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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- There will be a couple of different rounds of severe weather in parts of the central U.S. this weekend.

Storms are firing in parts of the Plains, where flash flood watches have been issued for parts of Kansas and Nebraska.

These storms should intensify later Saturday into Sunday in parts of the central Plains from Oklahoma to Nebraska. There is a slight risk for severe weather for this region, and there is a possibility of strong winds, large hail and some tornadoes.

More storms should fire along this stationary front both Sunday and Monday as the system slowly begins to slide east. Storms could drop heavy rain from Kansas to Alabama, with 4 inches or more of rain locally through Monday.

Flash flooding could become a concern in some spots through the next few days in this region.

Monitoring the tropics

An area of low pressure over southern Florida Saturday morning is producing tropical rain showers along the Atlantic coast and into parts of the Bahamas. This system will struggle to organize and intensify Saturday, however, as it moves northeast on Sunday and Monday into the Atlantic Ocean it is likely to begin strengthening.

It appears that chances are increasing for tropical or subtropical development with this system as it moves into the Atlantic Ocean. It is possible it will become a tropical depression early next week. However, as the system moves northward it will meet a stationary front, which should protect much of the East Coast from a significant weather event.

There is a chance for some tropical rain showers to move toward the Carolinas early next week, but all major impacts form this system appear likely to stay off shore.
Taste of fall

Meanwhile, in the Northeast, the dog days of summer have disappeared. Cool temperatures and low dew points are moving in from Canada and keeping temperatures below average with morning lows in the 50s and low 60s. Some 40 degree temperatures are even possible in parts of the interior Northeast and into Michigan. This is cool enough for many to need a light jacket and jeans Saturday morning -- the first time several months.

Highs this weekend across the Northeast will be cool with temperatures stuck in the mid to low 70s.

Although this might be a taste of early fall for the Northeast, it's important to remember September is a transitional month, where temperatures can be quite hot and also chilly.

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ABC News(HOUSTON) -- The former Houston police officer who allegedly lied in order to obtain a search warrant for a city residence has been charged with murder after a raid on that home resulted in the deaths of a couple inside.

Gerald Goines was charged Friday with two counts of murder related to the botched narcotics raid that took place at a home in southeast Houston on Jan. 28. His fellow cop, Steven Bryant, was charged with tampering with a government document for allegedly attempting to help Goines cover up the illegally obtained warrant.

During the raid, Rhogena Nicholas and Dennis Tuttle were shot to death by police officers, according to the medical examiner. The couple's dog was also killed by police.

"Under Texas law, if, during the commission of one felony, in this case tampering with a government record, a person commits an act clearly dangerous to human life, execution of a no-knock warrant by an armed squad of police officers into a private residence that causes the death of another, in this case two deaths, it's first-degree murder," Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said at a press conference Friday. "We call that felony murder."

Both men were suspended from the Houston Police Department and later chose to retire.

Goines, 54, was the officer who obtained a so-called "no knock" warrant, which allows police to enter a building without signaling their arrival or reason for being there. Ogg said Goines made "numerous false statements" in the affidavit presented to the judge who signed the warrant. Among those were allegedly false claims that a two-week narcotics operation had just concluded at the home, an confidential informant had bought heroin from the address and the seller was armed with a handgun.

Four police officers were also shot, including Goines. One of those officers is still in the hospital in serious condition seven months later.

Bryant, 45, allegedly lied in supplemental paperwork saying he had assisted Goines in a narcotics operation at the house on day prior to the raid.

"Bryant's claims were false," Ogg said. "He further fabricated that two days after the raid on the Harding Street residence that he recovered a plastic bag that contained a white napkin and two small packets of a brown powdery substance that he knew, based on his skill and expertise, contained heroin. Bryant claimed that he recognized the drugs as the same drugs allegedly purchased by Goines' CI the day before, Jan. 27. That was false."

Goines lawyer, Nicole DeBorde, said late Friday her client was innocent of the charges, and they intended to fight them in court.

"It is not something we've been expecting. And I'm very disappointed the case wasn't taken to a grand jury so the grand jury can actually vet the facts of this case," DeBorde told ABC News. "I know the DA referenced the idea this case was still being investigated. It seems to me it would have been the better practice to make sure this was fully investigated and vetted by a grand jury. But we're prepared to fight this and defend Gerald's innocence in this matter."

Both Goines and Bryant were booked Friday evening and released on bond. As a condition of his bond, Goines handed in his passport, must not leave Harris County and was fitted with an ankle monitoring bracelet.

"The indictments today of former HPD Gerald Goines and Steven Bryant are important developments, but they should be only the beginning of the pursuit of justice in the police killings of Rhogena Nicholas and Dennis Tuttle," said Michael Patrick Doyle, the lawyer representing the family of Rhogena Nicholas. "The Nicholas family’s search for the truth of what happened to Rhogena also continues. Our independent investigation is focused not only on HPD Narcotics Squad 15, but also about the conduct, pattern and practices of HPD before, during, and after the out-of-control, unjustified execution of Rhogena in her own home."

Doyle said the family still wants Houston Police Capt. Paul Follis and Houston Police Lt. Marsha Todd deposed in relation to the investigation.

The police union largely withheld comment on the arrests, but did agree no other officers should be charged.

"The HPOU has learned former Officers Steven Bryant and Gerald Goines have been charged criminally for conduct related to the Harding Street narcotics investigation and shooting," the Houston Police Officers' Union said in a statement. "Due to the pending criminal charges, it would be inappropriate for the HPOU to provide any additional comments. The HPOU would direct you to the attorneys representing former Officers Bryant and Goines."

"The HPOU is pleased the District Attorney's office appears to concur with the conclusions reached by the Houston Police Department investigation that no other officers were involved in any criminal activity relating to the execution of the warrant or the shooting.," the union added.

Goines was a 34-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, while Bryant had worked for the department for 23 years.

