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Elsa/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A report released Wednesday by the independent attorney hired by the NFL concludes "it's more probable than not" that New England Patriots personnel "participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots games balls after the balls were examined by the referee."

The investigation, led by attorney Ted Wells, stated it "is more than probable" that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady "was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities" involving the release of air from the Patriots' footballs.

But the report said there was no deliberate attempt by the Patriots to introduce a non-approved kicking ball during the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts on Jan. 18. The Patriots won 45-7, then went on to win the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 against the Seattle Seahawks.

The report from Wells and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison exonerates coach Bill Belichick and the team’s head equipment manager. It implicates Jim McNally, a locker room attendant, who “had taken the balls from the officials’ locker room” and then “entered the bathroom with the game balls for approximately one minute and forty seconds,” according to the report.

McNally had referred to himself as the “deflator” in text messages exchanged with equipment assistant John Jastremski, the report said.

Investigators said “there is less direct evidence linking Brady to tampering activities” but they said his name was a “constant reference” in the text messages between McNally and Jastremski. Brady and Jastremski spoke by phone at least twice after suspicions of ball tampering became public, according to the report.

The report concluded “we believe it is unlikely that an equipment assistant and a locker room attendant would deflate game balls without Brady’s knowledge and approval.”

Patriots CEO Robert Kraft said in a statement, "To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship Game, would be a gross understatement. In addition, given our level of cooperation throughout the process, I was offended by the comments made in the Wells Report in reference to not making an individual available for a follow-up interview. What the report fails to mention is that he had already been interviewed four times and we felt the fifth request for access was excessive for a part-time game day employee who has a full-time job with another employer."

He added: "While I respect the independent process of the investigation, the time, effort and resources expended to reach this conclusion are incomprehensible to me."

The NFL said it is considering “what steps to take in light of the report, both with respect to possible disciplinary action and to any changes in protocols that are necessary to avoid future incidents of this type.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department -- which has already opened a federal civil rights probe into the death of Baltimore native Freddie Gray -- is weighing whether to launch a separate civil rights probe into the Baltimore Police Department more broadly, as it did with the Ferguson, Missouri, police department after the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown last year.

Earlier Wednesday, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake urged the department’s Civil Rights Division to formally look into whether the Baltimore Police Department engages in a “pattern or practice” of discriminatory policing.

Shortly afterward, Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson issued a statement saying that Attorney General Loretta Lynch had received a request from Rawlings-Blake for the federal investigation and “is actively considering” it “in light of what she heard from law enforcement, city officials, and community, faith and youth leaders” during a visit to Baltimore on Tuesday.

She and other Justice Department officials also met with Gray’s family, which Lynch called a “privilege.”

While Gray was being taken into police custody on April 12, he sustained a spinal injury that ultimately killed him. Violent protests broke out early last week, but tensions have eased somewhat since the six officers involved in Gray’s arrest were charged in his death. Prosecutors accuse them of failing to properly secure the 25-year-old when they placed him face down in a van, and of failing to respond to Gray's repeated pleas for medical help.

The Justice Department last month launched a criminal investigation into those circumstances, looking at whether any of the officers violated Gray's civil rights.

"We will continue our careful and deliberate examination of the facts in the coming days and weeks," Lynch said at the time.

On Wednesday, Rawlings-Blake said the police force in her city has made strides in recent years, but “continues to have a fractured” relationship with some of the communities it serves.

In March -- nearly seven months after a confrontation with Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson left 18-year-old Michael Brown dead -- the Justice Department released its “pattern of practice” investigation of the Ferguson Police Department.

The review uncovered racist emails sent by Ferguson officers, and it found 161 use-of-force complaints against Ferguson police from 2010 to 2014.

"As detailed in our searing report ... this investigation found a community that was deeply polarized; a community where deep distrust and hostility often characterized interactions between police and area residents,” then-Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement at the time.

He added that the investigation also found "a community where both policing and municipal court practices were found to disproportionately harm African American residents; a community where this harm frequently appears to stem, at least in part, from racial bias -- both implicit and explicit; and a community where all of these conditions, unlawful practices, and constitutional violations have not only severely undermined the public trust, eroded police legitimacy, and made local residents less safe -- but created an intensely charged atmosphere where people feel under assault and under siege by those charged to serve and protect them."

