Photo Credit: Zack Arceneaux(NEW YORK) -- Despite two deadly small plane accidents this week that killed a total of three people, including a young girl, and one Thursday that injured a family of four, experts say that it isn't necessarily a trend.
"Summer weather is better for flying so we have increased flying activity so we always see an increase in accidents in the summer unfortunately," said Steve Hedges, the head of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
A family of four -- the pilot, his wife and their teenage children — were pulled from the wreckage of a small plane that crashed Thursday in Helena, Alabama. They all suffered injuries.
On Wednesday, pilot Devon Logan, 52, a real estate investor, missed the airport landing and clipped a store roof before crashing into a San Diego, California, shopping center parking lot.
She was seriously injured. The other passenger, 78, was killed.
And on Sunday, a father and his young daughter, 9, were hit by a small plane making an emergency landing on a Florida beach.
Neither the pilot, Karl Kokomoor, 57, nor the passenger on the plane, David Theen, 60, were injured in the landing. Kokomoor, an engineering company president, expressed his sorrow, saying he'd intended to put the plane in water but the nose had ended up on the beach.
He said he never saw the pair. The girl later died.
Despite the recent spate of accidents, small-plane deaths are actually dropping, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). In the last five years, the number of deaths has decreased from 479 to 387 and that number dipped significantly last year.
But private flying still had the highest accident rate, according to the NTSB, which has promoted more training for pilots.
"I don't believe it's a trouble category," said Earl Weener of the NTSB. "I think it's just an area that is ripe for safety improvements and it would be very fruitful to make safety improvements."
iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A gunman killed himself Thursday after shooting his boss repeatedly in the Bank of America building in Chicago's financial district, authorities said.
The victim was Steven LaVoie, the CEO of ArrowStream, for which the suspect also worked, the company said. LaVoie remains in critical condition.
The suspect, identified as Tony DeFrances, had been demoted last Friday, police said. The company website listed DeFrances as Chief Technology Officer.
The suspect allegedly shot LaVoie before turning the gun on himself, police said.
"We are deeply saddened and shocked by the events that have occurred today," ArrowStream said in a statement released Thursday evening. "Our focus during this tragedy is to ensure the well being of our ArrowStream family. We want to assure our customers that our business continuity plan is in place, and our operations will continue to function normally."
iStock/Thinkstock(GORHAM, N.H.) -- Police have searched the home and storage unit of Nathaniel Kibby, the man being held in connection with the disappearance of Abigail Hernandez.
Kibby, 34, is being held on $1 million bail after being charged with kidnapping Hernandez in October of last year.
Photos have surfaced showing police searching Kibby's property in a trailer park in Gorham, New Hampshire, on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Hernandez returned to her Conway, New Hampshire, home on July 20 and is now back in the care of her mother, but questions remain about her disappearance.
The charging document said Kibby "confined [Hernandez] with a purpose to commit an offense against her" but the rest of the case documents are sealed.
The attorney general's office, which has been heading the investigation alongside the FBI, has said it will not be releasing any further information about the search warrant issued for Kibby's property or anything they've learned from their conversations with Abigail until Kibby returns to court on Aug. 12.
That hasn't stopped the investigation from moving forward, however.
Photos of the search on Kibby's home and nearby shipping container showed signs posted on the container that said "Beware of the Dog" and "No Trespassing."
When Kibby was arrested at his home Monday, Associate Attorney General Jane Young told ABC News that there were no other suspects.
Serena Marshall/ABC News(KARNES, Texas) -- A model detention facility for moms with children crossing the border illegally is scheduled to open Friday.
The brand new facility in Karnes, Texas, is designed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be family friendly with drawings on the walls, toy rooms and classrooms for children, and full medical facilities.
The 532-bed building, at a cost of $140 per day per person, is the third ICE facility to house mothers with children, but the first specifically modified with their needs as a consideration.
