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ABC News(NEW YORK) — Parts of the Midwest were hit with severe weather Tuesday evening, including tornadoes and thunderstorms that claimed at least two fatalities.

As of early Wednesday morning, there were at least 21 tornadoes reported across the Midwest, with more than half of those occurring in Illinois.

 

UPDATE: Tornado Watch extended until 4am for counties shaded in red including Chicago. pic.twitter.com/TDUDePPBPB

— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) March 1, 2017

 

 

Dramatic video shows tornado that touched down in Washburn, Illinois, as severe storms move across parts of Midwest. https://t.co/i0ilDbQ7dT pic.twitter.com/ug6WzZcLRx

— ABC News (@ABC) March 1, 2017

 

Some of the most widespread damage was found in Ottawa, Illinois, southwest of Chicago. The warning for this area described the tornado responsible for the damage as particularly dangerous.

At its peak, the Ameren Utility website showed that about 7,500 people were left without power in the Ottawa area, and just over 10,000 without power statewide.

The deputy chief of the Ottawa Fire Department told ABC News that the city has sustained one fatality.

OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa said it received about 14 patients who sustained injuries as a result of the storm. Most of the injuries were caused by falling tree limbs or traffic accidents, the hospital said.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, an apparent tornado picked up at least 15 cars from a junkyard near I-55, and dumped them on the interstate. One of the junk cars hit an occupied vehicle on the interstate, killing its occupant, a resident of nearby Perryville.

 

At least two people killed, one in Illinois and one in Missouri, as tornadoes reported across parts of the Midwest. https://t.co/Bh5rptyQPO pic.twitter.com/zAw3Rg2k0F

— ABC News (@ABC) March 1, 2017

 

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Tuesday evening that the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield has been activated.

A photo out of central Illinois shows a large tornado forming over farmland.

 

Nothing like being in #Texas and seeing a post on your mom’s Facebook like this: cc: @Met_mdclark #holyballs #thatsmyfarm #WTF pic.twitter.com/tFaFnEV0dH

— Meghan GrebnerConant (@mkg81) February 28, 2017

 

Flash flooding will also be a concern across the Ohio Valley, where Flash Flood Watches are in effect. From Arkansas to Indiana, there were more than 70 reports of hail, some up to the size of baseballs.


ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Next month, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender student, who has been seeking access to use the boys' bathroom at his high school.

Attorneys on both sides are required to update the court on Wednesday. Last week, the Trump administration announced an effective rollback of an Obama administration policy that extended protections against sexual discrimination to people who identify as transgender — throwing a potential wrench in Grimm’s case before it heads to the high court.

How we got here

On behalf of Grimm, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued Gloucester County School Board. The teen is expected to graduate from Gloucester High School in Virginia this year. Grimm’s lawsuit argues that the school’s bathroom policy is unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment and violates Title IX, a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination by schools.

At first, the school allowed him to use the boys' bathroom, but after receiving complaints, the school board adopted a new policy in 2014 when Grimm was a sophomore, according to the ACLU.

“I think what happened to Gavin in the fall of 2014, was absolutely horrible and I don’t think anyone should have to go through that,” said the ACLU’s Joshua Block, who is representing Grimm in the case.

A district court sided with the school board and dismissed Grimm’s claim under Title IX.

Grimm appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with the teen.

However, the Supreme Court has put a hold on the circuit court decision while it takes up the case.

Meanwhile, in May 2016, the Obama administration issued federal guidance calling on all on public school districts nationwide to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

Citing Title IX, the letter from the Departments of Justice and Education said schools should not require a medical diagnosis, nor should they demand documentation reflecting the student's gender identity before taking steps to protect transgender students — "even in circumstances in which other students, parents, or community members raise objections."

That guidance was rescinded last week by the Trump administration, which said that the Obama administration's guidance did not explain how it was consistent with the law.

In a letter sent to schools last Wednesday, the Trump-era Departments of Justice and Education said that the Obama directive caused confusion and lawsuits over its enforcement.

Grimm’s attorney said that the case has given the teen a "sense of purpose."

“Whether that’s winning in court or through changing hearts and minds I think it’s given him a sense that he isn’t going through all of this for nothing,” said Block.

