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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A New York City police officer was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Akai Gurley, an unarmed man who police commissioner Bill Bratton said "just happened" to be in the dark stairwell when the officer fired his gun.

The officer, Peter Liang, was convicted in Brooklyn Thursday. He was 18 months out of the police academy when he shot and killed Gurley in a dimly lit staircase in a public housing project in Brooklyn in November 2014.

Prosecutors described Gurley as a "total innocent" in a press release following the conviction, calling Liang's actions "reckless."

"This defendant ignored official training that he received as a police officer – specifically never to put his finger on the trigger of his gun unless he was ready to shoot and his reckless actions cost Akai Gurley his life – a life that Peter Liang had sworn to protect," District Attorney Ken Thompson said.

Liang faces a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in prison. His sentencing hearing will take place April 14.

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Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  The remaining four members of a militia group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon surrendered to the FBI Thursday, one day after authorities moved into the property, ending the six-week standoff.

The FBI said in a press release that the alleged occupiers, Sean Larry Anderson, Sandra Lynn Anderson, Jeff Wayne Banta and David Lee Fry, were bought into custody without incident. No one was injured and no shots were fired, the FBI said.

NEWS RELEASE from @FBIPortland : FBI Arrests All Remaining Occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge -- https://t.co/0jLqVKHfsQ

— Harney Cty. Sheriff (@HarneyCoSheriff) February 11, 2016


An hours-long phone call between him and authorities streamed live online. He said on the call that he wouldn't leave the land until his "grievances" were addressed.

At times Fry sounded suicidal, stating that he would rather kill himself before being removed from the land. He eventually surrendered.

"I cannot help you if you don't walk out," a female dispatcher said to Fry over the phone. "So, you have to make a choice. What are you gonna do?"

"I don't really care what people think of me," Fry responded.

"You're wrong. We do need you," the woman responded. "But, there's nothing more we can do for you. It breaks my heart."

In a press conference Thursday, Bretzing called the standoff an “emotionally exhausting and physically trying” event for everyone involved.

“Our goal has been to end this illegal occupation peacefully, and we are grateful that we were able to do so today,” he said. Authorities will continue to enforce federal law at the refuge, which will be closed over the next several weeks as the FBI and other agencies conduct investigations related to the armed standoff. After the investigation is over, the FBI will return the control of the refuge to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bretzing said.

Following the end of the standoff, Harney County Sheriff David Ward encouraged members of the community to “get off” social media and “talk to each other in person.”

“We can’t continue to tear each other apart, hating each other, because of differences of opinion,” he said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a statement Thursday saying it was "relieved" that the "illegal occupation" was over.

"While we are now able to look forward to a new beginning, there is still much that needs to be done so that the community and the larger public can be welcomed back to their refuge," the organization said in the statement.

FBI agents barricaded the refuge Wednesday after the situation had reached a point where it "became necessary to take action" to ensure the safety of all those involved, Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon, said.

The FBI moved in after one of the occupiers rode an ATV outside "the barricades established by the militia" at the refuge, Bretzing said in a statement.

 The four occupiers had previously refused to leave the federal land after Ammon Bundy was arrested Jan. 26 in a traffic stop. Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, the group's spokesperson, was shot and killed by Oregon state troopers last month.

In a separate case, Bundy's 69-year-old father, Cliven Bundy, was charged Thursday with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, assault on a federal law enforcement officer, using and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, obstruction of the administration of justice and interference with commerce by extortion, the Department of Justice said in a press release.

In 2014, he allegedly led an armed standoff in Nevada in 2014 over grazing rights. If convicted, he could face up to 42 years in prison for all of the charges combined, plus a $250,000 fine per count.

It was unclear why the charges were brought forth now. A lawyer for Cliven Bundy was not immediately available for a request for comment.

 

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A major arctic outbreak could bring subzero temperatures to 65 million Americans this Valentine's Day weekend. Twenty states in the Midwest and Northeast are bracing for record cold and dangerous, possibly life-threatening wind chills.

 A deep trough, or dip in the jet stream, in the eastern half of the country is allowing an arctic air mass to drop in from Canada, plummeting temperatures to below zero for many, with wind chills of 20 to 30 degrees below zero.