While residents will not be free to leave, they are free to roam the grounds, visit the library, call family with pre-paid phone cards, play outdoors, use computers -- excluding accessing Facebook and Twitter -- and participate in soccer matches, religious concerts and church services.
The average stay is 23 days, according to ICE, and while it is still a detention center, those inside will not be called detainees, but residents. The guards are relabeled “resident assistants,” and the cells are “family suites” that can accommodate up to eight people.
In an ICE statement on the pending opening, officials said it “was done in order to expand the agency’s capacity to house adults with children who have been apprehended at the border and placed into expedited removal proceedings.”
Lawyers will be provided to the “residents” pro bono and the facility even has an immigration courtroom where judges will decide asylum cases via videoconference. There will also be medical professionals, including dentists and mental health specialists, on scene 24 hours a day.
The residents will be given six sets of civilian clothes, three meals a day, and access to snacks 24 hours a day, officials said.
“ICE's family detention facilities are an effective and humane alternative to maintain family unity as families await the outcome of immigration hearings or return to their home countries,” the statement read.
"I have had personal interest in making sure that this facility meets all the legal requirements that are under any settlement, any other family detention center, and I'm completely confident that we are meeting the standards and even exceeding those standards," said Enrique Lucero, field office director for ICE.
Several years ago a lawsuit accused a similar faculty to be too similar to a prison, making this facility the first outfitted in accordance to civil detention standards and reforms.
The outstanding question as the facility is set to open Friday is how long the facility can remain operational as Congress prepares to go on recess without addressing the border supplemental request for funds.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- More than a hundred demonstrators intentionally had themselves arrested outside the White House on Thursday in protest against the Obama administration's response to the sudden surge of illegal immigrants across the border with Mexico.
The act of civil disobedience was organized mostly by religious groups, including the Catholic Sisters of Mercy and the United Methodist Church.
Several hundred additional supporters looked on as the activists staged a sit-in on the sidewalk outside the White House grounds, prompting National Park Service police to remove and arrest them for obstructing foot traffic in a highly choreographed, but peaceful, demonstration.
"We are gathered here to make our voices heard," the Rev. John McCollough said in a prayer service before the arrests. "We are here to pray for this president, our President Obama, to ask him to lose the bonds of injustice and let the oppressed go free. Si se puede!"
The demonstrators demanded the Obama administration cease the deportation of an estimated 1,100 of those illegal immigrants per day -- a number expected to rise as the federal government grapples with the hundreds of thousands believed to have slipped through in the last nine months, and a 106% increase over the same period last year.
Roughly 57,000 are children, many unaccompanied by their parents and fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. The deluge has created a humanitarian crisis in southwestern states as federal and local authorities struggle under the load.
"You know religion, in all its diversity, is really not about what we believe. Religion -- real religion -- is about what our beliefs compel us to do," Sister Eileen Campbell of the Sisters of Mercy said from the podium. "How they make us live our lives. Our faith compels us to do all that we can for those that are suffering the injustices of our current immigration policies and to do all we can to move those policies toward justice."
The White House announced last week it was considering a pilot program, based in Honduras, which would allow children of that country to apply for refugee status rather than risk dangerous northward smuggling across thousands of miles. But while there is bipartisan agreement in Washington that the situation is spiraling out of control, a concrete path forward has been less than clear.
The Senate voted Wednesday to move a bill forward that would allocate $2.7 billion in funding for the crisis. Eleven Republicans joined with the Democratic majority to pass the bill, though at least $840 million has been earmarked for wholly unrelated projects, including Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
It is $1 billion less than President Obama had asked for and a package being considered in the GOP-controlled House is much smaller: $659 million. With Congress' August recess approaching and political jockeying in full steam, ahead of the November midterm elections, a short-term solution may be out of reach.
Acts of civil disobedience outside the White House are not unusual and several groups present Thursday have histories of such, but the size of Thursday's arrest is more rare. Protesters taken into custody are typically transferred to the city's metropolitan police for processing and released after.
iStock/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- An accused thief's curious look at a surveillance camera led to his arrest for allegedly stealing a FedEx package for an Indianapolis porch.
