Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- More than a dozen air traffic controllers were disciplined for improper use of electronic devices while at work over a three-year period, according to documents obtained by ABC News.
According to the documents that date back to October 2012 and obtained by ABC News owned station WABC-TV in New York through a Freedom of Information request, air traffic controllers were called out for, among other things, texting, taking a selfie, showing explicit material to others, and using Snapchat on the job. Others were cited for simply having their cell phones in the “on” position.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued suspensions or letters of reprimand in almost every case, the documents say. It appears that no one was fired.
The names of disciplined employees and the locations of reported incidents were redacted in the information provided by the FAA.
The FAA released a statement about prohibited use of cellphones in the air traffic control cab:
“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that cell phones be turned off inside our air traffic control operational areas. The current National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) contract requires cell phones to be set in the “off” position when in the operations area," the agency said in a statement. "FAA employees who violate these rules are subject to disciplinary action.”
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) told ABC News that it "takes the issue of cell phone usage and workplace distractions very seriously."
"Controllers cannot and should not be using their phones while on the job,” the statement said.
Blacksburg Police Department(BLACKSBURG, Va.) -- The Virginia Tech student charged with kidnapping and murdering a 13-year-old girl is suspected of having a relationship with the victim that a source familiar with the probe characterizes as "inappropriate."
The source would not elaborate on the relationship to ABC News.
Police have given very little information about the nature of the relationship between the 18-year-old college student, David Eisenhauer, and the victim, Nicole Lovell, who was found dead after being reported missing from her room on Jan. 27.
Eisenhauer was arrested and charged with murder four days later. His attorney has not commented on the case.
"Based on the evidence collected to date, investigators have determined that Eisenhauer and Nicole were acquainted prior to her disappearance," the Blacksburg Police Department said in a statement released following his arrest. "Eisenhauer used this relationship to his advantage to abduct the 13-year-old and then kill her."
Eisenhauer's friend, Natalie Keepers, was also arrested in connection with the case. Prosecutors said Eisenhauer allegedly told investigators that he had been with Nicole on the night she disappeared.
Eisenhauer allegedly told investigators that he had seen Nicole climb out of her window on the night of her disappearance. But he left after giving her a "side hug," going back to the dorm of a close friend, later determined to be Keepers, Commonwealth prosecutor Mary Pettitt said in court on Thursday.
Investigators believe social media played a role in how Eisenhauer and Nicole communicated, and the app, Kik, released a statement saying that it was cooperating with the FBI in its investigation of the case.
Eisenhauer has been charged with kidnapping and first degree murder. Keepers was charged with being an accessory both before and after the fact as well as improper disposal of a body. Preliminary hearings have been scheduled for late March, but neither have had a chance to enter a plea yet.
Lawyers for both suspects have not made public statements regarding the cases.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The cold front that brought severe weather and tornadoes in the South earlier this week stalled off the East Coast. A low pressure system formed on Thursday, bringing a quick hit of snow and wind from Philadelphia to Boston by Friday morning. The heaviest snow and lowest visibility happened during rush hour, which caused hundreds of accidents, spin-outs and an extremely dangerous commute.
The heaviest snow totals were found in Long Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts, where a foot of snow was recorded in some areas. New York City picked up 2.5 inches in Central Park and 4.6 inches at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
A clipper system from Canada will drop into the Midwest on Sunday and move across the Great Lakes through Monday. The clipper storm's energy, combined with an active jet stream, will form a low off the Mid-Atlantic coast. That low is expected to move Northeast up the coast on Monday night through Tuesday, but currently there is a lot of uncertainty with its track. The closer it is to the coast, the better chance for significant snow for Philadelphia, New York City and Boston Monday night through Tuesday night. This could also affect the primary election in New Hampshire on Feb. 9.
Behind the clipper system mentioned above is a major arctic blast that moves into the upper Midwest by Tuesday with wind chills well below zero. The frigid air reaches the East Coast by Thursday. Wind chills are expected to be below zero across the Great Lakes, and in the single digits and teens for the Northeast, even as far south at Atlanta on Thursday morning.
Sean Campbell(NEW YORK) -- New footage from the deadly crane collapse in downtown Manhattan Friday morning shows how bystanders desperately tried to rescue a person trapped in one of the cars that was struck.
The video appears to show a person climbing on the car's roof and smashing the windshield so the trapped driver could escape.
One person died as a result of the crash, and three others were injured, two of whom suffered serious lacerations to the head.