Already Thursday morning, the cold air seeping into Minnesota dropped to minus-35 degrees in the community of Cotton.

 It’s notably cold in the upper Midwest through Friday with highs struggling to get much above zero. By the weekend the cold blast heads east, bringing temperatures at least 30 degrees below normal.

Record cold is possible Saturday across the Great Lakes region as afternoon temperatures stay in the single digits and teens for much of the day. A record-low maximum temperature is forecasted for Saturday afternoon in Buffalo, New York.

The forecasted high is zero, and the record is 5 degrees, set back in 1899.

 In the Northeast, temperatures will drop quickly Saturday afternoon, and by overnight into early Sunday morning it will be in the single digits and even below zero for much of New England.

A few record lows are possible Sunday morning in the Northeast. Boston, Philadelphia and Roanoke, Virginia, are some cities that could see record lows. New York City could break a 100-year-old record if they drop below 2 degrees. In addition, the high temperatures Sunday will stay in the teens, and could break cold records from Washington to Boston.

Overall, this will likely by the coldest Valentine’s Day on record for much of the Northeast.

 When you add the wind to the brutally cold temperatures, it feels much colder out there. Wind chills of 20 to 40 below zero are expected across New England. It will feel like it’s in the 20s below zero from New York City to Boston, and 5 to 15 degrees below zero from Washington to Philadelphia.

As the arctic air moves across the Great Lakes, heavy lake-effect snow is expected to continue in Cleveland, Buffalo and Syracuse through at least Friday. Lake-effect snow warnings and advisories are up for these areas; by the time the event is done, over a foot of snow is possible where the heaviest bands set up.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- What happens when you put a presidential motorcade in the most congested city in America?

"Obamajam," as it's dubbed by local media, the semi-annual traffic phenomenon that ensnares traffic-heavy Los Angeles when President Obama and his motorcade comes to town.

President Obama will arrive in the Los Angeles area Thursday evening for a taping of the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" -- which will air Friday -- and a slew of Democratic Party fundraisers.

In preparation, the Los Angeles Police Department sent out an advisory on road closings around town.

#LAPD: #POTUS will be visiting #LosAngeles February 11th & 12th. Anticipate traffic delays in the following areas: pic.twitter.com/JNsOjvXbWy

— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) February 11, 2016

Los Angeles is the most congested city in America, and the tenth most congested in the world, according to a 2015 index from TomTom, a company that produces navigation and mapping devices.

After he makes his way through Los Angeles, President Obama will then head to Rancho Mirage and the Sunnylands estate for a summit of Asian leaders.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  The city of Ferguson, Missouri, particularly its police force, has been under the national spotlight since August 2014, when an officer fatally shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown and sparked a national debate on race in America.

Now the city is feeling heat from the federal government like never before, with the Justice Department announcing Wednesday that it was filing a lawsuit in U.S. court and urging a federal judge to force the city to revamp its police department and court system.

In announcing the lawsuit, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch accused Ferguson of engaging in racially-driven policing and law enforcement “that violates the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments of the Constitution.”

But exactly how has Ferguson violated those key constitutional amendments, in the Justice Department's view?

Here’s a quick look at some of what the 56-page lawsuit alleges:

FIRST AMENDMENT – Freedom of religion, speech and the press.

The lawsuit says Ferguson police officers "routinely prohibit people from recording police activity, and retaliate against those who do record.” In one instance from June 2014, a mother was arrested "ostensibly" for a traffic violation after she began videotaping her husband's arrest in front of their children and then continued to record from her car as the police vehicle drove off with her husband. "[N]obody videotapes me," the officer insisted.

Officers sometimes "offer no rationale at all for interfering with individuals’ right to record," the lawsuit alleges. In October 2013, one officer threatened to arrest a civilian who was taking a picture of the officer. "Do I not have the right to record?" the civilian asked. "No, you don’t," replied the officer, who then arrested the civilian for Failure to Comply.

Officers often use their authority to arrest people who use "offensive, but lawful, language" to criticize police conduct, according to the lawsuit.