Daniel Nelms, 21, was taken into custody and charged with one count of level 6 felony on Wednesday night.
Daniel Dillon said he had been expecting a package of a pair of $300 diamond earrings from Zale.com for his wife. He never received the package, but when he checked the delivery status on FedEx, it said the package had been delivered already. The Dillons then checked their surveillance video footage.
The crystal clear video gave Dillon quite a shock. Only two minutes after the delivery man dropped off the package, a man ran over to the porch and grabbed the box in between the inner and outer doors, Dillon told ABC News. The man also looked directly into the high-quality camera lens before grabbing the package.
The thief could be seen shaking the package, seemingly trying to figure out what was inside. He then ripped open the package and took a closer look at the earring box before heading back to his car.
"My wife and my mother-in-law were in the backyard with our four dogs when this happened," Dillon said. "I felt very violated."
"How stupid and brave do you have to be to do something like this in broad daylight?" Dillon asked. "If he just snatched the box and left, we probably wouldn't have found him."
Dillon posted the surveillance video on his Facebook page, hoping that his friends could help him identify the suspect. Within a day, the video was shared more than 3,000 times, and he received numerous messages from strangers, telling him they had also been victims of this man.
When Police Officer Larry Craciunoiu watched the surveillance video, he said he recognized the suspect.
"He's been known in the past to be involved in burglaries, thefts and other criminal activities," Craciunoiu told ABC News. "I have a pretty good working knowledge of him."
"It was an extremely high-quality video," Craciunoiu said. "The cameras were positioned perfectly."
"I approached him and I told him: 'Before we waste a lot of time, do you want to talk about this FedEx package?'" Craciunoiu said.
"He first said: 'I didn't know anything about it,'" the officer said. "Then I showed him the picture of him staring at the camera."
"He laughed, and said: 'I'm not stupid,'" Craciunoiu said. "I asked him: ‘'Why did you still steal this stuff then?'"
Nelms refused to talk about the case, Craciunoiu said.
"We are working on another case of a suspect who broke into a lady's Cadillac in the same area on that day," Craciunoiu said. "We have pretty good evidence that he [Nelms] was the one who did it."
Craciunoiu said Nelms also has two warrants for theft.
"It was pretty clear that he was following the FedEx truck. It was very intentional," the cop said.
Dillon said he has not received the earrings back. He has checked local pawn shops, but had no luck.
Dillon said he has contacted Zale.com, and the website said it needs 10-14 days to investigate this case.
"The website automatically offers signature-required shipping for anything over $100," Dillon said. "But when the package was shipped, the delivery man just shoved it between the two doors in the security video. He didn’t buzz at all."
"I hope either Zale.com or FedEx will take care of this," Dillon said.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As Congress works on a long-term plan to reform the Veterans Administration, first lady Michelle Obama used her platform to speak out on ending veterans’ homelessness.
Speaking to an estimated 1,600 federal and local officials as well as homeless advocates, the first lady said one possible way to end homelessness nationwide is to start with our homeless veterans.
Mrs. Obama called the more than 58,000 homeless American veterans a “stain on the soul of this nation.”
“As Americans, the idea that anyone who has worn our country’s uniform is sleeping on the ground should horrify us,” she said.
“That moral and patriotic duty is only part of the reason why ending veteran homelessness is so critical. As we all know, ending homelessness for our veterans can also be a crucial first step, a proof point to show that we can end homelessness for everyone in this country,” she continued.
The first lady called the work of homeless advocates “critically important.”
“Day after day, as you fight for more resources, you encounter too many folks who don't take you seriously, because they don't believe that we will ever truly be able to solve this problem…Yet when so many others accept homelessness as a fact of life, you refuse to give up,” she said. “I just want to say thank you."
Mrs. Obama has made ending veterans’ homelessness a priority during her tenure as first lady, calling it a “moral outrage” at a White House event last month launching the Mayors’ Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.
