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WPVI-TV(FRACKVILLE, Pa.) -- A convicted murderer was declared innocent and set free this week after spending more than two decades in a Pennsylvania prison.

Shaurn Thomas, 43, was released from the State Correctional Institution in Frackville, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday afternoon after being jailed for 24 years for a murder he did not commit, his attorneys said.

Thomas was sentenced to life in prison for the slaying of Domingo Martinez, a Philadelphia businessman who was shot in 1990 while trying to cash a $25,000 check, according to news reports covering the killing. Thomas had maintained that he was at a correctional center for youth offenders in connection with an unrelated case on the day of the murder, but that did not sway the jury.

The law firm Dechert LLP, which represented Thomas on a pro bono basis, said in a statement that sign-in logs at the center had "vanished by the time of the trial."

In an interview after his release, Thomas told ABC's Philadelphia affiliate WPVI-TV that his imprisonment taught him how to keep fighting.

"I feel wonderful, a free man. I can't feel no better," Thomas said. "Hey man, just got to believe in God, and had the right legal team, and keep fighting."

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said it agreed to vacate the conviction.

"We will continue to review this case and make a decision regarding retrial in the very near future," the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office said in a statement Tuesday.

Dechert attorney James Figorski, a former police officer with the Philadelphia Police Department, said he decided to take on Thomas' case in 2011 after reviewing several cases as a volunteer with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization.

The organization has helped to free or win new trials for nine people since its founding in 2009, according to Dechert.

"Shaurn engaged in a decades’ long struggle to prove his innocence," Figorski said in a statement. "I joined him in that struggle, and many times it seemed that we would never succeed and he would remain in prison for the rest of his life."

Figorski said it was "gratifying" to know that he was able to help Thomas obtain freedom.

As for Thomas, he said he is simply trying to remain positive and move on with his life.

"I don't got no animosity towards nobody. What for? Life's too short for that," Thomas told WPVI. "I just move on forward. It's a tragedy that happened to me, but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one."

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moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Following Monday's bombing that killed 22 and injured 59 at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, there are currently no plans to make significant security changes in the United States, according to a Department of Homeland Security official.

The DHS official said that the federal security posture in the U.S. is already at high levels and that there is not much more to be done in the aftermath of the attack, allegedly carried out by 22-year-old Salman Abedi with an improvised explosive device outside the concert at the Manchester Arena.

The official did insist that federal authorities will continually assess whether any new measures are warranted.

ABC News has additionally learned that state and local fusion centers across the country -- which include representatives from local, state and federal agencies -- are working to identify potentially vulnerable "open venues" and upcoming events in their regions, so that they can help local police put together their latest security plans for those events and venues.

The FBI is also holding a call later this afternoon with law enforcement across the country to lay out what they know so far about the Manchester attack and urge vigilance. The call will be hosted by FBI headquarters, and it will include the heads of FBI field offices across the country, as well as leaders from state and local law enforcement agencies across the country.

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WABC-TV(NEWARK, N.J.) -- Newark Liberty International Airport was temporarily closed on Tuesday night after a plane engine caught fire.

Emergency chutes were deployed from United 1579 and passengers evacuated after "flames were reported coming from the right side of the engine," according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Boeing 757 was headed to San Francisco from Newark, New Jersey, when the control tower notified the United Airlines crew of the apparent flames while the plane was taxiing, United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said in a statement.

"Customers are being transported back to the terminal," the statement said. "We are working to get our customers to San Francisco as soon as possible.”

There were five minor injuries, according to Newark Airport.

The airport said it was closed for the safety of passengers and to expect delays. It was reopened a few hours later.

 

Emergency response teams at #EWR; plane with reported engine fire. No reported injuries. Airport closed for passenger safety.Expect delays.

— Newark Airport (@EWRairport) May 24, 2017

#EWR has reopened after earlier incident of plane with apparent engine fire. Reports of 5 minor injuries. Expect delays remainder of night.

— Newark Airport (@EWRairport) May 24, 2017

 

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The budget released by the White House Tuesday contains proposed changes for the program that provides access to food for Americans who otherwise might not be able to afford it.

And anti-hunger advocates aren't pleased. Lucy Melcher, associate director for advocacy with the anti-hunger group No Kid Hungry, argues that the proposed cuts are “devastating” to a program that research shows lifts people out of poverty.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps or SNAP, is the “hunger safety net” for Americans in poverty or out of work. Americans who make up to 130 percent of the poverty level, which is a monthly income of $2,600 for a family of four, are eligible for food stamps.