FOURTH AMENDMENT – “The right of the people to be secure in their persons” and free from “unreasonable searches and seizures,” including excessive force.

The lawsuit says Ferguson officers conduct stops, issue citations and make arrests without legal justification. In October 2012, police officers pulled over an African-American man, claiming his passenger-side brake light was broken. The man had recently replaced the light, but the officers refused to let him show them it was working, instead issuing him a citation for "tail light/reflector/license plate light out." The man went to the police station that evening to show officers there that his brake light was working.

Ferguson officers engage in a pattern of searching individuals without legal justification, and this "disproportionately impacts African-Americans, who are searched at higher rates than others, but who have contraband found on them significantly less often than others," the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit says Ferguson police officers "routinely escalate encounters with individuals they perceive to be disobedient, and unreasonably use canines on unarmed subjects, including young juveniles." In December 2011, for example, a 14-year-old African-American boy was skipping school and waiting in an abandoned house for his friends. When officers arrived at the scene, the boy refused to come out. Even though officers had no reason to believe the boy might be armed, they deployed a canine to bite the boy, causing puncture wounds in his arm.

14th AMENDMENT – The right to "due process of law" and "equal protection" under the law.

The lawsuit says the Ferguson court system "routinely" fails to provide residents who have received citations or summons with "adequate notice of the allegations made against them" or any "meaningful opportunity to be heard." Sometimes, such residents are provided wholly incorrect information about where and when their cases are being heard, according to the lawsuit. "They are often unable to determine how much is owed, where and how to pay the ticket, what the options for payment are, what rights the individual has, and what the consequences are for various actions or oversights," the lawsuit alleges.

Similarly, Ferguson residents who have been arrested "are sometimes not provided clear information regarding the charges against them," and the court's bond procedures "are arbitrary and confusing."

Prosecutors fail to disclose information that could help defendants fighting the charges against them, "despite the constitutional duty to disclose such evidence," the lawsuit says. In some cases, defendants have not been told that the Ferguson officer testifying in the case against them "was previously found to be untruthful during an official [Ferguson police] investigation," according to the lawsuit.

Overall, the lawsuit says, these practices “disproportionately harm African-Americans,” and they “are not the necessary or unavoidable results of legitimate public safety efforts.”

“Rather, the disproportionate harm to African-Americans stems, at least in part, from racial bias, including racial stereotyping,” the lawsuit alleges.

The Justice Department decided to file the lawsuit after Ferguson’s City Council Tuesday night rejected a long-negotiated deal to overhaul the police department and court system. In explaining its decision, the council cited the enormous cost to the city to make some of the proposed changes.

“Our goal was always to reach an agreement that we can implement and sustain with the resources we have in this small town,” one councilman said after hearing of the lawsuit. “We accepted just about everything that was asked us and spent a lot of time trying to get this [deal] to work within our limited means, and in the end they didn't care at all whether we could actually accomplish what's in the agreement as long as we just signed it.”

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) --  An American Airlines flight made an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport this morning due to a "mechanical problem," an LAX spokesperson has confirmed.

American Airlines flight 564 -- an Airbus A319 with 125 passengers and five crew members, according to the airline -- departed San Jose, California, at 9:50 a.m. en route to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson tells ABC News the flight declared an emergency, and according to the Los Angeles Fire Department, it received a call at 10:38 a.m. P.T. to monitor the landing.

After the safe landing, units departed the scene, the LAFD tells ABC News.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  The Orion space capsule is expected one day to carry astronauts to Mars, but for now, NASA is busy getting the vessel ready for its first big exploration mission to the moon.

The conical-shaped Orion crew module pressure vessel arrived at Florida's Kennedy Space Center this month from NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana. The pressure vessel is about 500 pounds lighter and has fewer parts than Orion had when it blasted off on its first test flight in December 2014, according to Mike Hawes, Lockheed Martin Orion program manager.

NASA and Lockheed Martin engineers will now work to outfit the Orion pressure vessel with all the controls necessary for flight, including everything from electrical power storage and communications to flight software and computers.