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Curt Benson(HEIMDAL, N.D.) -- An early-morning oil train derailment Wednesday has led to the evacuation of a small town in North Dakota.

About 40 residents of Heimdal, North Dakota, were forced to leave their homes around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday after the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tanker car derailed and caught fire. The BNSF train was carrying 109 cars filled with crude oil.

The engine and cars that were not burning were decoupled and moved to safety, according to state emergency services spokeswoman Cecily Fong. Fong said that 10 tanker cars were ablaze.

There were no injuries or fatalities reported.

Sarah Feinberg, acting federal railroad administrator, said in a tweet that an investigative team was headed to the site.

"Today's incident is yet another reminder of why we issued a significant, comprehensive rule aimed at improving the safe transport of high hazard flammable liquids. The FRA will continue to look at all options available to us to improve safety and mitigate risks," Feinberg said in a statement.

A statement from BNSF said the company's personnel remained at the scene assisting first responders.

"There are no injuries but there is a fire at the scene," the company's statement said. "The tank cars involved in the incident are the unjacketed CPC-1232 models. Local first responders are on the scene as is BNSF personnel. Additional BNSF personnel are en route. BNSF team members will continue to assist first responders."

The National Transportation Safety Board said later Wednesday that it would send a team of investigators to Heimdal to help in the investigation of the incident.

On Friday, new rules were announced for a new generation of tank cars that are reinforced and may reduce explosions after derailments. Critics have called these tank cars "train bombs" because crude oil is known to be more flammable than other types of oil.

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iStock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — After California failed to reach Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of 25 percent reductions outlined in a historic April 1 executive order, the state’s Water Resources Control Board adopted even more stringent water restrictions Tuesday that, despite criticism from water experts and environmentalists, continue to exempt agricultural water use.

Cumulative water savings since last summer have totaled only 8.6 percent, far below the governor’s reduction goal, according to the State Water Resources Control Board. Under the new rules, cities have been ordered to cut water use by as much as 36 percent compared with 2013. Agriculture, which consumes 80 percent of the state’s water and accounts for only 2 percent of the state economy, has remained exempt from the new regulations.

“Nobody has addressed the agriculture issue,” William Patzert, a NASA Oceanography Research Scientist, told ABC News. “They’re trying to get through this drought without going head to head with farmers that have senior water rights.”

He added that growing water-intensive but high-profit crops such as almonds and walnuts for export was “living beyond your means.”

Connor Everts, facilitator of the Environmental Water Caucus, an organization that promotes sustainable water management, told ABC News, “The discussion no one wants to have is what crops we should grow.”

Everts added that agriculture was “the missing link” in addressing California’s historic drought.

The California Farm Bureau Federation, which has argued that state farmers have done more to address water conservation than the government by pointing to a 43 percent increase in crop production per acre-foot of water in the past 40 years, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"They're providing most of the fruits and vegetables of America to significant parts of the world," Gov. Brown told George Stephanopoulos last month on ABC News' This Week, where he defended the measures.

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Dysart Unified School District(PHOENIX) -- A school bus driver who refused to let students off the bus -- a tense exchange captured on the bus’s dash camera -- has resigned, and an investigation into the matter is forthcoming, an Arizona school district told ABC News.

Dysart Unified School District, in a statement to ABC News, said the driver resigned after being placed on administrative leave.

The incident occurred April 28 in El Mirage, which is located about 30 miles outside of Phoenix. The bus driver can be seen in the video yelling at a group of elementary school children, allegedly trapping them inside their bus because he says they were misbehaving.

“The longer we stay here, the more your parents are going to be getting upset -- and not at me, they’re going to be getting upset with you,” the man can be heard saying in the video.

The children can be heard crying out for help.

One father banged on the side of the bus, while another parent tried to pry the doors open. But the driver wasn’t backing down.

“I’m not letting anybody off until you listen to what I have to say,” he told the group.

The driver then took off with the children still on board, and parents, unsure of where he was taking the children, called 911. The driver eventually returned the children to school, where police were waiting.

No charges against the driver have been announced.

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SpaceX(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- SpaceX showed NASA Wednesday that the private space company has the right stuff to one day take humans to space.

