to "marginalized people affected by Pence's politics," according to a Facebook post published by the group last week, which urged students to join them in the walk out.

"We invite all students, faculty, and families who will be attending the Commencement ceremony to walk out with us as we take back our graduation and show our dissatisfaction with the University's selection of Mike Pence as honored speaker,” the group wrote. "We also will walk out in dignity and solidarity with all marginalized people affected by Pence's politics, both on this campus and throughout our nation."

Video of the protest shows students leaving the facility without any signs of disruption. Many of them were wearing rainbow colored accessories in solidarity with LGBTQ politics.

 

Walkout begins. @ABC57News pic.twitter.com/AEyz3bkcaB

— Hayley Fixler (@HayleyABC57) May 21, 2017

 

The speech marked a homecoming of sorts for Pence, who served as the governor of Indiana while many of the students who graduated Sunday were attending school there.

Aside from those who walked out on him, Pence was greeted warmly by the students, some of whom booed the protesters.

The vice president used the opportunity of the speech to advocate for free speech on college campuses, and criticize what he called "administration-sanctioned political correctness."

“While this institution has maintained an atmosphere of civility and open debate, far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness — all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech,” he said in the address.

He called the atmosphere of policing speech "destructive of learning and the pursuit of knowledge."

The vice president has received harsh criticism from LGBTQ activists, who view him as an opponent of their agenda. Pence is seen by some as a proponent of so-called gay conversion therapy, a highly controversial process of attempting to alter a person's sexual preference, sometimes through physical abuse, that has been banned in multiple states.

As a candidate for Congress in the 1990s, Pence’s campaign website included a statement that fueled the belief that he was in support of conversion therapies for gay youths.

“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior,” the website said, under a header reading, “The Pence agenda.”

Asked about the campaign language, a spokesman for Pence told ABC News that Pence was calling for federal funds to “be directed to groups that promoted safe sexual practices” and said "any assertion that Vice President-elect Pence supported or advocated for conversion therapy is patently false and is a mischaracterization of language from a 16-year old campaign website."

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump let stand an Obama-era order protecting the rights of some LGBT workers, and was widely regarded as being more accepting of LGBTQ issues than his running mate.

Pence told ABC News in the wake of that decision that he sided with Trump.

“I think throughout the campaign, President Trump made it clear that discrimination would have no place in our administration,” Pence told ABC News in a "This Week" interview that aired in February, responding to the potential for misalignment on issues of sexuality in the administration. “He was the very first Republican nominee to mention the LGBTQ community at our Republican National Convention and was applauded for it. And I was there applauding with him.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Richard Rojas, the 26-year-old Navy veteran who rammed his car into a crowd in New York's Times Square last week, killing an 18-year-old woman and injuring 20 others, claims that he reached out to a mental health counselor prior to taking his fateful drive.

“He said he’d call me on Monday," Rojas told the New York Post in a jailhouse interview while speaking about his attempts to seek counselling. "Monday hasn’t come yet.”

Shortly before noon on Thursday, Rojas, a resident of the Bronx, was driving south on 7th Avenue when he slowed down and allowed traffic to pass. He then made a U-turn at 42nd Street, accelerated and started to strike down pedestrians, according to police.

He accelerated and continued driving until he crashed at 45th Street, the NYPD said. After Rojas crashed, he exited the vehicle.

“I wanted to kill them,” he said of his victims, according to prosecutors.

Kenya Bradix, 47, a Planet Hollywood door supervisor, tackled Rojas and helped hold him until police arrived, Bradix told ABC News.

Court records said Rojas was observed with “glassy eyes, slurred speech, and was unsteady on his feet.”

He had smoked pot laced with PCP before the incident, Rojas told police. Authorities later confirmed that he had the drug in his system at the time.

The Post, which interviewed Rojas from New York’s Riker's Island jail complex, described him as being "weepy" while discussing his attempts to seek help.

“I was trying to get help,” Rojas told the Post. “I wanted to fix my life. I wanted to get a job, get a girlfriend.”

Rojas is expected to return to court on May 24.

He was arraigned Friday on charges of murder, attempted murder and aggravated vehicular homicide.