City officials have determined that the crane was being moved as a precaution because of 25 mile per hour winds.
Tarrant County Sheriff (DALLAS) -- The Texan teenager who has been returned to the United States after allegedly fleeing to Mexico with his mother has been moved to an adult jail, records show.
Ethan Couch, 18, who allegedly violated the conditions of his probation following a deadly drunk driving accident, was initially slated to be held in a juvenile facility until his next hearing on Feb. 19, in accordance with Texas laws.
The housing change was confirmed Friday via corrections department records which now list Couch as being held in custody at the Tarrant County Correction Center.
Couch and his mother Tonya Couch were apprehended in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Dec. 28, 2015 following an international manhunt after he allegedly failed to appear at a court-mandated meeting with a probation officer.
Ethan Couch was moved back to Mexico by the U.S. Marshals a month later, arriving back in Dallas on Jan. 28. In Texas, youth can remain in juvenile custody until they are 19.
The teen was put on probation in 2013 after killing four people while driving drunk at the age of 16.
During Ethan's sentencing in the drunken-driving trial, a psychologist hired by the defense testified that the teen was a product of "affluenza" -- a term he used to describe Ethan's irresponsible lifestyle associated with his affluent upbringing.
His lawyers have said they expect Couch will comply with court orders and "successfully complete his term of probation."
iStock/Thinkstock(PENSACOLA, Fla.) -- A two-week, multistate manhunt for an allegedly armed couple likened to a modern-day “Bonnie and Clyde” has ended with one suspect dead and the other in a hospital awaiting her arrest.
Law enforcement in at least four states had been trying to track Blake Fitzgerald and girlfriend Brittany Harper in connection to a string of what they say were armed robberies and hostage-taking incidents. The search ended early this morning when Fitzgerald died in a shootout with police in Pensacola, Florida.
Harper was taken to a hospital for her non-life threatening injuries and is expected to be criminally charged Friday, authorities said.
Police are still looking at the couple’s possible connections to other robbery investigations, but here is a list of crimes in which investigators believe they were involved.
Sunday, Jan. 31
The U.S. Marshals released information saying that Fitzgerald and Harper’s "string of crimes" started in force Sunday when they allegedly kidnapped a clerk at the Microtel Inn in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. They allegedly kidnapped the man and drove to Birmingham with him in his car.
The clerk, Kyle Dease, told Al.com that the couple told him they were headed to Florida where they wanted to get married and start a new life together.
Authorities say the couple eventually ditched both Dease and his car, and the U.S. Marshals believe that Fitzgerald then broke into a family’s home in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, allegedly threatened the unidentified wife with a gun, and then forced her to come with him as he stole their car. She was later released unharmed, the U.S. Marshals said in a statement.
Monday, Feb. 1
It's believed the couple moved on to Georgia where they allegedly continued the same tactic, with the U.S. Marshals saying the couple robbed a convenience store, kidnapping and eventually releasing the clerk.
Wednesday, Feb. 3
By mid-week, they are believed to have made it to Florida where investigators say they are connected to two robberies in Walnut Hills and Destin.
Thursday, Feb. 4
Police in Pensacola, Florida, received a call at 7:56 p.m. about a Famous Footwear store being robbed at gunpoint.
Witnesses told deputies that a white male and a white female walked into the store and started shopping before the man robbed a cashier at gunpoint, Escambia County, Sheriff David Morgan said at a news conference Friday.
At the time, the female who was with him "continued to shop for shoes and socks."
The suspects fled in a car but police "lost sight of the suspect vehicle," Morgan said.
"The traffic was still fairly heavy. That’s why we lost the suspects several times through the city," he said.
"They fell off the grid for a couple of hours," Morgan said, but the suspects’ vehicle was spotted again by police at 10:16 p.m., which led to a chase.
The suspects "exited the vehicle and fled the scene on foot," Morgan said, prompting a search of residences.
Friday, Feb. 5
Police received a call from residents saying "they had been held hostage by the suspects," who allegedly fled in the residents’ red truck.
About 12:35 a.m.
Police located the truck about 10 minutes later and the shootout started.
Fitzgerald was pronounced dead at the scene and Harper was transported to a hospital after being injured during the altercation.
Around 10:45 a.m.
Harper is at a Florida hospital and will face charges of home invasion and grand theft auto, among others, authorities said.
