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Video Could Hold Clues in Brooklyn Bridge White Flag Mystery


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Police are looking for five people seen on surveillance video before bleached-white American flags were added to the poles atop the Brooklyn Bridge.

The group was seen walking on the bridge after 3 a.m. Tuesday. At around 3:30 a.m., the lights that illuminate the U.S. flags on either side of the bridge could be seen flickering and then going out completely. At 5:30 a.m., construction workers noticed that the seemingly-white flags had replaced the American flags, police said.

Officers later made their way up the bridge’s main cables, finding aluminum pans -- secured with zip ties -- covering the lights. The bleached flags were removed, and the traditional American flags were returned.

Police admitted they don’t know who committed the security breach or how they accomplished it.

“I’m not particularly happy about the event,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said Tuesday.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller, who also oversees intelligence and counter terrorism, said tests were being conducted on the two flags.

"At this time, there is no sign of any particular nexus to terrorism or even politics," Miller said. "It could be someone's art project or a statement, but it's not clear what that statement is."

The perpetrators may have had some experience climbing in construction or bridgework, or have previously been up to the bridge’s flag platforms, Miller said.

Either way, authorities said, whoever pulled off the breach was able to scale 276 feet, somehow making it past the locked gates that sit atop the bridge’s steel cables.

Eric Adams, Brooklyn’s borough president, is offering $5,000 for information leading to an arrest.

“This is the Brooklyn Bridge, and the only person who should surrender at this time is the person responsible for the desecration of this flag,” Adams said.

The famed bridge, one of the country’s oldest suspension bridges, was completed in 1883 and connects Brooklyn and Manhattan over the East River.

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Official: Gun Shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Played Greater Role in Bombing and Aftermath


FBI(BOSTON) -- The handgun used by one of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers in a violent firefight with police and to allegedly murder an MIT police officer was given to the Tsarnaev brothers by a local alleged heroin dealer who was taken into custody late Tuesday, several law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Stephen Silva, a Cambridge Rindge and Latin classmate of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, appeared in federal court Tuesday on drug and gun possession charges.

In addition to charges related to alleged heroin dealing, the Eritrea native, "knowingly received and possessed a firearm…a Ruger model P95 9mm pistol, which had the importer's and manufacturer's serial number removed, obliterated, and altered," according to court documents obtained by ABC News. Silva is alleged to have had the gun in Feb. 2013, just months before the marathon blasts.

Law enforcement sources said that gun was the same as the Ruger P95 described in other court documents as used by Tamerlan Tsarneav, Dzhokhar's older brother, in a gun battle with police three days after the marathon bombing in April 2013. Tamerlan emptied the gun when firing at police and then threw the empty weapon at the officers before he was killed, the documents say. Dzhokhar was injured, but survived the firefight and would be apprehended hours later. He has pleaded not guilty to a litany of charges related to the marathon bombing.

Hours before the police engaged the brothers, the same gun was also allegedly used in the murder of MIT security officer Sean Collier.

Defense attorneys for Dzhokhar have filed papers and have said in open court that Tamerlan was the architect of the marathon attacks that left three dead, 260 wounded, and that Dzhokhar came under the "stronger influence of his older brother."

However, a high-ranking law enforcement official said that while Tamerlan may have used the Ruger last, it was Dzhokhar who was friends with Silva and in the end, "it was Dzhokhar's gun."

"The defense is trying to paint Tamerlan as the mastermind [of the Boston attacks], but they were working in concert and we have evidence that Dzhokhar secured the weapon," the official said.

Though the serial number was damaged, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was able to use what was left to track it to a gun to a store in Maine where it had been purchased legally, law enforcement sources said.

The original buyer told investigators he gave it to a Portland, Maine drug dealing gang. The alleged leader of that gang has been identified in federal court records as Biniam "Icy" Tsegai, also from Eritrea. Tsegai and others were indicted by federal prosecutors in Maine last year and in recent weeks several of those charged with drug-related crimes have pleaded guilty or been sentenced, according to FBI releases and court records.