After Orion has had some work done and becomes a fully functional spacecraft, NASA will put it through a series of tests at several of its facilities across the country.

When Orion has a stellar report card, the next step for the spacecraft will be a launch to circle the moon in 2018 and embark on its first crew mission around 2023.

If everything goes according to plan, Orion could ferry astronauts to an asteroid and eventually to Mars.

 The capsule, which has a conical shape just like its moon shot-era predecessor, the Apollo, seats four astronauts. While the design may be similar, Orion is equipped with technology that is light-years ahead of the retired spacecraft.

Orion's computer can process 480 million instructions per second. It's also 25 times faster than the computers at the International Space Station, according to NASA.

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Courtesy Rice Family(CLEVELAND) -- The estate of Tamir Rice will not be required to pay a $500 ambulance bill for which the city of Cleveland, Ohio, had filed a claim in court.

Cleveland officials said on Thursday that the bill had been automatically generated and that the claim has now been closed.

Rice was shot dead by a Cleveland police officer in November 2014 while he was holding a toy gun. Cleveland officials said Rice's estate had requested, as legally required, a billing statement for all services rendered to Rice on the day he died. That led to the city’s being made aware that the estate could potentially pay for emergency medical services provided to Rice which Medicaid did not cover, triggering an automatic process that filed the $500 claim to the estate according to city officials.

Rice's family never received a bill and the city has absorbed the remaining balance.

The $500 charge was listed as his "last dying expense," ABC affiliate WEWS in Cleveland reported.

An Ohio grand jury declined to indict two police officers in his death.

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File photo. (iStock Editorial/Thinkstock)(ABINGDON, Md.) -- The Harford County Sheriff's Office has identified the two officers killed in Abingdon, Maryland, on Wednesday as Senior Deputies Mark Logsdon and Patrick Dailey.

Dailey was a 30-year veteran of the force; Logsdon, a 16-year one.

According to Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler, Dailey was a former Marine who was assigned to court services. He is survived by his girlfriend, mother and two sons. Logsdon was an Army veteran who is survived by his wife, three children and parents.

"These men are heroes," Gahler said. "They lost their lives doing what they love to do."

Wednesday's shooting was the first time a Harford County deputy has been killed by gunfire in the line of duty since 1899, according to the sheriff's office.

The two deputies were killed in a shootout with a lone suspect while responding to a call at a crowded Panera restaurant at lunchtime Wednesday. The suspect, 67-year-old David Evans, was also killed during the exchange.

The sheriff's office said on Thursday that Dailey was the first of the two to enter the restaurant in pursuit of Evans. According to Gahler, Evans almost immediately drew a weapon and shot Dailey in the head. Logsdon was able to exchange several rounds of gunfire with Evans before being fatally wounded.

"It's our belief that because [Evans] knew there was a warrant out for his arrest ... that is why he took the action against the police officer," Gahler said. "We don't believe he laid in wait to ambush."

The incident is still under investigation.

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ABC News (NEW YORK) — Passengers who were on board the Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas cruise ship are back on solid ground.

Passenger Peter Aloupis said it felt "exactly" like being in a washing machine when the ship started listing, or tilting, because of the intense winds and turbulent weather.

"We were on the third floor with an ocean view and we literally saw Dory swimming by," Aloupis said Thursday, referencing the Disney cartoon character.

The Bahamas-bound ship had to turn around and return to New Jersey two days after setting sail because of strong storms off the Carolinas. The ship docked in Bayonne, New Jersey, on Wednesday night.

Aloupis told Good Morning America that he has cruised "many times." He said he "saw some of the staff hugging and crying" after the ship returned to New Jersey.

Another passenger, Lauren Whitney, said that she had a panic attack after being told by cruise staff that passengers were to stay in their cabins.

"We were probably in the room for 20 minutes if that and then we left," she said. "I couldn’t do it and the crew members were even telling us, 'Get back to the room,' and I said, 'No. I’m not going back.'"

At one point, the captain reportedly made an announcement on the ship's loudspeaker, urging passengers to get back in their rooms.

"He didn't sound very convincing that it was going to be okay, and everyone around us started crying, saying they couldn’t breathe," Whitney said.