What’s next

The Supreme Court has requested that lawyers on both sides submit their views on how the case should proceed in light of the new guidance provided by the Departments of Justice and Education last week. Their letters are due at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Grimm’s attorney said that while he’s hopeful the court will side with them, he did not have any predictions on which way the court would rule.

“I don’t have gut feelings on the case anymore. I think each step of the way this case has defied expectations," said Block. “[I] think that anyone who thinks they can predict with confidence what the Supreme Court’s going to do hasn’t been paying close enough attention.”

The attorney for the school district declined to comment ahead of filing the district's letter with the court.

What this could mean

The Supreme Court could return the case to the lower court to evaluate Grimm’s claim without the federal guidance or it could move ahead on evaluate the case based on his discrimination claim.

The Obama administration guidance that's now been withdrawn was only one issue in the case. There's still the question of what Title IX means in terms of transgender students.

"[Grimm’s] injury has not changed, and an important question remains about whether schools can discriminate against transgender students by singling them out for different bathroom rules,” said Columbia University law professor Suzanne B. Goldberg.

Goldberg added that “the bottom line” is that federal law prohibits sex discrimination which includes gender stereotyping.

“[A]nother bottom line is that transgender students still need to go to the bathroom at school with or without the Obama administration guidance,” she added.

University of North Carolina law professor Maxine Eichner said that the Trump administration's withdrawal of the guidance is "quite significant" to the case because the lower court deferred to the Obama-era Department of education guidance on this issue in its ruling.

Whether or not Title IX statute includes transgender status, is "a lot more murky" now that the Obama directive has been revoked, said Eichner.

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Image Source Pink/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After tombstones were found toppled at Jewish cemeteries in Missouri and Pennsylvania and nearly 100 Jewish Community Centers and schools nationwide received bomb threats, Jewish leaders are urging President Trump to take action.

On Monday, 21 bomb threats were called in to 13 JCCs and eight Jewish schools in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia, the JCC Association of North America said. No bombs were found at any locations.

There have been 90 incidents this year alone, at 73 locations in 30 states and one Canadian province, the JCC Association said. The FBI and the Justice Department's civil rights division are investigating.

While the threats were false, Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told ABC News the threats created "terror" for the people evacuated from the facilities — including preschool children, the elderly and teenagers — as well as their family members.

"This is absolutely abnormal, and it is totally unacceptable that anyone, anywhere, at any time could be terrorized because of their faith," he said.

David Posner, the director of strategic performance at the JCC Association of North America, told ABC News that as far as the organization knows, "the FBI has not yet determined who the perpetrators are, so we do not yet know what their motives are." But he added that he sees a "general rise in the level of intolerance in this nation now, and I think it gives the feeling that people can act with greater impunity."

Besides bomb threats, two Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized in one week. On Feb. 20, over 100 tombstones were found overturned at the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in University City, Missouri. On Sunday in Philadelphia, over 100 headstones were discovered toppled and cracked at the city's Mount Carmel Cemetery. Authorities are investigating both cases.

Rabbi Yosef Goldman of Philadelphia's Temple Beth Zion–Beth Israel recalled seeing "row upon row of toppled tombstones" at Mount Carmel Cemetery.

"Many of them weighed several hundred pounds," he said. "What I saw was devastating."

Steve Rosenberg, an official with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia who visited the cemetery, said, "It was clearly a deliberate act of violence and desecration."

"It took a lot of effort and intention to commit this crime ... Headstones are very heavy, and some of them are gigantic — the size of a car," he added. "This had to be a group of people that were here for a long time."

The Philadelphia Police Department announced Tuesday that the rewards for information leading to an arrest and conviction had risen to a total of $50,000, from an initial $13,000: the Anti-Defamation League, through the Mizel Family Foundation, is offering a $10,000 reward; councilman Allan Domb is offering a $12,000 reward, mayor Jim Kenney is offering a $15,000 reward, an anonymous donor is offering a $10,000 reward, and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 is offering a $3,000 Reward for information leading to an arrest only.

Greenblatt said the anti-Semitism extends beyond cemetery vandalism and threats to JCCs to graffiti at synagogues and a "tsunami of anti-Semitic slander on social media."

Religious attacks in the past week were also aimed at the Muslim community; investigators said a fire at a Florida mosque on Feb. 24 was intentionally set.