More than 44 million Americans participated in the food stamp program in 2016, according to the USDA. The number of people using the program increased during the economic recession and have fluctuated since 2010.

The decreased proposal in Trump’s budget is based on their estimate that fewer people will be on food stamps next year, but it also includes reforms that estimate it would reduce funding for SNAP by $190 million over the next ten years.

That much bigger cut is proposed under legislation that the administration plans to bring to Congress. The changes would tighten requirements for waivers that allow people who are considered capable of working but can’t find a job to stay on the program.

More than 75 percent of households who participate in SNAP have worked a job in the year before or after the receive benefits, according to the USDA. They are limited to three months of benefits unless they get a waiver from the state, such as if they live in an area where there are not enough jobs available. The administration was not clear on how it's proposal would restrict these waivers but it could mean that people who are capable of working but can't find a job have a harder time qualifying for benefits.

Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney said the cuts were an effort to get more people back to work, saying that people that needed food stamps during the recession are still on the program.

“If you’re paying for it isn’t it reasonable for you to at least ask that question aren’t there people on that program who shouldn’t be on there?” Mulvaney asked during a briefing with reporters on Tuesday.

But No Kid Hungry's Melcher said the budget doesn’t invest in programs to help people find work or help people

“You are instead pulling the rug out from people and leaving them with no safety net to provide for their most basic needs,” Melcher said.

BREAKING: @WhiteHouse budget CUTS critical programs that feed hungry kids. This is not right. Lrn more: https://t.co/FDywe0Mgdb #NoKidHungry pic.twitter.com/CJoGRiLUKt

— No Kid Hungry (@nokidhungry) May 23, 2017

The White House also proposed cuts to the Meals on Wheels program operated through the Department of Health and Human Services in its earlier budget proposal, which led to backlash and a surge in donations to the program.

That legislative proposal also proposes that states cover up to 25 percent of the cost of SNAP programs over the next 10 years, which would ultimately cut about $190 million from the program.

Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Young said he did not know if USDA had reached out to states for input on whether they could take on more of the cost of providing food stamps.

Some states that supported Trump in the election had the highest percentages of their populations receiving SNAP benefits in the 2016 fiscal year, according to data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, including Louisiana, West Virginia and Mississippi.

Of the 26 states, plus Washington, D.C., whose populations receive SNAP benefits at a rate higher than the national average, 18 chose Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue said just last week that he did not think the administration planned any changes to the SNAP program.

“As far as I’m concerned we have no proposed changes, you don’t try to fix things that aren’t broken and when the motto is 'do right and feed everyone,' I view that as very, very inclusive,” Perdue said in a hearing with the House Agriculture Committee last week.

Michael Young said much of the budget was put together before Perdue was confirmed on on April 24.

Members of Congress have emphasized that the president’s budget is just a starting off point and rarely passes as is. Melcher said No Kid hungry will be working with members of Congress to restore funding for food stamps.

“We plan to work closely with congress to make sure cuts of this level never see the light of day,” she said.

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Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. government filed suit Tuesday against Fiat Chrysler, alleging the automaker equipped more than 100,000 vehicles with so-called defeat devices that circumvent federal emission standards.

The software -- installed on diesel-fueled Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 in model years 2013 to 2016 -- allegedly caused the vehicles' emission system to "perform differently and less effectively during certain normal driving conditions than on federal emissions tests," resulting in nitrogen oxide emissions above allowable levels during day-to-day driving, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

Fiat Chrysler maintains that its software was designed to detect not testing conditions specifically but temperature and factors that could damage the engines if emission controls were activated.

The automaker "intends to defend itself vigorously, particularly against any claims that the company engaged in any deliberate scheme to install defeat devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests," it said in a statement, adding that its officials have been working with the EPA to "clarify issues related to the company's emissions control technology."

The allegations against Fiat Chrysler come on the heels of a huge settlement with Volkswagen, which in March plead guilty to intentionally thwarting EPA standards with different defeat devices installed in more than half a million cars in the United States. Volkswagen agreed to pay $4.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties.

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iStock/Thinkstock(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) -- Bowie State University honored senior student Richard Collins III during its commencement ceremony on Tuesday, just days after he was stabbed to death at the University of Maryland, College Park.

During Tuesday's ceremony, Bowie State President Mickey Burnim honored Collins with a posthumous bachelor's degree that was accepted by family and fellow cadets on his behalf.

Collins, 23, was stabbed in the chest Saturday, allegedly by 22-year-old University of Maryland student Sean Urbanski, according to police. He was set to graduate Tuesday and was recently commissioned in the Army as a second lieutenant, officials said.

