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Florida Tech student fatally shot in armed confrontation with officers, police say

Florida Tech student fatally shot in armed confrontation with officers, police say

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(FLORIDA) -- A Florida Institute of Technology student who was reportedly wielding a knife at students on campus was fatally shot by officers Friday night, authorities said.

Police officers and school security responded shortly before 11 p.m. to reports of a man on the Melbourne campus "armed with a knife and assaulting students," the Melbourne Police Department said.

The incident began at Roberts Hall, a freshman residence hall, according to school officials.

Officers confronted the man, identified by police as 18-year-old Alhaji Sow, in a campus building "armed with an edged weapon," the department said.

Sow "lunged" at a police officer with his weapon during the confrontation, and the officer and a school security officer both fired their weapons, striking him, according to Melbourne police.

Officers attempted lifesaving measures but the student died at the scene, police said.

The Melbourne police officer who fired his weapon was injured during the incident, police said. No other injuries were reported.

Shortly after midnight, the school issued a shelter-in-place alert and advised people to avoid the area due to police activity on campus. The order was lifted around 3 a.m., though students were advised to avoid Roberts Hall and Campbell Hall, another residence hall, due to the investigation.

The shooting was an "isolated incident" and there is no further threat to the campus, police and school officials said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting. The officer is a five-year veteran of the force, police said.

Sow, of Riverdale, Georgia, was a sophomore at the university studying aeronautical science, school officials said.

In a statement Saturday morning, Florida Tech said it "continues to collaborate with law enforcement's ongoing investigation."

The school said it is arranging support services Saturday for students and others in the community.

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Member of 'Jena Six' speaks out on race and the justice system 15 years later

Member of 'Jena Six' speaks out on race and the justice system 15 years later

Getty/Bloomberg

(LOUISIANA) -- Bryant Purvis was just 17 when he became a part of the "Jena Six."

He and five other Black teens were accused and later convicted of attacking a white student at a high school in Jena, Louisiana, a town with a large majority of white residents, after a series of racially charged incidents there.

The case against the teens became for many a symbol of racial discrimination in the justice system -- attempted murder charges for what supporters called a schoolyard fight. The charges were later dramatically reduced.

Purvis, now 32, maintains he was not involved in the fight. He has since dedicated his time talking to students about racial injustice as a motivational speaker. He also authored the book, "My Story as a Jena 6," in 2015, but is now focused on his future beyond the "Jena Six" label.

"At the time, it was just so much emotion," Purvis, who now lives in Dallas and has a 9-year-old son, told ABC News.

"It was more extreme because I knew I didn't commit the crime. So, once I found out the charges, knowing where I was in Jena, I just didn't see it coming out good."

15 years later

Dec. 4 marks the 15th anniversary of the arrest of the Jena Six: Purvis, Carwin Jones, Jesse Ray Beard, Robert Bailey Jr., Theo Shaw and Mychal Bell.

At the beginning of the 2006 school year, several Black students were sitting under a tree at Jena High School where white students usually congregated, according to the ACLU, which advocated on behalf of the Jena Six. A day later, three nooses were left hanging from a branch on the tree, and three white students were temporarily suspended, the ACLU reported, despite the principal's recommendation to expel them.

Later that year, a white adult at a gas station pulled a shotgun on three Black teens, including Bailey, but the teens were the ones charged in the case -- for taking the gun and bringing it to police, according to a 2009 Good Morning America report.

On Dec. 4, 2006, six Black teenagers, now known as the Jena Six were accused of beating up a fellow white student Justin Barker, who was hospitalized and suffered a swollen eye and a concussion, according to Barker's family.

He said in interviews years later with The Associated Press that he didn't know why he was attacked.

The Black teens were arrested and charged with second-degree battery, which was later upgraded to second-degree attempted murder and conspiracy to commit attempted murder, despite Barker returning to a school function hours later, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which represented one of the teens and helped arrange the defense for another.

Supporters argued the charges were far too serious for the severity of Barker's injury, sparking a massive protest and litigation efforts to have the charges reduced, SPLC said.

Bell, then 16, was charged as an adult and pleaded guilty to second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit second-degree battery. However, his conviction was later overturned after a judge ruled he should have been tried as a juvenile. Bell still received an 18-month detention sentence.

The other five pleaded no contest in an agreement that reduced their charges to a misdemeanor simple battery and did not admit guilt or involvement. Each one of them was fined $500 and served a week of unsupervised probation.

"We recognize that the events of the past two and a half years have also caused Justin and his parents tremendous pain and suffering, much of which has gone unrecognized," the teens said in a prepared statement read in court, according to SPLC. "We hope our actions today help to resolve this matter for Justin, Mr. and Mrs. Barker, and all others affected, including the Town of Jena."

DA said race not a factor

The district attorney at the time, Reed Walters, claimed race wasn't a factor in the charges.

"It is not and never has been about race," Walters said, according to an AP report at the time. "It is about finding justice for an innocent victim and holding people accountable for their actions."

Local activists disagreed.

"From racial profiling to unequal punishment in school to potential misconduct by authorities, the Jena Six case causes great concern," Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, said in a 2007 statement.

"It is time to fully examine the facts surrounding this case to determine if any racially motivated misdeeds have taken place. Considering the concerns that the Jena Six bring up, we must redouble our commitment to equal protection -- not just in Jena, but across Louisiana and the rest of the country."

Thousands came out to protest during their trials in 2007. Demonstrators were furious with disparities in the criminal justice system, which they said often resulted in harsher, more unjust charges and sentences for Black people compared with white people.

Trying to move on

Following the incident and their convictions, the other men too wanted to move on -- some going to college, others entering the labor force. Shaw also maintained his innocence, claiming he was not involved in the fight.

Purvis said racial division and segregation had long been an issue in Jena, for as long as he could remember, but the experiences of the Jena Six shined a national spotlight on the tensions that were building up.

"I would say we kind of put pressure on the officials and everybody that run the town to make a change," Purvis added. "We brought a lot of attention to the community ... A lot of other things that happened leading up to that fight that really weren't publicized."

Years later, Purvis has a message for Black men about ongoing injustice in America: "Carry yourself in the right manner, and don't let one situation define who you are."

"Things are gonna happen to you," he added, "but it's not about what happened -- it's how you respond."

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Parents of Michigan school shooting suspect plead not guilty, held on $500K bond each

Parents of Michigan school shooting suspect plead not guilty, held on $500K bond each

Getty/Scott Olson

(MICHIGAN) -- The parents charged in connection with this week's deadly shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan each pleaded not guilty to four counts of involuntary manslaughter Saturday in their first hearing since being taken into custody in the middle of the night while hiding in Detroit.

The couple was captured early Saturday following an hourslong search after they did not turn themselves in for their scheduled arraignment Friday afternoon, according to law enforcement officials.

The attorney for James and Jennifer Crumbley, who could be seen fighting back tears during the arraignment, had said Friday they were returning to town for their court date after detectives announced they were trying to locate the couple. But the duo remained missing late Friday and the U.S. Marshals Service joined in on the search.

The couple was caught by the Detroit Police Department when 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 after an extensive search of the area. They were taken into custody "without incident," Detroit Police Chief James White said at a 3 a.m. press conference, and were unarmed.

White said the duo was "aided in getting into the building" and some charges might be filed against the person who let them inside. He also said it was "very likely" they were trying to flee to Canada.

The Marshals Service had announced a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to their arrests.

At Saturday's arraignment, the judge ordered they each be held on $500,000 with no 10% bond and will submit to drug testing and be fitted with a GPS monitor if they are able to meet bond. They were also asked to surrender any weapons to the sheriff's office.

Shannon Smith, who is representing Jennifer Crumbley, repeatedly said her clients were not fleeing prosecution and planned to turn themselves in Saturday morning, a categorization that Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald disputed.

"While it’s human nature to want to find someone to blame or something to point to or something that gives us answers, the charges in this case are intended to make an example and send a message," Smith and James Crumbley's lawyer, Mariell Lehman, said in a statement Saturday. "The prosecution has very much cherry-picked and slanted specific facts to further their narrative to do that."

McDonald recommended the $500,000 bond, saying, "These are not people that we can be assured will return to court on their own."

