National News


Small Plane Lands on Florida Beach, One Dead

Photo Credit: Zack Arceneaux(VENICE, Fla.) -- A small plane in distress landed on a Florida beach on Sunday afternoon, killing one man and injuring one of his children.

According to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, the plane had contacted the Venice Airport noting that it was in distress and would not be able to return to the airport. The pilot is believed to have made an attempt to land on the beach.

Preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration indicated that the man and his daughter were struck by the plane as the pilot attempted to land.

The man was pronounced dead and his daughter was taken to All Children's Hospital. The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office said that she was believed to be in critical condition.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More>>
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.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More>>
Former WWE Champion Thwarts Home Invader with Wrestling Move

Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images(PHOENIX) --  A former WWE champion used his ring skills to foil an attempted robbery in his Arizona home.

Bryan Danielson, better known by his stage known Daniel Bryan, and his wife, fellow-wrestler Brie Bella, were pulling up to their home early this week when they saw two burglars try to escape their home with stolen items.

Danielson, a four-time world champion, chased the two burglars and managed to use his signature wrestling move to catch one, according to ABC affiliate KNXV-TV in Phoenix.

"I took him down and put him in a rear naked choke," Danielson said. "I didn't want to hurt him, I just wanted to make sure he was subdued."

Danielson caught Cesar Sosa, 22, who was booked and charged with burglary, allegedly trying to steal from the couple's home with an unidentified accomplice, according to police.

Danielson, his wife, and their dog, a bulldog named Josie, are doing just fine, the former wrestler said.

"I was very angry, Brie was very angry," Danielson said. "They're actually lucky I got them instead of Brie, because she probably would have been a little more violent."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More>>
Alleged Pennsylvania Hospital Shooter Richard Plotts Arraigned in Bed

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- A Pennsylvania psychiatric patient has been arraigned on charges including murder and attempted murder for allegedly shooting his caseworker in the head in a hospital office and then engaging in a gun battle with a doctor who tried to subdue him.

The patient, Richard Plotts, 49, was arraigned late Saturday night in his bed at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he is being treated for his wounds and is under police guard, a spokeswoman for the Delaware County district attorney's office said.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan told ABC station WPVI-TV in Philadelphia that police seized two guns and a computer from Plotts' home in Clifton Heights this weekend.

Plotts is accused of opening fire inside the wellness center of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby Borough just after 2 p.m. Thursday.

Police told WPVI that they believe Plotts went to his appointment intending to kill his psychiatrist, Dr. Lee Silverman. They said Plotts was angry because the hospital posted a sign declaring the building a "gun-free zone."

Plotts was inside Silverman's office for a scheduled appointment Thursday when he suddenly pulled a gun out of his waistband and shot his caseworker, Theresa Hunt, in the head at point-blank range, police said. Hunt was killed instantly.

Silverman dove to the floor, pulled a semi-automatic pistol out his pocket and had a furious close range gun battle with Plotts, who police said fired at least 10 rounds. The doctor, who was using a chair for protection, aimed his gun at Plotts and fired until it was empty, Whelan said Friday.

The doctor, who was grazed in the head and wounded in the thumb while covering his face, was able to get out of the office, unaware that he had struck Plotts three times.

According to Whelan, caseworker John D'Alonzo heard the shooting and called 911. He then climbed through a window into Silverman's office because the door was locked and "engaged in a wrestling match with Mr. Plotts," getting him on the ground. Whelan called D'Alonzo's actions "nothing short of heroic." Dr. Jeffrey Dekret helped D'Alonzo wrestle the gun away from Plotts and hold him for police, Whelan said.

Whelan said that D'Alonzo "believed Plotts was trying to reload." The prosecutor said Plotts had another 39 bullets.

"If it wasn't for the heroic actions" of Silverman and Dalonzo, "we believe he (Plotts) was going to reload that revolver and continue to fire," Whelan said.

The prosecutor said that had the doctor not had a gun and fired back, "he would probably not be alive today."

Plotts had a history of violence with arrests for simple assault and a federal bank robbery as well as illegal firearms possession.

Plotts did not have a license for the gun that he used. It was not clear whether he had a lawyer.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More>>
Reward Offered in Carjacking that Killed Three Children

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) --  Philadelphia police are offering a $110,000 reward to anyone who can help them find two men suspected of carjacking an SUV and killing three children and injuring three adults when they crashed it.

Siblings Thomas Reed, 10, Keiearra Williams, 15, and Terrence Williams, 7, were selling fruit outside their church Friday when they were hit and killed by a white Toyota 4Runner SUV that blew a tire while making a turn at a high speed.

The children's mother was also hit in the crash and taken to a hospital in critical condition. Another woman who was hit by the SUV was also injured, and the SUV's owner, who was in the vehicle when it crashed, was also injured.

