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Hawaii governor declares state of emergency over 'catastrophic' weather

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(HONOLULU) -- Following a forecast of "catastrophic" rainfall, flash floods and landslides, Hawaii Gov. David Ige declared a state of emergency for the tropical state.

“Now is the time to make sure you have an emergency plan in place and supplies ready should you need to move away from rising water,” Ige said in a press conference Monday night.

The city of Honolulu recorded its wettest December day on Monday after receiving 8 inches of rainfall. It also recorded the most single-day rainfall since 1958, when it received 15.32 inches.

"A kona low northwest of the islands will continue to bring the threat of heavy rain and a few thunderstorms with gusty winds to Kauai County and Oahu today, and potentially tonight," the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Honolulu said.

While Monday's flash flood warning for Oahu has since expired, there is still an active flood watch for the island.

Due to the heavy downpour, the Oahu Department of Emergency Management reported cases of vehicle rescues, water evacuation requests, inundated homes and road closures.

"The H-1 freeway and several roads in town are experiencing considerable flooding, so limit travel wherever possible," the department said.

Images and videos from Twitter showed indoor flooding and cars and buses driving in and stranded in floodwater.

ABC News' Daniel Peck contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Omicron live updates: US daily death average surges

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(NEW YORK) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.2 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 790,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Just 60% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Latest headlines:
-US daily death average surges
-NYC mandating vaccines for all private sector employees
-Man who became one of the 1st omicron cases in US speaks out

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern.

Dec 07, 1:50 pm
Fauci: Omicron 'almost certainly' not more severe than delta

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday told news agency Agence France-Presse that the omicron variant is "almost certainly" not more severe than delta.

He stressed, however, that it is important to not overinterpret early data, as the patients being followed skew younger and are less likely to become hospitalized. Severe illness can take weeks to develop.

"There is some suggestion that it might even be less severe, because when you look at some of the cohorts that are being followed in South Africa, the ratio between the number of infections and the number of hospitalizations seems to be less than with delta," Fauci said.

He also reiterated that it would take at least several more weeks to understand key questions surrounding omicron's severity.

Results from labs testing current vaccines against omicron should come in the "next few days to a week," Fauci said.

ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Dec 07, 1:30 pm
US daily death average surges

The daily death average in the U.S. has increased to more than 1,150 -- up by 57% in the last week, according to federal data.

The U.S. is about 10,000 deaths away from reaching yet another grim milestone of 800,000 Americans lost to COVID-19.

The U.S. is now averaging approximately 103,000 new cases per day, which is a 19% increase in the last week and a 62% jump since late-October, according to federal data.

Minnesota currently holds the country's highest case rate followed by Vermont and Wisconsin. Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Louisiana have the nation's lowest infection rate.

ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Dec 07, 10:27 am
Near pre-pandemic travel volumes expected to continue through December holidays

The TSA screened nearly 21 million travelers during the 10-day Thanksgiving holiday period. Despite new concerns over omicron, the agency expects to see the near pre-pandemic travel volumes continue through the December holidays.

ABC News' Mina Kaji

Dec 06, 10:26 pm
Omicron detected in Houston’s wastewater, Houston Health Department reports

The omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been found in Houston’s wastewater, the Houston Health Department announced Monday night. "The detection is the first indication the new variant is in Houston, although a case has not yet been confirmed in the city," the department said.

Wastewater samples collected between Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 showed omicron at eight of the city’s 39 wastewater treatment plants, and the genomic sequencing results confirming the variant were received Monday evening.

"The Houston Health Department and Houston Water continue to do an exceptional job tracking the impact of the virus in our community. While no specific case of the Omicron variant has been confirmed in an individual in the city of Houston, we should use this information as a reminder to get fully vaccinated, including a booster shot," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. "Vaccines help protect us, our loved ones, friends, and colleagues in the work environment. As the holidays approach, I encourage everyone to remain vigilant about their health and safety."

The health department said it routinely tests the city’s wastewater for COVID-19, including variants, and recently started testing samples for omicron, as "people infected with COVID-19 shed the virus in their feces."

