ABC News(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Three jurors from the Vanderbilt University rape trial said the evidence that played the biggest role in deciding a guilty verdict was video that prosecutors claimed proved four former Vanderbilt football players sexually assaulted a female classmate.
"As soon as we saw the videos and photographic evidence...we knew exactly who was guilty of what and what we were going to come back with," said juror Todd Easter. "What we knew is that a terrible crime had occurred." The jury took just three hours Tuesday to decide Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey were each guilty of four counts of aggravated rape, one count of attempted aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Vandenburg was also found guilty of tampering with evidence and unlawful photography after prosecutors claimed he recorded the sexual assault on his phone, shared it with friends and then tried to cover it up.
Three jurors from the trial sat down with ABC News' 20/20 for an interview the day after the verdict to talk about the case.
"We are absolutely confident in that we made the right decision for every count," said Easter, who was the juror tasked with reading the verdict for the court.
The graphic sexual assault case played out in a Nashville courtroom over 12 days, as prosecutors presented surveillance video they said showed Vandenburg carrying the victim into his dorm, accompanied by Batey and two other former players, Brandon Banks and Jaborian McKenzie. Jurors also had to watch cell phone video that prosecutors claimed Vandenburg recorded as the sexual assault went on in his dorm room.
Prosecutors said the victim, a 21-year-old former neuroscience major and dance team member at the university, was drunk and passed out when the 2013 incident occurred.
Juror Dr. Corbi Milligan told 20/20 that she was "horrified and utterly disgusted" when she watched the footage.
"I do hold [Vandenburg] criminally responsible for what occurred to [the victim] in that room," Milligan said. "It was horrific. ...She was horribly victimized, and as difficult as it was for us to have to render that verdict, it was justice, and it had to be done."
Another juror, Dr. Deirde Young, said the footage made her feel "awful."
"I asked myself, 'how could they do this to that young lady?'" Young added. "There can't be enough explanation to me. I don't know, I think they need to do some real soul searching. I've never experienced anything like these young men."
The defense argued the young men were not guilty of rape, but rather of making a mistake. Batey's lawyer, Worrick Robinson, claimed that college culture put his client in the situation, but the jurors said they weren't buying that argument.
"It's not a defense against a crime, and I think that's the core thing," Milligan said. "Several people, men and women, were seen on the surveillance camera and saw the victim in this state, and no one stopped to think, 'Is she going to be OK?'"
When the jury was dismissed for deliberations, Young said they all broke down in the jury room.
"Maintaining our composure -- it was difficult for all of us," Young said. "I tell you that composure crumbled when the doors closed."
Two other ex-players accused of being involved in the incident, Brandon Banks and Jaborian McKenzie, also face rape and sexual battery charges, but have not yet gone to trial. They have pleaded not guilty.
Vandenburg's childhood friends in California, to whom he sent the videos of the assault, were charged with tampering with evidence after he implored them to get rid of their cell phones. Last week, Joey Quinzio pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Miles Finley was offered the same plea agreement, but has so far declined it.
Another Vanderbilt football player, Chris Boyd, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for helping carry the unconscious victim into Vandenburg's dorm.
"I'm curious to know the people we saw on the surveillance video -- the multiple people who saw her -- what are they thinking now," Milligan said. "We are civilized human beings. The rules and responsibility of living in this society is you look out for your fellow man."
Vandenburg and Batey will be sentenced on March 6 and could face decades in prison.
After the verdict was announced this week, Nicholas Zeppos, the chancellor of Vanderbilt University, told ABC News in a statement, "I am deeply troubled that some students who knew or should have known about the incident that led to this week's convictions failed to take any positive action. This is not the culture at Vanderbilt, and it must never be repeated." Read the chancellor's full statement at the end of this article.
The victim in this case, who testified against her attackers, released a statement thanking police and prosecutors for bringing them to justice, and calling them her heroes. For District Attorney Glenn Funk, the guilty verdict carries a profound message to victims of sexual crimes.