Goldman and Greenblatt, who both noted a surge of anti-Semitism and hate crimes since the presidential election, pointed to the role of the Trump administration.

"We have not seen — until last week — our political leadership speak out in a strong way against these incidents," Greenblatt said.

When anti-Semitism was not immediately condemned by the White House, "extremists felt emboldened," he added.

"Words have consequences, and a lack of words have consequences," he said.

On Feb. 21, Trump for the first time directly addressed recent incidents of anti-Semitism after he received backlash from various groups. Speaking at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., he called the recent JCC threats a "painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil."

While Goldman said "it will take more than a single statement" from Trump "to show that he is serious about combating the rise of anti-Semitism," Greenblatt said the president's statement was "really appreciated."

He added, "Now is the time to move from words to action. Now is the time for our leaders to not only speak out but to step up and apply the full force of the federal government to addressing anti-Semitism ... We're prepared to work with the administration to help make that happen."

Vice President Mike Pence visited the desecrated Missouri cemetery last week and condemned the act.

MO's people are inspiring the nation w/ their compassion for the Jewish community. Thank you for showing the world what America is all about pic.twitter.com/PWTFLGqqz0

— Vice President Pence (@VP) February 22, 2017


In a statement Monday, Posner of the JCC Association called on the FBI, the White House, the Justice Department, the Homeland Security Department, Congress and local officials to "speak out forcefully against this scourge of anti-Semitism" across the U.S. and to catch the "perpetrators, who are trying to instill anxiety and fear in our communities."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions told reporters Monday, "I have seen the Jewish synagogue attacks, threats and things, which is a very serious and disruptive practice. This Department of Justice will do what it can to assist in pushing back against that and prosecuting anybody who was a part of it."

Goldman said he prayed Sunday evening among the desecrated graves in Philadelphia but remains full of hope. He was joined by members of the community, including Muslims, Christians and a Quaker.

"In the Jewish tradition," Goldman said, "the greatest act of love and kindness one can show is to see to the needs of the dead. It was touching to see all of these people show up to do whatever they could on behalf of those who were laid to rest."

"It was extremely moving," he said. "Faith amidst the darkness."

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Michael Loccisano/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Rosie O'Donnell, one of Donald Trump's most outspoken rivals, accused the president of being a lying, power-hungry misogynist during a protest near the White House Tuesday ahead of his joint address to Congress.

"This is not Russia," said O’Donnell. "To Donald Trump and his pathetic band of white, privileged criminal businessmen, I would like to say to him, 'nyet, sir.'"

The actress and former talk show host added, "Government are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed. And whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter and abolish it and to institute new government. That is why we are here!"

At the rally, billed "A Resistance Address: Defending American Values in a Time of Moral Crisis," O'Donnell also claimed the media does not take Trump to task and will "not call him a liar."

"He lies, he lies, he lies," she claimed. "And it's about time they all started saying that, instead of, 'It appears as if he hasn't been speaking the truth.' Cut it down to the least common denominator like he does."

The event was hosted by multiple organizations, including Food & Water Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union and MoveOn.org.

Pre-speech protest against President Donald Trump in the rain in Lafayette Square near the White House. pic.twitter.com/RyABMCsGuT

— Tom Roussey (@tomrousseyABC7) February 28, 2017

The event aimed to rally against Trump’s message and agenda, which the organizers said doesn’t reflect the values of most Americans, according to Food & Water Watch, a human right non-profit organization.

"While the Trump administration divides us, we stand for justice and equality and the protection of our shared values and environment," Food & Water Watch said in a Facebook post Tuesday.

O’Donnell and Trump have feuded for years. At a Republican debate in 2015, when Trump was questioned about describing women with language such as "fat pigs," "dogs" and "slobs," Trump responded "only Rosie O’Donnell."

"He has degraded and bullied women his entire life and career," O’Donnell said at Tuesday's rally. "This is America. It is not yours. It is not corporately owned. It is of the people, by the people, and for the people. And we the people will not stand for it."

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domoyega/iStock/Thinkstock(OLATHE, KS) -- The triple shooting at a Kansas bar that killed a man who immigrated to the U.S. from India is being investigated as a hate crime, the FBI announced on Tuesday.