"The wastewater data helps to more quickly identify emerging outbreaks and hotspots needing interventions to help stop the spread of the virus," the health department added.

 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Delphi murders: Police investigating fake model profile who contacted underage girls

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(NEW YORK) -- Police investigating the mysterious Delphi, Indiana, murders are looking for the person who, they said, created fake Snapchat and Instagram profiles, posed as a wealthy male model and contacted underage girls.

Delphi eighth-graders Abby Williams, 13, and Libby German, 14, were killed on Feb. 13, 2017 while walking on a local hiking trail. The girls had documented some of their walk on Snapchat. Years later, no arrests have been made.

While investigating the double killing, authorities found a fake online profile called "anthony_shots," which used photos of a known male model and communicated with underage girls "to solicit nude images, obtain their addresses, and attempt to meet them," Indiana State Police said in a news release Monday.

Anthony_shots "portrayed himself as being extremely wealthy and owning numerous sports cars," police said.

Authorities are now looking for information about the person who created the anthony_shots profile, which was used in 2016 and 2017 on Snapchat and Instagram, police said.

The male model in the photos has been identified and isn't a person of interest, police said.

Police asked anyone who communicated with, met with or tried to meet the anthony_shots profile to contact law enforcement at abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com or 765-822-3535. Indiana State Police spokesman Sgt. Jeremy Piers wouldn't say if Abby and Libby communicated with the fake profile.

The Delphi case has been a mystery for years.

Soon after Abby and Libby were killed, authorities released a grainy image of the suspect, who they say was on the hiking trail the day the girls went missing. State police in 2019 released video footage from Libby's phone; the brief video clip showed a grainy image of the suspect walking on the bridge near where the girls were last seen.

Police also publicized the suspect's voice -- a recording of him saying "down the hill" -- which was recovered from Libby's phone.

Police in 2019 released a new suspect sketch that officials said was based on a witness' recollection of what he or she saw.

 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Football player, 16, slain in Michigan school shooting to be mourned at funeral

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(OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich.) -- Family and friends are gathering Tuesday to remember 16-year-old football player Tate Myre, who was killed one week ago in a shooting at his Michigan high school.

Myre, a junior, was one of four students killed in the Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School in Oxford Township. The suspected gunman and his parents have been charged.

Myre died in a patrol car while deputies were taking him from his school to a hospital, authorities said.

Myre, an honors student, was "beloved by all" and had a "bright future," the Oxford football team said. Myre had been on the school's varsity football team since he was a freshman, the team said.

The teen loved Christmas, his family dog and spending time with his family, friends and girlfriend, his obituary said.

The funeral begins at noon.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Four family members dead after small plane crashes in California

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(VISALIA, Calif.) -- All four people on board a small plane that crashed in California Saturday are dead, according to the Tulare County Sheriff's Office. They were all related.

It is unknown what led to the crash.

Around 6:35 p.m. Saturday, deputies were called to the area of Road 68 and Avenue 288 near the Visalia Airport in Visalia, California, for a possible downed plane, authorities said.

When deputies arrived, they found a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza had crashed, killing all on board.

The National Transportation Safety Board ​said Sunday it is investigating the crash.

ABC News California affiliate KFSN reported the plane crashed just a few seconds after taking off.

Late Monday night, the Tulare County Sheriff's Office identified the victims as 78-year-old David Chelini, his 58-year-old nephew, Steven Chelini, and his two daughters, 46-year-old Karen Baker and 48-year-old Donna Chelini.

All of the victims were from the Sacramento area.

"Sheriff Boudreaux asks that you keep the Chelini family in your prayers during this incredibly difficult time," the sheriff's office said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Government witness ‘Kate’ testifies Ghislaine Maxwell groomed her for sex acts with Jeffrey Epstein

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(NEW YORK) -- As the criminal trial of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime companion of serial sex offense Jeffrey Epstein, entered its second week, a woman identified by the pseudonym "Kate" testified that Maxwell recruited and groomed her for sexual activity with Epstein when she was a young woman, under the pretense that they were "friends."