A pad abort test Wednesday morning of SpaceX's Dragon crew vessel successfully demonstrated its safety mechanisms, as the private space company showed NASA it's on track to take astronauts to space as early as 2017.

The abort system is located inside Dragon, allowing future crew members to quickly escape in the event of a potential failure.

Wednesday's test took less than two minutes as eight SuperDraco engines lifted Dragon 5,000 feet above the launch pad.

Dragon detached from its rocket, deployed its parachutes and continued a controlled descent into the Atlantic Ocean, landing a mile from shore, where it bobbed in the water, waiting to be recovered.

A dummy was on board the vessel, allowing SpaceX to collect data on how the emergency evacuation test may affect the human body.

NASA last year awarded multi-billion dollar deals to Boeing and SpaceX for development of spacecraft to shuttle astronauts to and from space.

In the interim, NASA has been purchasing seats aboard the Russian Soyuz.

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iStock/Thinkstock(GRANBY, Conn.) -- The terrifying moments when two Connecticut joggers were chased by the same bear were captured in 911 calls they made to authorities.

“A black bear…he's got me cornered here,” Clyde Grindal can be heard saying on the call, later yelling, “Go, go, go,” to scare the bear way.

Grindal was out for a run in a Granby, Connecticut, park Monday afternoon when the 120-pound black bear chased him down.

Grindal said he hid behind a tree but the bear still managed to claw at him.

“He got around the tree and just swiped me,” Grindal, whose only injury was a scrape across his chest, told local ABC News affiliate WTNH-TV in New Haven.

Jessica Kraizer was jogging in the same area on the same day when she says the bear followed her, too.

“A bear just chased me for over two miles in the woods,” Kraizer, a college student, told the 911 operator. “I’m fine.”

Kraizer said she used a bench to separate herself from the bear.

“The bear was so close to me so I got up and stood on top of the bench,” she told ABC News. “I made myself big and the bear kept coming and jumped on the other side of the bench.”

Officials captured the bear Monday evening and euthanized the animal, according to WTNH.

Wildlife biologists from Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) determined the bear was a male and 16 to 17 months old. The bear is now being tested for rabies or other health issues that could help explain its aggressive behavior, WTNH reported.

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WFTS-TV(AVON PARK, Fla.) -- A Florida mother held hostage by her boyfriend used the Pizza Hut app to notify police she needed help, authorities said.

Cheryl Treadway, 25, was allegedly being held at knife point in her home by Ethan Nickerson, 26, in Avon Park on Monday, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office told ABC News Wednesday.

"She was held hostage by him all day," Public Information Officer Nell Hays said.

Treadway and Nickerson's three young children were also present during the incident, authorities said, noting that the incident was sparked by an argument the couple had.

Nickerson took away Treadway's phone, police said, but she was eventually able to persuade him to let her order a pizza using her Pizza Hut app.

"She told him, 'The kids are hungry. Let's order a pizza. Let's get them some food,'" Hays said, noting that's when Treadway was able to sneak in a written message through the delivery.

Along with her order of a small, classic pepperoni pizza, she wrote: "Please help. Get 911 to me," according to police. She also wrote: "911hostage help!"

Pizza Hut employees notified the Highlands County Sheriff's Office, who then went to the woman's home.

"I've been with the company for 28 years and I've never seen nothing like that ever," Pizza Hut Manager Candy Hamilton told ABC News Wednesday. "We didn't even question it, we immediately called 911."

Deputies and Lt. Curtis Ludden arrived on the scene, and Treadway was able to escape with one child. Her two other children were left in the house, police said.

"Lt. Ludden happens to be a negotiator and is the head of our crisis negotiator team," Hays said. "He just happened to be the one on duty that night."

Lt. Ludden was then able to talk Nickerson into coming outside peacefully, Hays said.

Nickerson is facing charges including aggravated assault with a weapon, battery, kidnapping and obstruction of justice. He is being held on a $45,000 bond.

"[Treadway is] the hero in this situation," Hamilton said. "She just thought outside the box. ... I think that's amazing. I'm just blown away."

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The largest ever outbreak of bird flu in the U.S. is now costing some jobs and could complicate your Thanksgiving this year.

The outbreak in the Midwest has claimed at least 24 million chickens and turkeys.