It is unclear what connection "Icy" or his associates may have had with Silva or the Tsarnaevs. But Silva was described by investigators as a longtime friend of the younger Tsarnaev – who today turned 21 in jail where he is awaiting trial. Silva told U.S. Magistrate Court Justice Marianne Bowler Monday that he attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin, the same school as Dzohokhar, and graduated in the same year, 2011.

Silva's attorney, Jonathon Shapiro, did not respond to requests for comment. Silva will return to federal court next month for a bail hearing.

The FBI has doggedly built cases against four other Tsarnaev friends.

Another Cambridge Rindge and Latin classmate, Robel Phillipos, will go on trial this fall for lying to federal agents.

On Monday, Azmat Tazhayakov, who was with Tsarnaev every day after the bombings, according to court testimony in his trial, was found guilty of obstruction charges and faces twenty years in prison.

The FBI dug through a dump for ten days to recover a backpack with spent fireworks that Tazhayakov and roomate Dias Kadrybayev are accused of disposing of the night of Collier's murder.

Kadrybayev was also charged with obstruction and is slated for trial this fall. He has pleaded not guilty.

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Lightning Kills 1, Injures 2 on Florida Beach


iStock/Thinkstock(FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla.) -- A lightning strike on a Florida beach Tuesday afternoon killed one person and left two others injured.

The three people were hit at around 2:10 p.m., while they were walking on the beach a short distance from the Lani Kai resort in Fort Myers Beach.

The strike, which was part of a storm so fierce that emergency workers were reportedly hesitant to go out on the beach when they arrived, horrified onlookers.

"The blood was rolling, just floating down to the water's edge and the water was turning red right there. It was really terrible," witness Robert Gustafson told ABC affiliate WZVN-TV in Fort Myers.

"I'm shaken up. Three people hit by lightning ... at the same time, that's -- that's terrible," Alice Lynch told WZVN-TV.

Emergency workers performed CPR on a young man who was hit, and he was unconscious when he was taken was taken from the scene, according to reports.

A teenage girl who was also hit was reportedly conscious when she was taken by ambulance to a hospital.

Lee County Sheriff's officials have not yet identified the three victims, but according to WZVN-TV they were all from Lehigh Acres.

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FAA Orders US Air Carriers to Suspend All Flights to Israel


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- American air carriers have suspended flights from the United Stated to Israel "for a period of up to 24 hours" after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning in response to a rocket strike Tuesday morning near Tel Aviv's main airport, officials said.

In a statement, the FAA said, "The notice was issued in response to a rocket strike which landed approximately one mile from Ben Gurion International Airport on the morning ... [and] applies only to U.S. operators, and has no authority over foreign airlines operating to or from the airport," according to the statement.

Delta Air Lines Flight 468, which was flying over the Mediterranean at the time, was en route from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv when a rocket fired from Gaza hit Yahood, a Tel Aviv suburb close to the airport.

The rocket escaped interception by the Iron Dome, which Israel has used to intercept missiles launched by Hamas.

The inbound Delta flight was eventually diverted to Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

Most international carriers that fly to Tel Aviv have also suspended flights. This is the first time this has happened since 1991, amid the first Gulf War. At that time, all airlines except for El Al and the now-defunct Tower Air cancelled flights to and from Tel Aviv.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken with Secretary of State John Kerry and has asked him to effort the resumption of flights of U.S. carriers to and from Israel, according to Netanyahu’s office.

International airlines still flying to Tel Aviv at this time are British Airways, Ukrainian International, Belavia and El Al, Israel's national carrier.

El Al said there "is no chance we will stop operations," according to a spokesman, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said that he will fly to Israel on El Al Tuesday to prove that it is safe and "to show solidarity with the Israeli people."

"Ben Gurion is the best protected airport in the world and El Al flights have been regularly flying in and out of it safely," he said. "The flight restrictions are a mistake that hands Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately. I strongly urge the FAA to reverse course and permit US airlines to fly to Israel."

On Monday, the State Department updated its warning for Americans traveling to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza due to ongoing hostilities. The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens consider the deferral of non-essential travel to Israel and the West Bank.

Passengers have also been jittery about travel safety since last Thursday, when a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over Ukraine by a missile, killing all 298 people.

