(CHESTERFIELD, S.C.) — Eight students were injured in a school bus accident in South Carolina Friday afternoon, school officials said.
The bus was carrying 24 students from a middle school and elementary school in the Chesterfield County School District when the accident occurred around 4 p.m. in the town of Jefferson, the district said.
Eight students on the bus were transported to the hospital with injuries, the district said.
“The district superintendent, transportation staff, and area principals are working the accident,” school officials said in a statement.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) — A member of a group of British Islamic State terrorists dubbed “the Beatles” by their hostages was sentenced Friday in U.S. federal court to 8 concurrent life terms for kidnapping and murdering freelance journalist James Foley, as well as participating in the detention and murders of three other Americans.
The sentencing of El Shafee Elsheikh, 34, comes on the eighth anniversary of Foley’s murder which was broadcast across the world in a chilling beheading video by ISIS. Elsheikh was also convicted and sentenced for the kidnapping and murder of journalist Steven Sotloff, human rights activist Kayla Mueller and aid worker Peter Kassig.
Elsheikj, who was captured in Syria in 2018 alongside fellow “Beatle” Alexanda Kotey, was described by prosecutors at his sentencing hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia as the most notorious, highest-ranking member of ISIS to face trial in the U.S. The foursome had held hostage 26 Westerners and murdered four Americans and several British and Japanese nationals in Syria.
Kotey was sentenced to life in prison in April.
Judge T.S. Ellis on Friday described the crimes as horrendous, noting Elsheikh’s involvement in the sexual abuse of Mueller, his decision to provide false testimony to law enforcement and his role as a leader of the group.
Due to a prior agreement with the United Kingdom, neither Elsheikh nor Kotey faced the death penalty. Another member of the group, Mohammed Emwazi, was killed in a drone strike in Syria in 2016. A fourth member, Aine Lesley Davis, was arrested in Turkey and extradited earlier this year to the United Kingdom to face terrorism charges.
Following the sentencing, Elsheikh immediately filed an appeal with the court citing ineffective council. Ellis rebutted to the defense, “I think you have been diligent.”
Diane Foley, the mother of James Foley, addressed Elsheikh directly during her testimony Friday, saying, “Love is so much stronger than hatred. I pity you Elsheikh.”
She told reporters Friday that more than 67 U.S. nationals are currently detained and held hostage abroad.
Foley said in an appeal to President Joe Biden, “I urgently call on our President Biden to employ our shrewdest negotiation to quickly bring these innocent Americans home, lest they die in captivity as our sons and daughter did.”
After the death of her son, Foley founded the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, which advocates for Americans that have been held hostage abroad and promotes the safety of journalists worldwide.
She added, “Let this sentencing make clear to all who dared to kidnap, torture or kill any American citizen abroad. That U.S. justice will find you wherever you are, and that our government will hold you accountable for your crimes against our citizens.”
Marsha and Carl Mueller, the parents of Kayla Mueller, told reporters Friday that they have not given up looking for their daughter’s remains. The couple is working with private entities to try to find Kayla and learn exactly what happened to their daughter. They told reporters they met with FBI Director Christopher Wray who told them, “we are not going to stop until we find Kayla.”
The 26-year-old was on a humanitarian mission in Turkey in August 2013 when ISIS kidnapped her after she crossed the Syrian border to visit a hospital. In February 2015, U.S. officials confirmed that she died while in ISIS custody.
Elsheikh declined to speak at Friday’s sentencing. Marsha Mueller told reporters, “I was hoping he would be but I wasn’t shocked that he is going to appeal.”
Carl Mueller said of Elsheikh, “He’s obviously cold with no remorse throughout the whole trial and I still think he believes he was doing the right thing.”
Both families said they met with Kotey. Marsha Mueller told reporters Kotey” did articulate some remorse” and that she was grateful for that.
Foley stressed the need for the government to act swiftly in cases in cases where Americans are held, to avoid making the process of bringing them home more complicated.
Carl Mueller had tough words for the Obama administration who he said had “every opportunity to bring [Kayla] home” during the 18 months she was reportedly held captive.
“They definitely have learned their lesson and our children was the cost of that and hopefully, in the future, our government will do like so many others did, and get their people home. Not leave them in there for 18 months.”
(LOS ANGELES) — An emotional Vanessa Bryant took the stand Friday in her invasion of privacy trial over photos taken at the scene of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, basketball star Kobe Bryant, and their 13-year-old daughter.