The parents were each charged Friday with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Their son, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, allegedly used his father's semi-automatic handgun in the Tuesday shooting that killed four and injured seven.

"They could have stopped it and they had every reason to know he was dangerous," McDonald said during the hearing Saturday.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the Crumbleys' attorney would make arrangements for their arrest if charges were issued, and when the warrants were issued Friday, "detectives immediately moved to arrest the couple," the Oakland County Sheriff's Office said.
The attorney told police "she had made repeated attempts to reach them by phone and text without success," the sheriff's office said.

Bouchard said, "The action of fleeing and ignoring their attorney certainly adds weight to the charges. They cannot run from their part in this tragedy."

The couple's attorneys then said in a statement: "The Crumbleys left town on the night of the tragic shooting for their own safety. They are returning to the area to be arraigned. They are not fleeing from law enforcement."

In a response to the statement by the attorneys for Jennifer and James Crumbley, the Oakland County Sheriff's Office said it was not aware that the couple was returning to be arraigned.

"If they are, it's news to us," Undersheriff Mike McCabe told ABC News, saying authorities still don't know where the couple is located.

McDonald confirmed Saturday that the couple had withdrawn $4,000 from an ATM in Rochester Hills on Friday morning before going missing.

Jennifer and James Crumbley are due back in court in Dec. 14.

Earlier on Friday, McDonald at a news conference outlined an alarming and violent note Ethan Crumbley allegedly drew hours before the shooting that prompted his parents to be called to the school. She also stressed the importance of responsible gun ownership.

“While the shooter was the one who entered the high school and pulled the trigger, there are other individuals who contributed to this, to the events on November 30, and it is my intention to hold them accountable," McDonald said.

Ethan Crumbley was with his father when he bought the 9 mm Sig Sauer pistol on Nov. 26, McDonald said. The teen posted photos of the gun on social media, writing, "Just got my new beauty today," she said. Jennifer Crumbley also posted online about testing the gun out with her son, McDonald said.

A teacher saw Ethan Crumbley researching ammunition in class days before the shooting, the prosecutor said. School officials contacted his parents, but they didn't respond, McDonald said. However, according to the prosecutor, Jennifer Crumbley texted her son, writing, "lol, I'm not mad at you, you have to learn not to get caught."

According to McDonald, the morning of Tuesday's shooting, Ethan Crumbley's teacher saw an alarming note on his desk. McDonald described the note as "a drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointing at the words, 'The thoughts won't stop, help me.' In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet with the following words above that bullet, 'Blood everywhere.'"

"Between the drawing of the gun and the bullet is a drawing of a person who appears to have been shot twice and bleeding," she said. "Below that figure is a drawing of a laughing emoji. Further down the drawing are the words, 'My life is useless,' and to the right of that are the words, 'The world is dead.'"

Ethan Crumbley was removed from the classroom and his parents were called to the school, McDonald said. By the time a counselor obtained the drawing, the teen had allegedly altered it, McDonald said.

"At the meeting, James and Jennifer Crumbley were shown the drawing and were advised that they were required to get their son into counseling within 48 hours," she said. "Both James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to ask their son if he had his gun with him or where his gun was located and failed to inspect his backpack for the presence of the gun, which he had with him."

The parents left school while Ethan Crumbley returned to class, likely with the gun in his backpack, McDonald said.

Once news broke of a shooting at the school, McDonald said Jennifer Crumbley texted her son, "Ethan, don't do it."

James Crumbley called 911 to report that a gun was missing from his house and said he believed his son may be the shooter, McDonald said.

Authorities determined James Crumbley's semi-automatic handgun was stored unlocked in a drawer in his bedroom, McDonald said.

McDonald said involuntary manslaughter is "the strongest possible charge that we could prove" against the suspect's parents.

"These charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable and also send a message that gun owners have a responsibility. When they fail to uphold that responsibility, there are serious and criminal consequences," she said.

Ethan Crumbley has been charged as an adult with one count of terrorism causing death; four counts of first-degree murder; seven counts of assault with intent to murder; and 11 counts of possession of a firearm in commission of a felony.

A judge entered a not guilty plea for Ethan Crumbley on Wednesday. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 13.

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Appeals court weighs whether Justice Department should substitute for Trump in defamation suit

Appeals court weighs whether Justice Department should substitute for Trump in defamation suit

Bloomberg/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- A federal appeals court on Friday peppered the Justice Department with questions over whether it's appropriate for the department to substitute for former President Donald Trump in the defamation lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll.

Carroll, a former Elle magazine columnist, sued Trump in November 2019 after he denied raping her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in the 1990s. Trump claimed Carroll wasn't his type and made up the story to sell a new book.

The Justice Department is appealing the ruling of U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who in October rejected the DOJ's bid to replace Trump as the defendant in the case.

The DOJ's Mark Freeman conceded during arguments on Friday that "the former president made crude and offensive comments" when he responded to Carroll's rape accusation, but that he spoke in his capacity as president, therefore allowing the U.S. government to take over as the defendant, shielding Trump from personal liability.

"Any president facing a public accusation of this kind in which the media is very interested would feel obliged to answer questions from the public, answer questions from the media," Freeman said during oral arguments before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "It is part of the responsibility of a public official to address matters of grave interest to the public."

One of the appellate judges, Denny Chin, suggested that the context and content matters.

"Shouldn't we be parsing the individual comments to see whether they're serving the country?" Chin asked. "Who is he serving when he says 'She's not my type?'"

Another member of the three-judge panel, Guido Calabresi, questioned what law determines whether Trump was acting within the scope of his employment.

"We don't have any cases that tell us," Calabresi said.

Trump's attorney, Alina Habba, said that Trump was obligated to respond to Carroll's accusation.

"When somebody says he did a heinous crime 20 years ago, he needs to address it," Habba said.

Carroll's attorney, Joshua Matz, said Trump "acted in pursuit of private motives" and that Carroll should be allowed to hold him personally accountable.

"A mere denial is not the same as 'I didn't rape her and she's too unattractive for me to have done it,'" Matz said.

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Blizzard warning issued for Hawaii with at least 12 inches of snow forecast

Blizzard warning issued for Hawaii with at least 12 inches of snow forecast

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(HONOLULU) -- A blizzard warning has been issued for Hawaii, with at least 12 inches of snow forecast this weekend.

The warning is in effect for the Big Island summits from 6 p.m. Friday through 6 a.m. Sunday local time.

In addition to blizzard conditions, wind gusts over 100 mph are also expected, according to the alert issued by National Weather Service Honolulu.

"Travel could be very difficult to impossible," the alert said. "Blowing snow will significantly reduce visibility at times, with periods of zero visibility."

"The strong winds will likely cause significant drifting of snow," it added.

A blizzard warning for tropical Hawaii may come as a surprise, but snow is not uncommon; the summits of the Big Island's Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes reach nearly 14,000 feet in elevation.

Also on the radar this weekend is rain -- a flood watch has been issued for all Hawaiian islands through Monday afternoon, as a prolonged period of heavy rainfall is anticipated over the weekend.

"Flash flooding caused by excessive rainfall continues to be possible," the alert said.

"Landslides may also occur in areas with steep terrain," it warned.

The "very active weather" in Hawaii is due to what's known as the kona low, a seasonal cyclone that pulls moisture from the south, according to Weather Channel meteorologist Ari Sarsalari.

"The coverage of the precipitation is going to get a little more intense into the weekend," Sarsalari said in a video update Friday. "This is going to be a lot of rain, so be prepared for some flooding issues."

The slow-moving kona low is expected to bring the "greatest potential for heavy rain" over Maui and the Big Island, NWS Honolulu said.

Elsewhere in the United States, a storm system is expected to sweep from the northern Rockies to northern Great Lakes, bringing a blast of snow and gusty winds later this weekend. Winter storm watches and warnings have been issued from Montana to northern Wisconsin, where more than a half a foot of snow is possible this weekend.

Strong, gusty winds will also impact parts of the northern Rockies later Saturday into Saturday night. High wind alerts are in effect from Great Falls, Montana, to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

ABC News' Dan Peck and Max Golembo contributed to this report.

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Parents charged in Michigan school shooting returning to town, attorney says

Parents charged in Michigan school shooting returning to town, attorney says

Scott Olson/Getty Images

(OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich.) -- The parents charged in connection with this week's deadly shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan are returning to town for their arraignment, their attorney said, after detectives announced they were trying to locate the couple.