On Feb. 22, police in Olathe responded to a 911 call of shots fired at Austin's Bar and Grill, located about 20 miles southwest of Kansas City, authorities said.

The shooting killed 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla and injured Alok Madasani, 32, and Ian Grillot, 24.

Kuchibhotla died after he was taken to a local hospital, authorities said.

Adam W. Purington was arrested in the early morning hours on Thursday in Clinton, Missouri, and was being held on $2 million bond. He waived extradition and was transported back to Olathe on
Friday.

Purington has been charged with one count of premeditated murder and two counts of premeditated attempted murder, according to the Johnson County District Attorney's Office.

It was unclear if Purington had entered a plea. His listed attorney, Johnson County Public Defender Michelle Durrett, did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

President Trump has not addressed the shooting publicly, but on Tuesday, the White House condemned the shooting as an act of racially motivated hatred.

"It begins to look like this was an act of racially motivated hatred," White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders said in an off-camera briefing. "The president condemns these and any other
racially and religiously motivated attacks in the strongest terms. They have no place in our country and we will continue to make that clear."

In an interview from his hospital bed, Grillot said he took cover until he thought the shooter's magazine was empty.

"I got up and proceeded to chase him down, try to subdue him," Grillot said in a video posted online by the University of Kansas Health System. "I got behind him and he turned around and fired a
round at me."

Grillot said he was hit in the hand and the chest and the bullet narrowly missed a major artery.

Kuchibhotla, who immigrated to the U.S. from India in 2005 and resided in Olathe, worked as an engineer at Garmin. On Friday, his wife described her husband as a hard-working man who loved America
and "did not deserve a death like this."

The FBI, along with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, is working with the Olathe Police Department in investigating the shooting as a hate crime,
according to the FBI.

The investigation is ongoing.

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feixianhu/iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Curtis Reeves, accused of fatally shooting a man in a dispute over texting in a movie theater in January 2014, spent the first two hours of his testimony on Tuesday chronicling his
nearly 27 years of experience in law enforcement as well as his later work in private security.

Reeves, 74, is accused of shooting and killing 43-year-old Chad Oulson on Jan. 13, 2014, during a confrontation over texting before a showing of "Lone Survivor," police said. He has pleaded not
guilty to second-degree murder, claiming self-defense.

Reeves testified that he served multiple roles with the Tampa Police Department in Florida. He started as a patrolman before being promoted to detective and later a sergeant. He created and
designed a SWAT team for the department, and by the early 1908s rose to the rank of captain.

He said he became a program coordinator for the department and subsequently started teaching two to three classes at the police academy because of his extensive training in firearms. In 1988, he
was diagnosed with cancer and said he was worried that he wouldn't be able to return to work.

"It was kind of devastating," Reeves said, getting emotional on the stand.

After surgery and radiation treatment, he was able to return to the department, where he took over the vice-narcotics division. Five years later, in 1993, he retired. He then took over as director
of security at Busch Gardens, a Tampa amusement park, when he said his focus was less law enforcement and more public relations and keeping the guests happy.

"You try to keep a safe environment," he said. "We trained the officers how to effectively do that."

His lawyer spent a portion of the time showing the various certificates acquired by Reeves, including one from the FBI Training School for effective communication as well as one from the National
Rifle Association for teaching handgun safety to the public.

If Circuit Court Judge Susan Barthle rules in favor of Reeves, he will receive immunity from prosecution and will leave court as a free man with no criminal murder charges.

Should Barthle decide Reeves did not meet the criteria to "stand his ground" during the encounter with Oulson, he will proceed to a criminal trial at a later date, where he can claim self-defense
in the shooting but will not be able to utilize the protection under the Stand Your Ground law.

Prosecutors say Reeves provoked the confrontation, The Associated Press reported, meaning he wouldn't be protected by the Stand Your Ground law.

Prior to the shooting, Reeves had complained about Oulson's use of his phone to movie theater employees, authorities said at the time. When Reeves returned to the theater, the argument escalated.

Witnesses told police that Oulson threw a container of popcorn at Reeves before he was shot, police said. His widow, Nicole Oulson, was also shot in the hand. She told ABC News in 2014 that her
husband was texting the babysitter, who was watching their young daughter.