Delta and other airlines had already issued a travel waiver for customers holding tickets to Tel Aviv. The waiver is good through July 31 and allows customers to make a one-time change to their ticket. The other U.S.-based carriers not allowed to fly to Israel -- United and U.S. Airways -- have a similar policy.

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Florida Council Votes to Ban Saggy Pants; Mayor Sees No Need for Fashion Police


iStock/Thinkstock(OCALA, Fla.) -- A Florida city council's vote to ban sagging pants has sparked a debate among city officials over whether the need for fashion police.

The ordinance, passed July 15 in a unanimous vote, makes it illegal to wear pants two inches below the natural waistline, with violators facing a penalty of possible jail time and a fine of up to $500. The ordinance affects city-owned or leased property, including sidewalks, streets and parks.

Mary Sue Rich, a councilwoman for Ocala, was "the driving force" for the law, said Jeannine Robbins, public information officer for the City of Ocala.

Councilwoman Rich told ABC News: "Sometimes fads come in and they go out, but this one, to me, just seems to be getting worse. I'm just tired of looking at young men's underwear, it's just disrespectful."

Rich, a retired probation senior supervisor for the Florida Department of Corrections, believes the ordinance will have a positive effect.

"I think it would make [individuals who wear sagging pants] respect themselves, and I would wager 9 out of 10 of them don't have jobs," she said.

"Everyone's saying I'm targeting young black men," she added. "I'm black. I've been black for a long time, why would I be targeting black men? I would just like to ask one of these men, 'What is the advantage of pulling your pants down so far?'"

Not everybody agrees is on board with the anti-sag push, including Mayor Kent Guinn, who may veto it.

"I don't think it's a good law," Guinn told ABC News, "when we start getting into creating laws that prohibit peoples' freedom of expression and the way they dress, I think you’re getting into some dangerous territory."

Guinn said, "After I thought about it, I thought, 'this is just a bad law.' I may not like the way they dress, but I'm not going to make a law about it."

"It's nothing personal towards councilwoman Rich," said Guinn, "you vote for what you believe in your heart is right."

"I just don't think you can create laws that make you respect yourself," he added.

On the fate of the law she worked so hard to implement, Councilwoman Rich simply says, "I guess we'll see."

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Mysterious White Flags Fly over NY's Brooklyn Bridge


Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The mystery surrounding two white flags that appeared on top of the Brooklyn Bridge Tuesday deepened as the New York City Police Department admitted they don't know who committed the security breach or how they accomplished it.

White flags, which are symbols of surrender, flew from poles on the stone supports atop the famed bridge that connects Brooklyn and Manhattan over the East River.

"I'm not particularly happy about the event," said NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

Police officials said Tuesday afternoon that they have surveillance video of a group of four or five individuals walking onto the bridge shortly after 3 a.m.

Authorities said that at around 3:30 a.m., the lights that illuminate the U.S. flags on either side of the bridge could be seen flickering and then going out completely. At 5:30 a.m., construction workers noticed that two seemingly-white flags had replaced the American flags, police said.

When police investigated the scene, they found that the two American flags had been apparently bleached and large aluminum tins had been tied to cover the lights that illuminate the flags.

"At this time there is no sign of any particular nexus to terrorism or even politics," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller, who also oversees intelligence and counter terrorism. "It could be someone’s art project or a statement, but it's not clear what that statement is."

Miller said authorities think the perpetrators may have had some experience "climbing in construction or bridgework" or have previously been up to the flag platforms on the Brooklyn Bridge.

"When [the NYPD's] Emergency Services went up this morning, the gates were still up and locked," he said. "For someone to go around it and go up to the tower and have right size cover to put over the light, there’s some indication of pre-operational planning."

The Brooklyn Bridge -- operated by the city's Department of Transportation -- is one of the country's oldest suspension bridges. The span, which was completed in 1883, is also a National Historic Landmark.


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Pre-Teens Account for Sharpest Spike in Unaccompanied Child Migrants


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without parents are increasingly younger, according to newly released figures by the Pew Research Center.