James and Jennifer Crumbley were each charged Friday with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Their son, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, allegedly used his father's semi-automatic handgun in the Tuesday shooting that killed four and injured seven.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the Crumbleys' attorney would make arrangements for their arrest if charges were issued, and when the warrants were issued Friday, "detectives immediately moved to arrest the couple," the Oakland County Sheriff's Office said.

The attorney told police "she had made repeated attempts to reach them by phone and text without success," the sheriff's office said.

Bouchard said, "The action of fleeing and ignoring their attorney certainly adds weight to the charges. They cannot run from their part in this tragedy."

The couple's attorneys then said in a statement: "The Crumbleys left town on the night of the tragic shooting for their own safety. They are returning to the area to be arraigned. They are not fleeing from law enforcement."

In a response to the statement by the attorneys for Jennifer and James Crumbley, the Oakland County Sheriff's Office said it is not aware that the couple is returning to be arraigned.

"If they are, it's news to us," Undersheriff Mike McCabe told ABC News, saying authorities still don't know where the couple is located.

Earlier on Friday, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald at a news conference outlined an alarming and violent note Ethan Crumbley allegedly drew hours before the shooting that prompted his parents to be called to the school. She also stressed the importance of responsible gun ownership.

“While the shooter was the one who entered the high school and pulled the trigger, there are other individuals who contributed to this, to the events on November 30, and it is my intention to hold them accountable," McDonald said.

Ethan Crumbley was with his father when he bought the 9 mm Sig Sauer pistol on Nov. 26, McDonald said. The teen posted photos of the gun on social media, writing, "Just got my new beauty today," she said. Jennifer Crumbley also posted online about testing the gun out with her son, McDonald said.

A teacher saw Ethan Crumbley researching ammunition in class days before the shooting, the prosecutor said. School officials contacted his parents, but they didn't respond, McDonald said. However, according to the prosecutor, Jennifer Crumbley texted her son, writing, "lol, I'm not mad at you, you have to learn not to get caught."

According to McDonald, the morning of Tuesday's shooting, Ethan Crumbley's teacher saw an alarming note on his desk. McDonald described the note as "a drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointing at the words, 'The thoughts won't stop, help me.' In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet with the following words above that bullet, 'Blood everywhere.'"

"Between the drawing of the gun and the bullet is a drawing of a person who appears to have been shot twice and bleeding," she said. "Below that figure is a drawing of a laughing emoji. Further down the drawing are the words, 'My life is useless,' and to the right of that are the words, 'The world is dead.'"

Ethan Crumbley was removed from the classroom and his parents were called to the school, McDonald said. By the time a counselor obtained the drawing, the teen had allegedly altered it, McDonald said.

"At the meeting, James and Jennifer Crumbley were shown the drawing and were advised that they were required to get their son into counseling within 48 hours," she said. "Both James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to ask their son if he had his gun with him or where his gun was located and failed to inspect his backpack for the presence of the gun, which he had with him."

The parents left school while Ethan Crumbley returned to class, likely with the gun in his backpack, McDonald said.

Once news broke of a shooting at the school, McDonald said Jennifer Crumbley texted her son, "Ethan, don't do it."

James Crumbley called 911 to report that a gun was missing from his house and said he believed his son may be the shooter, McDonald said.

Authorities determined James Crumbley's semi-automatic handgun was stored unlocked in a drawer in his bedroom, McDonald said.

McDonald said involuntary manslaughter is "the strongest possible charge that we could prove" against the suspect's parents.

"These charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable and also send a message that gun owners have a responsibility. When they fail to uphold that responsibility, there are serious and criminal consequences," she said.

Ethan Crumbley has been charged as an adult with one count of terrorism causing death; four counts of first-degree murder; seven counts of assault with intent to murder; and 11 counts of possession of a firearm in commission of a felony.

A judge entered a not guilty plea for Ethan Crumbley on Wednesday. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 13.

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Michigan school shooting suspect's parents charged, missing ahead of court appearance

Michigan school shooting suspect's parents charged, missing ahead of court appearance

Scott Olson/Getty Images

(OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich.) -- The parents charged in connection with this week's deadly shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan are returning to town for their arraignment, their attorney said, after detectives announced they were trying to locate the couple.

James and Jennifer Crumbley were each charged Friday with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Their son, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, allegedly used his father's semi-automatic handgun in the Tuesday shooting that killed four and injured seven.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the Crumbleys' attorney would make arrangements for their arrest if charges were issued, and when the warrants were issued Friday, "detectives immediately moved to arrest the couple," the Oakland County Sheriff's Office said.

The attorney told police "she had made repeated attempts to reach them by phone and text without success," the sheriff's office said.

Bouchard said, "The action of fleeing and ignoring their attorney certainly adds weight to the charges. They cannot run from their part in this tragedy."

The couple's attorneys then said in a statement: "The Crumbleys left town on the night of the tragic shooting for their own safety. They are returning to the area to be arraigned. They are not fleeing from law enforcement."

Earlier on Friday, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald at a news conference outlined an alarming and violent note Ethan Crumbley allegedly drew hours before the shooting that prompted his parents to be called to the school. She also stressed the importance of responsible gun ownership.

“While the shooter was the one who entered the high school and pulled the trigger, there are other individuals who contributed to this, to the events on November 30, and it is my intention to hold them accountable," McDonald said.

Ethan Crumbley was with his father when he bought the 9 mm Sig Sauer pistol on Nov. 26, McDonald said. The teen posted photos of the gun on social media, writing, "Just got my new beauty today," she said. Jennifer Crumbley also posted online about testing the gun out with her son, McDonald said.

A teacher saw Ethan Crumbley researching ammunition in class days before the shooting, the prosecutor said. School officials contacted his parents, but they didn't respond, McDonald said. However, according to the prosecutor, Jennifer Crumbley texted her son, writing, "lol, I'm not mad at you, you have to learn not to get caught."

According to McDonald, the morning of Tuesday's shooting, Ethan Crumbley's teacher saw an alarming note on his desk. McDonald described the note as "a drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointing at the words, 'The thoughts won't stop, help me.' In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet with the following words above that bullet, 'Blood everywhere.'"

"Between the drawing of the gun and the bullet is a drawing of a person who appears to have been shot twice and bleeding," she said. "Below that figure is a drawing of a laughing emoji. Further down the drawing are the words, 'My life is useless,' and to the right of that are the words, 'The world is dead.'"

Ethan Crumbley was removed from the classroom and his parents were called to the school, McDonald said. By the time a counselor obtained the drawing, the teen had allegedly altered it, McDonald said.

"At the meeting, James and Jennifer Crumbley were shown the drawing and were advised that they were required to get their son into counseling within 48 hours," she said. "Both James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to ask their son if he had his gun with him or where his gun was located and failed to inspect his backpack for the presence of the gun, which he had with him."

The parents left school while Ethan Crumbley returned to class, likely with the gun in his backpack, McDonald said.

Once news broke of a shooting at the school, McDonald said Jennifer Crumbley texted her son, "Ethan, don't do it."

James Crumbley called 911 to report that a gun was missing from his house and said he believed his son may be the shooter, McDonald said.

Authorities determined James Crumbley's semi-automatic handgun was stored unlocked in a drawer in his bedroom, McDonald said.

McDonald said involuntary manslaughter is "the strongest possible charge that we could prove" against the suspect's parents.

"These charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable and also send a message that gun owners have a responsibility. When they fail to uphold that responsibility, there are serious and criminal consequences," she said.

Ethan Crumbley has been charged as an adult with one count of terrorism causing death; four counts of first-degree murder; seven counts of assault with intent to murder; and 11 counts of possession of a firearm in commission of a felony.

A judge entered a not guilty plea for Ethan Crumbley on Wednesday. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 13.

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Michigan school shooting suspect's parents charged, teen allegedly wrote violent note hours before attack

Michigan school shooting suspect's parents charged, teen allegedly wrote violent note hours before attack

Scott Olson/Getty Images

(OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich.) -- The parents of a teenager accused of killing four classmates at Oxford High School in Michigan have been charged in connection to the school shooting.