"Kate" said she was approximately 17 years old and living in London when she met Maxwell during a trip to Paris. "Kate" gave Maxwell her phone number, she said, and Maxwell called her a few weeks later to invite her over for tea. "Kate" was excited, she said, to have made such a "sophisticated and elegant" connection.

"She seemed to be everything I wanted to be," she said. "She seemed as excited as I was to have a new friend."

Within a few weeks, "Kate" said," she was engaging in sexually explicit massages with Epstein at Maxwell's London townhouse, which was in the same neighborhood where "Kate" then lived with her mother.

Prior to her testimony, Judge Alison Nathan read to the jury a "limiting instruction" informing them that "Kate" was over the legal age of consent at all relevant times and locations, and therefore the jury cannot convict Maxwell of any charges in the indictment based on her testimony. The government is thus only permitted to describe her as a "witness" but not a "victim."

Prosecutors argued that "Kate's" testimony was relevant to show Maxwell's modus operandi and that Maxwell knew that massages with Epstein would be sexualized.

During her first trip to Maxwell's home in London, "Kate" said she noticed lots of photographs of Maxwell with an older man with peppered hair. The man in the pictures, she learned later, was Epstein, and Maxwell introduced "Kate" to him as "the girl I told you about" on her next visit.

Maxwell, "Kate" said, encouraged her to massage Epstein's feet and shoulders. Epstein was "very approving," she said, but then he took a phone call, "Kate" said, and Maxwell ushered her out. A few weeks later, "Kate" said, Maxwell called again, claiming a massage therapist had cancelled at the last minute, and she asked if "Kate" could "do her a favor" by coming over to massage Epstein again.

This time, "Kate" said Maxwell led her upstairs to a small, dimly-lit room with a massage table. Epstein was wearing a robe, but he took it off after Kate entered. Maxwell, she said, closed the door. Asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz if Epstein initiated sexual conduct with her during the massage, Kate answered, "Yes."

On her way out, "Kate" said Maxwell asked, "How did it go? Did you have fun? Was it good? She seemed very excited and happy and thanked me again."

Two days later, "Kate" said, she returned to give Epstein another massage, and Maxwell lead her to the same room where further sexual contact with Epstein occurred. Afterwards, "Kate" said, Maxwell told her, "You're such a good girl. … He really likes you."

"Kate" traveled with Epstein and Maxwell occasionally over the next several years, she said, visiting them in Florida, New York and the Virgin Islands. Kate said she understood Maxwell's role to be "to take care of Jeffrey's needs" and noted that she seemed very involved in managing the properties and staff.

Maxwell's attorney have sought through the case to distance her from Epstein, suggesting in their opening statements that Epstein hid his prurient activities from others, including Maxwell.

"Jeffrey Epstein manipulated the world around him and the people around him," Maxwell attorney Bobbi Sternheim said last week. "He compartmentalized his life, showing only what he wanted to show to the people around him, including Ghislaine."

During one visit to Epstein's Palm Beach estate, "Kate" said she arrived at her guest room to find a "schoolgirl outfit" laid out on her bed. When she asked Maxwell why it was there, "Kate" said Maxwell told her she "thought it would be fun for you to take Jeffrey his tea in this outfit."

Asked why she continued to spend time Epstein and Maxwell despite what she alleges was happening, "Kate" said she "wanted to maintain a relationship with Ghislaine."

"I thought," "Kate said, "she was going to be my friend."

During cross examination by Sternheim, "Kate" acknowledged she was in contact with Epstein through 2012 -- including emails before, during and after he was incarcerated in Palm Beach. And in one email correspondence in 2011, "Kate" was the one who initiated contact with Epstein to say she wanted to visit him in New York.

"Kate" said was not in contact with Maxwell during that same period.

During her testimony, "Kate" acknowledged that she had abused alcohol, cocaine and sleeping pills in her teens and young adulthood but she denied that substance abuse could have impacted her memories of Epstein and Maxwell.