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iStock/Thinkstock(LAKEWOOD, Colo.) -- Thanks to a group of firefighters, one boy was able to retrieve a balloon and an attached note that he sent up to "heaven" for his mom.

"It meant so much to us, and we're so thankful and grateful for everything they do," the boy's father, Jess, of Lakewood, Colorado, told ABC News. "They protect the community and go out of their way to help out even when it's not a big thing, so we're just deeply appreciative."

Seven-year-old Evan's mom, Kellie, died in February 2014. Since then, Evan and his father, who asked that ABC News not share their last name, have been writing cards to her and sending them up in the sky.

This Mother's Day, Evan and Jess attached their note to a balloon and released it in the backyard, but it got tangled in a tree.

On Wednesday, Jess wrote to West Metro Fire Rescue in Lakewood, asking them to rescue the balloon for his son.

"We reached back out to [him] and said, 'Absolutely, we'll come and help you,' " Chief Steve Aseltine told ABC News. “We sent a tower ladder apparatus, which has four personnel. An opportunity to take their bad situation and make it better, we would jump on it. The firefighters -- they were ecstatic to go and help."

On May 17, the firefighters surprised Evan at home as soon as he got out of school.

"The firemen went out of their way to make him feel very special," Jess said of his son. "They let him in the truck and hung out with him afterward, and that was great."

Evan now hopes to resend the balloon to his mom in a "big field with no trees in sight," Jess said.

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Washington County Indiana Sheriffs Department(NEW YORK) -- Officials in a southern Indiana county declared a state of emergency Friday after flash flooding prompted first responders to rescue residents from high water.

Some businesses and homes are under almost 20 feet of water, and multiple structures have water damage, according to the Salem Fire Department.

"Flash flooding occurs very quickly and can cause a lot of damage," says ABC News meteorologist Brittany Borer. "People can be trapped in homes or vehicles which is a very dangerous situation. Rainfall totals of up to 2 inches can be expected through Sunday."

 Salem, the county seat of Washington County, was hardest hit. The city is located less than an hour northwest of Louisville, Kentucky.

Some residents evacuated after officials announced a voluntary evacuation of the county.

The fire department said it conducted "dozens" of water rescues between roughly 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. There were no injuries or fatalities.

"The City of Salem and Washington Co., is currently under a state of emergency please stay home do not get out to 'sight see;' there are multiple emergency service crews working in multiple locations," the Salem Fire Department wrote on its Facebook page.

Follow the Blue River at Salem here! https://t.co/gi42bZFFY7 #lmkwx #inwx pic.twitter.com/UVTsuO6TUH

— NWS Louisville (@NWSLouisville) May 20, 2017

Multiple roads in and out of Salem were closed, the fire department said.

"It just rained and rained and rained, and next thing you know, this is what you got," Salem mayor told ABC affiliate WHAS in Louisville. "It's a heartbreaking situation, but we will get through it."

In addition to Washington County, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency for all or parts of Jefferson, Clark and Scott counties.

Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin told WHAS that the city of Seymour, north of Salem, had downtown street flooding.

Be especially cautious in and near locations that flood particularly easily! #lmkwx #inwx pic.twitter.com/bXKv1TSSXk

— NWS Louisville (@NWSLouisville) May 20, 2017

Power outages have also been reported, and officials estimate there is millions of dollars in damage, according to WHAS.

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Andrew Burton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former New York congressman and estranged husband of top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, tearfully admitted Friday to a federal judge that he sent obscene material to a 15-year-old high school student in North Carolina, the same day Abedin filed for divorce from him.

Weiner, who turned himself into the FBI, pleaded guilty in federal court this morning to a single count of transferring obscene material to a minor. This afternoon a court official confirmed that Abedin filed for divorce after seven years of marriage. The divorce is uncontested.

Weiner agreed to surrender his iPhone as part of the plea agreement and he must register as a sex offender.

In an emotional statement Friday, Weiner said he "compulsively sought attention from women," engaging many of them in sexual and non-sexual conversations. He said his behavior started when he entered Congress and it continued through the first six months of 2016.