James and Jennifer Crumbley were each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announced Friday.

The suspected gunman, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, allegedly used his father's semi-automatic handgun, a 9mm Sig Sauer pistol, in the Tuesday shooting that killed four and injured seven. Ethan Crumbley has been charged as an adult with one count of terrorism causing death; four counts of first-degree murder; seven counts of assault with intent to murder; and 11 counts of possession of a firearm in commission of a felony.

McDonald at a news conference outlined an alarming and violent note the suspect allegedly drew hours before the shooting that prompted his parents to be called to the school. She also stressed the importance of responsible gun ownership.

“While the shooter was the one who entered the high school and pulled the trigger, there are other individuals who contributed to this, to the events on November 30, and it is my intention to hold them accountable," McDonald said.

Ethan Crumbley was with his father when he bought the gun on Nov. 26, McDonald said. The teen posted photos of the gun on social media, writing, "Just got my new beauty today," she said. Jennifer Crumbley also posted online about testing the gun out with her son, McDonald said.

A teacher saw Ethan Crumbley researching ammunition in class days before the shooting, the prosecutor said. School officials contacted his parents, but they didn't respond, McDonald said. However, according to the prosecutor, Jennifer Crumbley texted her son, writing, "lol, I'm not mad at you, you have to learn not to get caught."

According to McDonald, the morning of Tuesday's shooting, Ethan Crumbley's teacher saw an alarming note on his desk. McDonald described the note as "a drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointing at the words, 'The thoughts won't stop, help me.' In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet with the following words above that bullet, 'Blood everywhere.'"

"Between the drawing of the gun and the bullet is a drawing of a person who appears to have been shot twice and bleeding," she said. "Below that figure is a drawing of a laughing emoji. Further down the drawing are the words, 'My life is useless,' and to the right of that are the words, 'The world is dead.'"

Ethan Crumbley was removed from the classroom and his parents were called to the school, McDonald said. By the time a counselor obtained the drawing, the teen had allegedly altered it, McDonald said.

"At the meeting, James and Jennifer Crumbley were shown the drawing and were advised that they were required to get their son into counseling within 48 hours," she said. "Both James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to ask their son if he had his gun with him or where his gun was located and failed to inspect his backpack for the presence of the gun, which he had with him."

The parents left school while Ethan Crumbley returned to class, likely with the gun in his backpack, McDonald said.

Once news broke of a shooting at the school, McDonald said Jennifer Crumbley texted her son, "Ethan, don't do it."

James Crumbley called 911 to report that a gun was missing from his house and said he believed his son may be the shooter, McDonald said.

Authorities determined James Crumbley's semi-automatic handgun was stored unlocked in a drawer in his bedroom, McDonald said.

McDonald said involuntary manslaughter is "the strongest possible charge that we could prove" against the suspect's parents.

"These charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable and also send a message that gun owners have a responsibility. When they fail to uphold that responsibility, there are serious and criminal consequences," she said.

A judge entered a not guilty plea for Ethan Crumbley on Wednesday. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 13.

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Jury seated for trial of officer who killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during traffic stop

Jury seated for trial of officer who killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during traffic stop

Kerem Yucel/Getty Images

(MINNEAPOLIS) -- The jury has been selected in the trial of former Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter, who's charged with fatally shooting Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop in April.
 

The jury of 12, and two alternates, will be composed of 11 white jurors, one Black juror and two jurors of Asian descent.
 

Wright's death reignited protests against racism and police brutality across the U.S., as the killing took place just outside of Minneapolis, where the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former officer who was convicted of murdering George Floyd, was taking place.
 

The jury selection process lasted only three days.
 

In the questionnaire given to potential jurors back in August, they were asked what they know about this case, what their impression of Potter and Wright is, whether they participated in protests or if they have any relation to Potter, Wright or local law enforcement. Ownership of stun guns and firearms also was also discussed.
 

On the stand, potential jurors were asked if they've seen body camera footage of the incident, their feelings on Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter movements, and discussed their answers on the questionnaires.
 

Potter is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter. She has plead not guilty to both charges.
 

Potter fatally shot Wright after initially pulling him over for an expired registration tag on his car. 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.
 

Potter is set to testify during the trial.

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Omicron live updates: Variant found in 6 people in Nebraska, 1 person traveled to Africa

Omicron live updates: Variant found in 6 people in Nebraska, 1 person traveled to Africa

Marca Piner/iStock

(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 785,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Just 59.6% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

 

Dec 03, 5:44 pm
Over 97% of CDC employees vaccinated

Over 97% of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention employees are vaccinated, according to data released Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Additionally, 99% of the agency's employees are "in compliance," meaning they have either initiated vaccination or have submitted a request for a medical or religious exemption.

In other HHS divisions, 96% of Food and Drug Administration employees are vaccinated and 99% are in compliance. At the National Institutes of Health, 97% are vaccinated and 99% are in compliance.

The data release comes as some Republican senators have pushed CDC Director Rochelle Walensky for vaccination rates at her own agency as she defends Biden's federal workers vaccine mandate, which is being challenged in federal court.

-ABC News' Cheyenne Haslett

Dec 03, 4:57 pm
1st monoclonal antibody treatment for young kids, newborns authorized by FDA

The FDA has expanded its emergency authorization for Eli Lilly's monoclonal treatment for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 to children under 12, including newborns, who have tested positive and are at risk for getting severely ill. This expansion also includes preventative use in young kids who may have been exposed and who are at high risk of getting severely ill.

This is the first time a monoclonal treatment has been authorized for children under 12.

-ABC News' Sasha Pezenik
 

Dec 03, 3:28 pm
3 omicron cases detected in Maryland

Three cases of the omicron variant have been detected in Maryland, all among Baltimore area residents, Gov. Larry Hogan said.

One of these people, who is vaccinated, recently traveled to South Africa. The second case is someone in their household who is not vaccinated, Hogan said.

The third case is unrelated; this person, who is vaccinated, has no recent travel, Hogan said.

No one required hospitalization, he said.
 

Dec 03, 1:14 pm
Omicron identified in Nebraska

Six cases of the omicron variant have been detected in Nebraska, health officials announced.

The first individual was likely exposed during travel to Nigeria, officials said. The individual returned to the U.S. on Nov. 23 and developed symptoms the next day.

The five other people were "likely exposed" through household contact with the first case, health officials said.

Only one of the six individuals was vaccinated, officials noted, and none have required hospitalization.

-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos
 

Dec 03, 1:05 pm
Hospital admissions up by 26%

Daily COVID-19-related hospital admissions have jumped by 26% since the beginning of November, according to federal data.

Nearly 60,000 patients with COVID-19 are currently in hospitals.

The Northeast and the Midwest are seeing the biggest jump in cases and hospitalizations, according to federal data.

-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos
 

Dec 03, 12:06 pm
'It's better to be vaccinated than unvaccinated,' CDC says

With several cases of the omicron variant confirmed in the United States, officials have learned that "many" of those infected are vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But many of the patients experiencing mild symptoms from omicron are also vaccinated, Walensky said, indicating that the current COVID-19 vaccines are fending off severe disease.

"We've seen omicron in about five states now and we're continuing to do investigations in other states as probable cases emerge. But what we can say, based on what these cases are showing -- some have mild disease, some may have more severe disease, many of them are vaccinated -- and what we're seeing now is that many of the people with mild disease were the vaccinated people," Walensky told ABC News' Cecelia Vega in an interview Friday on "Good Morning America."

"So we still have a lot of science to do to understand how these vaccines are working against omicron, except to say that we know for every variant that we've had it's better to be vaccinated than unvaccinated," she added.

Walensky emphasized that, despite the global frenzy around omicron, delta remains the dominant variant in the U.S.

"We have 90,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day and about 99.9% of them continue to be delta," she said. "So we can't lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of what we have here in the United States is delta, and we know how to tackle delta with vaccines, with boosters, with masking and all of our prevention measures we have been using all along."

Walensky acknowledged that there are still many unknowns about omicron, including the severity of disease, transmissibility and vaccine effectiveness.

"I think we really do need to follow the science here and understand how our vaccines are going to work against omicron," she said. "It may very well be that our vaccines actually work quite well and continue to work quite well against severe disease, and those are the studies that are ongoing."
 