The extent of her injuries was unclear, but State Attorney Bill Eddins said Friday he believed they involved her ankle and leg.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced Friday that the amount of traffic deaths increased about 9.3 percent in the first nine months of 2015.
The number of highway casualties rose from 23,796 in the first nine months of 2014 to 26,000 in the first nine months of 2015, the NHTSA noted in a statement.
NHTSA said the rise in highway deaths comes after “years of steady, gradual declines” – deaths declined 22 percent from 2000 to 2014.
“We’re seeing red flags across the U.S. and we’re not waiting for the situation to develop further,” NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind said in Friday’s statement. “It’s time to drive behavioral changes in traffic safety and that means taking on new initiatives and addressing persistent issues like drunk driving and failure to wear seat belts.”
According to the NHTSA, 94 percent of all crashes are caused by humans.
The agency is holding a summit in Sacramento Friday to look at the dangerous behaviors that could lead to crashes and determine how to address them.
iStock/Thinkstock(PENSACOLA, Fla.) — The Missouri couple dubbed a real-life “Bonnie and Clyde” were tracked down to Florida Thursday before a car chase and shootout that left Blake Fitzgerald dead and Brittany Harper wounded, law enforcement officials said.
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan detailed at a news conference Friday how the couple was first spotted by police Thursday night after authorities tied them to an armed robbery at a Famous Footwear store in Pensacola. They were allegedly able to get away from the scene.
Police spotted the couple three hours later in the same car they allegedly used at the Famous Footwear, but they evaded authorities by fleeing the car on foot, Morgan said.
Two hours later, Morgan said, police received a call from a couple saying they had been held hostage by Fitzgerald and Harper for "a couple of hours" before the pair allegedly fled with the residents' red truck.
Police spotted the truck and a shootout ensued, leaving Fitzgerald dead at the scene and Harper injured, police say.
Harper is at a Florida hospital and will face charges of home invasion and grand theft auto, among others, Morgan said.
The extent of her injuries was unclear, but State Attorney Bill Eddins said Friday he believed they involved her ankle and leg.
Before Thursday’s shootout, Fitzgerald and Harper, both in their 30s, had faced charges after allegedly carrying out a bevy of armed robberies across the southeast over the past week. They allegedly robbed the Microtel Inn in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Sunday, briefly taking the hotel clerk hostage, police said.
From there, police say, they allegedly attempted to carjack the manager of a McDonald’s restaurant in Hoover, Alabama.
Investigators say the couple fled to a nearby residence, allegedly taking the homeowner hostage, stealing her SUV and dropping her off at a hospital.
The SUV was discovered in Perry, Georgia, Monday night, police said.
Also, security footage appears to show the armed couple holding up a Murphy Express station in Perry and forcing the cashier into the same SUV, before dropping her off at a nearby exit.
The couple had taken to Facebook to seemingly mock police in recent days, despite pleas from their friends to turn themselves in. Harper apparently posted on Facebook, "I wasn’t planning on going for a run today but those cops came out of nowhere."
One of Harper's friends apparently wrote on Facebook, "I don’t want u to die … But I am afraid u are headed in that direction."
Blacksburg Police Department(NEW YORK) -- Details about how two Virginia Tech students allegedly planned the murder of a teenage girl and disposed of her body were revealed in court Thursday when a judge denied a bail request by one of the accused who the prosecutor said had never met the victim before her death.
How Police Say They Tied Teen to Suspects
Police were able to tie slain Nicole Lovell, 13, to suspect David Eisenhauer after determining that a phone connected to him was the teen’s last contacted number at 12:39 a.m. Jan. 27, Mary Pettitt, the Virginia state attorney for Montgomery County, said in court Thursday.
After police issued a search warrant for Eisenhauer's dorm room on Jan. 30, he told police he had gone over to Nicole’s apartment after their phone call, and he saw her climb out of her window, Pettitt said. Eisenhauer told police he had given Nicole a "side hug" but then left and went to the dorm room of a close friend, Pettitt said. Authorities determined the friend was the second suspect, Natalie Keepers, whom police found in her boyfriend's dorm room Jan. 31.
When police arrived at that dorm room, Keepers allegedly sent Eisenhauer a text that read "POLICE," not knowing that Eisenhauer was already in police custody at the time.
Eisenhauer is charged with kidnapping and first degree murder. Keepers is charged with being an accessory to kidnap and murder both before and after the crimes and also faces a charge of improperly disposing of a body. Both Eisenhauer and Keepers had separate arraignments on Monday where they had preliminary hearings scheduled for late March. Neither has had to enter a plea yet.