Since June, 182 local leaders have taken the challenge to end veteran homelessness in their communities by the end of 2015.
“We are seeing that with enough resources and the right strategies -- strategies like housing first, rapid rehousing -- we can make huge amounts of progress in a very short period of time,” the first lady said.
In an op-ed published Wednesday, Mrs. Obama pointed to success in Phoenix and Salt Lake City.
“Any number of veterans left out in the cold is too many, but those numbers show us that even in some of our largest metropolitan areas, ending veteran homelessness is eminently achievable,” she wrote.
iStock/Thinkstock(BISHOPVILLE, S.C.) -- A crashed drone carrying contraband, including marijuana, tobacco and cellphones, was found outside the razor wire fence at a maximum security prison in South Carolina.
One person has been arrested, however the search for a second suspect has been ongoing since prison officials found the downed aerial vehicle and contraband in the bushes outside Lee Correctional Institute in Bishopville on April 21.
Brenton Lee Doyle, 28, has been charged with drug possession and attempting to furnish contraband to inmates. Court records did not list an attorney for Doyle.
Authorities are seeking a second man, who was seen on surveillance video at a convenience store prior to the incident buying some products that were found with the crashed drone.
Stephanie Givens, a spokeswoman for Lee Correctional Institution, said investigators believe the drone was either crashed by the person piloting it or that it malfunctioned as it approached the prison.
Givens would not discuss the type of drone, but said it was a model that was "capable of flying long distances."
"As technology gets more advanced, we have to find more advanced ways to fight that," she said.
It is believed to be the first time the high-tech approach has been taken to smuggle contraband into a South Carolina prison.
Four people were accused last year of trying to fly a drone carrying tobacco and cellphones into a Georgia state prison.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A Florida man who fought with an al Qaeda-linked group in Syria was able to return home, unbeknownst to American security officials, and hang around in the U.S. for months before returning to the Middle East to carry out a deadly suicide bombing there, according to recent testimony before Congress.
Before his violent death, Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha purportedly joined Jabhat al-Nusra, a powerful al Qaeda-linked opposition group in Syria. Social media accounts linked to the group said in late May that Abu-Salha had been part of a four-man suicide bombing against Syrian government forces. U.S. officials later confirmed Abu-Salha’s involvement in the operation.
But almost exactly a year earlier, Abu-Salha was able to travel from Syria back to the U.S., according to Seth Jones, Director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the defense think tank Rand Corporation.
“It is troubling, however, that U.S. citizen Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha traveled to Syria to fight with al Qaeda-affiliated rebels, returned to the U.S. around May 2013 without U.S. officials realizing that he had trained with an al Qaeda-linked group, and traveled back to Syria in November 2013 before blowing himself up in a suicide attack in May 2014,” Jones testified before the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence last week, according to prepared remarks. “In short, U.S. officials apparently did not realize that a U.S. citizen who had received terrorist training in Syria was on American soil for approximately six months before returning to Syria to perpetrate a terrorist attack overseas.”
A U.S. intelligence official confirmed Jones' account as accurate and told ABC News that the tracking of Americans and foreign fighters in Syria is a "hard nut to crack."
"We have varying information on these folks," the official said. "It's a complex intelligence issue."
With his death, Abu-Salha joined a tiny group of U.S. citizens that have conducted suicide bombings. Three Americans have participated in suicide attacks on behalf of the al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab in Somalia since 2009, the first of which sent a “shockwave” through the American counter-terrorism community, senior counter-terrorism officials told ABC News after Abu-Salha’s death.
For months U.S. security officials have said they are very concerned about American and Western passport holders traveling to Syria, receiving paramilitary training and then returning to wreak havoc in the homeland. As ABC News reported in January, the FBI is already watching dozens of fighters who have returned from the Middle Eastern battlefield.
Matthew Olsen, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said last week that more than 12,000 foreign fighters, including more than 1,000 Westerners and around 100 Americans, are fighting in Syria.