"It was a couple of words. No threats. No harm. No nothing," Nicole Oulson said. "In the blink of an eye, 30 seconds, it just shattered my world."

Reeves said he "was in fear of being attacked" by Oulson so he pulled his .380 semi-automatic handgun from his pants pocket and shot the victim, police said.

Bond was initially denied for Reeves, but he was freed in July 2014 after spending six months in a Pasco County jail and posting $150,000 bail, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

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MattGush/iStock/Thinkstock(RIVERSIDE, Ca.) -- A family was on board the small plane that killed three people after it crashed into a Southern California home Monday, according to authorities.

The Cessna 310 was carrying five people -- one adult male, three adult females and one teenage girl -- and was headed to San Jose from Riverside when it crashed into a home there, said Riverside
Fire Department Captain Tyler Reynolds. It is unclear who out of the five passengers were family members.

The two survivors were adult females who were ejected from the plane, Reynolds said.

The plane hit the right corner of a house, and victims were ejected from the aircraft and landed inside the home, Reynolds said. Firefighters originally thought the ejected victims lived in the
home the plane crashed into.

One of the surviving women was found in the bedroom of a home and was pulled to safety. She suffered third-degree burns to 90 percent of her body and is currently in critical condition and
recovering at a burn center, Reynolds said.

The second survivor was found in the front lawn of a home and was pulled to safety by residents and firefighters, Reynolds said. She suffered airway burns and is also in critical condition.

Sixty firefighters responded to the scene, with some using thermal imaging cameras to search for the victims.

It is unclear who was piloting the plane. No one on the ground was hurt, but one person did immediately vacate one of the homes after the crash, Reynolds said. Four homes were damaged, and 14
people have been displaced.

The Riverside Municipal Airport is just a mile away from the crash site. The airport has 105,000 flight operations each year.

The Federal Aviation Administration said on Monday that the plane crashed under unknown circumstances. The people on board were coming from a cheer conference at Disneyland, said Riverside Fire
Chief Michael Moore.

Shannon Flores, a teacher at a nearby school, told ABC's Los Angeles station KABC that she and her students saw the plane from the building.

"It was just flying very, very low," she said. "We knew it shouldn't have been flying that low and that it was definitely going down."

In Massachusetts, a single passenger plane landed on the roof of an apartment building in Methuen on Tuesday afternoon, according to authorities.

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(HOUSTON) -- Police are searching for a suspect "potentially" linked to the shooting of two police officers on Tuesday, according to the Houston Police Department.

Officer Ronny Cortez, a 24-year veteran of the department, was transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital in critical condition, said Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo in a press conference
outside the hospital. The other officer, 10-year department veteran Jose Muñoz, was taken to Ben Taub Hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries, Acevedo said.

One officer is being taken to Ben Taub and one officer is being taken to Memorial Hermann #hounews

— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) February 28, 2017

Prior to the shooting, tactical police officers from the Houston Police Department were already in the area due to a recent spike in break-ins, when a resident alerted them to an alleged burglary,
Acevedo said.

One resident notified police that the door to a storage shed in her backyard was ajar, which she found "suspicious," Acevedo said. Muñoz and Cortez jumped a fence to gain access to the backyard
when a male suspect exited the shed and opened fire on the officers, Acevedo said.

The officers returned fire, striking that suspect, who was pronounced at the scene. The deceased suspect's identity is unknown.

Please avoid this area - Lock your doors and windows if you're inside this area until @houstonpolice says otherwise. #hounews pic.twitter.com/feGVOiyzek

— Houston OEM (@HoustonOEM) February 28, 2017

Following the shooting, the neighborhood was placed on lockdown as hundreds of officers searched for a second suspect believed to be involved. "We will assume that the second suspect at large is
armed and dangerous," Acevedo said, advising the suspect to surrender and apologizing to neighborhood residents for the "inconvenience."

The neighborhood lockdown was lifted just before 4 p.m. local time, with Acevedo saying the second suspect is linked to burglaries in the area and "potentially" involved in the shooting. Acevedo
asked residents to remain vigilant as the second suspect remains at large.

On the way to the hospital, first responders performed life-support procedures on Cortez, said Houston EMS Medical Director and Public Health Officer Dr. David Persse. Although he is still in
critical condition, Cortez's condition has improved since he has arrived at the hospital, and he is awake and talking, Persse said.