Sixteen percent of the minors who’ve crossed unaccompanied in fiscal year 2014, ending Sept. 30, were 12 and younger, compared with 9 percent in the same nine-month period for the previous year, Pew found. The remaining 84 percent of unaccompanied minors who’ve crossed this year were teenagers.

The change from last year so far represents a 117 percent increase in the number of unaccompanied kids 12 and younger making the dangerous trek.

“The big message here is that when looking at who is crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and being apprehended, a growing number are young children,” Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew’s director of Hispanic research, told ABC News.

The data, which look at Customs and Border Patrol number released to Pew through a Freedom of Information Act request, provide the first publicly available detailed portrait of the children surging at the southwest U.S. border in the past few months.

Over 57,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border so far this fiscal year, more than double the number last year during the same nine-month period.

The majority of children this year have come from Honduras, followed by Guatemala and El Salvador. Mexico, which normally leads, comes in fourth.

The largest share of children 12 and younger comes from Honduras (27 percent), representing a 20 percent uptick in actual numbers from the previous year, according to Pew. El Salvador follows with an increased to 22 percent from 17 percent, followed by Guatemala, which has seen the share of minors 12 and younger double to 10 percent of all unaccompanied minors.

Comparatively, Mexico only had 3 percent of its unaccompanied children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border under the age of 1, the same amount seen last year.

“While this data does not tell us why [Honduras is sending more youth], one possible reason, according to Department of Homeland Security, is the growing level of violence in Honduras,” Lopez said. “Today, Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate, and San Pedro Sula, where the single largest contingent of kids from Honduras are from, is the world’s murder capital.”

Family apprehensions -- parents traveling with children -- have also seen a huge spike this year, according to Customs and Border Patrol numbers, with more than 55,000 apprehensions so far, compared with only 9,300 during the same time last year.

In analyzing the data, Pew also found children traveling with a parent were younger than those who travel without one, 81 percent 12 and younger.

“One pattern in the data is that younger children are more likely to be accompanied by a parent or guardian,” Lopez said. “Older children, say age 16, may have left on their own for the U.S. Perhaps to reunite with a family member in the U.S. or possibly to find work.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday at a briefing that “preliminary data” from the first two weeks of June show apprehensions of unaccompanied children down by nearly half in the Rio Grande Valley sector, going from around 350 per day to 150 per day.

“Now, while the reasons for the reduction in the number of unaccompanied children and adults traveling with children apprehended by CBP cannot be attributed to any one factor,” he said, “we do believe that the administration’s response and efforts to work with Central American leaders to publicize the dangers of the journey and reinforce that apprehended migrants are ultimately returned to their home countries, in keeping with the law, as well as seasonal flows, have all played a part.”

President Obama on Monday met with the Homeland Security Council to discuss the unaccompanied children crossing the border.

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NYPD to Retrain Every Officer on Use of Force After 'Chokehold' Death


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Every member of the New York City Police Department will be required to undergo retraining on the use of violence following the death of a man in custody who appeared to have been subdued with a chokehold, the police commissioner said on Tuesday.

Police Commissioner William Bratton said his investigators have spoken with the FBI "to discuss their monitoring of this investigation," and said that he would "not be surprised" if federal prosecutors began their own civil rights violation case.

Bratton was referring to the death last week of Eric Garner. Garner, who was 6-foot-3 and roughly 350 pounds, died Thursday as police struggled to arrest him on suspicion of selling "loosies," or individual cigarettes, according to the NYPD. A video of the incident showed police apparently putting Garner in a chokehold while he says he can't breathe.

Authorities said Garner appeared to have a heart attack, but the results of an autopsy have not yet been released.

The district attorney is also investigating Garner's death and Bratton said that he expects Garner's family to file a civil suit in his death.

Bratton said that the incident indicated to him that "We need to do a lot more, a lot more, on the issue of training."

He said there would be a "special focus on the use of force" involving the "retraining of every member of the New York Police Department in the coming weeks and months and years."

"The department clearly needs to do more training," Bratton said.

A team from the NYPD will travel to Los Angeles to study the program at the LAPD, which Bratton noted he used to command.

The NYPD told ABC News on Tuesday that an internal police report prepared right after Garner's death played down the incident, with officers saying Garner was not in "great distress" during the arrest.