As a result, Turkey processor Jennie-O says it's laying off 233 people at its plant in Faribault, Minnesota, a state that produces about a fifth of the nation's turkeys.

“This will be a temporary layoff and our intent is to have everyone come back to work when bird numbers return to normal levels,” Randy L. Vergin, the manager of the plant, said in a statement Tuesday. “We do not have an anticipated return to work date at this time, but look forward to welcoming our team members back when production levels return to normal.”

The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association says there may not be enough time to recover by Thanksgiving. It takes about seven months to clean infected farms and produce full-sized hens.

Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 26 this year.

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Disctionary.com/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The list of words you can look up on Dictionary.com just got a lot longer.

The online dictionary on Wednesday added more than a thousand new and modified definitions, including several gaming and gender-related terms.

Some of the latter include "agender," for a person who doesn't have a specific gender identity, and "gender-fluid," for someone whose identity shifts.

Other notable additions include "dark web," defined as the part of the Internet that is hidden from search engines; "microaggression," referring to comments that are subtle but offensive; and "crash blossom," for ambiguous headlines, such as "Missing Woman Remains Found."

To see more of the words included in Dictionary.com's latest update, click here.

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Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images(BALTIMORE) — Attorney General Loretta Lynch pledged Tuesday to help Baltimore's impoverished communities as well as its embattled police department on her first visit to the city nearly torn apart by civil unrest one week ago.

Lynch, who just became attorney general, met with the family of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old African-American who died last month from injuries suffered while in police custody. Six cops involved in his arrest now face a variety of charges up to second-degree depraved heart murder.

Even before a local prosecutor announced charges, Lynch said the Justice Department would conduct its own probe into the circumstances surrounding Gray's death.

The attorney general also met privately with Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. Afterwards, Lynch declared: "We're here to hold your hands and provide support."

She also praised the city's police force in general, saying, "I'm looking at the hardest working police officers in America. We are here to help you work through these struggles...You really have become the face of law enforcement."

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moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Law enforcement analysts are calling for numerous changes to the way police are trained in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore and the fatal police shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina.

Recent high-profile deaths of African-American men are just the latest cases putting the spotlight on how police officers interact with the public, especially in black communities. But each circumstance was slightly different, meaning the changes would range from how police approach suspects to how they deal with suspects once in custody.

Any procedural changes that departments undergo will likely take months or even years to implement, but some are under way already.

Though Baltimore is still reeling in the wake of destructive protests and a week-long, citywide curfew, the city’s mayor has already called for reforms in its police department. One city that has already started implementing changes after a high-profile case of excessive use of force is New York, where Staten Island resident Eric Garner died after being put in a choke hold by police. After the incident, the NYPD announced a major overhaul to their training practices, including revised training for firearms, communication skills and appropriate uses of force.

Technological advancements in "less than lethal" weapons, such as Tasers, rubber bullets and pepper spray, are also seen as tools that could help.

"Technology is constantly evolving so we have to be aware of that so we can send officers out with the best technology,” James O'Keefe, the former Deputy Commissioner for Training at the NYPD who currently works as a criminal justice professor at St. John’s University, told ABC News.

Tweaks to training venues and how specifically they are trained could also help. Richard Beary, the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, predicts that more departments will begin using “scenario-based training” models, where officers train in simulation programs as opposed to “just standing there shooting at targets.”

Some training policies have been in place for decades, such as the 21-foot rule, a guideline used by police to determine when to use lethal force against an armed attacker. A report published in the 1980s claimed an armed attacker could cover a distance of 21 feet in the same time it took an officer to draw, aim and fire their weapon.

“Pretty much every police department in the country covers that in their curriculum,” O'Keefe noted. “It’s a guideline, not a rule. But if that’s not taught properly, some young cop could shoot a guy and he could find himself in civil and/or criminal trouble.”

O’Keefe said he expects the rule to remain in the NYPD's curriculum but that educators will be more detailed in the way they teach the guideline. The NYPD declined a request by ABC News for comment on the 21-foot rule.

Physical skills won’t be the only portion of training addressed in these changes, Beary said, noting that crisis intervention training, which focuses on de-escalation tactics and listening skills, will make a big impact on the interactions that officers have with suspects.