Acevedo described Cortez and Muñoz as having "hearts of lions" because they "didn't cower" or "run away."

They "stayed in the fight and engaged the suspect," Acevedo said.

Both officers were "getting the very best care available," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

“I want to ask all of Houston and people in the region to pray for both of these officers and their families," Turner said. "As usual, they get up every day. They go on their shift. They don’t know
what’s going to happen in the course of their shifts, and they dutifully serve this city."

Cameras flying overhead showed the officers being transported to local hospitals by ambulance with a police escort.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An SUV veered into a crowd of people at a Mardi Gras Day parade on the Gulf Coast of Alabama Tuesday morning, just days after a similar incident occurred in New Orleans.

At least 12 people were injured in the accident, and four of them are in critical condition, according to police.

The driver was a 73-year-old man, police said.

Witnesses told ABC affiliate WPMI-TV in Alabama that his foot slipped off the brake pedal and onto the gas, causing the car to plow into the back of the Gulf Shores High School marching band.

The Gulf Shores Police Department held a press conference on the incident:

"At 10 a.m. this morning a local Gulf Shores youth band in a Mardi Gras parade was entering highway 59 when a vehicle behind them lurched forward and injured 11 members of the band," spokesperson for the Gulf Shores Police Department, Grant Brown, told reporters.

"Three of the band members are critically injured," Brown continued. "The vehicle behind the band was part of the parade and it is unknown at this time why the vehicle lurched forward. All 11 children were transported to a local hospital. The children are 'young teenagers.'"

Unlike the incident in New Orleans, where the driver was intoxicated, police said that they have no indication that the driver had taken drugs or alcohol prior to the accident and do not believe this was an intentional act.

The driver is being interviewed and drug tested on his own volition, police said.

Of the injured, nine were transported to South Baldwin Medical Center in Foley, Alabama, two were taken to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Florida and one more was taken to Baptist Hospital, also in Pensacola.

The City of Gulf Shores said they are closing Highway 59 indefinitely, until the police clear the scene. They are requesting that any witnesses or people with photos come forward.

The FBI said they are investigating the incident.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump's new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said Tuesday there is "a sense that we're in danger" from rising crime.

Crime has been falling for decades in the U.S., but Sessions told a conference of state attorneys general Tuesday morning in Washington, D.C., "Now we are at a time, it seems to me, that crime is going back up again."

"We've done a lot of good. We need to not give up on that progress," Sessions said to the National Association of Attorneys General in his first major remarks as Justice Department head. "I do not believe that this pop in crime -- this increase in crime -- is necessarily an aberration, a one-time blip. I'm afraid it represents the beginning of a trend."

U.S. crime rates “remain near historic lows,” with murder rates half what they were in 1980 and violent crime rates cut by half since the early 1990s, according to Sessions' prepared remarks for the conference.

“But in the last two years, we’ve seen clear warning signs — like the first gusts of wind before a summer storm — that this progress is now at risk,” the prepared speech said.

FBI statistics show a 3 percent uptick in violent crime and an 11 percent increase in murders from 2014 to 2015, which are the most recent federal numbers on full-year crime rates, the prepared remarks said.

Last month, the FBI released preliminary numbers for the first half of 2016 showing a 5.3 percent increase in violent crime compared with the same period a year earlier.

“These numbers should trouble all of us,” Sessions' prepared speech said. “We must remember that these data represent real neighborhoods and real people whose safety and lives are at stake.”

The nation’s opioid epidemic is helping to fuel gang violence in cities, with neighborhoods “caught in the crossfire,” the attorney general's prepared remarks said, and a recent drop in federal prosecutions of gun and drug offenses for contributing to the rise in crime.

“Under my leadership at the Department of Justice, this trend will end,” Sessions' prepared remarks said. “Our agents and prosecutors will prioritize cases against the most violent offenders and remove them from our streets so they can no longer do us harm.”

The prepared speech also expressed concern “that something is changing in policing,” with officers “becoming more cautious” in “this age of viral videos and targeted killings of police.”

“Unfortunately, in recent years law enforcement as a whole has been unfairly maligned and blamed for the unacceptable deeds of a few bad actors,” the prepared remarks said.