Urbanski has been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree assault. He is being held without bond and is due in court next month.

Police called the attack random and "totally unprovoked."

The University of Maryland's police department said it has asked the FBI to assist in the investigation after it discovered that Urbanski, who is white, belonged to a Facebook group named "Alt-Reich." Collins was black.

Bowie State, a historically black college located in Maryland, held a candlelight vigil in honor of Collins on Monday at 7 p.m. local time.

The school honored Collins with a cap and gown draped over a chair at Tuesday's ceremony and with a moment of silence.

"It is a tragic loss to see our national treasure, in the form of Lt. Collins, taken away from us in this manner," FBI spokesman Gordon Johnson said at a press conference Sunday.

People who knew Collins described him as a "good young man" who was excited about his future.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The deadly blast outside the security barriers of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, marks the latest instance where a terror attack unfolded at a location that symbolized Western culture and also provided a so-called soft target.

Experts tell ABC News that soft targets offer terrorists both practical and symbolic value.

John Cohen, a former counter-terrorism coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security, listed concert venues, transportation hubs, hotels, shopping malls and sports venues as examples of soft targets.

"They are places that are difficult to harden because that would undermine the very reason they exist," said Cohen, who is now an ABC News consultant.

Manchester has now canceled concerts scheduled for later this week as musicians around the world expressed their horror and condolences.

Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law, said that an attack at a concert carries deep cultural connotations.

"The symbolism of attacking Westerners who are enjoying themselves is what makes it an attractive target,” said Greenberg, who is also the author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State. "Terrorism is making civilians feel unsafe in their space.”

Evolving protection techniques


Security precautions have been ramped up throughout much of the U.S. and Europe in recent years in light of other attacks, though Greenberg said that in focusing on more obvious, high-profile targets, law enforcement may have merely diverted the possibility of attack into other areas.

"We’ve made it so secure in places that are known targets that they’ve pushed attacks into more marginalized places,” Greenberg said. “That’s an interesting part of what’s happened. Law enforcement has to secure not just the central places, but recognize what that means in terms of where it pushes an attack.”

Cohen noted that the evolving nature of how terror groups operate have placed soft targets in the sights of would-be terrorists who have not undergone military training.

“The tactics of groups like AQAP [Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] and ISIS have changed, where they have sought to inspire [followers] primarily through the internet and social media," Cohen said. "Attacking a soft target doesn’t require a high degree of planning and support. You can essentially get your weapon, go to a public place and kill or injure as many people as you can.”

Cohen said that law enforcement officials are adapting by expanding the process by which they identify threatening individuals before an attack and determining "whether someone who comes to the attention of law enforcement poses a threat of carrying out one of these attacks."

"At the end of the day it is extraordinarily difficult to secure every soft target within a jurisdiction, so our success in reducing these types of attacks will only come when we're better able to identify those within our communities who are potential attackers and prevent them from committing an act of violence," Cohen said.

Preparing the public moving forward

The prospect of eliminating the public's proximity to soft targets isn't necessarily possible, and Cohen notes how politicians and local officials regularly encourage people to continue to live their daily lives normally after such an attack.

That kind of encouragement is a way of combatting the second impact of a terror attack, which is the fear that terrorism instills in people in an effort to change their ways.

Greenberg said that attacks on soft targets have "succeeded in a lot of ways" in that they replace the public's sense of safety with one of fear.

"Since 9/11 in this country, since 7/7 in Britain, there’s a heightened sense of fear about going about daily life," she said, referencing attacks in 2001 and 2005, respectively. "If one of the things they are attacking is peace of mind in our daily life, they can succeed in doing that. That’s the goal."

Cohen said that people should "be aware but not afraid" of going to soft target areas, noting that they should be observant and alert law enforcement if they spot anything suspicious, as well as plan accordingly when going to large events, like concerts, because there may be increased security.

Greenberg urges people to adapt and evolve with the changing times.

"Terrorism is a problem that we have to manage, not a problem we can completely eradicate in foreseeable future, so every attack teaches us more ways to be vigilant," Greenberg said. “I don’t think you have to tradeoff liberty for security. Good security allows people to live their lives.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) -- A white University of Maryland student accused of fatally stabbing a black man on campus was held without bond after he made his first appearance in court Monday via closed-circuit TV.

The FBI is investigating the fatal assault of Richard Collins III, a student at Bowie State University, as a possible hate crime.

The suspect, Sean Christopher Urbanski, has been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree assault.