Dec 02, 9:08 pm
Hawaii latest state to confirm omicron case

Hawaii became the fifth state to detect the omicron variant, after confirming a case through expedited genomic sequencing Thursday, health officials said.

The individual is an unvaccinated resident of Oahu who had a previous COVID-19 infection, the state health department said. The person is experiencing "moderate symptoms," the department said.

The resident has no recent travel history, indicating that this is a case of community transmission, health officials said.
 

Dec 02, 8:44 pm
LA County detects 1st omicron case

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Thursday evening it has confirmed its first case of the omicron variant.

The county resident had recently traveled to South Africa, returning via London on Nov. 22, and the infection "is most likely travel-related," the department said.

The person is fully vaccinated and their symptoms are improving without medical care, health officials said. Several close contacts have all tested negative.

This is the second confirmed case of omicron in California, following identification Wednesday in a resident of San Francisco who had recently traveled to South Africa.
 

Dec 03, 8:22 am
Vaccinated people make up 'many' of the omicron cases in US, CDC director says

With several cases of the omicron variant confirmed in the United States, officials have learned that "many" of those infected are vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But many of the patients experiencing mild symptoms from omicron are also vaccinated, Walensky said, indicating that the current COVID-19 vaccines are fending off severe disease.

"We've seen omicron in about five states now and we're continuing to do investigations in other states as probable cases emerge. But what we can say, based on what these cases are showing -- some have mild disease, some may have more severe disease, many of them are vaccinated -- and what we're seeing now is that many of the people with mild disease were the vaccinated people," Walensky told ABC News' Cecelia Vega in an interview Friday on Good Morning America.

"So we still have a lot of science to do to understand how these vaccines are working against omicron, except to say that we know for every variant that we've had it's better to be vaccinated than unvaccinated," she added.

Walensky emphasized that, despite the global frenzy around omicron, delta remains the dominant variant in the U.S.

"We have 90,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day and about 99.9% of them continue to be delta," she said. "So we can't lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of what we have here in the United States is delta, and we know how to tackle delta with vaccines, with boosters, with masking and all of our prevention measures we have been using all along."

Walensky acknowledged that there are still many unknowns about omicron, including the severity of disease, transmissibility and vaccine effectiveness.

"I think we really do need to follow the science here and understand how our vaccines are going to work against omicron," she said. "It may very well be that our vaccines actually work quite well and continue to work quite well against severe disease, and those are the studies that are ongoing."

Dec 02, 9:08 pm
Hawaii latest state to confirm omicron case

Hawaii became the fifth state to detect the omicron variant, after confirming a case through expedited genomic sequencing Thursday, health officials said.

The individual is an unvaccinated resident of Oahu who had a previous COVID-19 infection, the state health department said. The person is experiencing "moderate symptoms," the department said.

The resident has no recent travel history, indicating that this is a case of community transmission, health officials said.

Dec 02, 8:44 pm
LA County detects 1st omicron case

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Thursday evening it has confirmed its first case of the omicron variant.

The county resident had recently traveled to South Africa, returning via London on Nov. 22, and the infection "is most likely travel-related," the department said.

The person is fully vaccinated and their symptoms are improving without medical care, health officials said. Several close contacts have all tested negative.

This is the second confirmed case of omicron in California, following identification Wednesday in a resident of San Francisco who had recently traveled to South Africa.

Dec 02, 7:38 pm
Preliminary analysis suggests omicron might be more likely to lead to reinfection

A new study from South Africa suggests that the new omicron variant might be more likely to lead to COVID-19 reinfection than prior variants, though more research is needed.

The study, which is not peer-reviewed, found that in November, there was an uptick in the rate of reinfections seen within three months of a primary infection, compared to prior surges driven by the delta and beta variants.

Researchers, who reviewed records of over 2.7 million people in South Africa with COVID-19 infections in 2020 and 2021, assumed many cases in November were caused by omicron, even though the first cases of the variant were not detected there until late November.

The vaccination status of individuals with suspected reinfections was unknown in the study, so it is unclear if they had immunity from prior infection or vaccination.

Dec 02, 6:27 pm
5 omicron cases identified in New York

Five cases of the new COVID-19 variant omicron have been detected in New York state, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced in a press conference Thursday evening.

Hochul emphasized that battling the delta variant is more of a challenge right now, adding that all five cases have been described as mild.

One case was located in Suffolk County, while three others were in New York City -- two in Queens and one in Brooklyn, Hochul said. A fifth suspected case has also been detected, the governor said, but did not provide details.

-ABC News' Will Gretsky

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Omicron live updates: Vaccinated people make up 'many' of the US cases, CDC says

Omicron live updates: Vaccinated people make up 'many' of the US cases, CDC says

Marca Piner/iStock

(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 785,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Just 59.6% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

Dec 03, 8:22 am
Vaccinated people make up 'many' of the omicron cases in US, CDC director says

With several cases of the omicron variant confirmed in the United States, officials have learned that "many" of those infected are vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But many of the patients experiencing mild symptoms from omicron are also vaccinated, Walensky said, indicating that the current COVID-19 vaccines are fending off severe disease.

"We've seen omicron in about five states now and we're continuing to do investigations in other states as probable cases emerge. But what we can say, based on what these cases are showing -- some have mild disease, some may have more severe disease, many of them are vaccinated -- and what we're seeing now is that many of the people with mild disease were the vaccinated people," Walensky told ABC News' Cecelia Vega in an interview Friday on Good Morning America.

"So we still have a lot of science to do to understand how these vaccines are working against omicron, except to say that we know for every variant that we've had it's better to be vaccinated than unvaccinated," she added.

Walensky emphasized that, despite the global frenzy around omicron, delta remains the dominant variant in the U.S.

"We have 90,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day and about 99.9% of them continue to be delta," she said. "So we can't lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of what we have here in the United States is delta, and we know how to tackle delta with vaccines, with boosters, with masking and all of our prevention measures we have been using all along."

Walensky acknowledged that there are still many unknowns about omicron, including the severity of disease, transmissibility and vaccine effectiveness.

"I think we really do need to follow the science here and understand how our vaccines are going to work against omicron," she said. "It may very well be that our vaccines actually work quite well and continue to work quite well against severe disease, and those are the studies that are ongoing."

Dec 02, 9:08 pm
Hawaii latest state to confirm omicron case

Hawaii became the fifth state to detect the omicron variant, after confirming a case through expedited genomic sequencing Thursday, health officials said.

The individual is an unvaccinated resident of Oahu who had a previous COVID-19 infection, the state health department said. The person is experiencing "moderate symptoms," the department said.

The resident has no recent travel history, indicating that this is a case of community transmission, health officials said.

Dec 02, 8:44 pm
LA County detects 1st omicron case

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Thursday evening it has confirmed its first case of the omicron variant.

The county resident had recently traveled to South Africa, returning via London on Nov. 22, and the infection "is most likely travel-related," the department said.

The person is fully vaccinated and their symptoms are improving without medical care, health officials said. Several close contacts have all tested negative.

This is the second confirmed case of omicron in California, following identification Wednesday in a resident of San Francisco who had recently traveled to South Africa.

Dec 02, 7:38 pm
Preliminary analysis suggests omicron might be more likely to lead to reinfection

A new study from South Africa suggests that the new omicron variant might be more likely to lead to COVID-19 reinfection than prior variants, though more research is needed.

The study, which is not peer-reviewed, found that in November, there was an uptick in the rate of reinfections seen within three months of a primary infection, compared to prior surges driven by the delta and beta variants.

Researchers, who reviewed records of over 2.7 million people in South Africa with COVID-19 infections in 2020 and 2021, assumed many cases in November were caused by omicron, even though the first cases of the variant were not detected there until late November.

The vaccination status of individuals with suspected reinfections was unknown in the study, so it is unclear if they had immunity from prior infection or vaccination.

Dec 02, 6:27 pm
5 omicron cases identified in New York

Five cases of the new COVID-19 variant omicron have been detected in New York state, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced in a press conference Thursday evening.

Hochul emphasized that battling the delta variant is more of a challenge right now, adding that all five cases have been described as mild.

One case was located in Suffolk County, while three others were in New York City -- two in Queens and one in Brooklyn, Hochul said. A fifth suspected case has also been detected, the governor said, but did not provide details.