Beary said that such training “goes beyond the shouting at you to try to determine the cause of the situation.”

“I really think that is going to be one of the key parts that transforms use of force,” he said.

Some think training on a more moral level has to start from outside the department. O’Keefe said he believes that every officer working in a major city should be required to have a bachelor’s degree.

“You’ll always need the police academy segment but I think they need to be pre-educated beforehand,” he said, adding that "a common antidote to racial tension is education.”

But public pressure to change police procedures can be both positive and negative, experts said.

The public scrutiny has prompted some departments to invite members of the public to go through their training courses in an effort to show the difficulties of their job, Beary said.

Alternatively, former NYPD Sgt. Joe Giacalone said that the pressure could lead to potentially fatal second-guessing on the part of some officers.

"With the anti-cop sentiment that we have in this country now, some officers, especially younger officers, are even reluctant to have their gun out of the holster now," Giacalone told ABC News.

“That hesitation is going to lose some cop his life,” he said.

The amount of red tape in each department and state differs, meaning that changes will take time, but like all permanent change, O'Keefe said it has to come from within.

“After years of training thousands of cops I’ve come to the realization the force has to change from the inside out,” O’Keefe said.

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FBI(NEW YORK) -- A mysterious ISIS recruiter known online as "Miski" was in close and repeated social media contact with Elton Simpson for months before the Sunday attack in Garland, Texas, an ABC News investigation has found.

Miski is well known to FBI officials who say his real name is Muhammed Hassan, a fugitive since 2009 when he fled Minneapolis as a teenager to join terror groups in Africa.

Speaking in late April about the forthcoming Prophet Mohammad cartoon contest – the one targeted in Gardner Sunday – would-be shooter Simpson tweeted, "When will they ever learn?"

A few minutes later Miski responded, "Where are the warriors of this Ummah [community]?" And then, "The brothers from the Charlie Hebdo attack did their part. It's time for brothers in the #US to do their part."

Two days later, after Simpson tweeted about the purported oppression of Muslims, Miski tweeted at Simpson, "One individual is able to put a whole nation onto it's [sic] knees."

Eight days after that officials said Simpson and his roommate, Nadir Soofi, opened fire outside the Mohammad cartoon event in Texas, only to be gunned down by a traffic officer before they could kill anyone.

Since leaving the country in 2009, Miski has popped up repeatedly online as a vocal proponent of jihad. Each time Twitter shuts down his account, he simply returns under a slightly different username and quickly reconnects with his supporters and potential recruits.

"His influence is quite extensive," David Ibsen, executive director of the Counter Extremism Project, told ABC News. "He's known as one of the go-to individuals online who individuals who want more information about how to travel to ISIS-controlled territory, who want information about what these radical groups are doing, they go to him."

Ibsen said Miski is "kind of a new wave of propagandist who is really at the forefront of using communication tools to effectively put out that extremist message....Without individuals like him who are on Twitter and inciting violence, we could think that many of these events wouldn't actually occur."

A former counterterrorism official said that Miski's whereabouts are not known for certain but he is believed to be in Somalia. His public urging for his American brethren to wage jihad in Syria puts Miski at odds with the Somali terror group al-Shabaab, which is aligned with Al Qaeda and at war with ISIS, the official said.

Officials said the FBI was monitoring Simpson and his social media messaging with Miski and others before the incident in Gardner. But Simpson was not under 24-hour surveillance and was deemed no real threat, according to people briefed on the case.

"One of the challenges this case shows is even people on the radar of law enforcement, it's impossible to have every single individual under complete wraps, 24-hour surveillance, it's too difficult, it's too time-consuming, it's too expensive and sometimes it's not legally appropriate," said Matt Olsen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center and current ABC News consultant. "So it becomes very difficult to maintain, that kind of supervision or scrutiny on every individual who may carry out an attack like this."


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Kevin Quinn/KTRK(GARLAND, Texas) -- Joseph Offutt, 21, has been holding a large American flag outside the Curtis Cullwell Center in Garland, Texas, all day Tuesday, hoping to show ISIS and terrorists that the community is still standing strong and not giving into fear.

Offutt's symbolic gesture is a response to a statement ISIS made Monday night claiming responsibility for the failed terror attack on Sunday during an event displaying cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

ISIS called the men "soldiers of the caliphate" and promised worse attacks were to come, though there has been no evidence the failed Garland attack was actually directed by the militant group.