"Taking innocent people's lives. That's my son, you took him away from me. Turn yourself in, dog. Whoever y'all is, turn yourself in," the father of Thomas Reed told ABC's Philadelphia affiliate WPVI.

The SUV crashed into the fruit stand and then crashed into a nearby grove of trees, where two suspects got out of the vehicle and fled on foot, police said.

They are still at large and police on Sunday announced the reward to anyone who can help track them down.

The two suspects are described as one Hispanic male wearing a white shirt and one black male wearing a white shirt, according to WPVI.

"We have a tragedy here. We will use all the resources at our disposal to find the people responsible," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told WPVI.

"I've been in the homicide unit for six years and this is one of the saddest cases that I've come across," Capt. James Clark of the Philadelphia Police added. "You have three innocent children who had the rest of their lives in front of them who were taken in this fashion. It is very sad and very tragic."

An estimated 40,000 carjackings occur every year in the United States, particularly in hot spots like Northern New Jersey where proximity to ports like Newark that ship luxury vehicles overseas entice carjackers.

"The crime of carjacking has reached epidemic levels," New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Hoffman told ABC News.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Read More>>
California Man Killed Wife, Set Home on Fire to Cover it Up, Police Say

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ESCONDIDO, Calif.) --  Police officers in California are grieving one of their own as her husband sits in jail, accused of shooting his wife and trying to cover up her murder by lighting his house on fire.

Freddy Perez-Rodas called 911 on Wednesday and said his wife, Laura Perez, was inside their burning home in Escondido, California, according to police. Investigators suspected arson after firefighters put out the blaze and were unable to find her inside.

“We started to look for her and it became something of an arson, missing person investigation,” said Murrieta Police Lieutenant Tony Conrad.

Within hours, police took Perez-Rodas into custody and charged him with murdering his wife. Although police said that Perez-Rodas confessed, he pleaded not guilty.

“He essentially admitted to shooting his wife three times in the chest and removing her body from the home and taking it to a storage locker,” said Conrad.

Escondido Police Chief Craig Carter called Perez a "fantastic officer." She graduated from the police academy in December.

"[She was] quickly moving into a leader on her shift and with her teams,” said Carter.

The couple’s 4-year-old daughter is being watched by family members as Perez-Rodas awaits his trial.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More>>
Kayakers Breach Security System at New York's JFK Airport

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A pair of kayakers who overturned in Jamaica Bay reportedly breached a secure area at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday, getting through the airport's security system.

The two men pulled themselves from the water at the end of a pier that sticks out into the bay near one of the airport's runways, says ABC's New York affiliate WABC. That pier supports navigation equipment that assists planes with takeoff and landing.

Maintenance workers spotted the two men at about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, WABC reports.

Port Authority Police Benevolent Association Spokesman Bobby Egbert said that the breach "raises serious concerns" about the security system.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More>>
Over 100 Million Could Face Severe Weather This Weekend

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Severe storms are threatening the midwestern United States this weekend with over 100 million Americans at risk of facing severe weather.

Parts of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Iowa are under a severe weather outlook for Saturday evening, the National Weather Service says. The storms could bring hazardous hail, strong winds and potential tornadoes.

The system is also thought to threaten parts of Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania on Sunday, with areas as far north as Boston and as far south as Nashville being at risk of thunderstorms.

A powerful tornado touched down near an airpark in Edgewater, Florida on Saturday. David Sharp of the National Weather Service says the storm brought winds that touched 100 to 105 mph. No injuries were reported immediately. ABC's Orlando affiliate WFTV said no injuries were reported.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More>>
NM Authorities Say Girl, 7, Was Not Kidnapped

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MORIARTY, N.M.) -- Authorities in New Mexico say that a girl who called authorities repeatedly on Friday was not kidnapped, and that she was acting out a scenario out of a movie she had watched.

On Friday, the Torrance County Sheriff's Office said that the girl, 7, had called approximately 40 times, saying that she was being held against her will in a vehicle. Deputies located the semi-truck and questioned the driver, who they later determined was the girl's uncle.

Sheriff Heath White said that the man had adopted the girl, who is believed to have learning disabilities. The girl, White said, had recently watched a film in which a character was being held hostage inside a car, a scenario that she mimicked on Friday.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More>>
Teen Arrested for Making Threats of Violence Ahead of US Open of Surfing

Purestock/Thinkstock(HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.) -- A teenager was arrested on Saturday after he allegedly made threats of violence in advance of the U.S. Open of Surfing.

The U.S. Open of Surfing is the world's largest surf event, with officials telling ABC's Los Angeles affiliate KABC-TV that they expect about 500,000 people to attend the nine-day event. Lt. Mitch O'Brien of the Huntington Beach Police Department said that a search warrant was served and the 16-year-old was placed under arrest.