In spite of the harrowing ordeal, all but one of the seven passengers on Good Morning America said that they would be open to going on another cruise.

Royal Caribbean has apologized to the more than 6,000 passengers who were on board.

"The event, exceptional as it was, identified gaps in our planning system that we are addressing," the company said in a statement. "Though that system has performed well through many instances of severe weather around the world, what happened this week showed that we need to do better."

The National Transportation Safety Board is considering an investigation into what happened and why the ship hit such bad weather.

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iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(BAYONNE, New Jersey) --  The Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was rocked by stormy weather arrived back in New Jersey Wednesday night, where it is expected to be inspected by the Coast Guard.

The Anthem of the Seas arrived in Bayonne, New Jersey around 9 p.m.

The ship, which left from the same port on Saturday and was due to head out on a week-long cruise to the Bahamas, was supposed to arrive sooner after the captain made the decision to turn around, but that arrival time was pushed back further because the "weather isn't great," a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said on Tuesday.

"The Captain has been very sensitive to the rough ride guests have already experienced. So he's slowed down his speed to smooth it out," the spokesperson said.

Coast Guard officials are expected to be on hand to inspect the ship.

"The Coast Guard will participate in an investigation that will help determine if there are any contributing causal factors or lessons learned from this event that could help prevent injuries or damage in the future, as occurs with any commercial vessel operating in U.S. waters under similar circumstances," the Coast Guard said in a statement released Wednesday.

In a statement Wednesday night, the cruise line apologized "for exposing our guests and crew to the weather they faced, and for what they went through."

They said the ship encountered "sustained 120-mph winds" which "far exceeded forecasts."

"Even so, it is our responsibility to eliminate every surprise we possibly can," said the company, which plans to bolster its planning system going forward.


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Ramin Talaie/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  The Justice Department has filed a federal lawsuit against Ferguson, Missouri, after the city rejected a deal that would have brought sweeping changes to its embattled police department, which allegedly engaged in "racially discriminatory policing."

The lawsuit, announced Wednesday by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, alleges a pattern or practice of law enforcement conduct that violates the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as federal civil rights laws and says the citizens there "have waited decades for justice."

"The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for their city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe," Lynch said. "They have waited nearly a year for their police department to accept rules that would ensure their constitutional rights ... They have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer."

Ferguson came under the national spotlight after a city police officer fatally shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August 2014. Officer Darren Wilson was never charged in the shooting, but a Justice Department investigation into the Ferguson police department found what Lynch called "systemic and systematic" racial bias within the force's policing practices.

After the results of that investigation were announced last year, the Justice Department began "painstaking negotiations" lasting 26 weeks, seeking to reach a deal that would address the Justice Department's findings, according to Lynch. An agreement was reached weeks ago, but last night the Ferguson City Council "rejected" the deal "approved by their own negotiators," said Lynch, calling the move "extremely unfortunate" and "profoundly disappoint[ing].

"I think that the city of Ferguson had a real opportunity here to step forward, and instead they’ve chosen to turn backwards," Lynch added. "They’ve chosen to live in the past, and they’ve chosen to adopt a means of really ignoring the voices of their citizens, they’re choosing to ignore the complaints of their citizens."

Ferguson leaders expressed concern that the agreement reached would cost the city up to $3.7 million in the first year alone.

Nevertheless, the failure to reach final agreement left the department "no further choice" but to file suit, said Lynch, whose department is now urging a federal judge to compel a litany of changes within the Ferguson police department.

The lawsuit filed today lays out much of what the department detailed in its 104-page report last year.

According to the Justice Department, from October 2012 to October 2014, African Americans were more than twice as likely to be searched, to receive a citation or to be arrested, than other stopped individuals. In addition, of all incidents from 2010 to August 2014, African Americans accounted for 88 percent of all incidents in which a Ferguson police officer reported using force; and while African Americans make up 67 percent of Ferguson’s population, they made up more than 90 percent of all charges involving "manner of walking in roadway," "failure to comply," "resisting arrest," and "disturbing the peace."