"I hope this verdict sends a message to victims of sexual violence...that you will never be alone, that we will back you up, and that ultimately the system will work and you will be able to get justice," Funk said. Full Statement from the Chancellor of Vanderbilt to ABC News:
Earlier this week, a Nashville jury found two former Vanderbilt students guilty of a vicious attack against a fellow student. The victim showed exceptional courage and strength in pursuing justice through the criminal trial. At this time, we are called upon again to consider as a community how we can ensure that what happened to the survivor of this terrible crime never happens again.
The heinous conduct described at trial was not the product of Vanderbilt's culture. On the contrary, such conduct is the very opposite of the values Vanderbilt stands for and our students hold dear. We abhor sexual misconduct, and we subject every student to the same standards.
Yet we must acknowledge that sexual assaults occur on college campuses across the country, and that Vanderbilt is no exception. But Vanderbilt can make a difference, and we must make a difference, because the consequences of sexual violence—shattered dreams and shattered lives—are intolerable.
As your Chancellor, I am personally committed to ending sexual misconduct at Vanderbilt, giving victims the support and assistance they need and sanctioning those found responsible. To end sexual misconduct at Vanderbilt we must all commit ourselves every day to our values, including respecting and caring for one another and holding accountable those who violate our standards. The university has taken numerous concrete steps to address sexual misconduct, including updating the university's policy against Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence; requiring all incoming students to complete PETSA and Alcohol.Edu training; making sure students and responsible employees know how and to whom to report sexual misconduct incidents; encouraging all members of our community to participate in the Green Dot bystander intervention program; opening a new Project Safe Center; and adding to our staff of prevention educators and victim resource specialists. We will administer a new campus climate survey this spring. And we will continue our comprehensive ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the importance of every student intervening when another student is at risk or in distress.
We can all commit to this never happening again, but ending sexual misconduct requires more. It requires commitment to our core principles, which demand that sexual harassment and sexual assault will never be ignored or downplayed or get lost in a bureaucracy. We must individually and collectively create a culture of transparency, support and cooperation.
The university's response to this tragic incident demonstrates our commitment to these principles. When the university reviewed surveillance video that raised suspicions about the actions of certain students, we immediately commenced an investigation and promptly reported our concerns to the Nashville police. We have worked closely with the Davidson County District Attorney's Office ever since. Not for a second did anyone consider sweeping the incident under the rug or according special treatment to our student-athletes. Indeed, if not for actions taken by Vanderbilt, the incident may never have been discovered and the defendants never prosecuted.
I will not be satisfied until campus sexual assaults are a thing of the past. And I want Vanderbilt to be at the forefront of that effort. I have therefore authorized Project Safe to augment its educational and prevention programs and victim support. Please visit the Project Safe Center or click on the Project Safe website to learn more. I encourage every member of the Vanderbilt community to get involved with Green Dot at Vanderbilt. Attend an upcoming Green Dot training session, the next of which is Feb. 20, or click on the Green Dot website to request information about bystander intervention. Make a personal commitment to stand up, not stand by, when you or another member of our community is at risk.
We come to Vanderbilt to be part of a community of exceptional individuals who learn from, support and take care of one another. We must never forget this. I am deeply troubled that some students who knew or should have known about the incident that led to this week's convictions failed to take any positive action. This is not the culture at Vanderbilt, and it must never be repeated.
I urge anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct, or who knows a victim, to contact the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action & Disability Services department, whose director, Anita Jenious, is Vanderbilt's Title IX coordinator. EAD investigates sexual misconduct reports, coordinates interim services for students who need them and determines responsibility for violations of the university's Sexual Misconduct policy. Whether the incident occurred yesterday, last week or last year, let EAD know so it can take action.
Above all, I ask each and every student to contribute the best of yourselves to our Vanderbilt community. Vanderbilt must and will play a leadership role in ending sexual misconduct. But it is only by coming together as a community that we can effect the deep and lasting change that this moment demands.
Watch the full story on ABC News' 20/20 Friday night at 12:35 a.m. ET.
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock (HOUSTON) — Jockey Roman Chapa is facing a felony charge of unlawful influence on racing based largely on a photograph taken during a race earlier this month.
When Chapa won the Jan. 17 race riding Quiet Acceleration at the Sam Houston Race Park in Texas, a snapshot of the photo finish circulated. He reportedly asked that the image be taken down, raising suspicions.