Before the early Saturday morning attack on the University of Maryland campus, officials said Urbanski allegedly said to Collins, “Step left, step left, if you know what’s good for you.” The victim looked “puzzled” and “said no," officials said. Urbanski then allegedly stabbed the victim in the chest, officials said.

Officials said Urbanski was a member of a Facebook group named "Alt-Reich." The Associated Press said that in the group "members post disparaging material about African-Americans and others."

Urbanski wore an orange jumpsuit Monday when he appeared via closed-circuit video from the Prince George's County Correctional Facility. Urbanski's attorney, William Brennan, said his client was intoxicated and incoherent and said he has no criminal record. Both of Urbanski's parents were in court.

Brennan asked for a combination bond of money and an ankle GPS monitor. Brennan asked to restrict travel to Urbanski's parents' home and said his client would undergo alcohol and substance abuse treatment as well as a mental health evaluation.

The judge said she will allow Urbanski's lawyers to research and evaluate the option of GPS monitoring, and in the meantime, he will be held without bond.

His preliminary hearing was scheduled for June 15.

Collins, who was recently commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army, was set to graduate this Tuesday from Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland, about 11 miles from the University of Maryland in College Park.

A candlelight vigil will be held at Bowie State University tonight for Collins and a moment of silence will be held during Tuesday's graduation ceremony.

“Richie wouldn’t hurt a fly," said Reverend Darryl Godlock of Calvert County Baptist Church, who is serving as a spokesperson for the Collins family. He called this a "random act of violence that has taken a young man as he’s about to start his career.”

Collins' younger sister attends the University of Maryland, according to Godlock.

Bowie State University President Mickey Burnim said in a statement, "Our first thoughts of condolence go to the family for this tremendous loss of a son, who had the promise of a bright future. Our prayers of concern also extend to those within the Bowie State University community as we try to cope with this tragic loss of life.

"As we struggle to deal with our emotions, let’s find appropriate ways to express our sorrow and hope for justice," Burnim added. "Let’s remember our words and actions have the power to heal and the power to hurt. Let's strive to use our actions to bring comfort and peace."

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh Statement said in a statement, "The horrific assault that took the life of a young man on our campus on Saturday morning has shocked, saddened, and angered our community and beyond.

"As we search for answers to this senseless crime, please continue to keep the family and friends of Lt. Collins, and the BSU community, in your thoughts and prayers," Loh continued.

Loh added, "The safety of our campus community remains a top priority. UMPD has increased substantially its visible patrols, on and off campus. The Prince George's County Police has also increased its patrols in the College Park community. UMPD is monitoring 24/7 the hundreds of video security cameras throughout the campus. The Department of Transportation Services has initiated NITE Ride, a curb-to-curb bus service that runs from dusk to 6 a.m."

"However, increased police security is not sufficient," Loh added. "We must all do more to nurture a climate -- on campus and beyond -- where we stand against hate, we fight against hate crimes, and we reaffirm the values that define us a university and as a democracy."

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- More than half a million foreigners stayed in the United States after their visas expired during the last fiscal year, according to a new report released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Monday.

Of the more than 50 million foreigners that entered the U.S., 1.47 percent -- or 739,478 people -- stayed in the country past the length of their visa. That includes those who stay one day over their allowable time, as well as people who have no intention of ever leaving the U.S.

This report shows that “we have a problem with visa overstays in the United States,” said a senior DHS official Monday, pointing out that the number of people who stayed in the U.S. illegally is close to the population of Seattle.

“The integrity of our immigration system is at stake,” the official added.

Of the total number of overstays last year, 628,799 people or 1.25 percent had no record of departure, known as an “in-country” overstay at the end of the fiscal year, according to DHS. However, due to continued departures and changes to immigration status, that number decreased over time. By January 10, the official number of people who overstayed visas in the fiscal year of 2016 had dropped to 544,676.

This is the second year that DHS has formally released these numbers.

The report, which is only a snapshot in time, represents about 96 percent of all people entering the U.S. on a temporary visa, including temporary workers, students, exchange visitors, personal travel and business travel – a larger pool of people than the 2015 report. The only exceptionsin 2016 were airline crews and transiting passengers.

However, the report does not include people entering the U.S through land checkpoints, but in some cases departures to Canada or Mexico are included to close out a case.

When determining if someone overstayed a visa, DHS needs to take into account whether they applied for a more permanent immigration benefit or legally extended their stay in the U.S.