"The memories I have of significant events in my life have never changed," she said.

 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Man arrested for threatening to attack LGBTQ community with guns, bombs

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(NEW YORK) -- A suburban New York man threatened to attack the 2021 New York City Pride March with "firepower" that would "make the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting look like a cakewalk," federal prosecutors said Monday.

Robert Fehring, 74, of Bayport, New York, allegedly sent at least 60 letters threatening to assault, shoot and bomb LGBTQ-affiliated individuals, organizations and businesses. He was arrested Monday morning and was released later that day on a $100,000 bond.

Fehring was placed on home detention with location monitoring, and he is not permitted to have firearms or other destructive devices. He is also not permitted to have contact with any victims and may not go to certain locations he threatened.

A search of Fehring's home last month turned up photographs from a 2021 Pride event in East Meadow, New York, two loaded shotguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, two stun guns and a stamped envelope addressed to an LGBTQ-affiliated attorney containing the remains of a dead bird, federal prosecutors said.

"As alleged, the defendant's hate-filled invective and threats of violence directed at members of the LGBTQ community have no place in our society and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," United States Attorney Breon Peace said.

Forty-nine people were killed, and dozens were injured in the mass shooting Fehring reportedly referenced at Pulse nightclub, an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016.

Fehring has reportedly been sending these kinds of threatening letters since at least 2013, according to the unsealed criminal complaint. In them, he threatened the use of firearms and explosives.

Along with the letter threatening the New York City Pride March -- in which he wrote there would "be radio-cont[r]olled devices placed at numerous strategic places" -- the criminal complaint also quoted from a letter Fehring allegedly sent to the organizer of the Pride event in East Meadow.

"[W]e were right there you…FREAK!!! They couldn’t get a shot off at you, slithering around the back stage area like a snake. Too many cops. Very disappointed. But your time has come. ... They are out to KILL you….and your boyfriend. You are being watched. No matter how long it takes, you will be taken out…. high-powered bullet…. bomb….knife…. whatever it takes," the letter said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Family of Emmett Till reacts to DOJ closing investigation into his murder

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(NEW YORK) -- In a report shared with the family of Emmett Till, the Justice Department said that it had concluded that the investigation into the 14-year-old’s murder and decided the case should be closed without a new federal prosecution.

While the department and the FBI called Till’s murder "one of the most horrific examples of the violence routinely inflicted upon Black residents," in a letter to Till's family, they said that the new investigation did not uncover new facts that differed from those found in the previous investigation.

Officials from the Department of Justice and the FBI, including Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke, met privately with Till’s family to share the findings of the report.

"Today is a day that we’ll never forget," Rev. Wheeler Parker, Till’s cousin who was in the house the night Till was kidnapped, said at a press conference Monday.

"Officially, the Emmett Till case has been closed after 66 years," Parker said. "For 66 years we have suffered pain for his loss, and I suffered tremendously because of the way that they painted him."

Till, 14, was killed in 1955 while visiting family in Mississippi after he was accused of whistling at and making sexual advances toward a white woman, Carolyn Bryant. He was kidnapped, badly beaten and found in the Tallahatchie River several days later.

Carolyn Bryant's husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother J.W. Milam were charged with Till's murder and acquitted by an all-white jury. The two men later confessed to the killing in a paid magazine interview months later.

Till's cousin Parker -- who was 16 at the time -- was in the house when Roy Bryant and Milam came looking for Till.

"I'm waiting to be shot, and I close my eyes," Parker recalled in an interview with ABC News for an upcoming documentary series "Let the World See." "I wasn't shot, I opened my eyes and they're passing by me. The guy said we're looking for fat boy, the fat boy from Chicago."

"They left with him, and that's the last time we saw him alive," he added.

Till's murder came at a time of intense racial unrest and animosity. When his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, demanded an open casket at his funeral, it helped spark the civil rights movement.

The Justice Department opened an investigation into Till's killing in 2004 but determined that there was no federal jurisdiction due to the statute of limitations. The investigation was originally closed in 2007 after a local grand jury declined to indict anyone on state charges.