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iStock/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- The Illinois state trooper who was shot early Friday morning while serving a warrant in East St. Louis has died, police said.

Nicholas Hopkins, who was a member of the state police's SWAT unit, was shot at approximately 5:26 a.m. and was pronounced dead at a local hospital at 6:10 p.m. The 33-year-old had been with the Illinois State Police for 10 years.

"It is with profound heartache and unfathomable sadness that we inform you of the death of Trooper Nicholas Hopkins. Trooper Hopkins laid down his life while protecting the citizens of this state," said Illinois State Police acting Director Brendan Kelly. "We are asking the public to respectfully give consideration to the family of Trooper Hopkins and the ISP while we continue to grieve and work through this tragedy."

After the shooting, the suspect in the case holed up in the home on North 42nd Street in East St. Louis, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri, in southwestern Illinois.

Hours later, three people were taken into custody at the scene, police said.

Hopkins was married with three children. His brother is also a police officer in Illinois.

"Today the entire state mourns the loss of ISP South SWAT Trooper Nicholas Hopkins, a young man who dedicated 10 of his 33 years on this earth to protecting the people of Illinois," Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement. "It is the most courageous among us who choose a life of risk so their communities can go about their lives in peace. The state of Illinois stands with Trooper Hopkins' family and the entire Illinois State Police family as they grieve the loss of another heroic officer."

A heavily armored SWAT vehicle moved in on the home Friday afternoon and drove through the front door. A small explosion could also be seen as the vehicle crashed into the home.

It is not clear why the suspect was being served with a search warrant, nor whether the shooter was related to the warrant.

The suspect's name has not been released.

Hopkins' death came exactly one week after another Illinois State Police trooper was shot while serving a warrant in Wheeling, Illinois, outside of Chicago. The officer suffered non-life threatening injuries in the shooting and the suspect, Volodymyr Dragan, 43, has been charged with attempted murder.

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ABC News(CLEARWATER, Fla.) -- The man accused of shooting a Florida father in front of his family in an argument over a handicap parking space outside a convenience store has been found guilty of manslaughter.

Michael Drejka had argued he acted in self-defense, and initially invoked the controversial "stand your ground" law that earned widespread attention during the trial of George Zimmerman in 2013. The jury came to its guilty decision late Friday after about six hours of deliberation.

Drejka showed no emotion in court as the verdict was read. He will return to court for sentencing on Oct. 10.

Just hours after gunning Markeis McGlockton down, Drejka told detectives he opened fire when the unarmed man shoved him to the ground and took one step toward him, a scenario that appears to go against a security video showing the victim step back when he saw the suspect pull a firearm.

"We are incredibly grateful and thankful to the prosecution," McGlockton family attorney Michelle Rayner said following the verdict. "We are grateful to the jurors of this case that they saw what we saw and I'm so proud and honored to stand here with Markeis' family. It has been the honor of my life."

A video of the lengthy interrogation of suspect Michael Drejka by Pinellas County Sheriff's Office detectives was shown to a jury on Thursday, the second day of the 48-year-old suspect's trial on a manslaughter charge stemming from the 2018 fatal shooting of McGlockton outside a convenience store in Clearwater, Florida.

"What's going through my mind is he's coming after me again. I was thinking he's going to finish what he started," Drejka told detectives, according to the interrogation video.

"It's been well over a year since we've been dealing with this matter and I can safely say my family can rest now," McGlockton's brother, Michael, said Friday. "Now we can start putting the pieces back together and move on."

Drejka, who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, told detectives that after the victim "blindsided me out of nowhere" and "tackled" him to the ground outside the Circle A store, he drew his Glock pistol from his holster as McGlockton took a step toward him.

"He barely took the second step before I pulled the trigger," Drejka told detectives George Moffett and Richard Redman, according to the video.

He said that from his position on the ground, he never saw McGlockton's face or hands before he fired.

"I could see his legs. I know he was a black guy, that's all," he told the detectives, according to the video.

He said McGlockton never said a word to him and he didn't say anything to him before he shot him.

"If he hadn't twitched, I would have never pulled the trigger," Drejka had said. "The feet said he was coming toward me and so did the hips."

Video footage from a security camera in front of the Circle A that captured the July 19, 2018, fatal shooting appears to contradict what Drejka told the detectives.

The security video, which has been played multiple times for the six-member jury, shows Drejka apparently arguing with McGlockton's girlfriend, Brittany Jacobs, over why she was parked in a handicap space when McGlockton comes out of the store and shoves Drejka to the ground. In a split second, Drejka pulls his gun and fires as McGlockton was stepping away from the man, according to the security video.

During the interrogation, which Drejka submitted to after waiving his Miranda rights to remain silent, Det. Moffett challenged Drejka's recollection of how the shooting transpired.

"What if I tell you I looked at the video and he took a step back?" Moffett asked Drejka.

Drejka responded, "I'd disagree."

Drejka initially invoked Florida's so-called "stand your ground" self-defense law that went into effect in 2005, allowing people to use lethal force if they consider their lives to be in imminent jeopardy. But Drejka and his attorneys have since scrapped that argument in favor of a plain self-defense case.

During the interrogation, which occurred almost six hours after the shooting, Drejka explained that he has a "pet peeve" about people parking in handicap spaces despite not being disabled himself. He said that when he saw Jacobs sitting in a car in the handicap space, he examined the front and rear of her car to see if it had a disabled person parking permit.

"I said, 'it's not very polite to park there when there's other people that need to use this,'" Drejka said he told Jacobs, according to the interrogation video. ''She says, 'Is it affecting you directly?' I said, 'If my mother-in-law rolls in, yes it will.'"

On Wednesday, Jacobs testified that Drejka was yelling and cursing at her for parking in a handicapped spot. She said she was inside the car with her two younger children, an infant and a 3-year-old, and that Drejka "scared" her.