Details of the Alleged Plan Emerge
Keepers, 19, apparently told police only part of the story when she was first questioned on Jan. 31. Pettitt said Keepers first told police that Eisenhauer told her that he had killed Nicole and had put her body in the trunk of his Lexus. Keepers told investigators that she had been with him when he went to Walmart to get cleaning supplies while Nicole's body was still in the trunk, Pettitt said.
Pettitt also said that Keepers told investigators where in her dorm room they could find the suitcase containing the cleaning supplies and the “Minions” blanket that police had said was with Nicole when she went missing. Keepers also told police where in rural North Carolina they could find Nicole's body, Pettitt said.
Pettitt said that after Keepers was read her rights, however, she became emotional and then admitted to helping plan the alleged murder. According to Pettitt, Keepers told investigators that she and Eisenhauer, 18, had planned it over a meal at a cookout restaurant in Blacksburg, Virginia, where Nicole lived and where they went to school. She said that she and Eisenhauer had bought a shovel together before Nicole's death, Pettitt said.
A Family Breaks Down in Court
Keepers and her parents testified at the bond hearing Thursday in Virginia. The judge denied the request because he did not believe Keepers, whose family lives in Maryland, has sufficient ties to keep her from fleeing Virginia.
Keepers said on the stand that she has anxiety issues and has been on Prozac since October but has been given half her normal dosage since being taken into police custody.
Keepers and her parents started crying during their respective testimonies Thursday.
"It's kind of like being punched in the stomach," her father, Tim Keepers, said of what it was like to receive the call about his daughter being allegedly involved in a murder plot.
Her father, an aerospace engineer, said he had already contacted an electronic monitoring company so she could be fitted with an ankle bracelet if she returned to their home in Maryland, but the judge still denied her release.
During the hearing, Keepers' parents said they believed she and Eisenhauer, who’s also from Maryland, became friends in the fall. He said he had heard Eisenhauer took his daughter to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy.
The focus of Thursday's hearing was on Keepers' alleged involvement, so little was revealed about how Eisenhauer initially got in touch with Nicole. But prosecutor Pettitt made it clear that Keepers had never met Nicole before the alleged abduction and killing.
"She planned to kill someone she had never met,” Pettitt said. “Someone she had never even spoken to.”
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Kristal Meyers says she still replays the night her mother Tammy Meyers was shot and killed in their driveway nearly a year ago.
"I just think about looking out the window mostly and seeing her fall," Kristal Meyers, 16, told ABC News' "20/20" in an exclusive interview. "I just wonder, like, why it all happened. Just why would somebody would want to kill somebody?"
Tammy Meyers, 44, died on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 2015, two days after she was shot in front of her Las Vegas home after taking Kristal, then 15, for her first driving lesson.
Erich Nowsch Jr., 19, who lived a block away from the Meyers family, was charged with conspiracy to commit murder, murder with use of a deadly weapon, attempted murder with a deadly weapon and discharge of a firearm from or within a structure or vehicle, in the death of Tammy Meyers. A second suspect, Derrick Andrews, 26, who prosecutors allege drove Nowsch to the cul-de-sac where Tammy Meyers lived, also faces the same charges.
Kristal Meyers said she and her mother went out for a driving lesson at night on Feb. 12, 2015, because she thought there would be less people on the road. "I wanted to go at night because there's no one around that you could possibly hit," Kristal Meyers said.
The lesson ended around 10:50 p.m. local time, according to police, and Tammy Meyers got behind the wheel to drive them home. On the way, Kristal Meyers said they were confronted by a driver in a silver car.
"I just noticed that he was like riding our bumper. He swerves around us, and I honk the horn," said Kristal Meyers. She now wonders what if she never reached over and honked the horn on her mother's 1993 Buick.
Later on, Kristal Meyers said the silver car suddenly side-swiped their car, and then the driver got out of the car and started yelling at them and threatening them.
"And he says, 'I'm going to kill you and your daughter,' and he's cussing and he's raving," Kristal Meyers said. "I just remember that he had light brown hair. He had no tattoos or piercings, and he was just yelling and screaming."
Tammy Meyers then pulled into their driveway, and Kristal got out of the car. Tammy asked Kristal's brother Brandon Meyers, then 22, to come with her to search for the silver car. Brandon Meyers told "20/20" he took his gun, a registered Beretta 9-millimeter pistol, to protect his mother and left with her in car.