“It has become the predominant battleground in terms of extremists,” Olsen told the Aspen Security Forum.
FBI Director James Comey told ABC News in May that his organization aimed to make sure the “coming Syria diaspora” does not turn into a “future 9/11.”
Representatives for the FBI and CIA were not immediately available to respond to requests for comment for this report.
Mario Tama/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- A 2-year-old girl was hospitalized after falling to the seating level below during a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performance Wednesday in Dallas' American Airlines Center.
Officials with the facility released a statement about the accident to ABC News television affiliate WFAA.
“The child’s family was leaving their seats on the front row of the 200 level just before intermission when the child fell to the Plaza Level below,” the statement reads.
Fire rescue officers rushed to help, and the child was transported to Children’s Medical Center in unknown condition.
The circus is scheduled to continue in Dallas until Aug. 10.
Courtesy: msmidnite Instagram(SAN DIEGO) -- The pilot who crashed into a San Diego parking lot after clipping a Target store was pulled from the plane's wreckage by a civilian rescuer as flames had gotten as close as the seat right behind her, her rescuer told ABC News.
The plane went down in a fireball in a shopping center parking lot around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday after a bounced landing at the nearby Montgomery Field municipal airport caused the plane to crash in the parking lot, according to authorities.
An 80-year-old passenger in the plane later died of her injuries in a hospital.
The plane's 52-year-old pilot, who was not identified, was unable to clear the Target building and smashed into the parking lot. Jeremy Dunkleberger rushed to her rescue.
“I said, ‘We’ve got to get you out of here,’” Dunkleberger told ABC News. “She said, ‘Well my leg is broken. It’s broken real bad.’”
“I said, ‘I know that, but we've got to get you out of here.’ I said, ‘The seat behind you is on fire,’” Dunkleberger said.
The two women were both taken to a hospital, where the passenger later died from her injuries.
San Diego ABC station KGTV reports the plane was registered to a man named William Logan and that it was his wife and her mother who were on the plane.
Radio communication between the pilot and the air traffic control tower shows the pilot's concern.
"Oh my God, I'm not getting any altitude here," the pilot says in the audio recording. "I'm full throttle. I'm going down."
Two witnesses to the crash suffered injuries on the ground, according to Fire Department spokesperson Lee Swanson.
The FAA and NTSB will investigate the cause of the accident. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(WEST ST. PAUL, Minn.) -- A suspect in the fatal shooting of a West St. Paul, Minnesota, police officer Wednesday during a routine traffic stop is being held at a local hospital after a manhunt and shootout.
Authorities identified the deceased officer as Scott Patrick, 47. Patrick had been with the Mendota Heights Police Department since 1995.
The suspect, identified as Brian Fitch Sr., 39, of South St. Paul, was arrested in St. Paul Wednesday night after he opened fire on officers, according to Sgt. Paul Palos of the St. Paul police department. He was seen driving in the area after an alert for his car, a green Pontiac Grand Am, was issued, authorities said.
Officers fired back at the suspect and hit him, Palos said. An unidentified woman was with the suspect at the time, according to ABC affiliate KSTP.
"Authorities say Fitch recognized one of the unmarked squad cars and made a U-turn. One of the squad cars was able to pull in front of Fitch's car to stop him," the station reported.
Patrick had a wife and two teenage children. He was the first officer from the Mendota Heights Police Department to be killed in the line of duty.
Mayor Sandra Krebsbach said Patrick was the department's "most senior officer."
The fatal shooting is the latest in a surge of violence against police -- more than 70 officers have died this year. Police killings by firearms are up 65% this year after a historic low in 2013.
iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- Michigan Police have searched a house in connection with the murder of April Millsap, the 14-year-old girl who was apparently killed while walking her dog on a wooded hiking path.