Prosecutors now allege that the photo showed Chapa, 43, holding a buzzer in his left hand. Buzzers are used to send an electrical shock to the horse.
Barry Abrams of ESPN’s In the Gate said the alleged device was intended to startle the horse and make him run faster.
“It doesn’t really hurt the horse,” Abrams said. “It more gets his attention. …It’s just meant to kind of startle him.”
Investigators said the jockey told them that the picture was photoshopped by someone trying to frame him.
Abrams said incidents like this were not common.
“Just about all the tracks these days have stewards positioned all over the rack track -- both with their own eyes and with cameras everywhere -- so it’s very difficult nowadays to execute such a thing effectively,” he said.
Chapa’s track record is questionable. In 2007, he was suspended for using an electrical device on a horse. And in 1994, he was suspended for using a nail to make a horse run faster.
Chapa did not respond to requests for comment by ABC News.
Andrea Young, president of the Sam Houston Race Park, said in a statement that the park was “pleased” with how fast the investigation had moved.
“These sorts of actions have no place in horse racing, and are a disservice to the tens of thousands of people involved in our sport who play by the rules every day. We will continue to support this investigation in every way possible,” Young said.
If he is convicted, Chapa faces up to 10 years in prison.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Several people have survived plunges over Niagara Falls, but no one before Will Gadd has ever tried going in the opposite direction.
The professional climber, 47, scaled a frozen section of the waterfall Tuesday, clinging to a wall of solid ice. He was close enough to feel the spray of the pounding water feet away. Sarah Hueniken also participated in the climb.
Stunning video from the climb shows Gadd using two ice picks, along with strength and guile -- calculating every move, the terrain unsteady and unpredictable. During the climb, giant chunks of ice fell just past Gadd’s head, and 150,000 tons of water flowed next to him every minute, racing past at nearly 70 miles per hour.
“There’s nothing that feels better than climbing a blue icicle up into the sky,” said Gadd, who works with Red Bull. “I always feel like Jack and the Beanstalk. Definitely one of the highlights of my life, not just climbing career but life. You don’t get many of those.”
Lots of preparation went into the climb. He scouted the area months ago, long before the ice formed, and also worked with parks officials to receive the necessary permits.
“I’ve been lucky enough to climb all over the world. I got to climb ice on top of the roof of Africa, the highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro. But this climb was Niagara Falls. This is the coolest waterfall in the world,” Gadd said.
Gadd reached the top of the falls in about an hour.
Harry Fisher/Allentown Morning Call/TNS via Getty Images(MILFORD, Pa.) -- Eric Frein, the man accused of killing a Pennsylvania state trooper and wounding a second before prompting a large-scale manhunt in September 2014, pleaded not guilty to charges including first-degree murder, homicide of a law enforcement and possession of a weapon of mass destruction.
ABC's Scranton affiliate WNEP-TV reports that Frein pleaded not guilty in Pike County Court on Thursday. The 31-year-old survivalist was captured in October after a seven-week hunt. U.S. Marshals took him into custody at an abandoned airplane hangar.
WNEP says that Frein's defense lawyers are considering a motion to change the venue of the trial.
Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Prosecutors Thursday unveiled video from Aaron Hernandez's own home surveillance system during opening arguments at his murder trial to help support their claim that the former New England Patriots tight end killed semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.
The video, previously disclosed in court documents but only shown as a series of still images, showed Hernandez, now 25, and two associates returning to his North Attleboro, Massachusetts, house in the early morning hours of June 17, 2013 without Lloyd, prosecutors said. Other evidence showed Lloyd had been with them earlier, prosecutors alleged.
During the video, Hernandez is shown carrying what appears to be a gun.
“That, ladies and gentlemen, is a Glock,” Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bomberg told jurors.
Hernandez had tampered with the cameras but investigators were able to retrieve photographs, prosecutors previously claimed. Those images, they said, were recovered from 14 surveillance cameras in Hernandez's $1.2 million home.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murdering Lloyd. His attorney, Michael Fee, insisted during opening arguments Thursday that his client lacked intent to murder and said the prosecutors are only trying to “dazzle and distract.”