-ABC News' Will Gretsky

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Columbia University student stabbed to death near campus on way home from soccer practice

Columbia University student stabbed to death near campus on way home from soccer practice

kali9/iStock

(NEW YORK) -- A Columbia University graduate student has been stabbed to death near the Ivy League school's New York City campus while walking home from soccer practice.
 

The student, 30-year-old Davide Giri, suffered a stab wound to his abdomen just before 11 p.m. Thursday near West 123 St. and Amsterdam Ave., at the north end of Morningside Park, according to the New York Police Department.
 

A second victim, a 27-year-old man, suffered a stab wound to his torso. He was found nearby, at the northwest corner of Central Park, and hospitalized in stable condition, police said.
 

While canvassing the area, a 25-year-old man fitting the suspect's description was taken into custody in Central Park, police said. The 25-year-old "was observed menacing" a third victim, a 29-year-old man, with a knife, police said.
 

The 29-year-old wasn't hurt and the knife was recovered, police said.

 

Pinkney, a suspected gang member, has been charged with attempted murder, assault, attempted assault and three counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

 

Columbia said Giri was a student at the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
 

Giri was also a member of NY International FC, an amateur soccer team. The team said Giri was walking home after practice when he was killed.
 

The team called Giri "the nicest and brightest person on the team" who "was a big contributor to our successes."
 

"This news is both unspeakably sad and deeply shocking, as it took place only steps from our campus. The University is working closely with NYPD to learn more details of the attack," university president Lee Bollinger said in a statement. "On behalf of the entire Columbia community, I send my deepest condolences to Davide’s family."
 

The scene of his death is near where Barnard College student Tessa Majors was stabbed to death in Morningside Park in December 2019, allegedly by three teenagers who were later arrested.
 

ABC News' Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Columbia student stabbed to death in Manhattan

Columbia student stabbed to death in Manhattan

kali9/iStock

(NEW YORK) -- A Columbia University graduate student has been stabbed to death near the Ivy League school's New York City campus.

The student, 30-year-old Davide Giri, suffered a stab wound to his abdomen just before 11 p.m. Thursday near West 123 St. and Amsterdam Ave., at the north end of Morningside Park, according to the New York Police Department.

A second victim, a 27-year-old man, suffered a stab wound to his torso. He was found nearby, at the northwest corner of Central Park, and hospitalized in stable condition, police said.

While canvassing the area, a 25-year-old man fitting the suspect's description was taken into custody in Central Park, police said. The 25-year-old "was observed menacing" a third victim, a 29-year-old man, with a knife, police said.

The 29-year-old wasn't hurt and the knife was recovered, police said.

Columbia said Giri was a student at the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

"This news is both unspeakably sad and deeply shocking, as it took place only steps from our campus. The University is working closely with NYPD to learn more details of the attack," university president Lee Bollinger said in a statement. "On behalf of the entire Columbia community, I send my deepest condolences to Davide’s family."

The scene of his death is near where Barnard College student Tessa Majors was stabbed to death in Morningside Park in December 2019, allegedly by three teenagers who were later arrested.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Omicron live updates: Cases confirmed in New York, Colorado, Minnesota, California

Omicron live updates: Cases confirmed in New York, Colorado, Minnesota, California

Marca Piner/iStock

(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 785,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Just 59.4% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

Dec 02, 9:08 pm
Hawaii latest state to confirm omicron case

Hawaii became the fifth state to detect the omicron variant, after confirming a case through expedited genomic sequencing Thursday, health officials said.

The individual is an unvaccinated resident of Oahu who had a previous COVID-19 infection, the state health department said. The person is experiencing "moderate symptoms," the department said.

The resident has no recent travel history, indicating that this is a case of community transmission, health officials said.

Dec 02, 8:44 pm
LA County detects 1st omicron case

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Thursday evening it has confirmed its first case of the omicron variant.

The county resident had recently traveled to South Africa, returning via London on Nov. 22, and the infection "is most likely travel-related," the department said.

The person is fully vaccinated and their symptoms are improving without medical care, health officials said. Several close contacts have all tested negative.

This is the second confirmed case of omicron in California, following identification Wednesday in a resident of San Francisco who had recently traveled to South Africa.

Dec 02, 7:38 pm
Preliminary analysis suggests omicron might be more likely to lead to reinfection

A new study from South Africa suggests that the new omicron variant might be more likely to lead to COVID-19 reinfection than prior variants, though more research is needed.

The study, which is not peer-reviewed, found that in November, there was an uptick in the rate of reinfections seen within three months of a primary infection, compared to prior surges driven by the delta and beta variants.

Researchers, who reviewed records of over 2.7 million people in South Africa with COVID-19 infections in 2020 and 2021, assumed many cases in November were caused by omicron, even though the first cases of the variant were not detected there until late November.

The vaccination status of individuals with suspected reinfections was unknown in the study, so it is unclear if they had immunity from prior infection or vaccination.

Dec 02, 6:27 pm
5 omicron cases identified in New York

Five cases of the new COVID-19 variant omicron have been detected in New York state, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced in a press conference Thursday evening.

Hochul emphasized that battling the delta variant is more of a challenge right now, adding that all five cases have been described as mild.

One case was located in Suffolk County, while three others were in New York City -- two in Queens and one in Brooklyn, Hochul said. A fifth suspected case has also been detected, the governor said, but did not provide details.

-ABC News' Will Gretsky

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Authors of color speak out against efforts to ban books on race

Authors of color speak out against efforts to ban books on race

FG Trade/iStock

(CHICAGO) -- At the American Library Association, annual reports are collected to monitor efforts by parents and political groups to ban books from libraries and schools across the country.

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of non-profit ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, has worked with such reports for about 20 years -- and she says she's never seen such a widespread effort to remove books on racial and gender diversity from the shelves the way she's seeing it right now.

"What we're observing right now is an unprecedented volume of challenge reports that seem to be connected to a loosely organized campaign to remove certain books," Caldwell-Stone said. "Before, you might get one or two challenge reports a week and now we're getting multiple reports per day."

Though the reports for 2021 are still coming in, 273 books were targeted in 2020 -- and Caldwell-Stone says the number is expected to be higher this year. Reports of challenges are based on media stories and voluntary reports sent to the organization. But the vast majority of book challenges remain unreported.

The increase comes as the controversy over the concept of race in education picks up steam, as states across the country challenge education about racism and discrimination through legislative action.

"In recent months, a few organizations have advanced the proposition that the voices of the marginalized have no place on library shelves," ALA, which fights censorship, wrote in a recent statement against the efforts. "Falsely claiming that these works are subversive, immoral, or worse, these groups induce elected and non-elected officials to abandon constitutional principles, ignore the rule of law, and disregard individual rights to promote government censorship of library collections."

In June 2021, about 150 organizations including the ALA penned an open letter against legislative efforts to restrict education and readings about racism and American history.

Now, some authors of color are speaking out, saying that books are a tool for children and young adults to learn, ask questions and see new or nuanced perspectives about the world around them.

"The mind of an adult begins in the imagination of a kid," said poet and author Kwame Alexander, whose books tackling racial issues have been challenged in the fight to ban certain books from educational spaces. "When you talk about representation, you talk about creating a space for literature in a child's life that is all-inclusive of the kind of world that we claim we want for them, that the world is kind of loving and compassionate and empathetic."

No Left Turn in Education is one of the groups leading the calls against certain books on race and sexuality. Its website contains a long list of books, warning parents that they allegedly spread anti-police messages, themes of critical race theory, and education on sexuality.

"These are the books that are used to spread radical and racist ideologies to students," a statement on the website reads. "They demean our nation and its heroes, revise our history, and divide us as a people for the purpose of indoctrinating kids to a dangerous ideology."

No Left Turn in Education did not respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Focus on 'critical race theory'

Critical race theory, an academic concept that analyzes how racism affects or drives U.S. laws, has become a target of Republican legislators in states across the country despite the subject not being officially taught in K-12 classrooms. At least 29 states have introduced or implemented bills that aim to place limitations on lessons about race and inequality being taught in American schools, in the name of stopping "critical race theory" in its tracks.

Proponents say that some lessons blame children for actions of generations past or make them feel guilty for being white.