"The city and residents of Ferguson deserve what every American is guaranteed under the Constitution: the right to be free from excessive force, from unconstitutional stops [and] from unconstitutional arrests," Lynch said during her announcement today. "We intend to aggressively prosecute this case and we intend to prevail."

The City of Ferguson said it is aware of news reports about the expected suit but had no immediate comment.


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ROB KERR/AFP/Getty Images(BURNS, Ore.) — Armed occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon have said they will turn themselves in Thursday morning, ending a more than month-long standoff.

On Wednesday night, the FBI released a statement saying they had surrounded the remaining occupiers.

According to the agency, one of the occupiers rode an ATV outside the barricades established by the militia. When the FBI tried to approach the driver, he sped back, they said.

The FBI said that it had secured barricades both in front of and behind where the occupiers are camping.

Occupier Sean Anderson said he spoke with the FBI and that he and three other holdouts agreed to turn themselves in at an FBI checkpoint at 8 a.m. Thursday. Anderson said they would leave their weapons in their vehicles and walk to a checkpoint established nearby, carrying an American flag.

Anderson relayed the information to Nevada lawmaker Michele Fiore over a phone line streaming online. He said he expects Fiore to meet him and his fellow occupiers at the checkpoint Thursday when they turn themselves in.

Meanwhile, Cliven Bundy, father of Ammon Bundy — the leader of the wildlife refuge occupation, was arrested by FBI officials. The Bundy Ranch posted on Facebook earlier Wednesday that Cliven Bundy was on his way to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

He was at the center of a standoff with federal officials in 2014 in Nevada, over the use of public lands.

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iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) --  Two Maryland police officers died Wednesday from injuries sustained in a shootout with a suspect, according to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.

“It is with great sadness that I tell you that both deputies that were shot earlier today have succumbed to their injuries,” Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler said on Wednesday.

The two sheriff’s deputies were responding to a call at a shopping center in Abingdon, Maryland, when they were fired upon, authorities said. The suspect injured one of the officers and fled the scene. The second deputy followed in pursuit and was also wounded.

Additional deputies onsite exchanged gunfire with the suspect and fatally wounded him, authorities said, noting he was pronounced dead at the scene. At least one of the deputies was airlifted to an area trauma center.

There are no additional suspects or threats to the community, according to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office. The officers’ identities have not been released.


The suspect has been identified by police as 67-year-old David Evans. He had two outstanding warrants--one of which was a Florida criminal warrant for assaulting a police officer. That incident is still under investigation.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan released a statement on the shooting, saying he was “heartbroken.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Hundreds of manatees have gathered together in a Florida spring to escape the winter chill, drawing scores of visitors.

While there are believed to be more than 1,000 manatees currently gathered in Kings Bay, the headwaters of the Crystal River in Florida, most of the animals are crowded together in a one acre-area of the 60-acre bay known as Three Sisters Springs, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official.

For decades, hundreds of manatees have swum to the bay every winter to escape the Gulf of Mexico's cold waters, according Ivan Vicente, a visitor services specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.

But this year, the bay is believed to be seeing the largest number of manatees ever gathered together in recent history, Vicente told ABC News today. He added that an official state survey would confirm the 1,000 estimate this Saturday.

 The Three Sisters Springs in particular are seeing an "overwhelming" number of manatees, Vicente said.

"The waters in this particular area appear to be the most ideal wintering habitat for manatees in Kings Bay," he explained. "The water is just over 72 degrees, which is nice and warm for them. The water is shallow and the area is confined by beautiful trees that protect it from harsh winds."

 Visitors have been flocking to the Three Sisters Springs area to see and photograph the gentle giants snuggled together up close.

The manatees – which are on average 10 feet long and weigh 1,500 pounds – "can rest in these springs for weeks and weeks without food," Vicente said. "Not having food isn't a problem as long as the manatees can do so without too much disturbance from humans, so they can conserve their energy."

However, manatees may sometimes "take a break from resting" and "get very, very close to people" since they're "very curious creatures," Vicente said.

But there's no need worry if the animals do get close to visitors, as manatees are not known to be violent at all, he said.

"There has never been a recorded manatee-related emergency ever," Vicente joked.


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