The U.K. followed by Germany, Italy and France had the largest total number of people overstaying their travel visas for business or pleasure, among countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. for business or tourism without a visa.

The visa waiver program promotes commerce and ease of travel, but it also creates national security risks, as Europeans from those countries who have fought with ISIS in the Middle East return home.

“They have learned how to make IEDs, employ drones to drop ordnance, and acquired experience on the battlefield that by all reports they are bringing back home,” said DHS Sec. John Kelly at a recent speech.

“They can more easily travel to the United States which makes us a prime target for their exported violence,” he added.

This has been a national security concern for years. For example, two of the 19 hijackers on September 11, 2001, were visa overstays, prompting the 9/11 Commission to call for the government to track visitors to the U.S. on entry and exit.

Brazil had by far the most total overstays from countries that do not participate in the visa waiver program – followed by Venezuela, China, Colombia and Nigeria.

While DHS says it is confident in its data, there is a chance that someone could leave the U.S. as an “imposter” because departures are currently only tracked using biographic data, like an airplanes manifest.

Without biometric data – like fingerprints, facial recognition -- there is a chance that someone could lie about leaving.

Despite Congressional mandate and years of officials calling for biometric exit data, it still remains a challenge for DHS.

Airports were never designed to control customs departure from within the U.S., according to DHS. For example, international departures and domestic departures coming at airports.

In addition, if you scan someone too early in the check-in process, there is still a chance they could lie about leaving and if you scan at the gate, you run into time and space constraints.

There is currently a pilot program at the Atlanta airport that is using facial recognition to match people with their photos as they leave the country.

When people overstay their visas the data is shared with ICE to carry out enforcement. It’s provided daily and in conjunction with ICE’s priorities, like national security and law enforcement needs.

However, a DHS inspector general report earlier this month found that a “fragmented, ineffective” set of information technology (IT) systems hinder efforts by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to track visa overstays.

ICE relies on IT systems that lack integration and information-sharing capabilities, forcing ICE personnel to piece together information from up to 27 distinct DHS information systems and databases to accurately determine an individual’s overstay status.

This inefficient process has contributed to a backlog of more than 1.2 million visa overstay cases – taking months for ICE to determine a visa holder’s status and whether someone poses a national security threat, found the report.

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iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Tampa police are investigating after a man allegedly admitted to killing his two roommates because he believes they disrespected his Muslim faith.

Devon Arthurs, 18, was arrested Friday and faces two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault and three counts of armed kidnapping.

Around 5:29 p.m. local time on May 19, Arthurs entered Green Planet Smoke Shop in Tampa armed with a black semiautomatic pistol, according to a police report on the incident. He allegedly demanded that the employee and one customer who were in the store at the time get on the ground as he pointed the gun at one of the captives.

"Why shouldn't I kill you?" one victim says Arthurs yelled while holding them captive, according to the police report.

About two to three minutes after Arthurs entered the shop, a second customer entered and was also ordered to get on the ground.

"Arthurs informed all three victims in the store that he had already killed somebody," said the police report. "He further informed all three victims that he was upset due to America bombing his Muslim countries."

Approximately five minutes after the third victim entered the store, two Tampa police officers arrived to the scene and confronted Arthurs.

According to the police report, one victim was able to run away from the scene, while the officers convinced Arthurs to let the remaining two victims go. After minutes of negotiating, Arthurs surrendered and allowed officers to arrest him.

While being walked to the police car, Arthurs made references to "Allah Mohammed" and stated, "I had to do it. This wouldn't have had to happen if your country didn't bomb my country," according to the police report.

While under arrest, Arthurs was asked if anyone else was hurt, to which he replied, "The people in the apartment, but they aren't hurt, they're dead," according to the police report.

Arthurs then directed police to the apartment, where two male victims were found dead. He identified the victims to police as his roommates Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk,18, and provided details of the shooting, including the rifle he used, the sequence of events, and the exact location of the shooting and the placement of the shot on each victim, according to the police report.

Arthurs stated that he had once shared a common neo-Nazi belief with his two roommates before converting to Islam, and that the shooting deaths were caused by the individuals disrespecting his Muslim faith.

Arthurs’ fourth roommate, Brandon Russell, was also arrested May 21 after allegedly being linked to explosive devices found in the apartment.

When police arrived to the apartment where Himmelman and Oneschuk were found dead, Russell was seen outside of the apartment dressed in full U.S. Army camouflage "crying and visibly upset," according to the police report.

"That's my roommate (Russell)," Arthurs said, according to the report. "He doesn't know what's going on and just found them like you guys did."