"We can and should teach this history without labeling a young child as an oppressor or requiring he or she feel guilt or shame based on their race or sex," said Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt when he signed a bill into law in his own state in May. "I refuse to tolerate otherwise during a time when we are already so polarized."

In a statement sent to ABC News, Stitt said that some forms of the curriculum "define and divide young Oklahomans" based on their race or sex.

The language in the law is almost identical to at least 24 other proposed bills across the country. Lawmakers in several states are aiming to ban educators from teaching that "an individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously," that "a meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist, or designed by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex" and that "this state or the United States is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist."

This push has led to the increasing call on school boards and libraries to remove books that deal broadly with racial issues -- a misinterpretation of what critical race theory is, according to Caldwell-Stone.

"There was a real focus on books that dealt with Black American history, the experiences of Black persons that talked about racism, the history of racism and slavery in the United States, all under the claim that they dealt with critical race theory," Caldwell-Stone said.

Many educators, however, say that it's not critical race theory that's being taught in K-12 schools, but that it's basic U.S. history on racial issues in America. They argue that anti-critical race theory laws only serve to restrict conversation about racism and oppression in America.

Encouraging diverse perspectives

A diverse array of books, the authors say, is a major factor in getting children to learn about new perspectives and to look at society in nuanced or complex ways.

Author and artist Lulu Delcare, who writes multilingual children's books centering on the Latino experience, says she has looked to books to learn about people and identities.

"Many decades ago, one of my daughters came out as gay. And for me, I didn't know how to react to this because I grew up in … an extremely prejudiced family and guess what? I turned to books," Delcare said. "The very first thing that I did was to tell her I loved her no matter what. The second thing that I did was to go to the library."

Delcare and author Sheetal Sheth joined the non-profit Reading Is Fundamental to encourage young readers to embrace literature from diverse perspectives.

These authors fear that if children don't have inclusive reading material, they may not be prepared to see the complexities of the world around them. Specifically, they may not be able to understand and address racism or discrimination, Alexander says.

Alexander's book, "The Undefeated" has landed itself on some banned books lists. The book of poetry is described as a "love letter to Black life in the United States," and covers slavery, the civil rights movement and more.

Many books on banned lists cover similar issues.

"Human beings are afraid of things they can't see, things they can't imagine things they don't have any connection with," Alexander said. "If you look at the background of any of the people who are banning books, I would posit that there were no poetry books by Langston Hughes and Nikki Giovanni on their shelves as kids. There was no "House on Mango Street" by Sandra Cisneros on their middle school shelf."

Fostering 'cognitive empathy'

A study from the Frontiers in Psychology research journal found that reading books can support empathy if it highlights differences between groups of people, and seeks to minimize bias between those different groups of people.

It also found that "identification with characters who are dissimilar from the readers is the most valuable contribution of children’s storybooks to cognitive empathy."

Alexander said that a lack of diversity in education has helped shape some of the efforts to ban books now.

"They didn't have an opportunity as children to be able to experience the full capacity of the world," he said. "And so therefore, when they became adults, their imaginations are so limited, that all they can see is what they know. And so they're afraid of things they don't know. So that could be slavery. You know, that could be the tragedy and the triumphs of Black people in America. That could be the experiences of LGBTQ+."

Caldwell-Stone says the organization is also seeing a rising number of challenges to books on LGBTQIA topics amid a wave of anti-transgender legislation.

Authors urge parents and educators to promote banned books and literature despite calls, in hopes of preparing children for an ever-intensifying social and political climate.

"It's a product of the political climate that we're in," Sheth said. "The idea that you would take away a book where they might see themselves or be able to have a conversation or whether it be a window to them or a mirror for them -- if you want to teach our kids empathy, and kindness and love, the best place to start is in the books that they read."

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NASA astronauts complete spacewalk which was postponed due to debris risk

NASA astronauts complete spacewalk which was postponed due to debris risk

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(NEW YORK) -- Two NASA astronauts completed an hours-long spacewalk on Thursday morning that was earlier postponed due to a risk of space debris.

Astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron left the hatch at 6:15 a.m. EST and successfully conducted a spacewalk that lasted 6 hours and 32 minutes to replace a faulty antenna.

The duo replaced "a degrading SASA unit with a spare onboard," NASA tweeted.

The spacewalk ended at 12:47 p.m. EST with both the astronauts back in the hatch.

The astronauts also conducted "get-ahead tasks" during their spacewalk, NASA tweeted.

"It was awesome," Barron said about the first spacewalk of her career.

The spacewalk was scheduled for Tuesday morning but was delayed hours before the stipulated start time after NASA got a "debris notification."

The source of the debris has not been confirmed yet.

This spacewalk marked the 245th spacewalk for NASA and was a part of Expedition 66, a seven-member crew that will be in space till March 2022. It was Marshburn's fifth spacewalk, NASA said.

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Suspect arrested in murder of Hollywood executive's wife at couple's Beverly Hills home

Suspect arrested in murder of Hollywood executive's wife at couple's Beverly Hills home

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(LOS ANGELES) -- Police have arrested a suspect in the murder of the wife of famed music executive Clarence Avant at the couple's Beverly Hills home.

Beverly Hills investigators have identified Los Angeles resident Aariel Maynor, 29, as a suspect seen in multiple surveillance videos, including city cameras, heading eastbound out of Beverly Hills shortly after 81-year-old Jacqueline Avant was shot, Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook told reporters during a news conference Thursday.

Maynor accidentally shot himself in the foot while in the process of another burglary, Stainbrook said.

Around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, about an hour after Jacqueline Avant was found with a gunshot wound to her head, the Los Angeles Police Department Hollywood Division responded to a report of a shooting at a residence in the 6000 block of Graciosa Drive in Hollywood. When officers arrived, they found Maynor in the backyard, Stainbrook said.

After a "thorough" investigation, investigators determined that Maynor was allegedly in the process of committing a burglary when he shot himself by mistake, Stainbrook said.

He has been in police custody after he was treated at the hospital. An assault-style rifle was also found in the backyard of the home, Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Blake Chow told reporters.

Beverly Hills Police officers responded to the 1100 block of Maytor Place just before 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, where they found that Jacqueline Avant had been shot, according to the department. She later died at the hospital.

"Somewhere in the night we had a watch commander that started to put two and two together and reached out to Beverly Hills," Chow said.

Police believe Maynor is the only suspect, Stainbrook said.

"Our deepest gratitude to The City of Beverly Hills, the BHPD and all law enforcement for their diligence on this matter," the Avant and Sarandos family said in a statement. "Now, let justice be served.”

Jacqueline Avant was also the mother-in-law of Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos.

It is unclear if anything was taken from the Avants' home, but the back sliding glass door was shattered, Stainbrook said.

Clarence Avant was featured in the 2019 Netflix documentary "The Black Godfather" and in October was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The 90-year-old is popular among A-list celebrities such as Oprah, Jay-Z and former President Barack Obama.

Police read a statement from the Avant family Wednesday afternoon during a press conference, which described Jacqueline Avant as "an amazing woman, wife, mother, philanthropist, and a 55-year resident of Beverly Hills."

ABC News' Nicholas Kerr and Alex Stone contributed to this report.

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Epstein's former house manager testifies, calls Ghislaine Maxwell 'lady of the house'

Epstein's former house manager testifies, calls Ghislaine Maxwell 'lady of the house'

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(NEW YORK) -- The former house manager of Jeffrey Epstein's Palm Beach, Florida, estate testified on Thursday that the very first time he met Ghislaine Maxwell, in approximately 1991, she made it very clear to him that she occupied a central role in Epstein's affairs.

"She right away took over," Juan Alessi told the jury on the fourth day of Maxwell's criminal trial on multiple charges of child sex trafficking. "And right away she mentioned to me she was going to be the lady of the house."

Alessi, 72, said that from about 1991 to 2002 he was responsible for overseeing Epstein's house and its staff, and that in that role he communicated with Maxwell on "a daily basis" as she passed along orders for him from Epstein.

Maxwell, Epstein's former girlfriend and longtime associate, faces a six-count indictment for allegedly conspiring with and aiding Epstein in his sexual abuse of underage girls between 1994 and 2004. She has been held without bail since her arrest in July 2020 and has pleaded not guilty to the charges and proclaimed her innocence.