Offutt said he is trying to show America's pride and patriotism to ISIS, but he said the "Draw the Prophet" event is not something he considers patriotic.

"I believe in our First Amendment right to free speech, and I will protect my amendment with my life," Offutt told ABC News on Tuesday. "But I do not agree with how this group was using that amendment, knowing they would be offending people's religion."

Depicting the Prophet Muhammad is explicitly banned in Islam and seen as a sign of grave disrespect.

Offutt said he came to the center by himself at noon, but since then, dozens of people have come and gone, helping him carry the flag as well as bringing their own signs in solidarity with him.

He was still standing outside as of 7 p.m. Tuesday.

"I haven't eaten yet, but the way I see it, if the service men and women of our country can make a sacrifice, then I can make a sacrifice, too," Offutt said. "I've never been in so much pain with my arms, but now I got people coming and helping me. It's a beautiful thing."

 

Joseph Offutt stands outside Culwell Ctr. in #Garland. to show #isis the power of U.S. Patriotism & Pride #abc13 pic.twitter.com/ZWmkNHQgso

— Kevin Quinn (@imkevinquinn) May 5, 2015

 

Offutt's mother Angela Jenkins, 42, told ABC News on Tuesday she's proud of her son.

"He has a lot of patriotism and pride in this country, and he wants to let all terrorists know our community is not scared," she said. "He has a big heart and his pride in this country runs deep."

Jenkins added that Offutt plans to enlist in the military soon, following in the footsteps of many veterans in their family.

The proud mother also said she's not concerned for her son's safety.

"I know God will keep him safe, and the Garland police are still making their presence known in the area," she said. "Our police department is awesome. If there's any danger, I know they'll let him know, and he'll come home or move to a safer location."

And though Jenkins said she doesn't condone the attempted terror attack, she also believes the "Draw the Prophet" event was offensive and a bad idea.

"I'm not Muslim, but I can understand how this could be extremely offensive," Jenkins said. "They had to know this was going to anger people."

Jenkins also said that rather than resorting to violence and killing, she wishes the suspects had done a peaceful protest explaining how the event was offensive to Islam.

"We also have to remember not all Muslims are violent," Jenkins added. "Most are peace-loving, most here love America."

 

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Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images(FAIRFAX, Va.) -- The man accused of killing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham has had his murder charge increased to capital murder because the state plans to seek the death penalty, the district attorney announced after a hearing on Tuesday.

Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford said Tuesday that some new evidence was verified from a crime lab that convinced her to push for the increased charge.

She would not disclose any details about the new evidence, saying only that it was a “certificate of analysis” and that the findings were “compelling enough to me that I thought capital charges were appropriate.”

Graham, 18, went missing on Sept. 13 and her skeletal remains were found in a field about 10 miles away in October.

Jesse Matthew Jr., who worked as a medical technician at the university hospital, was taken into police custody in Galveston, Texas, 10 days after the sophomore disappeared. He was initially charged with abduction with the intent to defile, and charges for first-degree murder were added in February.

Lunsford said that the new evidence “further solidified” the state’s case against Matthew “and just basically made something an option that just wasn’t.”

She also said that Matthew has been assigned a new attorney who meets the state’s requirements for death penalty cases, meaning that the new attorney has tried a certain number of similar cases. Matthew has not yet had to enter a plea to any of his charges and remains in state custody. The next court date is set for June 25.

It was unclear whether Graham’s parents attended Tuesday’s hearing but Gil Harrington, the mother of Morgan Harrington, whose disappearance and death have been connected to Matthew by investigators in the past, was present.

“I don’t know what justice looks like,” Harrington said. “I'll be satisfied if this particular predator is never able to hurt [anyone] ever again.”

Morgan Harrington disappeared in Charlottesville in 2009, five years before Graham. Matthew does not currently face any charges in connection to her disappearance and slaying but in 2010, after her body was found, investigators connected her disappearance to a 2005 sexual assault in a different part of Virginia; Matthew is facing charges in connection to that 2005 case.

“I really don’t know what the justification for changing the charge is but that some bad things happened, lives were lost, dreams broken,” Gil Harrington said.

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