The Internal Affairs report quoted two officers, Sgt. Dhanan Saminath and Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, telling supervisors immediately after the incident that cops were "maintaining control of him" and that Garner's condition did not seem serious, a law enforcement source told ABC News.

Adonis did tell supervisors that she “believed she heard the perpetrator state that he was having difficulty breathing,” the source said.

The NYPD placed Officer Daniel Pantaleo, an 8-year veteran who was seen in the video holding Garner, on modified assignment pending the outcome of the dual probes by the district attorney and Internal Affairs.

Panataleo's gun and badge were taken away pending the outcome of the investigations.

"We're hanging back right now. We wouldn't want to get in the way of the criminal investigation" being conducted by the district attorney, another federal source said.

FBI spokesman Christos Sinos stressed that a formal inquiry has not yet been opened up.

Garner's funeral will be held Wednesday in Brooklyn.

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Where Was Missing NH Teen for the Past Nine Months?


Conway Police Department(CONWAY, N.H.) -- Questions surround the return of a teenage girl who disappeared on her walk home from school nine months ago.

Abigail Hernandez vanished when she left her school in Conway, New Hampshire, on Oct. 9, and aside from one letter to her mother this winter, there had been no indication by officials that there was any trace of her until she was reunited with her parents on Sunday.

Investigators were remaining tight-lipped about the 15-year-old's return, refusing to even say how the girl was reunited with her mother, Zenya Hernandez.

The criminal investigation into the teen's disappearance has not stopped, authorities said.

"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."

Abigail's whereabouts during her disappearance remain a mystery, with the only two locations publicly connected to the case being her school, Kennett High School in North Conway, New Hampshire, and her mother's home in Conway.

According to the website established to bring attention to her case, Abigail was last seen walking on a path near a power line near her school at 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 9. Her final text to a friend was sent at 2:57 p.m. that afternoon and her cell network noted last contact with the phone at 3:07 p.m.

She did not have money, IDs or any additional sets of clothes with her when she went missing, according to the website.

The biggest break in the case appeared to come in November when, according to officials, her mother received a letter from Abigail postmarked in late October.

"Our worst fear right now is that while she could have left willingly, someone may now be coercing her, someone may now be manipulating her," FBI Special Agent In Charge Kieran Ramsey said in a December press conference detailing the letter. "When we received this letter, I'll tell you it was unprecedented. ...It gave us hope."

That hope was rewarded Sunday when Abigail was reunited with her sister and mother, who said, "Today, we are the happiest people on earth."

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Robbers Get Away with Nearly $200K in Atlantic City Casino Heist


iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.) -- A pair of gunmen pulled off a heist early Tuesday morning at Caesars casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The Press of Atlantic City reports that two masked robbers brandished guns, likely in the casino part of the hotel, and obtained more than $180,000.

They then fled the hotel in a car around 6:20 a.m., according to a bulletin distributed to police and obtained by the Press.

Caesars operates a high-rise building that takes up an entire block between the city's famous boardwalk and Pacific Avenue, which runs parallel to the boardwalk. It sits between two side streets, Arkansas and Missouri Avenues, that could all have allowed the perpetrators access to a vehicle.

Caesars operates a casino, hotel, spa and multiple restaurants and attractions inside the massive building, but the robbery likely happened in the casino portion of the building, according to the report.

The State Police Casino Gaming Bureau, which has jurisdiction over casino floors, is investigating the incident rather than the Atlantic City police, which monitor the other public areas of the hotel, according to the report.

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See Video of Lighter-Fluid Truck Bursting Into Flames After Train Crash


Purestock/Thinkstock(SOMERSET, Ky.) -- A truck driver was in stable condition Tuesday morning recovering from an accident on a Kentucky highway in which a train smashed into his tractor-trailer, officials said.

The driver's truck, loaded with charcoal lighter fluid, burst into flames as the train hit it.

The truck was headed into Warner Fertilizer in Somerset, Kentucky, Friday when it was hit by a southbound train, investigators say. The truck split on impact, leaving the cab on one side of the track and the trailer on the other.