Consequently, officers are “more reluctant to get out of their squad cars and do the hard but necessary work of up-close policing that builds trust and prevents violent crime,” the prepared speech said.

In the prepared remarks, Sessions announced the formation of a Justice Department task force to “make sure we’re collecting good crime data” and to help reduce crime across the country. It will include senior-level representatives of the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — President Trump responded to the father calling for an investigation of his Navy SEAL son's death in a Yemen military raid, expressing sympathy for the service member's family but defending the mission as one "that started before I got here."

"This was something that they were looking at for a long time doing," the president said in an interview with Fox & Friends that aired Tuesday morning. "And according to Gen. [James] Mattis it was a very successful mission. They got tremendous amounts of information."

"This was a mission that started before I got here," Trump said.

The January raid in Yemen resulted in the death of Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens, 36, and injuries to three other Navy SEALS. Fourteen militants were killed in the raid. U.S. Central Command also said in early February that "civilian noncombatants likely were killed," and that may have included children.

Owens' father, Bill, told the Miami Herald in a recent interview that he did not want to meet Trump when the president attended Owens' dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Feb. 1.

“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Bill Owens told the Florida newspaper on Friday.

The father also called for an investigation into his son's death and additionally said he was troubled by Trump's treatment of the Khans, a Gold Star family of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq.

Trump said Tuesday, "I was at the airport when the casket came in, the body came in and it was a very sad with the family and it's a great family - incredible wife and children. I met most of the family," Trump recalled in the interview with Fox News.

"And I can understand people saying that. I would feel — I would feel what's worse? There is nothing worse," Trump said.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during Monday's press briefing that the administration continues to be "very comfortable" with the Yemen raid.

"We're very comfortable with how the mission was executed and, you know, we'll let the Department of Defense go through that review process," Spicer said.

Spicer added there will be a three-pronged investigation done by the Department of Defense.

U.S. Central Command confirmed Sunday that there is what is called a 15-6 investigation underway into Owen’s death, which is standard for the death of any deployed U.S. military service member. U.S. Central Command is also conducting a review known as a credibility assessment into civilian casualties during the raid.

The president in the Fox News interview on Tuesday went after Arizona Sen. John McCain for his criticism of the Yemen mission.

“I felt badly when a young man dies, and John McCain said that was a failed mission,” Trump said. “I thought it was inappropriate that he goes to foreign soil and he criticizes our government.”

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KABC-TV(RIVERSIDE, Calif.) — At least three people were killed and two were hospitalized after a small plane crashed into two homes in Riverside, California, according to officials.

The injured victims, both adults in their 30s and 40s, were transported to separate hospitals and are listed in critical condition, Riverside Fire Chief Michael Moore said in a press statement.

The National Transportation Safety Board will continue its search and investigation later on Tuesday, More said. The were no residents killed in the accident.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the Cessna 310 crashed under unknown circumstances about a half-mile northeast of Riverside Municipal Airport. The plane was headed to San Jose from Riverside, according to the FAA.

The people on board the plane were coming from a cheer conference at Disneyland, Moore said.

Shannon Flores, a teacher at a nearby school in Riverside, told KABC-TV she and her students saw the plane from their building.

"It was just flying very, very low," she said. "We knew it shouldn't have been flying that low and that it was definitely going down."


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Cook County Sheriff's Office(CHICAGO) — Illinois police are searching for a murder suspect that was mistakenly released from state custody, officials said Monday.

Garrett Glover, 29, was released from the Illinois Department of Corrections on Monday after being sentenced in connection to an attempted armed robbery case, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart's office said in a statement.

Authorities determined on Friday that he had already served enough time to be eligible for parole in that case and he was released.

Instead, he should have been returned to the Cook County Jail in Chicago as he awaits trial in a murder case, which is unrelated to the armed robbery charges, the Sheriff’s office said.

Glover was charged with murder in the Sept. 5, 2012, shooting of Larry Porter, 25, who had just become a father that day, according to ABC News affiliate WLS-TV, which spoke with sources close to the victim.

"It's crazy because when the baby grows up, he's gonna have to say, 'My daddy died the same day I was born,'" Robert Staples, a friend of Porter's, told WLS-TV on Tuesday.

The Sheriff's Office said it is “investigating the circumstances surrounding his release,” according to the statement.