Viktor AA!p/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Firefighters from the Fire Department of New York rescued a boy who was trapped on an ice floe in the Bronx River on Thursday.
According to ABC's New York affiliate WABC-TV, the rescue occurred at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday near the intersection of Bronx River Avenue and Westchester Avenue. The boy could be seen standing near the shore while rescuers lowered a ladder to the boy, who climbed to safety.
WABC reports that there was initially a second child who fell into the water but managed to get to safety before firefighters arrived.
FDNY Firefighters from Ladder 54 rescued a boy trapped on ice in the Bronx River today. (photos by FDNY) pic.twitter.com/PN21WHRjTi
ArtPhaneuf/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(HANOVER, N.H.) -- Dartmouth College President Phil Hanlon announced a plan to address "high-risk behavior on campus" and "create a safe and inclusive environment" on Thursday, most notably looking to "lead nationally" by seeking to ban hard liquor from campus.
"To be clear, no single action contains the consummate solution," Hanlon said in a statement. "If it did, these problems would have vanished from our campus and society years and years ago." Still, Hanlon insisted, hard alcohol will no longer be served at events open to the public and any underage students found in possession of hard alcohol will be more severely punished. No further efforts the school will undertake to eliminate hard alcohol from campus were specifically announced.
Other initiatives Hanlon announced on Thursday include a four-year mandatory sexual violence prevention and education program for students, comprehensive sexual assault training for faculty and staff, increased presence of faculty in the lives of students, and a comprehensive student code of conduct. The college will also reinforce rules for student groups -- including Greek organizations -- and hold those groups to "higher standards than ever before."
FBI(WASHINGTON) -- He grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and for a time made his living driving a taxi in the area.
But on Thursday, Liban Haji Mohamed was added to the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list, and a $50,000 reward was offered for information leading to his capture and conviction.
The FBI says Mohamed, a naturalized citizen born in Somalia, used his U.S. passport to travel to East Africa in July 2012 to fight with the terror groups al-Shabaab and al Qaeda. He’s been charged with providing material support and resources to a terrorist organization. The FBI says it believes Mohamed is still in East Africa.
“We know he’s received training with weapons,” Lindsay Ram of the FBI’s Washington Field Office told ABC News. “We don’t want him using his passport to come back into the United States. He knows the language, the [Washington] area, the culture and even the transportation of the region, so we are concerned that he may try to come back to utilize those skills.”
Agent Ram also pointed out that Mohamed was a close associate of Zachary Chesser, another young man from the Washington suburbs who turned to terror. Chesser allegedly played a key role in al Qaeda’s propaganda efforts before his arrest, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2011 for providing aid to terrorists.
The FBI says it suspects that, like Chesser, Mohamad was also using his English language skills and knowledge of U.S. culture to help al Qaeda’s recruitment and propaganda efforts. In an effort to push back in the propaganda wars, the FBI has set up a Facebook page in the Somali language, and is circulating wanted posters of Mohamed in Somali as well.
With the addition of Mohamed, there are now 31 individuals on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list. Suspects on the list have been charged in the U.S. for their alleged involvement in various terrorist attacks or planned attacks around the world against U.S. interests. And Mohamed is not just wanted by the FBI; last August, Interpol issued a red notice to seek Mohamed as a wanted fugitive.
File photo. Photo by Barry Williams/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- A Delta Air Lines flight heading from Minneapolis to Las Vegas was forced to make an emergency landing today after the pilot was locked out of the cockpit, airport officials said.
The call about Flight 1651 came in around 12:10 p.m. and the plane landed safely at McCarran International Airport around 12:25 p.m., officials told ABC affiliate KTNV.
The cockpit door malfunctioned, locking the pilot out of the cockpit, airport officials told KTNV, noting that the first officer made the landing.
"About half way through [the 2.5-hour flight] there seemed to be some talking at the front of the plane. You could see the captain out there," passenger Jesse Dougherty told ABC News. "There wasn't a huge panic but some confusion."
The captain explained to the passengers that the door was jammed and he couldn't get back in, Dougherty said, adding: "It was very, very bizarre."
When the first officer made the landing "perfectly," the passengers broke out into spontaneous applause, Dougherty said.