Arthurs also told police that before the murders he had been aware of "Russell participating in online neo-Nazi internet chat rooms where he threatened to kill people and bomb infrastructure," according to the report.

"From our point of view, there was a double homicide and we arrested the guy who did the homicide," a spokesperson for Tampa Police Department told ABC News. "When we started talking to him and got info about neo-Nazi and stuff in the apartment we called the FBI and we are certainly working with [them]."

Tampa police obtained a state search warrant for the apartment, where law enforcement discovered a cooler in the garage with a white, cake-like substance. Two FBI and Tampa Police Department bomb squad officials identified the substance as an explosive known as hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, according to a criminal report from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Other bomb-making materials and firearms were also found in the apartment. Nazi and white supremacist propaganda were discovered in Russell's bedroom, including a framed photo of Oklahoma City federal building bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Russell, who is associated with the Army National Guard, allegedly admitted to law enforcement officials that he was a national socialist, a neo-Nazi and a member of a self-organized group called "Atom Waffen," which is German for atomic weapon, according to the criminal report. They say he also admitted to owning the explosive devices found in the garage, and said they were used to make homemade rockets in 2013 when he was in an engineering club at the University of South Florida.

Russell was arrested by the FBI on May 21 and is charged with possession of unregistered destructive device and unlawful storage of explosive material. It is unclear if he is represented by an attorney and has not been scheduled a court date yet.

Arthurs, who is represented by a public defender, has a hearing set for May 24 at 10 a.m. local time.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- FBI and other law enforcement officials are privately knocking down a conspiracy theory Monday, fueled by conservative commentators on Fox News, that seeks to divert attention from Russia’s involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee last year by suggesting a DNC staffer was murdered to cover up his involvement in passing the information to WikiLeaks.

According to officials with knowledge of the matter, the FBI is not investigating the unsolved murder of Seth Rich last year in what agents have determined was “a possible attempted robbery” gone wrong. Asked about the possible connection between Rich and WikiLeaks, one official told ABC News that “the only place I've seen that is through the conspiracy theories online."

The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., continues to investigate his death as a homicide.

On July 10, 2016, the 27-year-old voter outreach coordinator was shot multiple times near his home in Washington, D.C., a few weeks before WikiLeaks published thousands of hacked emails from several DNC staff members.

Investigators determined that Rich had been the victim of an attempted robbery, but theories to the contrary first took hold when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange suggested Rich might have had a role, and WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information about his murder.

“Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material, and often very significant risk,” Assange said in an interview with the Dutch television program Nieuwsuur. “There's a 27-year-old who works for the DNC, who was shot in the back, murdered.”

When pressed to explain his suggestion, Assange refused to identify Rich as a source, saying “we don't comment on who our sources are.”

The theory resurfaced last week when a private investigator named Rod Wheeler who claimed to have been hired by the Rich family told Fox 5 DC that his sources within the FBI had told him that there was evidence suggesting Rich had contacted WikiLeaks before his death. He repeated the story in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity the following day.

"There was a federal investigator that was involved with the inside, a person that is very credible," Wheeler told Hannity. "Very credible, and he said he laid eyes on that computer and he laid eyes on the case file. And he came across very credible. When you look at that with the totality of everything else that I found in this case, it's very consistent for a person with my experience to begin to think, ‘Well, perhaps there were some email communications between Seth [Rich] and WikiLeaks.'"

Wheeler’s story changed in subsequent statements to other media outlets, prompting the local station to attach an editor’s note to its original story, acknowledging that Wheeler has “backtracked” on his claim that his information came from FBI sources.

That didn’t stop former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, however, from spreading the conspiracy theory in an appearance on Fox News Sunday a few days later.

“At the same time we have this very strange story now of this young man who worked for the Democratic National Committee who apparently was assassinated at 4:00 in the morning having given WikiLeaks something like 23,000, I'm sorry, 53,000 emails and 17,000 attachments,” Gingrich said. “Nobody is investigating that, and what does that tell you about what was going on, because it turns out it wasn't the Russians, it was this young guy who I suspect was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee. He's been killed and apparently nothing serious has been done to investigate his murder.”

The family, meanwhile, has sent Wheeler a cease and desist letter, and Brad Bauman, a family spokesperson, told ABC News that this latest report is just further proof of what the family already knows.

“So much of the conspiracy theory has been dependent on the allegation of federal investigators being involved, and the fact that the FBI has not and never had been involved with this investigation is critical to understanding just how false these conspiracy theories are,” Bauman said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) -- The Turkish national who forced the emergency landing of American Airlines flight 31 in Honolulu on Friday allegedly told FBI agents "we all have" terroristic ideas, and pantomimed shooting an agent during his interview, according to a criminal complaint filed in Hawaii on Monday.