Investigators have not released any information about how April was killed, calling it, "a crucial part of the investigation," but the death was officially declared a homicide. The 14-year-old's body was found in a ditch by joggers in the Macomb Orchard Trail on the night of July 24 with her dog Penny sitting by her body, police said.
Police and the FBI executed the search Wednesday afternoon outside the town of Armada and would not release any information about the subject of the search, but they did confirm it was related to the Millsap's murder.
David Porter, a spokesman for the FBI's Detroit field office, confirmed to ABC News that a search warrant had been issued, prompting the search, but no arrests have been made in connection to the murder. Two individuals are in custody after police discovered a marijuana growing operation inside the house, police said, noting charges have yet to be filed.
The probable cause statement and search warrant connected to Wednesday's search are under seal so the name of the individual whose home was searched has not been publicly released, but Porter said it is not the end of the investigation.
Early reports about Millsap's murder included claims from a relative that she had texted her boyfriend on July 24 saying "OMG. ... I think I'm being kidnapped." But Michigan State Police spokesman Lt. Michael Shaw told ABC News that the message was phrased differently and may not have come from April herself.
"We don't know who sent it," Shaw said, without revealing what time the text was sent.
Porter also told ABC News that the investigative team is, "aware of a number of text messages that were sent from April's phone."
Shaw said that while no one is ever truly ruled out as a suspect, April's relatives and boyfriend, "don't appear to be responsible."
Investigators have released a sketch of a suspect compiled from tips from others inside the park around the time that Millsap is believed to have been killed. They are also interested in any information pertaining to a blue and white motorbike that Porter described as looking more like a motocross bike than a Harley Davidson.
Porter added that Wednesday's search outside of Armada is not the first search to be executed in this case, and without specifying the targets, he confirmed that phone records have been part of that search.
"When we are conducting a search warrant, sometimes it is not right at the end of an investigation," Porter said.
The teen's funeral is scheduled for Friday. A GoFundMe page started by a family friend to cover the burial expenses has already raised more than $11,700 -- surpassing its $5,000 goal in short order.
iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- The prosecution rested its case Wednesday in the murder trial of a suburban Detroit man accused of fatally shooting an unarmed teenager.
Theodore Wafer, 55, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Renisha McBride, 19, after she showed up on his porch in Dearborn Heights during the early morning of Nov. 2, 2013.
Wafer sat quietly at the defense table Wednesday, the fifth day of his trial, as he listened to testimony from Dr. Kilak Kesha, an assistant medical examiner from Wayne County.
Kesha described McBride's brain as "pulpified" and how the bullet wound the teen suffered proved catastrophic. He also told the jury that he wasn't able to discern any other injuries.
A photo of pellets removed from McBride’s brain during the autopsy was also shown. Alcohol and marijuana were also found in McBride's system, Kesha testified.
Where McBride was before she was fatally shot on Wafer's porch -- and the screen door through which the fatal bullet was apparently fired -- will be decisive during the trial.
Whether Wafer's screen door was torn from a break-in attempt or if it was damaged from the bullets he allegedly fired at McBride will be a key question in the case, which is reminiscent of the George Zimmerman trial in Florida.
On Tuesday, Detective Sgt. Shawn Kolonich of the Michigan State Police testified that there was no feasible way Wafer could have accidentally fired his shotgun at McBride.
Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in. Otherwise, a person must prove his or her life was in danger.
McBride was shot in the face, falling on her back, with her feet facing Wafer's door, prosecutors said.
Wafer told police he didn't know his gun was loaded and said he shot the unarmed teen by accident, according to a recording played to jurors last week.
"What happened here?" Sgt. Rory McManmon asked, according to the recording.
"A consistent knocking on the door, and I'm trying to look through the windows, but every time I look through the windows and the door it's banging somewhere else," Wafer said on the recording. "So I open up the door, kind of like who is this? And the gun discharged."
"I didn't know there was a round in there," he tells McManmon on the recording. "I don't get it. Who's knocking on your door at 4:30 in the morning? Bang, bang, bang -- somebody wanting in."