Bryant filed a lawsuit several months after the 2020 crash against Los Angeles County, alleging that first responders took graphic photos of human remains at the scene as “souvenirs” and shared them with others. She is claiming she suffered emotional distress and is suing for an undisclosed amount of damages for negligence and invasion of privacy.
Bryant, the final plaintiffs’ witness, was overcome with emotion in the Los Angeles federal courtroom on Friday as she shared her fear and anxiety over the photos.
“I never had a panic attack before this,” she told the jury.
Bryant said she learned from a Los Angeles Times report that deputies had taken photos of the crash site. She said she lives in fear every day that they could be leaked and wants “justice for my husband and my daughter.”
Kobe Bryant and their daughter, Gianna, were headed to a basketball game at his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks along with others connected to the basketball program on Jan. 26, 2020, when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed in Calabasas. All nine people on board, including the pilot, were killed.
Orange County financial adviser Chris Chester is also suing the county over photos taken of his wife and daughter, who were killed in the same crash. In July, U.S. District Judge John Walter decided to consolidate Bryant’s and Chester’s cases into one trial.
Chester took the witness stand on Thursday, telling the jury he was in “disbelief” after hearing reports that deputies and firefighters took and shared photos of his wife, Sarah, and their 13-year-old daughter, Payton.
“It was grief on top of grief,” he said, calling for “justice and accountability.”
LA County maintains that first responders did not share any photos publicly from the scene of the crash. It also attests that an investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that all of the photos were destroyed.
During the trial, which began Aug. 10, the defense has also maintained that the photos have not surfaced online since the tragedy. Multiple county fire and sheriff’s personnel have also testified that they deleted whatever crash-site pictures they had on their cellphones.
Both Bryant’s and Chester’s lawsuits argue that the photos were shared before being deleted by first responders.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who ordered deputies to delete the photos, is also expected to testify on Friday as the first witness for the defense.
ABC News’ Kyla Guilfoil contributed to this report.
(NEW YORK) — The Northern Lights may be visible as far south as Pennsylvania and Iowa on Friday, Space Weather Prediction Center from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
The remarkable sky lights may come down farther south due to a geomagnetic storm that began on Wednesday, experts said.
The storm is the result of a coronal mass ejection, or CME, which is a powerful burst of magnetized plasma from the sun’s corona, its outermost layer.
Scientists detected two CMEs erupting on the sun and aimed for Earth, which they expected to arrive on August 18.
The CMEs can combine to create a geomagnetic storm, scientists say, to reach strong levels that may create auroras closer to the equator than usual.
The auroras, which make up what we know as the Northern Lights, form when high-energy particles from the sun collide with Earth’s atmosphere. The particles glow because they excite the gasses in the sky.
Stronger energy brings the glowing particles farther from the poles, experts say.
Leading up to the stronger storm, scientists said a coronal hole high-speed stream arrived on Thursday night to create a more minor geomagnetic storm.
A coronal hole is a cooler area in the sun’s outermost layer that can generate high-speed solar wind that is full of charged particles that can get spread across the solar system.
These high-speed streams can create auroras on Earth, too.
Typically, auroras are most visible from December to February, but viewers have strong chances from September to November, too, experts say.
Stronger solar weather is needed for such a view in the summer months.
Alaska is known as a top U.S. destination for seeing the lights, but visitors can also expect a view in northern Maine during favorable conditions, scientists say.
Experts say that less densely populated areas, where the night sky remains darkest, are most favorable for northern viewing of the magical sky lights.
(WATSONVILLE, Calif.) — Three people are dead after two small planes collided mid-air at a California airport on Thursday, authorities said.
The crash occurred shortly before 3 p.m. local time at the Watsonville Municipal Airport in Watsonville, an agricultural area located about 50 miles south of San Jose, officials said.
The two planes were attempting to land when they collided, the city of Watsonville said on social media. “We have reports of multiple fatalities,” it said.
A single-engine Cessna 152 and a twin-engine Cessna 340 “collided while the pilots were on their final approaches,” the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.
One person was in the Cessna 152 and two were in the Cessna 340, the agency said. No injuries were reported to anyone on the ground.
The Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office said Friday that all three onboard the planes were killed in the crash. The names of the victims will be released following family notification.