"He was more angry and aggressive. He was yelling and pointing and telling me where I should park," Jacobs testified. "I just wanted this man to leave me alone, just leave me and my babies alone."

Moffett, during the interrogation, asked Drejka why he didn't call law enforcement when he saw Jacobs in the handicap spot, saying, "Wouldn't you think it would be better instead of putting yourself in that type of circumstance that could escalate?"

Drejka responded, "Why bother you with stupid things like that?"

He said by the time law enforcement arrived, the person he complained about would have already left the scene, adding, "They always do."

"When I just say something to a person about being parked there, I don’t expect it to go where it went," Drejka told the detectives.

Moffett pressed him, asking if he was concerned about prompting a violent confrontation when he previously complained about people parking in handicap spaces.

Drejka answered, "That's why I take precautions. I'm a very careful person. I have a [concealed weapon] permit."

Near the end of the interrogation, Moffett informed Drejka that McGlockton had died.

"Thanks for telling me," Drejka said.

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WABC(NEW YORK) -- A homeless man in New York City who was given a pair of shoes by a stranger passing by him while jogging earlier this week has now been offered a job and a second chance.

A Twitter account by the name of @NYorNothing posted a video on Sunday showing a man dressed in a red shirt and dark shorts giving his shoes to a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk.

“It was 9 a.m. in the [World Trade Center] area,” the tweet said. “I watched as a jogger took off his sneakers, gave them to a homeless man and walked the NYC streets barefoot.”

The homeless man, identified as Joe Arroyo, 30, spoke to ABC News station WABC-TV in New York on Wednesday about that random act of kindness in lower Manhattan.

“I was sitting here with a sign, saying that I’m homeless and hungry and that my shoes, that they’re broken. … He was jogging from down the block. He just saw me and stopped,” Arroyo said. “I never thought somebody would just come out and take their shoes off and just give them to me.”

Arroyo told WABC-TV that the jogger, whom he did not know, had walked by and noticed that he had holes on the bottom of his sneakers. Arroyo told the news station what the stranger said to him.

“[He said], ‘I’ve been blessed pretty much my whole life. God has been very nice to me. … Feels like I should bless you too. Here, take my shoes.’ And, he took them off and gave them to me. I was surprised. … It was something from the heart. … I wanted to...hug the guy or something but then a homeless man hugging somebody is not normal out here.”

During the interview, Arroyo said that although he’d been living on the streets for years, he was looking for a job and open to any opportunity offered to him.

That's when Andrew Zurica stepped in. Zurica had seen the TV piece and wanted to help Arroyo. Zurica, the owner of Hard Times Sundaes, started with a food truck and now owns three additional eateries — Andrew’s Roadside Classic Burger, Brooklyn Bagel and Luncheonette.

“If we could figure out a way to get you a job and get you active, I have openings in three of my restaurants, where we’d be happy to have you,” he told Arroyo when they met Thursday. “The one thing that makes me happy is being able to be in a position where I can give back and help people in some way.”

Arroyo told WABC-TV that before that meeting with Zurica he’d been losing hope.

“I was in a hole,” he said. “I didn’t want nobody to pick me up out of the hole. [All] I needed somebody to do is just throw a ladder and I would climb out myself. This [is] the ladder. … This is more than a blessing right now.”

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National Park Service(SWAIN COUNTY, N.C.) -- Park rangers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park received an unexpected hand-written letter with a heart-shaped rock from a former visitor.

Rangers Jessie Snow and Allison Bate, who shared the story on the park's Facebook page, told ABC News they knew "right away this would be a great opportunity to share a larger message on social media."

A young girl named Karina wrote that she had visited Tom Branch Falls, located in Swain County, North Carolina, inside the national park, and "loved it so much" that she kept a small rock as a keepsake.

"I wanted to have a souvenir to come home with me, so I took a rock. I'm sorry, and I want to return it," she wrote, likely not knowing that removing property from a national park is a federal offense.

"It's pretty simple -- anything in the park, stays in the park," Snow explained. "It's shared by all of us and it should stay there."

"We don't get a lot of things mailed back to us, so getting the actual rock returned in the mail was really a unique and special thing that she had done," Snow said. "We thought the social media post would share the message more broadly."

The rangers from the North Carolina park didn't have further information about Karina since the note had no return address, but they did share a response for the unidentified visitor on Facebook.

"We want her to know that she's appreciated and her actions can help other people learn something," Snow said.

The rangers shared their reply to Karina along with photos of the rock in the location it came from, her letter and her drawing.

Bate said sharing Karina's story provides "education for other [11 million] visitors each year that come and can relate to it."

In her two years working at the park, Snow said she hasn't received anything like this in the mail.

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US Customs and Border Patrol(LOS ANGELES) -- California Border Patrol at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport intercepted and seized over 52,000 illegal gun parts from China.

U.S. Customs and Border protection announced Thursday that they seized a total of $378,225 worth of firearms parts in violation if the Chinese Arms Embargo that included sights, stocks, muzzles, brakes, buffer kits and grips which arrived in three shipments from China

“This seizure is an exceptional example of CBP officers and import specialists vigilance, commitment and keen focus in enforcing complex arms embargo regulations,” said Carlos C. Martel, CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles.

The shipment was in violation of the Chinese Arms Embargo, which includes importation restrictions, Martel said.

In 2018, the Office of Field Operations seized 266,279 firearms, firearm parts, ammunition,fireworks and explosives at 328 ports of entry throughout the U.S. These interceptions were a 18.4 percent increase from the previous year.

“We work closely with our strategic partners to ensure import compliance while maintaining the highest standards of security at our nation’s largest seaport,” said LaFonda Sutton-Burke, CBP Port Director of the LA/Long Beach Seaport. “This interception underscores the successful collaboration between CBP officers, import specialists and ATF investigators.”
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iStock(NASHVILLE) -- A man has been arrested after allegedly sending a rambling email to one of ABC News' affiliate stations in Tennessee, threatening to go to the "state capital to blow someone's brains out."