Last year's event was marred by looting and fighting. O'Brien warned attendees that security is going to crack down on bad behavior this year. "If you want to come down and watch surfing, we're going to welcome you. If you want to come down here and try to repeat last year, we're going to identify you as quick as we can and send you home."

KABC said a shotgun and a handgun were found at the teenager's home.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More>>
Family Forgives Montana Man Accused of Plotting a Hit on Own Mother

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BILLINGS, Mont.) -- The family of Matthew Campbell, a Montana man who is in prison after allegedly plotting to hire a hit man to kill his mother, says they have forgiven him.

“He wants to move on and put everything past him and we do too,” his sister Nikki Campbell told Nightline Prime.

Campbell, of Billings, Montana, was just 19 years old when he was arrested in 2010 after being accused of hiring a hit man and plotting the murder of his mother, Dana Campbell. He pleaded guilty to using a cellphone with intent to commit murder for hire. He was sentenced to five years in federal prison, but is set to be released next month.

Dana Campbell learned from an FBI agent in 2010 that she was the target for the hit man her son allegedly hired.

"He asked to speak to me out in private and he said, 'I hate to be the one to inform you, but we've been notified that there's been a contract put out on your life,'" Campbell said of the conversation with the FBI agent at the time. "It sounds insane."

According an FBI agent, Matthew Campbell had offered to pay $5,000 upfront for killing his mother and another $5,000 after the job was done.

“The fact that he was only thinking of himself and what he could get out of it made me question everything I ever knew about him,” Nikki Campbell said. “Was I next? Was my sister next?”

Nikki said she thought their family had an unbreakable bond. She said they enjoyed family trips together and bickered the way brothers and sister do.

“We picked on each other and pick on my little sister a lot but we knew that we had each other,” she said.

But the bond frayed, she said, when Matthew started to get into trouble.

“He didn’t want to live at home with my parents any more it was a tough living situation and he decided to run away basically,” Nikki Campbell said. “We didn’t know where he was and he got himself in a little bit of trouble with some cars and what not.”

Matthew Campbell ended up in a halfway house in Helena, Montana, where Campbell said he had conversations with some of his fellow inmates about whom they could kill for money. According to court documents, Campbell wanted his mother killed so he could collect insurance money and a recent inheritance that she had received, as well as other household items.

But one of the inmates informed the authorities about Matthew’s plan.

“That other person went to the Department of Corrections and basically told on my brother and said, ‘Matthew Campbell wants to hire someone to kill his mother,’” Nikki Campbell said.

That ultimately lead Matthew Campbell to meet unknowingly with an undercover FBI agent, according to court documents. Then the undercover agent approached Campbell and told him was a hit man. Nikki said Matthew had written her a letter saying he was afraid of the man and felt pressured to go through with the plot.

“If he tried to back out of this that the guy would come after him just because now my brother has a name of a contract killer,” Nikki said.

That’s how Matthew Campbell’s plan was exposed.

The family now believes Matthew never really intended to kill his mother and are waiting for him to come home from prison.

Nikki shared a recent email she received from her brother, saying, “Hey I need an address from you so I can send you this [birthday] card and how is the shoe hunting coming?”

“My birthday is coming up and he is still going to be in prison when my birthday is here and he is still going to send me a card. It’s the first time I’ve gotten a card from him since he’s been gone,” she said. “It’s touching, I guess… I think we are going to flourish probably into the best relationships we’ve ever had.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More>>
United Jet Makes Emergency Landing After Reported Odor

iStock/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) -- A Boeing 777 operated by United Airlines made an emergency landing Friday due to a strange odor onboard, marking the second such incident this month.

United Airlines Flight 328 took off from Denver, bound for Honolulu, but was forced to land in Salt Lake City on Friday afternoon due to an “electrical odor,” according to airline spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm.

There were 269 passengers and 10 crew members on board.

“Our passengers deplaned normally, and our maintenance team will inspect the aircraft,” Dohm said in an email to ABC News.

Earlier this month, another Boeing 777 operated by United made an emergency landing on the tiny Pacific island of Midway after passengers reported a burning smell.

United did not say when the passengers on Friday’s flight would be able continue on to Hawaii.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More>>
FAA Investigating Drone Incident at Seattleā€™s Space Needle

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- The Federal Aviation Administration told ABC News on Friday that it is looking into reports that a drone recently hovered above the observation deck of Seattle’s famous Space Needle.

While curious tourists waved, the mysterious flying object gave security quite a scare.

Authorities said a man launched the drone out of his hotel room window on Tuesday.

“There was no malcontent or malice,” said Drew Fowler of the Seattle Police Department. “He wasn’t trying to do anything wrong. He was just trying to capture some interesting footage.”