It was reopened in 2018, following the publication of Timothy Tyson's book "The Blood of Emmett Till," in which Carolyn Bryant revealed she had not been telling the truth when she testified that Till had grabbed her and uttered obscenities. The Bryant family now deny that she had recanted her allegations.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Wisconsin law to curb rape kit backlog with standardized collection, tracking system

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(NEW YORK) -- For years, thousands of sexual assault kits sat on the shelves in Wisconsin crime labs, leaving victims and investigators desperately waiting for crucial data, according to state officials.

But new legislation that went into effect Monday aims to clear up this backlog and provide victims with more information about their investigations.

Gov. Tony Evers signed two bills that have been in the works since 2019 that establish a detailed procedure for the collection and processing of sexual assault kits. The bills also create a tracking system where victims can see the progress of the tests.

"Victims and survivors of sexual assault have already gone through the unimaginable, and their path to justice should never be obstructed or delayed," Evers said in a statement.

Under the new laws, when a health care professional collects sexual assault evidence, a victim will have the choice to report the incident to law enforcement.

If the victim chooses to report the incident, officers have up to 72 hours to collect the kit from the health care professional, and then 14 days to send the kit to the state crime laboratories for analysis.

If the victim chooses not to report the incident, the health care provider is required to send the kit to the state crime laboratories for storage within 72 hours. The kit will remain in storage for up to 10 years, and if a victim reconsiders reporting the incident, the kit will be tested.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice will track the kits and maintain the database for the victims.

The two bills were approved by the Wisconsin state Senate in 2019, but didn't pass in both houses until this year.

Wisconsin is the latest state to address its sexual assault kit backlog.

Virginia and Missouri have also taken efforts to streamline the process and test thousands of kits that were in storage at labs in their jurisdictions.

 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Family pleads with US attorney general for better treatment of Ghislaine Maxwell during trial

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(NEW YORK) -- Ghislaine Maxwell's siblings have written to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, appealing for "immediate improvements" to her treatment by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service and urging Garland "in the interest of justice and common humanity to change the shocking daily regime which Ghislaine is subject to during her trial."

The two-page letter, which is signed by all six of Maxwell's surviving siblings, claims that the government agencies have deprived her of adequate food during long trial days, declined to provide her with soap or sanitizer to wash her hands, and provided her insufficient time to meet with her attorneys.

"She has received minimal sustenance during the first week for each whole court day - sometimes no food at all and sometimes food she cannot each such as peanut butter to which she has an allergy known to [authorities]," the family wrote in a statement accompanying the letter. "Such minimal food as she has been given has been both monotonous by repetition and non-sustaining; boiled eggs (occasionally rotten); pieces of bread; potato crisps; bananas; apples; and no utensils, no condiments."

The Federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on Maxwell's conditions of confinement specifically, citing privacy, safety and security concerns, but issued a brief statement in response to questions from ABC News.

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all inmates in our population, our staff, and the public," the statement reads. "Additionally, the BOP takes allegations of staff misconduct seriously and consistent with national policy, refers all allegations for investigation, if warranted. Incidents of potential criminal activity or misconduct inside BOP facilities are thoroughly investigated for potential administrative discipline or criminal prosecution."

The U.S. Marshals Service did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for the agency has previously said that its treatment of Maxwell has been consistent with their protocols.

Maxwell, 59, was denied pre-trial release by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan on four separate occasions since her arrest on multiple charges of child sex trafficking in July 2020, ruling that the wealthy former British socialite was a flight risk. Maxwell's family contends that the judge "has declined to intervene in any way" regarding their concerns about her treatment.

The family is asking Garland to order that the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, where she is being held, provide Maxwell with a food pack and soap each day and to order the U.S. Marshals Service to permit her additional time with counsel before and after each day of the trial, which is expected to last up to five more weeks.

Since her trial opened last Monday, Ghislaine's sister Isabel, who lives in the United States, has been in the gallery every day. Her brother Kevin, who lives in the United Kingdom, joined Isabel later in the week.