ABC Nashville affiliate WKRN-TV received a threatening email on Wednesday, authorities said, allegedly from Nathan Semans, who also expressed his displeasure toward President Donald Trump.

“Look if you don’t run story I’m going to state capital to blow someone’s brain out," the email read. "I don’t look good at the moment cause the tyranny of what trump did, the nature of this call is secret. You think I’m kidding trump belongs in the dumpster from a cool kid.

"Knock it off I’m human. I’ll immediately leave this country on a double once my passport clears," the email continued. "I’m sick of this nonsense and bologna hanging around that trumps the perfect American, hallelujah against trump I recommend you forward to the table of the news room or I join ISIS to seek revenge.”

The news station flagged the email to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, and state troopers subsequently secured an arrest warrant to charge Semans with commission of act of terrorism, a felony.

The troopers served the warrant Seman's residence on Wednesday night and took him into custody without incident. He was being held at Humphreys County Jail on a $1 million bond as of Thursday, according to a press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

Semans did not have an attorney yet, according to the county clerk. He was still being processed, and a court date had not been scheduled, according to the office.

Authorities searched the house after securing the premises, taking a cellphone and tablet for further analysis.

No weapons were found, authorities said.

“Thanks to an alert and forward thinking employee at News 2, we were able to investigate this threat and make our community and state safer,” Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long said in a statement Thursday. “This is a textbook example of 'see something, say something.'”

The United States Secret Service will be following up with Semans, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

“When we work together for the common good of our community, we are all safer,” Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. Dereck Stewart said in a statement Thursday. “I am thankful that WKRN-TV contacted our department, for if we had not received this notification, then it is very possible that the narrative of this release could have been tragically worse.”
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Boynton Beach Police Department(BOYNTON BEACH, Fla.) -- A 12-year-old boy dove from a moving vehicle to escape a suspected kidnapper in South Florida, police say.

The child was treated for abrasions to his forehead, arms and hands, while the suspect, 26-year-old Timothy Miller of West Palm Beach, was arrested on charges of kidnapping under the age of 13, resisting an officer with violence and child neglect, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The boy told detectives that he got off his school bus and was walking home in Boynton Beach on Wednesday afternoon when a man driving a white pickup truck pulled over and offered him a ride. The man, later identified as Miller, told the child that he gives rides to kids "all the time" and "not to worry" because he "won't do anything weird," according to the affidavit.

The boy said Miller "seemed nice and had a friendly smile," so he accepted his offer and got in the truck. But then, the child said, Miller started to "act different" and looked at him "strangely," while driving erratically and asking if he had any drugs, according to the affidavit.

The boy said he became frightened and tried to open the passenger door to get out, but Miller told him he couldn't leave and sped up in an effort to prevent him from doing so. Still, the child managed to open the door and jumped from the moving vehicle, according to the affidavit.

Onlookers who saw the boy land on the pavement stopped to help him, while two others went after Miller and followed his truck onto Interstate 95. When Miller got off at an exit, the other drivers used their cars to block in his truck until police arrived. Miller "repeatedly violently resisted officer's attempts to detain him" but was ultimately taken into custody, according to the affidavit.

Miller told detectives that he picked up the boy because he thought he was a teenager and could sell him drugs, according to the affidavit.

"We are grateful to the Good Samaritans who assisted us with taking Miller into custody," the Boynton Police Department said in a Facebook post. "We encourage parents to use this as an opportunity to remind their children about the dangers of getting into a car with someone they do not know."
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Baltimore County Police Department(BALTIMORE) -- A Baltimore teenager was sentenced to life in prison for running over a police officer with a stolen Jeep and fleeing the scene.

Dawnta Harris, 17, was convicted of felony murder in the death of Baltimore County Police Department Officer Amy Caprio, who was fatally struck in May 2018 after responding to a call about a suspicious vehicle.

The 29-year-old officer parked her patrol car and ordered Harris to get out of the vehicle when Harris pressed on the gas and came speeding straight at her. She drew her weapon, yelled for him to stop and fired a single shot before she was hit, according to body camera footage.

Police said Harris initially complied with the officer's commands to exit the Jeep, but he got back in and quickly accelerated, driving toward and striking Caprio. She suffered broken ribs and injuries to internal organs, authorities said.

Harris did not speak in court on Wednesday, but his attorney said he reacted out of fear due to the gun being aimed at him and said he never intended to kill the officer, according to ABC's Baltimore affiliate WMAR.

"I am truly sad, heartbroken and sorry for what happened," Harris wrote in a letter read aloud by his attorney. "We are still young. No one is perfect."

Caprio and her husband, Tim Caprio, celebrated their third wedding anniversary just days before her death. They were planning to celebrate their birthdays a few days later.

"I go home to an empty house knowing no one will every come home," Tim Caprio told the court on Wednesday. "There is a massive hole and feeling of emptiness in my heart that will never go away."

After the sentencing, he told reporters that he felt justice had been served.

Caprio's father agreed.

"I believe justice was appropriately served. However, it doesn't fill that feeling that I miss and that hole in my heart," he said. "There's no winners at this point. What we see is a validation that there are consequences for actions," the slain officer's father, Garry Sorrells, added.

Harris was charged as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder with the possibility of parole.

Three other teens -- Eugene Robert Genius, Derrick Eugene Matthews, and Darrell Jaymar Ward -- pleaded guilty to felony murder in the case and are slated for sentencing next month. Police said Harris had been watching for police on the street while the others were inside burglarizing a home.

Harris’ defense team, which said it plans to appeal the ruling, had asked for a sentence of 30 years, which would be in line with what the other teens are facing.