Glover set to appear in court in April for a hearing in the murder case, according to WLS-TV.

Aiding a fugitive is a felony punishable by as many as three years in prison, police warned, asking that anyone with information connected to the case call 773-674-0169.

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Douglas County Sheriff's Office(ATLANTA) -- A Georgia judge sentenced a couple to prison time today for their involvement in a 2015 incident in which a group they were part of waved Confederate flags, shouted racial slurs and made armed threats, all at adults and children attending a child's party outside of Atlanta.

Jose Torres, 26, and Kayla Norton, 25, cried Monday in a Douglas County court as they were sentenced to 20 years and 15 years in jail, respectively.

In July 2015, the parents of three children were part of a group of Confederate flag supporters calling themselves Respect the Flag. For two days that summer, the group rode around in pickup trucks threatening black families and calling them racial slurs across two counties in the Atlanta suburbs.

The group targeted black families shortly after the Charleston church massacre because its members were upset that South Carolina had responded to the brutal slayings by removing the Confederate battle flag from various sites.

At one point, the group pulled up to a birthday party for a black child in Douglasville. The group's members allegedly threatened to kill the partygoers, with Torres confronting the family with a gun that Norton had loaded. The family called the police.

Video of the incident was posted on YouTube by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In an indictment, Torres and Norton, among others, were charged with aggravated assault, terroristic threats and violation of the state's Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.

Through tears, Norton addressed the relatives of the child whose birthday she and others disrupted.

"That is not me. That is not me. That is not him," Norton said in court after her sentencing. "I would never walk up to you and say those words to you. And I am so sorry that happened to you."

Four people were charged with felonies, according to ABC affiliate WSB-TV.com; however, the other two people pleaded guilty and got shorter prison terms.

The judge, saying Torres and Norton had committed a hate crime, also banned them from entering Douglas County after they were released from prison.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Newly minted Attorney General Jeff Sessions questioned reports published by his agency about policing in Chicago and Ferguson, Missouri, describing "some of it" as "pretty anecdotal and not so scientifically based."

While admitting that he had not read the reports, but instead viewed summaries, Sessions questioned the department's findings using the "anecdotal" critique and cautioned that there will always be some mistakes.

"You have 800,000 police in America, imagine a city of 800,000 people," said Sessions. "There's going to be some crime in it, some people are going to make errors."

The Chicago investigation, released in January, found "systemic deficiencies" in the city's police department including violations of the U.S. Constitution.

The 161-page report, capping a year-long investigation, identified the use of deadly force by officers, "racially discriminatory conduct," a lack of investigation into cases, unfair advancement policies and poor support for officer welfare as areas warranting reform.

"In the course of its pattern or practice investigation, the department interviewed and met with city leaders, current and former police officials, and numerous officers throughout all ranks of CPD," the DOJ said in a release at the time. "The department also accompanied line officers on over 60 ride-alongs in every police district; heard from over 1,000 community members and more than 90 community organizations; reviewed thousands of pages of police documents, including all relevant policies, procedures, training and materials; and analyzed a randomized, representative sample of force reports and the investigative files for incidents that occurred between January 2011 and April 2016, including over 170 officer-involved shooting investigations and documents related to over 400 additional force incidents."

In Ferguson, the site of the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in 2014, the Justice Department found extreme instances of racial bias, use of excessive force and a focus on generating revenue through policing.

The report found that African-Americans were targeted in 85 percent of vehicle stops, received 90 percent of the city's citations and made up 93 percent of arrests, while only comprising 67 percent of the population.

Sessions said Monday that he "really worr[ies] about Chicago," citing an uptick in murders and a reduction in stops and arrests there. He also said he believes that prosecution of gun-related crimes would reduce crime and that police are no longer as engaged in policing, contributing to increased violence.

Upon the release of January's report, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that "one of [her] highest priorities" was to "ensure that every American enjoys police protection that is lawful, responsive and transparent."

“Sadly, our thorough investigation into the Chicago Police Department found that far too many residents of this proud city have not received that kind of policing,” said Lynch.

As a result of the investigation, the Justice Department and the city signed an agreement to cooperate on a federal court-enforceable consent decree addressing the deficiencies. Sessions did not offer comment on that agreement Monday.

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