"These destructive impulses brought great devastation to my family and friends, and destroyed my life's dream of public service," he said.

Weiner admitted to sharing explicit images with the 15-year-old and encouraging her to engage in sexually explicit conduct; he said he knew his behavior was "as morally wrong as it was unlawful."

Weiner said last fall is when he "came to grips for the first time with the depths of my sickness" and entered "intensive treatment."

"I have a sickness," Weiner said, "but I do not have an excuse."

Weiner also apologized to the teenage girl.

Weiner agreed to serve 21 to 27 months in prison but he will be released on $150,000 bond. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 8.

Weiner's attorney, Arlo Devlin-Brown, said in a statement that the former politician "accepted full responsibility for the inappropriate, sexually explicit communications he engaged in early last year. He apologized, offered no excuses, and made a commitment to make amends."

"As reflected in the plea agreement, the resolution on terms far less severe than could have been sought reflect 'the specific circumstances of the offense conduct in this case,' which did not feature aggravating factors often present in cases of this kind," Devlin-Brown said. "Mr. Weiner will not be addressing this matter beyond his statement this morning in Court, and remains focused on his recovery.”

The emails that prompted the FBI to reopen its review of Clinton’s private email server days before the 2016 presidential election emerged from the 2016 federal investigation into whether Weiner sent explicit messages to to that underage girl in North Carolina.

During that federal investigation, at least one device used by Weiner and Abedin was discovered. Abedin was among a tight-knit group that had an email address on Clinton’s private server.

Abedin announced her separation from Weiner in August 2016. The two married in 2010, and in June 2011 Weiner resigned from Congress, a month after the release of an explicit photo of him that he inadvertently posted on his Twitter account. At the time, Abedin was pregnant their son, who was born in December 2011. Weiner ran for mayor of New York City in 2013 during which a similar sexting scandal unfolded.

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Courtesy Cornelia Reynolds(CINCINNATI) -- The superintendent of a Cincinnati public school district is disputing claims that 8-year-old Gabriel Taye was bullied at school before he hanged himself at home.

In a recent interview with ABC News affiliate WCPO-TV, Cincinnati Public Schools superintendent Mary Ronan rejected a family attorney’s claim that surveillance video captures Gabriel being bullied in a school bathroom.

“That is a falsehood. When you look at the video, we see no link between bullying and the suicide. If you look at the video — and we have, frame by frame — it appears the young man fainted,” Ronan told WCPO-TV on Thursday.

Cincinnati Public Schools released on May 12 the surveillance video recorded Jan. 24 outside a boys' bathroom at Carson School. The blurry and choppy footage shows Gabriel walking into the bathroom around the 13-minute mark. As he enters the restroom, Gabriel appears to shake another child’s hand and then falls to the floor.

Gabriel was unconscious for several minutes, his feet visible from the hallway surveillance camera. Students are seen entering and leaving the restroom, with some stopping to look at Gabriel and nudge him.

Finally, a child summons a school staff member to the restroom, who attends to Gabriel.

According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, Gabriel's mother, Cornelia Reynolds, took him to the hospital for vomiting that evening and kept him home from school the following day. He returned to school on Jan. 26.

That evening, two days after the alleged incident in the restroom, Gabriel hanged himself in a bedroom of his home. His mother found him, police said.

Months after the young boy's death, Ronan is disturbed by what she says is the ongoing fallout from the incident and the family's accusation that Gabriel's death was due to bullying.

The superintendent said other boys who were in the restroom at the time are “traumatized” because they think they “caused his death.”

“Now, what I'm having to do is provide mental health services for the other three or four 8-year-olds in the bathroom with Gabriel because somehow now they think that they caused his death. So, now we've traumatized another three or four children who are at-risk,” Ronan told WCPO-TV.

She went on, “So, this whole situation is so tragic — to have lost a child — and now children for the rest of their lives may need therapy because of what they've been unfairly accused of and these are children with no disciplinary record who just happened to be walking into the bathroom when he collapsed.”

When contacted by ABC News for comment Friday, the superintendent reaffirmed her remarks as told to WCPO-TV and added that Gabriel told the school nurse when she arrived on scene that he had fainted.