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(ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla.) -- When St. Johns County sheriff's deputies arrived at the St. Augustine, Florida, home of Jeremy Banks on Sept. 2, 2010, they found his 24-year-old girlfriend Michelle O'Connell lying on the floor with a gunshot wound to the head and dozens of prescription painkillers in her pocket.

"Please get someone to my house!" Banks had told the 911 operator. "Please. Send -- my girlfriend, I think she just shot herself. There's blood everywhere!"

Deputies found Banks, a fellow St. Johns County sheriff's deputy, crouched at the bathroom door, clutching his phone.

The gun was found on O'Connell's left with the Tac light on the firearm switched on. Later, police pictures taken at the scene revealed a shot fired into the carpet.

Despite the efforts of the first responders, O'Connell was pronounced dead close to 11:48 p.m. that night.

Outside the home, some deputies and detectives started to conclude that O'Connell's death was a suicide. Some of them were later interviewed as part of the investigation.

"I didn't have any suspicions that it was anything other than suicide. I think that's what we were all kind of discussing, but just making sure that we covered our bases," St. Johns County Detective Jessica Hines is heard saying in a recording of the interview for the investigation.

"It appeared she had committed suicide," St. Johns County Cpl. Mark Shand said in his interview.

In the hours that followed, some fellow deputies took time out to console their coworker and friend, Banks. A squad car was used as a makeshift interview room as Banks was briefly questioned by Hines in an interview that was recorded.

During that interview, Banks said that he was sitting on his motorcycle in the garage when he heard a pop and rushed inside.

"The bedroom door was locked and I screamed her name again. I heard it go off a second time," he told Hines.

A family's doubt about a woman's death

When sheriff's deputies notified O'Connell's family of her death, her mother Patty O'Connell told "20/20" "They just said that she committed suicide, ‘your daughter killed herself. She committed suicide.'"

The O'Connell family found it hard to believe that Michelle O'Connell, a single mom who worked multiple jobs to support Alexis, her then-4-year-old daughter, would take her own life.

In fact, Michelle O'Connell had just landed her dream job at a day care center.

Michelle O'Connell's siblings were outraged when they realized that the sheriff's office had spent only a few hours investigating before calling her death a suicide.

"The word suicide was thrown around right off the bat without any investigation," her sister Chrissy O'Connell told "20/20."

Two days after her death, Dr. Frederick Hobin, who was the medical examiner at the time, officially ruled O'Connell's death a suicide.

Michelle O'Connell's last hours

Through various interviews, authorities constructed a timeline of the last hours of Michelle O'Connell's life.

O'Connell and Banks attended a Paramore concert that September night in 2010 at the St. Augustine Amphitheater, and Banks told detectives the two argued before, during and after the show.

"We don't get along. We fight all the time. I mean, it's never, never bad fighting. It's always just arguing," Banks was recorded saying in an interview with St. Johns County sheriff's office detectives.

According to her sister Chrissy O'Connell, Michelle wanted to break up with Banks that night. Her family says there had been whispers about verbal and physical abuse within their relationship from both sides.

"She said, ‘There's going to be a fight because he's going to want me to go out after the concert,'" Chrissy O'Connell said. "And I said, ‘Don't even go to the concert.' Because I knew Jeremy was rageful. I knew in my heart something was going to happen."

Chrissy O'Connell said she and Michelle had lunch earlier that day, and said her sister talked about looking for a new apartment and breaking up with Banks.

"This was kind of a culmination. I was concerned with all the violence and how the relationship had turned," Chrissy O'Connell said.

But she said her sister decided to go to the show first since she already purchased the tickets in advance.

"She said, in true Michelle fashion, ‘I paid for the tickets. I'm going. I'm breaking up with him. I'm starting my life over,'" Chrissy O'Connell said. "She said, ‘I'll be fine.'"

Their brother Sean O'Connell was with them at the concert and said Banks was "kind of withdrawn" during the show.

"I was like [to Banks], ‘Hey, do you mind scooting over, if you're not going to have fun at the concert with my sister, I'm definitely going to,'" Sean O'Connell recalled.

Chrissy O'Connell was babysitting her sister's daughter Alexis while they were at the concert and said she began receiving text messages from Michelle's phone during the show.

"Promise me one thing. Lexi will be happy and always have a good life," said one of her sister's text messages to Chrissy O'Connell about her daughter.

"Promise you what?" Chrissy O'Connell wrote back.

"That no matter what, Lexi will always be safe and loved," Michelle O'Connell responded to her sister.

"What's going on? I'm scared," Chrissy O'Connell texted.

By the end of the concert, Michelle O'Connell texted her sister, "I'll be there soon." But she never came to pick up Alexis.

Banks told detectives that on the way home from the concert, "She said, ‘I'll have my things out by this weekend.' And I said, ‘Are we breaking up?' She said yes. And I was like, ‘All right.' I raised my voice. She raised her voice. We argued. But when we got to the house, we were fine," Banks said in his interview with detectives.

According to Banks, Michelle O'Connell was inside the house while he remained outside with two friends. At one point, Michelle O'Connell went outside to retrieve a makeup bag from the car and quickly returned inside.

After 10 to 20 minutes, Banks said his friends left and he sat alone in the garage when he heard the popping sound.

"I knew exactly what it was. Just instinct and I just said, ‘S---,' and I ran inside. I started screaming her name. The bedroom door was locked, and I screamed her name again," Banks told detectives. "I heard it go off again a second time. I ran into the living room. I grabbed the phone. I kicked the bedroom door in and I found her laying where she is."

Inside the investigation into Michelle O'Connell's death

Debra Maynard, a former St. Johns County sheriff's deputy, was one of the first to arrive and said she questioned what she was hearing on the scene.

"Immediately, it was almost like they were taking Jeremy's word that she shot herself at that point," Maynard said. "We were told it was a suicide. They automatically said it was a suicide, though we are trained to say every scene is a homicide until proven otherwise. But they did immediately start calling it a suicide."