While his mother was driving, Brandon Meyers said he asked her what happened. He says he hid his gun in between his legs and never waved it or threatened anyone. When they arrived at the scene where Tammy Meyers said she and her daughter were allegedly side-swiped, Brandon Meyers said they didn't see any cars and agreed to go home.
"I'm still on edge, you know," Brandon Meyers, 23, told "20/20." "No one's near us, completely. It's a ghost town."
But on their way home, Brandon Meyers said his mother suddenly said the she saw the silver sedan she believed hit her earlier sitting right in front of them.
"Basically, when she sees the car, [she said], 'Brandon, that's them. Those are the ones that threatened to kill me and your sister,'" Brandon Meyers said.
Brandon claims that car took off, and he and his mother pursued them. But suddenly the car stopped, and a person in the car, who police believe was Erich Nowsch, then began shooting at them, Brandon Meyers said.
"She goes, 'Brandon, what was that?' And I said, 'Mom, we're getting shot at.' So, at that point she's shaking," said Brandon Meyers.
Brandon said they sped away trying to get out of the line of fire and into their home. The car, which police said was driven by Derrick Andrews, minutes later, returned and followed them into the cul-de-sac where they lived.
"[I didn't think there was going to be a shootout] until they started shooting. And then it was just – I blacked out. Like, at that point when I saw them coming down, like, my heart just stopped. All this adrenaline built up, and that's where it all went down," Brandon Meyers said.
Police said Nowsch then opened fire on Brandon and Tammy Meyers. "There's no evidence to suggest that Brandon Meyers showed anything that would be enough of a threat to justify Mr. Nowsch's actions," Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson told "20/20."
When the shooting ended and the silver car drove away, Brandon Meyers saw his mother on the ground. She was struck by a bullet in her left temple. Inside the family home, Kristal Meyers said she heard the gunshots -- 22 rounds police say came from Nowsch's .45 caliber Ruger.
Kristal watched her mother fall from a window.
"I was checking her body to see where I could find the wound, and then, like right there, I saw the hole," Brandon Meyers said. "And I hate looking at this. Every day before I go to work, I just stare at the ground right there. And I know that she was right there."
Police arrested Nowsch on Feb. 19, 2015, during a two-hour standoff at his home -- just a block away from where the Meyers family lived. The alleged driver, Derek Andrews, was arrested a month later on March 20, 2015. Andrew's attorneys claim there is no evidence that placed him at the scene the night Tammy Meyers was killed.
Both Nowsch and Andrews are in custody and awaiting trial. Trial is scheduled to begin next month. But defense attorney Conrad Claus said he believes this is a case of double mistaken identity. He said Nowsch -- not Tammy Meyers -- may have been the target the night that she and her daughter were allegedly threatened and that an unknown shooter, thought she was Nowsch, and Nowsch confused Meyers with the unknown shooter and tried to defend himself.
"The facts seem to point to self-defense in this situation," Claus told ABC News in an exclusive interview. "It seems to explain the facts we have in front of us more sensibly than any other explanation."
"The evidence will show Mr. Nowsch, in an unprovoked way, for stupid reasons, chose to drive down in a neighborhood that he was familiar with, and he saw two people and opened fire," Wolfson told "20/20." This week Tammy Meyers' husband Bob Meyers and their four children moved out of the neighborhood because it is a constant reminder of what happened to her, the family said.
"I catch myself all the time calling her. I'll sit in my chair out in the living room, and I'll go, 'Hey, baby.' Nothing comes back no more," Bob Meyers told "20/20."
Bob Meyers said he is waiting to lay his wife's ashes to rest until after Nowsch's trial starts next month. "Because everything that was said about my wife, when I put my wife in the ground, I want all the truth out. And I think the only way we're going to get that out is from a trial, 'cause I know there's a whole bunch more evidence about that night," said Bob Meyers.
Brandon Meyers said he gave away the gun he took with him that fateful night.
"The cops have it," Brandon Meyers said. "I told them I don't want it back. They can keep it."
Kristal Meyers, who is the youngest Meyers child, started home schooling after she said bullying took a toll on her and she is still dealing with feelings of guilt.
"I ask myself, 'What if we didn't go?' or 'What if I didn't want to go?' or 'What if I never honked horn?'" Kristal Meyers said. "It probably would have been different."