Alessi's testimony could provide prosecutors an important connection between Maxwell and the government's key witness. "Jane" has previously testified that she suffered sexual abuse by Epstein beginning in 1994 when she was 14 years old and continuing for several years, and she has accused Maxwell of facilitating and sometimes even participating in that abuse.

Alessi testified that, on multiple occasions, his orders included picking up "Jane" and driving her to and from Epstein's house at the behest of both Epstein and Maxwell.

"Do you remember Mr. Epstein instructing you to pick [Jane] up?" asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey.

"Yes," he said.

"Do you remember Miss Maxwell instructing you to pick [Jane] up?" Comey asked.

"Yes," he said.

He picked her up, he said, because, "I don't think she had a license."

Alessi testified that he didn't have any knowledge of what "Jane" did while she was at the house. He just "brought her to Miss Maxwell at her desk," he said, and "from there, it was not my job to see where they were."

On Tuesday, "Jane" testified that she recalled being picked up for visits to Epstein's house by a man who worked at the house.

"I don't remember his name, but he was a sweet Latin American man," she said.

Alessi, who was born in Ecuador, said he also recalled seeing Jane with luggage "maybe twice" at Epstein's house, and described an occasion where he drove Jane, along with Epstein, Maxwell and Maxwell's dog, a Yorkie named Max, to the Palm Beach airport to board Epstein's private plane. "Jane" testified on Tuesday that she traveled to both New York and New Mexico with Epstein and Maxwell, where she suffered further abuse, and that her travel was sometimes arranged by Maxwell.

Alessi testified that during his decade-plus tenure working for Epstein, he witnessed "two females ... who appeared to be underage." He identified "Jane" -- now a 41-year-old woman who testified earlier this week -- and Virginia Roberts, as the two females who appeared to him to be under age.

Roberts -- who is one of Maxwell's most high-profile accusers -- is not expected to testify in this trial.

Alessi described being in the driver's seat as Maxwell jumped out on a car ramp in front of Mar-a-Lago to talk to Roberts. The next time Alessi saw her, he said, was later that day at Epstein's Palm Beach home.

According to Alessi, during his time working for Epstein, there were "other girls constantly flying in" to the Palm Beach estate with Epstein and Maxwell.

One of Alessi's key responsibilities, according to a "Household Manual" that Alessi testified looked like an updated version of one originally by Maxwell and presented to him near the end of his tenure, was discretion.

"I am sorry to say that it was degrading to me," Alessi said.

During his testimony, prosecutors highlighted a passage in the manual that read: "Remember that you see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing, except to answer a question directed at you. Respect their privacy."

Asked to describe what he interpreted that instruction to mean, Alessi replied, "that I was supposed to be blind, deaf and dumb, and say nothing."

Another passage displayed in court instructed the staff to "NEVER disclose Mr. Epstein or Ms Maxwell's activities or whereabouts to anyone."

"Do not be bullied and do not show any reaction or impatience, simply be firm," the manual states.

Late in the afternoon Thursday, Alessi testified that he saw people who would come in to give Epstein massages, and that "98% of them were females." He added that Epstein took a majority of his massages in his bathroom -- attached to Epstein's master bedroom -- which Alessi said was shared with Maxwell.

Alessi said that he "never" went inside the room when Epstein was receiving the massages and that the door was "never" open during the massages. But Alessi said he would go into the room after massages "to clean up."

Asked by Comey if he ever found something "unexpected" after Epstein's massages, Alessi said he did on several occasions in the mid-1990s.

"I remember finding a large dildo. It looked like a huge man's penis with two heads," which he said he returned to a wicker basket in Maxwell's bathroom, which is where he said it he was told to put it.

According to Alessi, other items he observed in the wicker basket -- which he said was kept inside a garbage can -- included pornography tapes and a black leather costume.

Maxwell's attorneys are expected to begin their cross-examination of Alessi on Friday morning.

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2 Utah police officers shot by rape, robbery suspect: Authorities

2 Utah police officers shot by rape, robbery suspect: Authorities

ABC 4 News

(TAYLORSVILLE, Utah) -- Two Utah police officers are recovering after they were shot by a rape and robbery suspect Wednesday night, police said.

One officer, with the West Valley City department, was shot twice; he was initially in critical condition but has since been upgraded to stable condition, the department said. The second officer, with the Unified Police Department, was treated and released Wednesday night, the department said.

At about 10 p.m., the officers found the alleged suspect, wanted in rape and robbery cases, parked in a 711 parking lot in Taylorsville with a baby inside the car, West Valley City police said.

Officers negotiated with suspect, 20-year-old Anei Joker, to release the 9-month-old, which he did, though he refused to leave the car himself, police said.

Joker later got out of the car and fired at the officers, striking two of them, police said.

Officers returned fire, hitting the suspect, who was taken to the hospital where he died, police said.

The suspect has with history with police and was known to be armed and dangerous, Roxanne Vainuku, public information officer for the West Valley City Police, said at a news conference.

The baby wasn't hurt, Vainuku said, adding that it's unclear what the 9-month-old's relationship was to the suspect.

ABC News' Timmy Truong contributed to this report.

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Former officer pleads not guilty to murder charges in Casey Goodson's death

Former officer pleads not guilty to murder charges in Casey Goodson's death

Family of Casey Goodson

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Former Ohio sheriff's deputy Jason Meade has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and one count of reckless homicide in the fatal shooting of a Black man who was shot and killed while entering his grandmother's house last December.

In March, the Franklin County Coroner said that Casey Goodson Jr. was shot in his back five times, according to ABC affiliate WSYX in Columbus, Ohio.

Goodson's mother, Tamala Payne, said it had been "a year of grief and a year of pain" at a press conference Thursday morning.

"I'm overwhelmed with joy," she said in response to the charges. "My emotions are everywhere. We did it y'all. We did it."

Meade's attorney, Mark C. Collins, said in a statement that his client "acted within his lawful duties as an officer of the law when he pursued Mr. Goodson," and said Meade fired his weapon at Goodson in "fear for his life as well as those inside the house."

Meade turned himself in Thursday and plans to plead not guilty, Collins said.

The attorney for Goodson's family, Sean Walton, announced that they also filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Meade and Franklin County on Thursday. The lawsuit alleges excessive force, wrongful death and that the practices of the Franklin County Sheriff's office contributed to Goodson's death.

Franklin County declined to comment to ABC News on the civil lawsuit, citing pending litigation.

Payne said she ultimately wants Meade convicted and given a life sentence for her son's killing.

"We are fully aware that this is only the beginning of the fight," she said at the press conference. "This was the first part of the fight. The ultimate fight is the conviction and I want a life sentence, that's what I'm fighting for."

Payne also said that Thursday's indictment showed that her family's portrayal of Goodson was accurate.

"Casey is exactly who we say he is," she said. "Casey was a good son. He was a loving son. Casey was a good grandson. Casey was a good brother, a good role model. Casey was exactly who we portrayed Casey to be."

Initially, U.S. Marshal Peter Tobin said Meade confronted Goodson after Goodson waved a gun at him. According to the Associated Press, he later withdrew those remarks, saying they were based on "insufficient information."

Payne argued that the indictment showed that the claim Goodson was waving a gun is a lie, though Collins, Meade's attorney, pushed back on that claim in a statement, alleging that Goodson was "waving the firearm erratically and tracked Meade with the weapon," as he drove by Meade's vehicle.

Robin Ross, a public information officer for the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, told ABC News, "The commissioners appreciate certainly the patience of the Goodson family, and as the criminal case moves to the next stage, we look forward to a full fair and transparent process."

Following Meade's indictment, Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin said in a statement that he asked his staff to review the investigation so the agency could learn from this situation.

"This office has a professional obligation to do everything in its power to ensure the community and our deputies are kept safe," he said. "As I've said from the very beginning, I pray for everyone involved in this tragedy."

Walton said that the family's lawsuit would bring some level of accountability to Goodson's family, who he said had been traumatized by the shooting.

"Since that day, they've had to deal with this daily sadness and grief for nearly a year," he said. "So this day could not come soon enough. But they stayed strong, they never wavered, and they told the truth. And the truth will prevail in this case."

Nine members of Goodson's family, including four children, were in his grandmother's home when he was shot, Walton said.

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