Maynard was later fired by the sheriff, reportedly for untruthfulness. She claims it was because the sheriff asked her to lie in an unrelated case and she refused.

At a later police interview, Banks revealed he had gained access to a report about the investigation.

"I've already read the report. I know I probably shouldn't have. I just wanted to know what went down on the other side," Banks told a detective.

Some in the department later admitted to having doubts about what happened that night.

"When I first walked into that room, the first thought that went through my mind was, ‘This is not good for Jeremy,'" Sgt. Scott Beaver, who worked on the case, told investigators. "I was in the homicide unit for a few years, and it didn't add up. But I didn't do more investigation into this."

David Shoar, the St. Johns County sheriff, later acknowledged his department made missteps in how the investigation was handled, including that deputies failed to canvas the neighborhood for witnesses, failed to interview the decedent's family members and failed to isolate, interview and photograph Banks in a structured environment.

When asked why Banks didn't take Michelle O'Connell's pulse or perform lifesaving measures, his attorney Mac McLeod told "20/20," "I don't think his frame of mind was as a deputy at the time as I was saying. I think his frame of mind was completely shocked and freaked out."

Michelle O'Connell's family insists she wasn't looking to take her own life.

In her appointment book, found in the car, Michelle O'Connell had signed up for CPR training for two days after her death. She also had plans to meet with her friend Mindy Fox the night she died.

In addition, the pills found in her pocket at the time of her death were from Banks' prescription bottles, and none of the pills was found in her system. All the pills were accounted for.

While the sheriff's department and Michelle's family are at odds over how she died, it is undeniable that she was killed with Banks' service weapon.

When asked how Banks secured his firearms in the home, McLeod said, "not well."

"I think that the policy was to secure your firearm; which primarily for law enforcement officer means you put it in either a gun lock or in a secure place up higher so that children and things, and other people in the house can't get to it. However, in practice, like other law enforcement officers, he came in, would take his gun belt off, and would place it on a chair or place it somewhere else," McLeod said.

Four months after O'Connell's death, Shoar bowed to pressure from the O'Connell family, knowing that his department's investigation had fallen short, and asked state investigators to take a fresh look at the case.

A second look at the death of Michelle O'Connell

Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigator Rusty Rodgers was assigned to the case. In his investigation, he found two women who say they heard two screams for help from a woman and two gunshots the night Michelle O'Connell died – something Shoar's department had missed.

"If she was suicidal, if she was killing herself, she's not going to scream for help," Patty O'Connell said.

As to the two gunshots, Sheriff Shoar says it is not uncommon for some suicide victims to fire off a test shot before firing the fatal shot.

In addition, Rodgers interviewed Banks, and asked a University of Florida Child Protection Team to interview O'Connell's daughter Alexis, who was 5 years old at the time.

During her interview, Alexis seemed to indicate that she had witnessed some of the hostility between her mother and Banks, saying at one point that Banks was "a bad person" who "fights with" her mother. She also said she saw Banks hit her mother "one time" with "a belt."

"She said, my mommy would say, ‘Stop, stop,' but he wouldn't stop," Alexis said.

During his interview with Rodgers, Banks said he put his hands on O'Connell only once, in order to restrain her after she charged at him.

In his investigation, Rodgers also called in a crime scene reconstructionist with four decades of experience, who performed a field test outside to try to see if Michelle O'Connell could have shot herself or was shot by someone else, based on where the shell casings landed in his test. The crime scene reconstructionist's conclusion was that her death was a homicide.

Following his investigation, Rodgers presented his findings to the medical examiner, Dr. Hobin. According to a recording of an interview with Dr. Hobin by Jacksonville reporter Anne Schindler, Hobin came to believe that Michelle O'Connell's death was "probably a homicide."

Hobin filled out an amended death certificate and listed "homicide" as the manner of death, but he never officially filed it.

"And I said that, based on this, I would amend the autopsy and change the manner of death from suicide to homicide," Hobin said in the recording of his interview with Schindler. "I did that, but just internally. I mean, I didn't, I didn't send it out, it wasn't filed with anybody, wasn't sent to the funeral director, wasn't disclosed, anybody except the state attorney."

Hobin didn't officially file the amended death certificate, he told Schindler, because he was told to hold off by the state attorney while the investigation continued.

Hobin was later reprimanded by the state medical examiner's office for keeping that document and others at his home rather than at the medical examiner's office.

A new medical examiner, Dr. Predrag Bulic, was then consulted. Bulic believes Michelle O'Connell's death was a suicide.

Sheriff Shoar and O'Connell's boyfriend Jeremy Banks pushed back against Rodgers' findings.

Shoar penned a 152-page review of the case, which is mostly a positive assessment of his department. He ridiculed the field test over the fact it was done in an open field and didn't take into account the variables at the scene, such as walls, a ceiling, furniture and Michelle O'Connell's extremities.

Banks filed a lawsuit against the FDLE and Rodgers, claiming Rodgers' detaining him for the purpose of his investigation violated his civil rights.

Special Prosecutor Brad King, a state attorney from a nearby district, was tasked with investigating the case.

In March 2012, King broke the news to the O'Connell family that his office would not be moving forward with charges.

"He calls us in for a meeting and basically says, ‘There's not enough evidence.' So our family was just pushed aside and this meeting was very hostile," Chrissy O'Connell said. "My mom was devastated, and I think I've said before it was like the second worst day of my life. You know the first losing Michelle."

Michelle O'Connell's body is exhumed

In June 2016, five and a half years after Michelle O'Connell's death, her family had her body exhumed and asked Dr. William Anderson, a forensic pathologist and former deputy chief medical examiner for Orange County, Florida, to examine the original autopsy report and to do a second autopsy.

While examining the X-rays taken during Michelle O'Connell's original autopsy, Anderson noticed there was another injury on her body.