The city tweeted Thursday that it was “absolutely saddened to hear about the tragic incident that took the lives of several people.”
“The City of Watsonville sends its deepest condolences to the friends and family of those who passed,” it added.
“We are grieving tonight from this unexpected and sudden loss,” Watsonville Mayor Ari Parker said. “I want to express my deepest and most heartfelt condolences.”
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office said it responded to an aircraft collision on Aviation Way near the airport and secured the scene with the Watsonville Police Department.
“This afternoon, two planes collided and came to rest at and near the Watsonville airport. There are multiple fatalities right now,” Lt. Patrick Dimick said. “There are multiple fatalities. We cannot confirm anything else at this time as we’ve just secured the airport for the NTSB and FAA to arrive and conduct their investigation.”
An investigation is underway by the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA.
ABC News’ Michelle Mendez and Alex Stone contributed to this report.
(WINTER SPRINGS, Fla.) — A Florida woman was killed Thursday by lightning that also struck her child and a dog, authorities said.
The incident occurred on Thursday afternoon in Winter Springs, a small city in central Florida’s Seminole County, some 15 miles north of Orlando. The Winter Springs Police Department said it received multiple reports of people possibly being struck by lightning near Trotwood Park at about 2:20 p.m. local time and deployed officers to the scene. Lightning appeared to have “hit a nearby tree, energizing the area and striking the victims,” police said.
The Seminole County Fire Department also responded and provided immediate lifesaving aid to the victims on site. A woman and her child were subsequently transported to area hospitals for treatment, where the mother died, according to police.
“The child and K9 have been seen by medical professionals and are doing fine,” the Winter Springs Police Department said in a press release Thursday. “We are not releasing the names so the family may grieve from this unfortunate event.”
Seminole County Public Schools confirmed that the victims included a Keeth Elementary School student and their parent.
“SCPS and Keeth Elementary School remain committed to the safety and security of all students and will continue to take safety precautions in the event of inclement weather,” the school district said in a statement via social media on Thursday. “Additional counselors will be on campus to support students and/or staff impacted by this event.”
Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said it was “a tragic day in the City of Winter Springs and the entire Seminole County Community.”
“Please say a prayer for the family who has lost a mother, and all of those involved and affected by today’s storm,” Lemma said in a statement via social media on Thursday. “Our team responded to assist the City and family — and remains ready to support the school district and community with any needs.”
The death brings the total number of lightning-related fatalities in the United States so far this year to 14. Based on the past decade, an average of 18 lightning deaths occur in the country by mid-August, according to data compiled by John Jensenius, a meteorologist with the National Lightning Safety Council who retired from the National Weather Service in 2019 after more than 41 years with the agency.
Lightning is a major cause of storm-related deaths in the U.S. A lightning strike can result in cardiac arrest, though only about 10% of victims are killed, according to the National Weather Service.
Nevertheless, lightning strikes can leave a person with various degrees of disability and many long-term health problems, including muscle soreness, headaches, cognitive problems and nausea.
The odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime are 1 in 15,300, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Severe Storms Laboratory.
(UVALDE, Texas) — Uvalde residents, including families of Robb Elementary School shooting victims, have signed and sent a petition against assault weapons to Randy Klein, the owner of Oasis Outback, the local sporting goods store where the gunman retrieved the AR-15 he used to shoot at the school.
ABC News has reached out for comment.
“The members of this group feel strongly about our second amendment rights and support your establishment’s commitment to selling guns and ammunition,” the petition reads. “However, we come to you today with a request.”
It continued, “Out of RESPECT for and in support of those affected by this catastrophe, we strongly urge you to cease the sale of assault rifles and the ammunition paired with them.”
The petition also asks for Klein to end the handling of gun transfers of this style of firearm from gun retail stores and manufacturers.
“Doing so will ensure that children across Uvalde County will never have to worry about a new purchase of this type of weapon,” the petition reads.
In a Wednesday meeting of the “Uvalde Strong for Gun Safety” group, a local pediatrician and gun safety advocate Roy Guerrero said that Klein will have 30 days to respond to the petition. Guerrero urged others to sign and mail in the petition themselves.
If Klein refuses to respond or meet with victims’ families, the residents behind the petition have several plans of action – including protests, media campaigns, and calls to legislators.
“I’m not here to hurt anyone’s business, but I am here to do the right thing,” Guerrero said.