"He never said he was bullied," Ronan told ABC News.

Ronan reiterated her concern for the other children in the video, some of whom she said have been "harshly criticized by people who do not know them or all the facts."

ABC News also reached out to Cincinnati Public Schools’ public affairs office for additional comment Friday but did not immediately hear back.

Gabriel’s death was initially ruled a suicide in January by the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office. On May 12, a spokesperson for the coroner’s office told ABC News the circumstances surrounding the boy’s death will be re-examined based on the newly-released surveillance video as well as a police detective’s analysis.

The Cincinnati Police Department has not filed charges in the case.

"On Jan. 26, 2017, the Cincinnati Police Department conducted an investigation into the death of Gabriel Taye. In light of the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office statement that they have reopened this death investigation, the Cincinnati Police Department does not believe it would be appropriate to comment at this time. Any questions regarding this matter should be directed to the Hamilton County Coroner's Office,” the Cincinnati Police Department told ABC News in a statement on May 12.

Cincinnati Public Schools released a statement upon releasing the video, saying "the allegations portrayed in the media," regarding Gabriel being bullied, aren't supported by the footage.

“Our hearts are broken by the loss of this child, and our thoughts are with his parents and extended family. He was an outstanding young man, and this is a great loss for his family and our school community, the statement said. “In an effort to be completely transparent, we are releasing the video that was reviewed as part of an investigation by the Cincinnati Police Department. As all are aware, no charges resulted from that investigation. We have uploaded the video, in its entirety, blurring out faces of the students who appear to protect their privacy. We ask that you review the video, in its entirety. It is our firm position that the allegations portrayed in the media are not supported by the video."

In a statement to ABC News on May 12, Reynolds called her son a "shining light to everyone who knew him and loved him.”

"We miss him desperately and suffer every day. His life was not only stolen from him, but from those of us who expected to watch him grow up and enjoy life. If I could, I would give anything to have him back. I feel he was cheated. I feel robbed. My only child, my best friend and my first true love isn't here with us physically but I know he's here in spirit," the mother said in the statement.

Jennifer Branch, an attorney for the boy’s family, said Gabriel’s mother had not been told of the alleged incident in the boys' bathroom. Reynolds had been told her son had fainted, according to Branch.

"There needs to be a lot more response in that school to what is going on and the parents need to know what's going on. I think that's a very big component," Branch told WCPO-TV on May 11.

Carla Leader, another attorney for the family, said it’s unclear from the video whether Gabriel hit his head on the wall or the floor and if that ultimately knocked him out. Leader said the footage shows other students pointing at Gabriel, laughing and kicking him before a school staff member revives the boy.

"Gabe comes in and reaches out to shake his hand and gets pulled to the ground and he lays there unconscious for about seven-and-a-half minutes," Leader told WCPO-TV on May 11.

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Cornell University Police(ITHACA, N.Y.) — Police say they have found the body of a 20-year-old Cornell University student who had been missing for more than two days.

Authorities recovered a body from the area of Fall Creek, just upstream from Ithaca Falls, New York, on Friday morning and later confirmed the deceased's identity as 20-year-old Aalaap Narasipura, according to the Cornell University Police Department.

The circumstances of Narasipura’s death remain under investigation, but police said they don't suspect any foul play.

Narasipura was last seen in Sage Hall on Cornell’s campus Wednesday morning between 2 and 3 a.m. ET, according to the Cornell University Police Department.

State and local authorities from multiple agencies searched Narasipura’s residence, academic spaces and regular routes of travel as well as adjacent natural areas and gorges around the Ivy League university. They did not find any evidence of his whereabouts until coming across his body in Fall Creek on Friday morning, police said.

Earlier in the week, police had released a photo and description of Narasipura in hopes that members of the public could provide any leads.

"We are actively searching for Cornell student Aalaap Narasipura. We are in regular contact with his family, and we are dedicating significant resources to the search process and coordinating with local and state agencies," Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life at Cornell, said in a statement Thursday. "We are all hopeful for a positive outcome, and I know you will join me in keeping Aalaap and his family and friends in our thoughts right now."
 
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