"When we did the exhumation … the jawbone was in two pieces, so indicates there was a fracture," Anderson told "20/20."

After Shoar learned of the exhumation, he issued a statement about the family, saying in part, "Molesting Michelle from her place of rest using some freelance type approach is beyond unconventional. It was reprehensible."

"Even if he doesn't agree with it, or whatever, he should in no way shape or form ever speak, public release, whatever to a family using those words ever," Sean O'Connell said of Shoar's statement. "It really shows his character."

"Despite rumors and statements to the contrary, we did this totally pro bono," Anderson said.

News of the fracture brought into question the work of Hobin, the original medical examiner. Banks' attorney Mac McLeod told "20/20" that Hobin "noted mandibular separation. It's not in the autopsy report. It's in his field notes."

But Anderson said the fact that detail was left out of the autopsy report was "very disturbing."

"Because if everything else is very carefully described, and you leave out a major finding out of your report, it's not good practice," Anderson said of Hobin's omission of the fracture from the autopsy report.

It's significant because Anderson said the fracture could explain what happened to Michelle O'Connell before she died

"The primary concern is what does the actual evidence show, and this actual evidence was there was a gunshot wound to the mouth that put a hole in the tongue but didn't do any other damage to the teeth, to the gums, to the floor of the mouth, the very soft tissue that basically would've been destroyed if there had been enough force from that blast to break the jaw. So the only explanation that I can see that's reasonable is that there was another force, a blow to the chin that broke the mandible prior to the time the gunshot wound was inflicted," Anderson said. "My findings are that the, there was a blunt force to the chin that rendered her at least some degree impaired her mental status from the blow, and that the gun was then in the mouth and discharged, and that the gun blast from the muzzle did not cause the fracture."

"In other words, that blow would explain it, that blow to the chin, gun inside, would explain everything," he continued. "It would explain the fracture, it would explain the fact that there's no expansion injury to the jaw, it would explain why the tissues are still in place, except for the tongue, and there's nothing really in the findings that would contradict that theory."

Banks has always denied having any involvement in Michelle O'Connell's death and he has never been charged with a crime. He remains a sheriff's deputy with St. Johns County.

"What the family wants to believe or what the theory … being proposed was … that she must have been hit really hard," Banks' attorney McLeod said, adding that there "was a problem with that" because no medical examiner "worth his salt ... will tell you that in an intraoral gunshot wound, such as this, with a high-powered weapon that more often than not you expect to see mandibular separation."

Anderson said it is possible in some cases that a shot could split the jaw, but he doesn't believe that's case with Michelle O'Connell, based on the evidence he reviewed.

"There was a gunshot wound to the mouth that put a hole in the tongue but didn't do any other damage to the teeth, to the gums, to the floor of the mouth, the very soft tissue that basically would've been destroyed if there had been enough force from that blast to break the jaw," Anderson said.

McLeod argued against that, saying if O'Connell had been hit, "you would see bruising. You would see abrasion. You'd see something. There's nothing."

Anderson said he had conducted about 8,000 to 9,000 autopsies over his career and "if you die quickly enough, you will not have bruising."

Having gotten the answers the family was looking for, Michelle O'Connell's body was returned to her grave, but her death is still an open question for the family.

Where the case of Michelle O'Connell's death stands today

In 2017, the Florida Medical Examiners Commission reprimanded both Hobin and Bulic after determining they had mishandled some of the components of the investigation -- Hobin for keeping case material at his home instead of the medical examiner's office and Bulic for showing autopsy photos to nonfamily members.

Hobin was also called out for his poor recordkeeping in failing to document the jawbone fracture in his autopsy report.

The medical examiners and a state attorney declined to comment for this report.

In spring 2018, a judge found that FDLE agent Rusty Rodgers had probable cause to detain Banks for homicide and dismissed Banks' civil lawsuit in Rodgers' favor.

After Banks' civil suit was dismissed, the O'Connell family pushed then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott to assign a new special prosecutor to Michelle's case, but Scott didn't appoint one before his term ended.

ABC News' requests for comment from current Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were referred to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which said, " In this case, multiple state attorneys looked at the case and determined there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges. Our case closed."

In a bizarre twist, in January of this year, police responded to what they called a "suspicious" death of an amateur sleuth who had been researching the O'Connell case on their own.

The private citizen was found shot dead in their St. Augustine condo, which is within the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office's jurisdiction but the department turned the case over to the neighboring Putnam County Sheriff's Office due to the O'Connell case connection. That person's death was classified as a homicide and the investigation remains open.

Even now, the O'Connell's family is determined to keep fighting. They have been crusading for a law that would prevent police departments from investigating one of their own.

"You can't grieve until you get justice," Patty O'Connell said. "You have to have your justice. And it never goes away."

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iStock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Two Florida students in separate parts of the state were arrested Thursday after they allegedly posted school shooting threats online.

In Broward County -- the same district as the 2018 Parkland school shooting where 17 were killed -- an officer said he learned Wednesday night from the school board about a school shooting threat posted on the messaging app Discord.

According to the Broward County police report, the threat said, "I want to shoot up a school. This is a genuine feeling. I want people to suffer. ... I wish to see those I haven't shot shake in fear and scream and cry at such a heinous act. Then see the shock on their faces once I've shot them too."

A Nova High School student was arrested Thursday and charged with false report of bomb or explosion, according to the police report.

The high schooler allegedly admitted to police that he wrote the post and shared it on the app, the report said.

The student allegedly told officers "he did not have any intent in following through with the threat, but that he was expressing how he felt emotionally" and "wanted people to feel the pain he felt," according to the report.

Meanwhile, near Tampa, a 12-year-old girl was arrested Thursday for allegedly making a school shooting threat on Snapchat.

At about 11:30 a.m. Thursday, a student at Barrington Middle School told a school resource deputy about a threatening Snapchat post, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

Deputies learned the threat was posted by a Burns Middle School 7th grader, the sheriff's office said.