In an interview with ABC News on Monday, Ghislaine's brother Kevin Maxwell, called his sister's daily regimen "an absolute outrage."

"This is not fair, (it's) inhumane and a disgrace," Kevin Maxwell said, noting that his sister hasn't been convicted of anything. "There should be suspension of judgment until the end of the trial. She's innocent until proven guilty."

He told ABC News that he was "relieved" to see his sister, but alarmed by her appearance.

"The AG can fix it and can fix it today," Kevin Maxwell said. "Judge Nathan won't fix. The U.S. Marshals, Bureau of Prisons -- the AG must fix it."

 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


261 vehicle crashes in 18 hours as snow sweeps across Minnesota

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(NEW YORK) -- A Minnesota snowstorm turned highways and roads into a slippery destruction derby in which at least 261 vehicle crashes were reported in an 18-hour period, authorities said.

The traffic mayhem occurred as the first significant snowstorm of the season dumped about an inch of fresh powder across the Twin Cities area and farther north on Sunday, officials said.

"Roads are slippery and many driving too fast for conditions," Sgt. Jesse Grabow, a spokesperson for the Minnesota State Patrol, said in a Twitter post on Sunday night that included a photo of a jackknifed tractor-trailer rig blocking lanes on Interstate 94 near Rothsay close to the Minnesota-North Dakota border.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported 26 people were injured in the vehicle crashes that occurred between 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 p.m. on Sunday. No fatalities were reported.

Busy state troopers also responded to another 115 vehicle spin-outs and four jackknifed tractor-trailer rigs during the chaotic time span, officials said.

"Everyone is a rookie on the first snow. People running stop signs, stop lights and you got the people that are overcautious," Josh Hicks, a Minnesota driver who braved the treacherous conditions, told ABC affiliate station KTSP-TV in St. Paul.

The National Weather Service is forecasting sunny skies and frigid weather in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area today with temperatures around 7 degrees. Blustery winds will make it feel minus-13 degrees, according to the weather service.

There is a 50% chance of more snow hitting the area on Tuesday, according to the weather service forecast.

 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Hawaii bracing for 'catastrophic' rainfall with flash flooding, landslides

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(NEW YORK) -- Portions of Hawaii are bracing for potentially catastrophic rainfall this week, just days after some islands were hit with an early winter snowstorm.

Major flash flooding, river flooding and landslides are all possible on multiple islands, with a flood watch in effect across the state through Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

The city of Honolulu, which typically only sees about 2 inches of rain for the entire month of December, could get over a half foot of rain by Tuesday. Approximately 3 to 5 inches of rain has been forecast across low elevations, with 10 inches to 15 inches of rain possible in mountainous regions.

Heavy rain and flash flooding began affecting some areas Sunday afternoon and is now making its way westward toward the rest of the island chain on Monday and into Tuesday. Widespread gusty winds could cause issues as well.

Numerous landslides are also expected in areas with steep terrain.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino asked residents to avoid visiting flood-prone areas. Hawaiian Electric advised residents to clear their yards of any debris and secure items to avoid outages.

The storm system prompted several schools to close Monday. Weather conditions are expected to improve late Tuesday.

The heavy precipitation comes days after warnings for snow and wind were issued at the Big Island summits with snowfall nearing a foot in some places. However, blizzard warnings are issued at the mountain peaks about every other year, on average.

ABC News' Daniel Peck contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Artist did not knowingly help alleged Michigan school shooter's parents flee: Lawyer

Oakland County Sheriff's Office

(DETROIT) -- The parents of Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old who authorities said killed four classmates at his Michigan high school, are still in jail after a judge assigned them each a $500,000 bond on manslaughter charges related to the shooting.

James and Jennifer Crumbley were taken into custody early Saturday after they failed to turn themselves in Friday afternoon for a scheduled arraignment, prompting an hourslong search for the couple. They remained in the Oakland County jail on Sunday and have not posted bail, online jail records show.