Because the first officer was accustomed to the controls on the right seat of the cockpit, he remained there, the crew explained to passengers. That meant the only issue was a lack of taxiing controls once on the ground, necessitating a tow from the runway to the gate, Dougherty said.
No one was injured and there were 168 people on board the plane, officials said.
The aircraft was an MD-90, airport spokeswoman Christine Crews told ABC News.
"There was a door malfunctioned that locked the captain out so the first officer had to do an unassisted landing," Crews said. "We take everything very seriously. This was an unusual landing. He called the airport so that we would have ground response available."
Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(FALL RIVER, Mass.) -- The murder of Odin Lloyd began with a text message, prosecutors said Thursday at former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez's murder trial in Bristol County, Massachusetts, as they laid out their timeline of the killing.
Hernandez “texted Odin Lloyd,” with whom other messages suggested he was upset, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bombger told jurors in his opening statement. “He told Odin Lloyd he was going to come out to his house that night.”
Hernandez was driving when he, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace picked up Lloyd from his home at 2:30 a.m. on June 17, 2013, and brought him to an industrial park not far from Gillette Stadium, where Hernandez was a standout Patriots tight end with a $40 million contract, Bomberg said.
“Odin Lloyd was shot six times,” Bomberg told the jury.
Hernandez, Ortiz and Wallace “left evidence at the scene, they took evidence with them," Bomberg said. "In some cases, they were successful at destroying evidence.”
The weapon in the killing of Lloyd, 27, a semi-pro football player, has never been recovered.
Hernandez, who has pleaded not guilty to Lloyd's murder, sat at the defense table in a dark suit, white shirt and light colored tie.
Ortiz and Wallace also have pleaded not guilty in the case and will be tried separately.
Hernandez's defense attorney, Michael Fee, in his opening statement, declared his client "an innocent man" and called the prosecution's account of events "just a story and it’s not true.”
“Aaron Hernandez did not murder his friend Odin Lloyd,” Fee told the jury.
Fee insisted his client lacked intent to murder and said the prosecutors are only trying to “dazzle and distract.”
“You come with an open mind,” Fee said. “Give us a chance to show you the truth.”
Nevertheless, Bomberg asserted Hernandez “committed the crime of murder” and he said video surveillance, cellphone records and photographs “show the path.”
Ten minutes after Lloyd was shot, video surveillance showed Hernandez, Ortiz and Wallace return to Hernandez’s house, where Hernandez was seen at the entrance to his basement holding a gun.
“That, ladies and gentlemen, is a Glock,” Bomberg said.
Lloyd's relatives sat in court as the prosecutor explained where he was shot and the shell casings that were found. A tear was seen rolling down the cheek of Lloyd's mother, and other relatives sobbed or comforted one another.
It was the defense that first tied Hernandez to the team now preparing for the Super Bowl.
In June 2013, “Aaron Hernandez was in his offseason with the New England Patriots and enjoying his lifestyle,” Fee said.
It was a lifestyle, Fee added, that was not unusual for an unmarried 23-year-old professional athlete. Hernandez liked to drink, Fee said, liked to smoke marijuana and liked to go to nightclub with his friends, one of whom was Lloyd.
File photo. (VStock/Thinkstock)(WEST MILFORD, N.J.) -- A small plane has landed on a highway in New Jersey, according to ABC News' affiliate WABC-TV.
The plane landed intact on Route 23 in West Milford on Thursday, WABC reported.
Andrew May told WABC he was driving his truck down the highway when he saw the Cessna fixed-wing aircraft. He said the pilot guided the plane onto the highway to avoid traffic and then pulled to the side of the road.
"It almost felt like the plane hit us," he said. "That's how close it was. Thank God it didn't."
He added, "He did a really good job landing the plane, so kudos to him."
LanceKing/iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- Sorority members at the University of Virginia have been ordered by their national chapters to avoid all fraternity events this weekend and stay in their homes during those functions, sparking outrage among many students at the school.
This new mandate comes right before a night famously known throughout the Greek community as Boys’ Bid Night -- a night where fraternities welcome new members and invite sorority sisters to their parties. Traditionally, Boys’ Bid Night is a night of heavy drinking and partying, for both fraternities and sororities, but now sorority sisters are being ordered to not leave their houses at all.