According to authorities, the post said: "Dear bms students I will be shooting that skool [sic] up September 3 2019 be ready say your goodbyes to you're [sic] family."

The 12-year-old allegedly admitted to sending and later intentionally deleting the Snapchat and is facing a felony charge of making a written threat to kill, do bodily injury or conduct mass shooting or act of terrorism, authorities said.

"The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office takes all school threats, verbal, written or posted to social media, very seriously," Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. "We have a zero-tolerance policy. It is important for parents to know what their children are posting online. If you make a school threat, of any kind, you will be arrested and charged accordingly."

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Ontario Police Department(ONTARIO, Calif.) -- A California mom has been arrested for allegedly killing her 4-month-old daughter and 14-year-old daughter, authorities said Thursday.

Linda Nguyen, 47, was arrested for the deaths of her two children, who were found Tuesday in their garage in Ontario, about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, according to Ontario police.

The gruesome discovery was made on Tuesday by the children's father when he arrived home, prompting him to call police, Sgt. Bill Russell said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Nguyen, who was found unresponsive at the home on Tuesday, allegedly left suicide notes -- one in the house and one in the car -- saying she intended to kill the children and herself, Russell said.

"Nguyen remains at a local hospital but will be booked at West Valley Detention Center on two counts of murder once she has been medically cleared," police said on Thursday.

Russell called the case a "horrible tragedy."

He said "the mother was dealing with depression" but he did not elaborate or say if she was being treated.

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Rawf8/iStock(LOS ANGELES) -- U.S. federal prosecutors have announced a 252-count indictment charging 80 people, mostly Nigerian nationals, with being part of a widespread conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through a variety of scams and then launder the money.

The federal grand jury indictment was unsealed Thursday after authorities arrested 14 defendants across the United States, including 11 in the Los Angeles area, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California. Three other defendants were already in federal custody. Six defendants believed to be in the country are fugitives, while the dozens of remaining defendants live in other nations, mainly Nigeria.

U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said the defendants allegedly used various "sophisticated" online fraud schemes to prey upon businesses, elderly individuals and people who may have been susceptible to a romance-related scam.

"We believe this is one of the largest cases of its kind in U.S. history," Hanna told reporters at a press conference Thursday. "We are taking a major step to disrupt these criminal networks."

Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office, said the defendants defrauded victims out of around $10 million and attempted to steal at least another $40 million.

Billions of dollars are lost each year through these types of frauds, according to Delacourt. In the first seven months of 2019, more than 14,000 people filed complaints with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center alleging they were victims of business email compromise, or BEC, scams, reporting total losses of almost $1.1 billion

"This crime is growing exponentially in terms of losses and victims," Delacourt told reporters at Thursday's press conference. "While we are happy to announce these charges today, we are not going to arrest our way out of this problem, and so we continue to educate potential victims."

The lead defendants named in the 145-page indictment are Valentine Iro, 31, and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38, both Nigerian citizens who live in California and were among those arrested Thursday morning. Prosecutors allege that the pair essentially operated as "brokers of fraudulent bank accounts."

Co-conspirators based in Nigeria, the United States and other nations contacted Iro and Igbokwe for bank and money-service accounts that could receive funds fraudulently obtained from victims. Once co-conspirators convinced victims to send money under false pretenses, Iro and Igbokwe allegedly coordinated the receipt of funds and oversaw an extensive money-laundering network based out of Los Angeles, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors allege Iro and Igbokwe did all this in exchange for a cut of the stolen money.

The indictment stems from a yearslong investigation led by the FBI. Iro, Igbokwe and another Nigerian defendant named in the indictment, 39-year-old Chuks Eroha, face additional charges for attempting to destroy their cellphones when the FBI executed a search warrant in 2017 at Iro's apartment in Carson, California. Iro allegedly broke his phone in half while Igbokwe and Eroha allegedly threw their phones out a window seconds after FBI agents knocked on the apartment door. Eroha is believed to have fled to Nigeria shortly after the search.

"In the days ahead," Delacourt said, "we will be working with our foreign counterparts in nine countries to apprehend 57 additional defendants."

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MMADIA/iStock(HONOLULU) -- Thick, white smoke filled the cabin of a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Honolulu on Thursday, forcing the jet to make an emergency landing and sending seven people to the hospital.

Hawaiian Airlines flight HA47 from Oakland to Honolulu declared an in-flight emergency "shortly" before reaching its destination of Daniel K. Inouye International Airport at 11:36 a.m. local time, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The Airbus A321 "landed without incident."

However, passengers were forced to choke their way through a smoky last 20 minutes of the flight, and then evacuate the aircraft on inflatable slides.

"Scary last 20 minutes of our flight," one passenger posted on Instagram, showing a photo of the plane taken on the runway with its slides deployed. "Mahalo Hawaiian Air getting us home safely."

There was smoke in the cockpit, cabin and cargo hold of the flight, according to the airline. Emergency crews met the plane as soon as it landed, with passenger photos showing a dozen emergency vehicles on the runway after its landing.

Hawaiian Airlines blamed the smoke on an isue with the plane's left engine.

"We have since determined that a seal failed in the aircraft’s left engine, causing oil to leak onto hot parts of the plane’s engine and air conditioning pressurization system, resulting in smoke in the cabin," it said. "The performance of the engine was not affected, and the Airbus A321neo flight landed without incident on runway 4R."

Seven people were transported to the hospital due to "smoke-related symptoms," the airline said in its statement.

"We sincerely apologize to our passengers for this incident and thank them for their cooperation in the evacuation," Hawaiian Airlines said in a statement. "We are working with airport officials and first responders to support our passengers and respond to this event."

The uninjured passengers were bused to the terminal from the runway before being allowed to go on their way.

The FAA is still investigating the incident.

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