The couple was captured in Detroit after a business owner called 911 after spotting the suspects' car in their parking lot and Jennifer Crumbley standing next to it, according to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office. She fled the area on foot, but the couple was located in a commercial building in an art studio after an extensive search of the area.

They were "aided in getting into the building," Detroit Police Chief James White told reporters at a 3 a.m. press conference Saturday, adding that it was "very likely" they were trying to flee to Canada. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said his office would be presenting potential charges to the prosecutor's office against the person who allegedly helped them gain access to the building.

The 65-year-old Detroit artist whose studio Jennifer and James Crumbley used to hide as they allegedly fled authorities on Friday is maintaining his innocence in their movements that day, his attorney, Clarence Dass, told ABC News.

The lawyer for Andzrej Sikora told ABC News on Sunday that the Crumbleys came to Sikora on Friday morning, the day the county leveled charges of involuntary manslaughter against the couple in the Oxford school shooting. The Crumbleys knew Sikora through a ski club, Dass said.

Dass declined to describe the interaction Friday morning and would not say whether Sikora gave the couple keys to the Detroit building that houses his studio. Sikora was not aware the couple was facing charges in the shooting, saying that he “knew what was going on” but wasn’t following the news closely, Dass said.

When Sikora woke up on Saturday and saw the news of the Crumbleys’ overnight arrest, he went to the Detroit Police Department and told them he was the owner of the studio, Dass said. Authorities then directed him to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, where he provided information about what he knew, before hiring Dass as counsel.

Sikora has not been arrested and no charges have been filed against his client, Dass said, but he did not rule out the possibility that authorities could charge the artist this week.

Each parent is facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter for what authorities are saying was a failure to properly secure the firearm that was used in the shooting. They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On Tuesday, the morning of the shooting, a teacher at Oxford High School saw a note on Ethan Crumbley's desk with a drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointing at the words, "The thoughts won't stop, help me," prosecutors said. Another drawing depicted a bullet with the words "Blood everywhere" above it and a drawing of a bleeding person who appeared to have been shot twice, according to prosecutors.

Ethan Crumbley was then removed from class, and his parents, who school officials said were "difficult to reach," were called to the school.

Ethan Crumbley told school guidance counselors that the drawings were for a video game he was designing, Oxford Community Schools Superintendent Tim Throne said in a statement Saturday. His parents did not indicate that they had recently purchased a firearm for him and led the counselors to believe there was no threat of violence, to himself or to others, Throne said.

It is not clear whether the gun was in Ethan Crumbley's backpack at the time, Throne added. Due to his lack of disciplinary record, they sent him back to class instead of home, Throne said. His parents were then told that they were required to get their son into counseling within 48 hours.

Hours later, Ethan Crumbley was armed with a 9 mm Sig Sauer pistol his father bought on Nov. 26 as he walked down the hallway, aiming into classrooms, Oakland County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Marc Keast said during Wednesday's arraignment. There were 18 live rounds left in the firearm when he was apprehended in the hallway, Bouchard told reporters Wednesday.

Ethan Crumbley has been charged as an adult with four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of assault with intent to murder -- actions that prosecutors allege were premeditated.

Throne has requested a third-party probe to investigate how the school handled the events leading up to the shooting.

"I have personally asked for a third-party review of all the events of the past week because our community and our families deserve a full, transparent accounting of what occurred," Throne said.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has also reached out to the Oxford Community Schools to offer help in investiating the shooting and events leading up to it.

"Our attorneys and special agents are uniquely qualified to perform an investigation of this magnitude," Nessel tweeted.

ABC News' Meredith Deliso, Ahmad Hemingway, Will McDuffie and Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


With omicron in Colorado, 'last thing that we want is another wave,' governor says

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Despite two cases being detected in his state, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis reiterated he's not yet alarmed by the emergence of the omicron variant.

"We always wish that we had next week's information this week, next month's information this month, but we don't," Polis told ABC's This Week co-anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday. "I think what we're all looking for at this point is what characteristics the omicron variant has that are different."