University president Teresa A. Sullivan released a statement Thursday regarding the mandate.
"The National Panhellenic Conference and its member national organizations arrived at this decision and issued relevant instructions to their chapters in Charlottesville pursuant to their own policies. The University was not involved in this decision, and we consider this a matter between the national organizations and their local chapters here in Charlottesville," she said in the statement.
Earlier this month, the University of Virginia lifted a suspension on Greek life after fraternities and sororities agreed to new regulations aimed at making parties safer for students. These rules were announced as part of the process of restarting Greek activities on the scenic Charlottesville campus that was rocked last semester by a now-discredited Rolling Stone magazine article that described a culture of drinking and sexual abuse at UVA.
Many students are not taking the most recent regulation lightly.
Nicolette Gendron, a fourth-year student in Kappa Alpha Theta at UVA, said she is angered by the situation.
“It takes away choice, and a women’s choice over her own safety and over her own body and I think it codifies women as sex objects. Just completely take the women out of the equation for their own good,” Gendron told ABC News. “How come men still get to have their parties and we have to be locked in our sorority houses? It just doesn’t make sense.”
Lindsey Bond, a former member of a sorority at UVA and a fourth-year student, also finds the mandate upsetting, believing that it is hurting women rather than helping them.
"I think it's an ill-placed attempt to promote something positive. I think that it comes from a place of wanting to help but ultimately it kind of does the opposite because it stigmatizes women and sort of places them once again in a position where they don't have authority," Bond said. "What would have been more apt would have been really to sort of foster a conversation with sororities."
Student Council representative Abraham Axler, chair of the Representative Body, co-sponsored a resolution asking for the sorority national presidents to come to campus Friday and have a conversation about this issue.
“It is a fundamental mischaracterization that cancelling Boys Bid Night makes women safer,” Axler said.
"Where [this mandate] crossed the line is that there was no communication, there was no collaboration with Greek women of the University of Virginia,” he said.
“This is not just a bunch of women who are just upset since they can’t go out on Saturday night. I think what people are really upset about is this absolute affront to our self-governance,” Axler noted.
Fraternity members are also furious, since the situation comes after they had to undergo major changes under the new Fraternal Organization Agreement.
“Under the new fraternity rules we are required to have an invite list and invite people out to parties by 11:59 p.m. the Tuesday before an event, which we have done already, and we are getting a lot of women saying they aren’t going to come because of this ban,” said a third-year student in a fraternity, who asked not to be identified because his organization instructed members not to speak with the media. "I don’t understand how the ISC thinks they can lock people up until two in the morning."
The university's policy now requires beer to be served in cans, fraternities to register their functions with the Inter Fraternity Council by 11:59 p.m. on the Tuesday before an event and "sober monitors" on hand wearing a designated identifier for all official chapter gatherings.
The University of Virginia says it was not involved in conversations with the sororities regarding this ban.
“This is a matter between the national organizations and their local chapters here in Charlottesville," University Spokesperson Anthony de Bruyn told ABC News in a statement.
“With regard to activities scheduled for this weekend, we have confidence in our students’ ability to use good judgment, be mindful of one another’s safety, and adhere to the new safety practices developed by them and outlined in the recently revised Fraternal Organization Agreements,” de Bruyn added.
The National Panhellenic Conference said it has nothing to do with the new mandate, saying the decision to enforce it falls on each sorority’s national president. However, it remains unclear how it will be enforced by each sorority.
"Sorority organizations with chapters present on UVA campus, that are also NPC member organizations, collectively made the decision to not participate in men's bid night events. This directive from the sorority organizations and their inter/national presidents is intended to help uphold a NPC Unanimous Agreement of women not participating in men's recruitment and address safety and risk management concerns associated with this tradition," the National Panhellenic Council said in a statement to ABC News.
NFL Media(GLENDALE, Ariz.) — The Super Bowl is supposed to be about fun and games, but law enforcement is planning for every possible security scenario.