En route from Los Angeles to Honolulu, 25-year-old Anil Uskanli alarmed passengers and crewmembers while acting "strange," forcing the pilot lock down the flight deck and prompting the U.S. Pacific Command to send two F-22 fighter jets to escort the aircraft into Hawaii.

F22's taking off from Honolulu to escort American Airlines flight 31 #Hawaii pic.twitter.com/8cauepQ7Yt

— Anthony Quintano 🌴 (@AnthonyQuintano) May 19, 2017

"We all have those ideas," he said when asked if he ever had terroristic thoughts.

According to the complaint, Uskanli boarded the plane without any luggage, carrying only a phone, laptop, charger, and miscellaneous items in his pockets.

Not long after he was arrested for misdemeanor trespassing at LAX after breaching a security door while under the influence, crew escorted him down the jet bridge in a wheelchair.

Once aboard the Airbus 321, he plopped into a seat in first class. At a flight attendant's repeated urging, Uskanli eventually moved to 35B, his assigned seat.

After the flight took off, Uskanli began repeatedly moving his laptop from the seatback pocket to the space under the seat, "uttering things and talking to himself," one passenger told FBI agents.

He then got up to use the lavatory, but failed to lock the door, the complaint adds. When another passenger attempted to enter the lavatory, Uskanli allegedly began "yelling and pounding on the walls."

After flight attendants escorted him back to his seat, they found what appeared to be cigarette pieces around the toilet.

A short time later, Uskanli "wrapped a blanket around his head, picked up his laptop," and shuffled towards the front of the aircraft.

A flight attendant used a beverage cart to block the aisle, but Uskanli shoved back, then set his laptop on the cart, triggering immediate alarm among the crew. The flight attendant was concerned following reports that terrorists are attempting to target aircraft with explosives concealed inside electronics, the complaint explains.

While an off-duty law enforcement officer steered Uskanli back to his seat, a flight attendant barricaded the laptop in the rear of the aircraft -- standard procedure for handling a possible explosive device. To further mitigate the impact of a potential in-flight bomb, the pilot descended to 5,000 feet, according to the complaint.

Uskanli was restrained with duct tape, witnesses say.

Upon landing, Uskanli was escorted off the flight by law enforcement, and bomb technicians and canine units seized the laptop and secured the plane. No explosives were found inside the laptop, authorities say.

Uskanli's urinalysis came back positive for benzodiazepine. Other field sobriety tests indicated he may have been high on stimulants or cannabis, according to the complaint.

During a post-incident interview with FBI agents, Uskanli "made a gun shape with his fingers and pretended to shoot,"simulated a ‘chopping motion’" at an agent's neck, and threatened to kill a female agent, according to the complaint.

Asked if he planned to hurt anyone, he told agents, "it depends on the day."

He was charged with interfering with a flight crew, and was scheduled to appear in court Monday.

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Emilie Richardson/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The father of 18-year-old Alyssa Elsman, who was killed when a driver plowed into a crowd in New York's Times Square last week, wrote an emotional letter to his daughter, saying, "I have a hole in my heart that can never be filled."

The framed letter was placed at a memorial near the crash site.

"My world changed when you came into it and it is unexplainable with you leaving it," wrote Thomas Elsman, father of Alyssa Elsman, a tourist from Michigan who was killed last Thursday when a driver sped into a crowd in Times Square. Alyssa Elsman's 13-year-old sister was among the 20 people injured in the crash.

He wrote that his daughter "loved Times Square."

"She would appreciate all your kind words but she would also tell us all to get back up and continue," he added.

Read the full letter here:

"There is no words that can express our gratitude with the outpouring of love and support this city has shown us. Our medical staff, The NYPD and most of all YOU. This impromptu memorial dedicated to our daughter and seeing and talking to many of you has helped me cope with our loss. I have met so many people from different countries, religions, creeds etc......it doesn't matter..you have shown us that when you remove bias..racism..and ignorance..WE ARE ALL ONE... Your condolences have been sincere and taken to heart. Please also remember there are 20 other families affected by this and please keep them in your thoughts too. Alyssa loved this city...she loved Times Square. She would appreciate all your kind words but she would also tell us all to get back up and continue. That's how full of life my daughter was This city and our hearts are scarred, cut to the core, but in true New York City fashion..We will heal..We will prevail..and we will never forget. Alyssa Lynn Elsman... my beautiful 18 year old girl. I look at myself and will never understand how I could ever have made such an angel...Im glad you got your mothers looks..... I don't know anything currently..I always have the answers..but I am blank...I have a hole in my heart that can never be filled. My world changed when you came into it and it is unexplainable with you leaving it. I love you kid. Just no words <3 Love you love you love you.... Dad"