The driver didn't notice the approaching train as he made a turn, focusing on the rear of his truck to ensure that it wouldn't run off the road, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Officials said a UPS train trailer loaded with black powder was just a few cars from the fire on the train, but the fire never made it that far.

“It would be a completely different situation [if fire reached black power],” Doug Baker, chief of Somerset-Pulaski Special Response, told ABC News Tuesday. “Luckily, that didn't happen, thanks to the quick actions of the local fire department.”


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Police Baffled by FSU Professor's Fatal Shooting


iStock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- Authorities are scrambling to unravel the mystery around the killing of a prominent law professor at Florida State University.

Dan Markel, 41, was fatally shot Friday in his home, located in the Betton Hills section of Tallahassee, Florida, a neighborhood marked by Spanish moss and ranch-style homes, and now suspicion that a killer lurks nearby.

There were no signs of forced entry, police told ABC News -- leading investigators to conclude Markel knew his killer and may have literally opened his door to his own death.

“We do believe that this was not a random act where he just surprised somebody,” Officer David Northway said. "We believe that Mr. Markel, unfortunately, was the intended victim."

Police responded to Markel's house after neighbors reported hearing a loud bang. Markel was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The Tallahassee Democrat reported that he was killed by a single gunshot wound to the back.

The Harvard grad had been published in the New York Times and served as a legal scholar, with a focus on criminal law. Markel was a father of two boys and had recently completed a protracted divorce that included multiple motions by the two sides for sanctions against each another.

Markel’s ex-wife, fellow FSU professor Wendi Jill Adelson, said through her lawyer that she was “just devastated” and “scared to death.” At a memorial service held Sunday, mourners recalled Markel's kindness and generosity.

“At the core,” said his friend, Professor Ethan Leib, “what he cared most about was making sure that our criminal justice system actually produced justice, and he’s going to be long remembered for that achievement.”

Authorities have opened a tip line, hoping to provide Markel justice, Northway said.

“There are probably two people in this world that know exactly where Mr. Markel was injured," Northway added. "One of those would be Mr. Markel himself and the other would be the suspect in this case.”


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Girl Attacked in 'Slender Man' Case Receives Anonymous Purple Heart


Courtesy Steve Lyons(WAUKESHA, Wis.) -- First she survived being stabbed 19 times. Police say it was by her 12-year-old friends. The suspects allegedly told police they did it to please an online fictional character named “Slender Man.”

Then she crawled to safety from the woods near Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Now as she heals, the girl, whose identity ABC News is not revealing because of her age, continues to inspire many worldwide, with well-wishers creating cards for her on homemade purple hearts.

“The little girl and her brother open up the hundreds and some days thousands of packages sent to the family from generous people from all over the world,” Stephen Lyons, the survivor’s spokesperson, told ABC News. “It's therapeutic and something she and her brother do every day.”

But this month a different kind of Purple Heart came for her in the mail: one issued to members of the military wounded service to the country, or to a family whose loved one was killed in the line of duty.

A simple note came attached, Lyons said. It read, “The Only Heart I Could Find – Stay Strong.”

The stabbing survivor and her family are now hoping to thank the anonymous donor publicly or privately, if they can find that person.

“[Her parents] explained to her the significance of a Purple Heart in the military and what it means, what a personal sacrifice it is to be wounded on behalf of the country, and how incredible it is to be sent this,” Lyons said. “The gift really resonates with the family because they are still dealing with wounds, emotionally and physically, from the events of May 31.”

Prosecutors say on May 31 the 12-year-old survivor’s friends Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser tried to kill her in hopes of becoming agents of “Slender Man,” a niche mythical character the duo read about online.

After the stabbing, authorities say the survivor crawled from the woods and was discovered by a passing cyclist who called 911 as she fought for her life.

Geyser and Weier have been charged with first-degree attempted murder. While the two have yet to enter pleas in court, the stabbing survivor continues to heal at home with her family by her side.

Lyons says the family is now trying to decide where they will display the gifted military Purple Heart in their home.

“Our family continues to be so moved by the prayers, well wishes, packages, financial support and purple hearts from around the world,” they wrote in a statement. “It does not surprise me that a decorated veteran unselfishly gave this amazingly brave and courageous little girl something from his or her heart.”