High-tech scanners are being used to search every item entering the University of Phoenix Stadium -- from fixtures and food to the costume worn by halftime performer Katy Perry, customs and border protection program manager Ronald Nunn said.
"Katy Perry's stage came in last night," Nunn said. "We've got port-a-potties. We've got everything -- food, hot dogs, hamburgers, the NFL paraphernalia, jerseys, everything."
Officers will be wearing portable radiation detectors, and bomb-sniffing dogs will also be employed.
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, in an exclusive interview inside the stadium, told ABC News that security experts are on high alert, with a focus on smaller-scale and lone wolf-style attacks.
“Our challenges in Homeland Security are evolving. We have more concerns about domestic-based acts of violence, inspired by things people may see or read on the Internet,” Johnson said.
While Johnson said there are no credible threats against this weekend’s game, he said authorities are prepared to respond by any means necessary. That security involves a U.S. Customs Black Hawk helicopter, part of a fleet of aircraft guarding the Super Bowl from above. F-16 fighter jets will also be in the air.
Roughly 30 miles of airspace over the big game is restricted.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- As millions are still digging out from a record-breaking blizzard that slammed New England this week, a clipper system is moving through the Ohio Valley and Northeast on Thursday and Friday.
Overnight, the clipper dumped snow and ice in Michigan, prompting many schools to close on Thursday. It will next cut through Ohio, Pennsylvania and western New York as it heads towards the Northeast.
The roads for the Friday morning commute could be a bit messy and slick from New York City to Boston, where up to 1 inch and 2-4 inches of snow could fall, respectively.
Higher amounts are expected up north, especially in parts of northern Vermont and Maine. Portland, Maine is forecast to get between 3 and 6 inches of snow.
A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for Maine, where up to a foot of snow could fall in some areas.
US Coast Guard(NEW YORK) -- With a parachute over his head, a life-vest around his neck and his plane hurtling towards the Pacific Ocean, pilot Lue Morton paused not to pray but to take a selfie with his GoPro camera.
“It was kind of funny,” Morton told ABC News. “Right before that, the gentleman in the Coast Guard told me, 'I do not envy you at all.'"
Morton, 25, was seven hours into a solo flight from California to Hawaii Sunday when his single-engine Cirrus SR-22 suffered what Morton believes was a malfunction in the fuel system.
After calling for help on his satellite phone, Morton picked up the phone again to call his dad, Pat Morton.
“It kind of takes on a new meaning when your typical end of your phone call conversation is the typical 'I love you,' and then, well, 'Hopefully, I’ll be able to tell you that again,'” Lue Morton said.
“The hardest part of that flight was making that phone call,” he said. “At that point I told them, ‘I’m probably going to be ditching in the water.’”
Morton did ditch his plane into the water at the advice of the U.S. Coast Guard, which realized Morton would not make it to land or within range of a rescue helicopter.
Coast Guard officials diverted Morton south of his position to the location of a nearby Holland America cruise ship in the middle of an 18-day round-trip cruise to Lahaina, Hawaii, from San Diego, that had agreed to help.
As Morton, a pilot since the age of 17, circled the ship with the fuel in his plane dwindling, he prepared to pull the “airframe parachute system," a standard feature on the Cirrus planes Morton flies as a pilot at The Flight Academy.
“I felt like a 5-year-old standing on a high dive looking down,” Morton said. “I was like 'OK, alright, here we go.'”
The parachute deployed with a controlled explosion, something that Morton said caught him off guard despite his preparation.
“You tell yourself what’s going to happen and you talk yourself through it...but you’re still not quite ready for what’s going to happen,” he said.
Morton grabbed his life raft in the ocean and said he then wondered if he would be able to make it out.
“There’s a lot of things that could have gone wrong,” Morton said, "[such as] if I get my pant leg or shirt sleeve caught on something as I’m getting out, or I get a huge swell or something that cascades over the aircraft or rolls the aircraft.”
None of those things did go wrong for Morton. He watched from his tiny life raft as his new plane sank into the ocean.
Morton was then picked up by a boat sent from the Holland America cruise ship.
“I’m really grateful that they were able to take care of me while I was there,” Morton said. “First time on a cruise boat," he joked. "Hopefully, the last I’m going to drop in on.”