Several meeting attendees and petitioners – including parents of Robb Elementary School victims – have said they are gun owners themselves and are pleading with business owners and local leaders to make a change.
“You can’t meet us at a happy medium? Just raising the age on [gun purchases]?” said Nikki Cross, the aunt of 10-year-old victim Uziyah Garcia and who is a gun owner herself. “I think that would be tremendous to start.”
In Texas, there are few restrictions on purchasing firearms. People 18 and older can legally purchase long guns, and “law-abiding Texans” can carry handguns without a license or training.
The Uvalde city council and school board have passed resolutions calling on Gov. Greg Abbot to increase the age for purchasing assault rifles.
According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which advocates for gun control and studies gun laws across the country, four of the deadliest mass shootings in the U.S., including the Uvalde tragedy, have happened in Texas.
Abbott has blamed the mass shooting in Uvalde on mental health issues. He has said that law enforcement believes increased gun violence is due to the growing prevalence of people with mental health issues, not lax gun laws.
Meeting attendees said they plan to keep pushing for gun safety policy, in hopes that no one forgets the May 24 tragedy.
“Nobody understands what a victim’s parent is going through, or a family member is going through,” said one attendee. “They want to sit there and they want to bash [us]. But yet, you have no idea. You’re already back to your normal life like it’s nothing.”
(WASHINGTON) — A teenage suspect was arrested in Washington, D.C., on Thursday in connection with a mass shooting that killed one person and wounded three others, police said.
The 15-year-old boy, who lives in the northwestern part of the U.S. capital, was taken into custody by members of the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force. He was then transported to a juvenile processing center where he was charged with first degree murder while armed, according to the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, which did not release the suspect’s name.
The charge stems from a deadly shooting that took place in Northwest D.C. on the night of June 19 during a music festival called Moechella, which was calling for racial and social justice while celebrating Juneteenth, the federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. Police said they were ordering organizers to shut down the large event when suddenly gunshots rang out in the area. Police said they located a 15-year-old boy, a woman and two men, including a Metropolitan Police Department officer, who had all been struck by gunfire.
The victims were rushed to area hospitals for treatment. The 15-year-old boy, identified as Chase Poole, ultimately died from his injuries, while the three other victims were treated for non-life threatening injuries, according to police.
Poole is one of 856 children ages 12 to 17 who have died from gun violence so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks shootings in the United States from more than 7,500 law enforcement, media, government and commercial sources. Another 216 children who were 11 years old or younger have died from guns in 2022.
In a statement on June 21, Moechella organizers called the shooting a “senseless tragedy” and expressed their condolences to the victims and their families.
“Moechella has always been a peaceful demonstration of our constitutionally protected right of assembly and free speech under the 1st amendment,” the organizers added. “The purpose of this demonstration has always been to speak out against the social inequities plaguing Washington, D.C., like gun violence, like the lack of resources for the underserved community, police brutality and the need for D.C. statehood.”
Police said the Juneteenth shooting remains under investigation and that a reward of up to $25,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the Metropolitan Police Department at 202-727-9099. In addition, information may be submitted anonymously to the department’s text tip line by sending a text message to 50411.
ABC News’ Beatrice Peterson contributed to this report.
(NEW YORK) — Three men were charged Thursday in connection with the 2018 death of notorious mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, federal prosecutors announced.
Bulger was allegedly bludgeoned to death in federal prison, according to prosecutors, by Fotios Geas, 55, also known as “Freddy,” and Paul J. DeCologero, 48, known as “Pauly.” Both are charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. A third man, Sean McKinnon, 36, is charged with making false statements to a federal agent and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Bulger was transferred to United States Penitentiary Hazleton in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, and shortly thereafter was murdered at the federal prison on Oct. 30, 2018.
Bulger, the leader of Boston’s Winter Hill gang, was on the run for 16 years before being caught by federal authorities, and later tried and convicted. Before being moved to a West Virginia lockup, the 89-year-old was housed in federal prison in Florida.
Geas is still incarcerated at USP Hazelton, according to prison records, and is serving a life sentence for a separate crime. DeCologero is no longer being held at USP Hazelton but remains housed in the federal prison system, and McKinnon was on federal supervised release at the time of the indictment and was arrested Thursday in Florida.
Bulger, who was serving a life sentence, was moved to West Virginia for no real reason, according to a lawsuit filed by his family.