Polis announced his state’s first case of the omicron variant on Thursday in a person from Arapahoe County who had recently returned from South Africa. She was vaccinated and eligible for a booster.

At the time, Polis said during a news conference he was "not terribly alarmed."

But experts say that early research shows that omicron is more transmissible, Raddatz pointed out to Polis.

"It's clearly a very different variant," Polis said. "It's different than the whole branch of the viral family that led to the delta area, and as indicated in your introduction, we're just recovering from a wave of that. There are some states that are going up, ours is going down -- has been for a week or two -- but we're just recovering from the delta variant."

With omicron being a variant of concern and with it most likely having a higher transmission rate than other COVID-19 variants, Raddatz questioned Polis on the possibility of having to push off elective surgeries in case omicron continues to spread throughout Colorado.

The governor reaffirmed his stance on waiting to get more answers about the variant.

"The last thing that we want is another wave," Polis said. "Now, again, I think what we're all waiting to see is how virulent the omicron variant is, how effectively it can break through prior immunization and how contagious it is, and those three factors will really determine the spread of the virus."

The governor also stressed on This Week that the omicron variant level of community transmission in Colorado is currently low.

"We have a few isolated cases, but we do regular wastewater screening," Polis said. "It has not come up in that and we also screen about 15 to 20% of our tests, and we do tens of thousands of tests per day, for the indicators of the omicron variant. And none of those have come back with the omicron variant yet."

Across the state of Colorado, just under 1,400 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 95% of ICU beds are in use and many hospital facilities anticipate ICU shortages in the next week according to the Colorado Department of Health.

When Raddatz pushed Polis on hospitals in Colorado anticipating ICU shortages in the coming weeks and how they plan to handle that, Polis said the number of people who are unvaccinated and hospitalized with COVID-19 is far greater than the number of people who are vaccinated.

"So we just have slightly over 200 vaccinated Coloradans hospitalized ... and then we have the 1,100 people that are unvaccinated," Polis said, noting that those numbers show "the tremendous efficacy of the vaccine and keeping people out of the hospital."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Man arrested, charged in harassment case against Kim Potter judge

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(MINNEAPOLIS) -- A man was arrested for allegedly harassing the judge overseeing the trial of Kim Potter, the former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, officer who shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in April.

A group protested Judge Regina Chu last month for her decision to ban cameras inside the courtroom during the trial and rallied outside an apartment building in Minneapolis, where they believed the judge lived, according to court documents.

Cortez Rice, 32, was among the protesters and went inside the building while others remained outside, investigators said. Rice allegedly made his way to the 12th floor, live streaming his actions on YouTube, according to the complaint.

"I think this is her crib right here," Rice was allegedly filmed saying outside a door, according to the complaint.

The defendant walked down to the lobby where other protesters asked him if the building was the right location, the complaint said.

"That's her window on the 12th floor," Rice said, according to the complaint.

Rice was also heard yelling to Chu, "We demand transparency. We'd hate you to get kicked out of your apartment," the complaint said.

Judge Chu spoke with investigators and said she "believed she was the target of Rice and the other protestors," and "it was her belief the intention was to intimidate her and to interfere with the judicial process."

Rice was arrested last week and charged with felony harassment with aggravated violations -- tampering with a juror or retaliating against a judicial officer, the complaint said. The defendant is currently being held at the Waukesha County Jail in Wisconsin and is awaiting extradition, court papers show.

Rice's attorney didn't immediately respond to messages from ABC News for comment.

Opening arguments in Potter's criminal trial are slated to begin on Wednesday.

Potter has been charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Wright, a 20-year-old Black man. In April, Potter stopped Wright's car over for an expired registration tag.

She then determined he had an outstanding warrant for a gross misdemeanor weapons charge and tried to detain him, according to former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, who resigned after the incident.

As officers tried to arrest him, Wright freed himself and tried to get back in his vehicle. That's when, according to Potter's attorneys, she accidentally grabbed her firearm instead of her stun gun and shot him.

The incident, which was captured on body worn cameras, set off more protests against police violence and racial profiling in Minnesota.

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