While recreational drone usage is legal in Washington state, the incident was the latest raising questions about whether it’s safe to fly drones above crowded cities.

Last year, a drone buzzed over the busy streets of New York, flying past iconic landmarks like the Chrysler building and then crash-landed, nearly hitting pedestrians during the height of rush hour.

And there have been close calls with planes. A drone last year came within 200 feet of a jumbo jet.

Drones have been exploding in popularity but the rules for how and where they can be used have not caught up. The FAA said it is working on new safety guidelines but it could take two years for them to take effect.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More>>
California Gym Beats Drought with Green Scheme

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN JOSE, Calif.) -- At least one gym in California is trying to conserve water during what is called the state's worst drought in nearly four decades using a technology appropriate for its Silicon Valley setting.

Almaden Valley Athletic Club in San Jose, California, started using a trademarked product this week that coats brown lawns into green grass with paint.

Jeff Griffith-Jones, general manager of operations of the 38-year old fitness center, said the gym decided to pay about $600 for the services of Green Polymer Systems, a company based in nearby Los Gatos. The green treatment should last three to six months, he said.

"It looks phenomenal," Griffith-Jones said.

While some cities in California are responding to a severe drought by charging more for water or limiting water use, San Jose doesn't have those restrictions. Last week, the state's water regulators voted to approve fines up to $500 a day for residents' excessive water use.

But the fitness center's management decided to take measures upon the concern of some of its 6,000 customers.

"The important thing is we’re saving water and that's what our members are looking for, so that’s what’s important to us," he said.

After all, the five-acre athletic club has two swimming pools and plenty of showers and bathrooms for its guests.

When his gym members saw workers applying the treatment onto the lawn, they started asking whether the product is available for residences. ( states that a treatment for the average residential lawn is about $175.)

"The members love it so much," he said. "They love the concept of it, so we display brochures," he said.

The product that coats the grass is called Green Canary and is described on the company website as an "eco-friendly solution to dried, dormant or diseased grass." The company claims on its site that it is waterproof, non-toxic and "safe for children, elderly and pets."

The company did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

Griffith-Jones said Green Polymer Systems asked the gym to first let its grass turn fully brown before the treatment is applied. Otherwise, the treatment would create two tones of green on the lawn. So the gym stopped using its sprinklers about two weeks ago.

The gym still waters the lawn to keep the roots alive, but it uses only 10 percent of its former sprinkler use, Griffith-Jones said.

What if the gym's management wants to return to naturally green grass?

"If and when we decide to stop using the pigment -- the grass is still alive--we can mow off the paint," he said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More>>
Researchers Return to Real World After Four Months on 'Mars'

iStock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) -- Six researchers who have been living in a mock-up Mars habitat on a Hawaiian volcano returned to the real world Friday, feeling a breeze and hearing birds for the first time in four months.

The second Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation mission, known as HI-SEAS, ended 120 days of the Red Planet exploration on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano.

Expedition leader Casey Stedman and his five crew members had been living inside their 1,000-square-foot solar-powered dome, which includes common areas such as kitchen, dining room, bathroom with shower, lab and exercise space.

“I haven’t seen a tree, smelled the train, heard a bird, or felt wind on my skin in four months,” Stedman posted on his Instagram account.

The crew have been cooking with dehydrated food that doesn’t require refrigerated food and venturing out of the dome only for simulated spacewalks in mock spacesuits.

“It’s really great to taste fresh fruit and vegetables again,” Stedman told ABC News on Friday.

“The main purpose of the project is to learn about the problems that might occur to crew members if they went to Mars,” Kimberly Binsted, principal investigator of the project, told ABC News.

Binsted said crew members have to deal with disagreements and conflicts with each other, and solve depression and anxiety.

“It’s not like if you have a problem with someone, you can go out for a run in a park on Mars,” Binsted said. “You have to get along with each other in a very small space.”

Not only were the members confined physically, they couldn'tt surf the internet to kill time either.

“Communication with the outside world has a 20-minute delay each way,” Binsted said. “So one click on the internet will take 40 minutes to refresh.”

Binsted said one of the technologies tested in the past four months is a device that detects the voice and proximity between two crew members.

“It was a really good experience,” Stedman said. “The first thing I wanted to do after I come outside was to squint.”

“We had little direct contact to the sun in the past four months,” Stedman said. “We wear our spacesuits when we go out, and the masks cover most of our face.”

“There weren’t really altercations among the crew,” Stedman said. “But even in a family vacation, you disagree with someone over something.”

Stedman said most disagreements were about procedures to get things accomplished.

“We all come from different backgrounds, so we have different interpretation of data,” Stedman said.

Stedman said he found sun dried tomatoes taste really good with mustard during the past four months.

“We have the dried and ground tomato powder,” Steadman said. “You can make a paste out of it.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More>>