The suspected driver, 26-year-old Richard Rojas, was taken into custody at the scene of the crash after he plowed through pedestrians from 42nd Street to 45th Street. He was arraigned on charges of murder, attempted murder and aggravated vehicular homicide. Rojas was remanded to custody and will next return to court on May 24. He has not yet formally entered a plea. His defense attorney declined to comment.

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Courtesy Leanndra Cheatham(ST. LOUIS) -- A poignant Facebook video is racking up views with its message of peace.

The messenger is "Lil J," a 6-year-old boy who asks people to "stop killing each other" in the video that was posted by his mother, Leanndra Cheatham, one week ago.

Since that time, the video, which Cheatham told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was her son Jeffrey's reaction to the drive-by-shooting death of her cousin, has received 80,000 views.

"I'm really serious," the boy says before mentioning the drive-by-shooting. "Because I'm really scared to die. And, I'm really scared for my family to die."

Cheatham calls the video a "PSA" in her post, and its message is in part a request for older people to pay attention to the impact violence has on children.

"I'm a kid," the boy says at one point. "I'm not supposed to be knowing about all this stuff. I'm not supposed to be knowing about all these guns."

Jeffery also passes along a message of faith in the video.

"God is my weapon," he says to the camera.

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University of Maryland Police Department(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) -- Federal investigators are trying to determine whether the weekend stabbing of a black college student in Maryland was racially motivated, authorities said Sunday.

Sean Urbanski, a 22-year-old University of Maryland student, has been charged with first and second-degree assault in the stabbing death of 23-year-old Richard Collins III, authorities said.

Police called the attack random and "totally unprovoked.”

The university’s police department said it asked the FBI to assist in the investigation after it discovered that Urbanski, who is white, belonged to a racist Facebook group called "Alt-Reich."

“New information obtained today from witnesses and other sources has led law enforcement officials to consider a hate-bias motive in this case,” University of Maryland President Wallace Loh said in a statement Sunday. “To ensure a comprehensive investigation, UMPD today asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to provide technical and forensic expertise, which it agreed to do.“

Urbanski is being held without bond, according to police. He is due in court next month.

Collins, a student at Bowie State University, was visiting the UMD campus when he was stabbed in the chest by a man who he apparently did not know, according to police.

Collins was set to graduate on Tuesday and he had recently commissioned in the U.S. Army as second lieutenant, officials said.

Collins was waiting for an Uber with friends at around 3 a.m. when Urbanski allegedly approached him, screaming, according to officials.

Urbanski reportedly told the victim to "step left if you know what's best for you," according to police. Collins replied with "no" before Urbanski stabbed allegedly him once in the chest, authorities said.

College Park Police Chief David Mitchell said the attack has caused some students, particularly “students of color,” to fear for their safety on the campus.

"We’re seeing tension here. We’re doing our best to combat that,” said Mitchell while speaking at a press conference on Sunday. “We love our freedom and we are not giving it up.”

When asked if the university had previous knowledge of the hate group’s existence on campus, Mitchell stated that there is “a fine line here between criminal misconduct and first amendment free speech.” He said the university is looking into other students who may be involved with the Facebook group and their involvement on campus.

Officials said that they do not know yet if any drugs were in the suspect’s system but said they would seek to find out.

University of Maryland President Loh said the school has substantially increased visible patrols, on and off campus, but he said that is not enough.

"We must all do more to nurture a climate -- on campus and beyond -- where we stand against hate, we fight against hate crimes, and we reaffirm the values that define us a university and as a democracy,” he said. “We all grieve together for a promising life ended far too early."

A vigil is scheduled for Collins on Monday evening at Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland.

“It is a tragic loss to see our national treasure, in the form of Lt. Collins, taken away from us in this manner,” FBI spokesman Gordon Johnson said at a press conference Sunday.

People who knew Collins described him as a "good young man" who was excited about his future.

Collins’ pastor, Darryl Godlock, said the victim’s family is taking the loss hard.

"The family is just devastated,” Godlock told ABC’s Washington, D.C. affiliate WJLA-TV on Sunday. "[T]his young man’s career was ready to excel."

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