Along with the numerous mailings they've received, Lyons said the family is also grateful for the money raised in an online “Hearts for Healing” campaign. According to the family’s statement, “supporters have donated over $50,000 to assist the family in their goal of $250,000 to help with mounting medical expenses.”

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Four EMTs Suspended over Response in NYPD Chokehold Death


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The four EMTs who responded to the scene where New York City cops had taken a man named Eric Garner down with an apparent chokehold have been suspended without pay while their actions are being investigated. Garner died an hour after the controversial arrest.

On Sunday, the Fire Department of New York, which handles citywide emergency medical dispatch, barred the EMTs from responding to 911 calls. Richmond University Medical Center, which employs the first responders, made the decision to suspend them.

"The EMTs are suspended without pay while the investigation continues as they are placed on operational restriction," the hospital said in a statement announcing the move. "This restriction means they are not working at this hospital or throughout the 911 system. Richmond University Medical Center continues to fully cooperate as this matter is under investigation."

On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters trailing him on vacation in Italy that -- as a layman -- he thought a chokehold had been employed by a cop during the controversial caught-on-camera incident on Staten Island on Thursday.

"As an individual who's not expert in law enforcement, it looked like a chokehold to me. But I also emphasize you have a full investigation because all sides need to be heard and all evidence has to be looked at," de Blasio said in the statement provided to reporters in New York by the mayor's office.

The mayor left New York City for Italy on Saturday night, after postponing his departure for a day to deal with the developing firestorm over Garner's death.

Garner, who stood at 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighed about 350 pounds, died Thursday after police struggled to arrest him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on Staten Island, according to the NYPD. Police said he appeared to suffer a heart attack.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo, an 8-year veteran who was seen on video apparently putting Garner in the chokehold, was placed on "modified assignment" Saturday, meaning he was stripped of his badge and gun, pending the outcome of the dual probes by the district attorney and Internal Affairs.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton had announced Friday that the cop and his partner were on "desk duty," but at that point they still had their guns and shields.

A chokehold is a violation of NYPD policy, regardless of whether the move causes any damage. Beyond that, prosecutors and police investigators will be looking at whether it caused or contributed to Garner's death about an hour after he was taken into custody.

The New York City Medical Examiner's Office said Sunday it had not reached any finding on Garner's cause of death. Official preliminary results could come in the next few days.

Garner was arrested in Staten Island after he was allegedly seen selling "loosie" cigarettes, police said. Garner was known for selling individual cigarettes for 50 cents each in his Staten Island neighborhood.

Police said the cigarettes come from North Carolina and Garner is the end of the supply line. Because the Staten Island man allegedly sold cigarettes to children, the police called the cigarette sales a "quality of life" issue in the neighborhood.

Garner's death has led to outrage, especially after video obtained by the New York Daily News appeared to show that the man was put into a chokehold as he was arrested.

The video shows officers approaching Garner, who initially denies that he's selling loose cigarettes.

"I'm minding my business, why don't you leave me alone?" Garner can be heard saying.

When police officers move in, Garner appears to not comply and at least five officers wrestle him to the ground as they attempt to handcuff him.

As Garner is being held down, he can be heard telling police that he "can't breathe." Eventually when officers realize he is not responsive, they called in an ambulance, which took Garner to a hospital where he died a short time later.

The apparent violence of the arrest led to outrage and the internal investigation. Online, numerous people tweeted #JusticeforEricGarner, calling attention to the deadly incident.

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Coloradans Still High on New Pot Laws


iStock/Thinkstock(HAMDEN, Conn.) -- How do state voters feel now about Colorado Amendment 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana by adults as well as sales of one ounce or less by licensed stores?

About the same as they did in April, when Quinnipiac University previously asked the question.

Fifty-four percent say they support the overall passage of Amendment 64. However, it was as high as 58 percent last February.

In other findings, two-thirds of Coloradans maintain that people who want to smoke marijuana should only do so in their homes or at members-only clubs.

Meanwhile, just over six in 10 respondents to the Quinnipiac poll say that smoking pot should not be allowed in establishments that serve alcohol or at any venue that charges admission.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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