He had suffered multiple heart attacks and was confined to a wheelchair, a source familiar with his condition told ABC News, leaving his attorneys puzzled over how Bulger’s medical condition suddenly improved so much that he was able to move prisons.
“Mr. Bulger’s physical/medical condition was fraudulently upgraded to effectuate a transfer and place to Hazelton on or about Oct. 29 or Oct. 30, 2018,” attorneys Hank Brennan and David Schoen wrote in an administrative claim against the Department of Justice, a copy of which was obtained by ABC News and was filed in 2019.
“To be clear, we do not believe that the transfer to Hazelton and placement in general population was simply dangerous, negligent, reckless and irresponsible; we believe it was also intentional and part of conspiracy among BOP, DOJ employees and others to intentionally cause Mr. Bulger’s serious injuries and death,” the complaint said.
Bulger’s death inside the federal prison is just one high-profile death that has not seen resolution, another other being the suicide of Jeffery Epstein in a Manhattan lockup.
The Bureau of Prisons has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.
(NEW YORK)– Thousands of migrants seeking asylum who endured a 2,000-mile journey over several days, with little to no belongings or family, aboard buses sent from Texas now find themselves facing challenges establishing their new lives in New York City.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, since early May, has been sending busloads of migrants out of Texas to cities with Democrat leaders, including New York City and Washington, D.C. The Republican governor says he started the busing programs in response to the Biden administration’s immigration policies which he claims inadequately secure the border, forcing states like his to bear the brunt of migrant waves.
Many of the migrants are still arriving almost daily in the Big Apple, including 18-year-old student Brayan Amaro, who began his journey alone in his home country of Venezuela.
“The journey was terrible; going through all those countries was terrible because there was extortion, you had to pay . . . you had to pay all the police,” Amaro told ABC News. “There was not one of them that wasn’t corrupt…”
“I’m still a boy who’s very young. I hope to have better opportunities here,” Amaro said. “If I can keep on studying. All of that.”
Amaro says this will be his opportunity to “get ahead and be a better person than in Venezuela.” Migrants arriving from Texas at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan are greeted by volunteers from aid groups, nonprofits and the city’s immigration office.
“Many of them are seeking asylum at the border,” Muzaffar Chishti, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, told ABC News. “Instead of people being taken at a place of their choice, or what would be the most logical place for their claim to be processed, they’re being sent to New York and D.C., where they may not have any family, where they may not have a lawyer that they would choose to be represented by.”
Nonprofit organizations continue to step in and distribute resources to welcome migrants arriving with their few belongings.
Ariadna Phillips, the founder of South Bronx Mutual Aid, and a group of volunteers lead efforts to secure transportation for migrants.
“This is just regular people here in New York banding together to make sure that, you know, our friends that are coming in are feeling safe and welcome and appreciated,” Phillips told ABC News.
For many migrants like licensed nurse Joana Alvarez, New York City is not the final destination.
“I have my mother and my father. Look, it was for them, I came for them,” Alvarez said in Spanish.
Like Amaro, Alvarez made the journey through Venezuela to Texas’ border on her own. With Phillips’ support, Alvarez is set to board another bus headed for upstate New York, where she will stay with a host family that she has yet to meet.
“In New York, we have what’s called the right-to-shelter city, where if anyone comes to our city, we have a moral and legal obligation to provide shelter, and we’re doing that every day,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams told ABC News.
Abbott’s busing operation led to the arrival of more than 6,000 asylum seekers in New York City alone, according to Adams. The high demand placed unforeseen strain on the city’s social services, calling for the opening of 13 emergency shelters to house the incoming migrants.
Adams said this “crisis calls for coordination” between the two administrations, but they have still been unable to collaborate on the issue.
In New York City, overwhelming support is being traced back to nonprofits, which are bearing the brunt on the unprecedented migrant influx and the decreased availability of resources and services.
A mother from Colombia, now based in the South Bronx with her four children, arrived on a bus from Texas a few days ago. The bus ride, she said, was “a little hard,” with not even a bathroom for her children to use.
“We lasted three days in the bus with hunger, with thirst,” the mother told ABC News in Spanish.
With the help of one organization, she’s been able to make strides toward opportunity and stability for her new life with her family in New York City.
“To be able to give a, offer a good future for my kids,” the mother said in Spanish. “So that in that same way we’re able to support other people who arrive here as well, just like how they have supported me.”