Teen sent to juvenile detention for not completing homework speaks on ‘injustice’

ABC News

(DETROIT) — A Michigan mother and her teen daughter, who spent 78 days in juvenile detention after a judge ruled that she’d violated probation by not completing her homework, are speaking out about their experience, which they say was an injustice in the criminal justice system.

Wishing to be identified only as Grace — her middle name — the now 16-year-old, who is Black and has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, had struggled to keep up with the transition to remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic last year. She was placed on “intensive probation” in April 2020 after being charged with assault for fighting with her mother and larceny for stealing a schoolmate’s cellphone after her mother took hers away.

Grace, who lives in suburbs outside of Detroit, said that she knew there would be consequences for those actions, but she didn’t realize they would rise to such a level, and that she thinks they did because she’s Black.

“If a white girl were to steal the phone and she has the same history as me, same background, same everything … they would probably look at her and say, ‘Hey, you know, you’re not brought up like this,’” Grace told ABC News’ Linsey Davis. “But for me, I feel like it was more of an ‘OK, this is what we expect from Black people.’”

Charisse, Grace’s mother who also asked to use her middle name, called her daughter’s incarceration an “injustice” that should “not be forgotten … that should never occur again.”

“My daughter was penalized because of having a learning disability, which is her chronic ADHD,” Charisse told ABC News.

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Among the terms of her probation was a requirement that Grace complete all of her schoolwork on time. But she said the transition to virtual learning made her feel overwhelmed and anxious. She was matched with a caseworker who Charisse said she thought would help Grace get the support services she needed.

“When we first met, she had shared with us that one of her roles would be to help us through any issues, to keep my daughter on the straight and narrow,” Charisse said. Instead “I got a violation,” she said.

Within days of hearing Grace might have been behind on her schoolwork, the caseworker referred her to the court, recommending that she be placed in juvenile detention, according to ProPublica, which first reported the case. The Oakland County Family Court Division did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

On May 14, Grace was subsequently brought before Oakland County family court Judge Mary Ellen Brennan, who at one point during the hearing said Grace was “a threat to the community.” She ordered Grace to be taken into custody and sent to a county detention center named Children’s Village. Her decision came after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus-related order to keep juveniles out of detention unless they posed “a substantial and immediate safety risk to others.”

“If we called every person who’s taken something or a person who’s [gotten into] an argument with their mom … I’m pretty sure everybody would be … a threat to the community,” Grace said.

Jonathan Biernat, one of Grace’s lawyers, said that in the handling of her case, the court never got “any testimony from the school or the teacher — anybody involved with her education. They got testimony from the probation officer, the prosecutor. And the judge made her decision based on that testimony.”

Reporter Jodi Cohen, who investigated Grace’s case for ProPublica, told ABC News that 42% of Black youth in the county where Grace lives are referred to the court system despite Black youth making up only 15% of its population.

“Cases like Grace’s, and others where you see young people of color … disproportionately represented at various contact points, to me, that points out systemic failures long before the court involvement started,” said Jason Smith, executive director of the Michigan Center for Youth Justice. “We wouldn’t be talking about disparity rates at the confinement level if there was more support in the community. … we wouldn’t rely on the justice system to address a lot of these issues that shouldn’t be criminalized in the first place.”

Charisse said she’s still haunted by the memories of her daughter being handcuffed and taken into custody.

“I was devastated. It just didn’t make any sense and I became very angry. I was furious,” she said.

Grace still holds on to all the letters of support that she received during her time in juvenile detention, but she said one still stands out for her: The first one she sent to her mother from inside.

“Dear mommy, I miss you a lot, and being here is hard. I haven’t really wrote you because I had to ask God to give me strength to do so. I couldn’t write without crying or feeling bad for the rest of the day. … Please continue to send me pictures of me and you or just with anyone. I love you, mommy, and I miss you,” the letter reads in part.

Cohen said that she received a call from Charisse in May 2020. After Charisse told her about Grace’s situation, “it didn’t sound right,” Cohen said.

“Most lawyers who looked at the case didn’t think it was possible to get her out of the detention center,” Biernat said. “It would be too difficult to convince the judge to change your mind.”

Salma Khalil, another of Grace’s lawyers, added that “these cases are long, they’re drawn out, they’re complicated [and] they require a lot of resources.”

ProPublica published Grace’s story in mid-July 2020 and it quickly sparked widespread outcry — far more attention than Charisse had expected, she said.

“We immediately started to receive phone calls from all over the country. We got calls from senators, we got calls from legislators in [Washington], D.C. It was amazing,” Biernat said.

Cohen said she didn’t expect her article to trigger a social media movement calling to free Grace. High school students slept outside, near the facility in protest of Grace’s incarceration. A petition for her release garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures. And a grassroots organization led a 100-car caravan from Grace’s school to the detention center.

Less than a week after the ProPublica article, as pressure to revisit Grace’s case mounted, Brennan agreed to a hearing on a motion to release her from detention. During the hearing, Brennan recounted Grace’s history of encounters with law enforcement, which go back to when she was a preteen, Cohen said, adding that Brennan used the hearing to make her point of view on the case public.

Meanwhile, Grace pleaded with the judge for her release, saying, “Each day, I try to be a better person than I was the last, and I’ve been doing that even before I was in this situation. I’m getting behind in my actual school while here [at the detention center]. The schooling here is beneath my level of education.”

Brennan ultimately decided that Grace belonged in juvenile detention and denied her release. Khalil said that, at the hearing, Grace and Charisse hugged in what she described as a “heartbreaking moment.”

“I think people need to remember that Grace and her mom have a very close bond,” Khalil said. “Charisse raised Grace with her own hands. She’s an involved mom, so the trauma that they are both experiencing and being separated from one another … it just breaks your heart that our system did that to them.”

Biernat, however, said they “weren’t going to sleep” until she’d been let go, and filed a petition with the Michigan Court of Appeals. It worked. Eleven days after the hearing, the appeals court ordered Grace to be released immediately.

Now, nearly a year after her experience, Grace is an honors student who enjoys taking pictures during her free time. She’s also started to speak out about her experience, which has begun to catalyze change in the state. In June, Whitmer signed an executive order to create a task force on juvenile justice reform.

One of the goals of Whitmer’s task force is to collect statewide data on the juvenile justice system’s influence on youth who enter it, including how many youth within the justice system — regardless of their race — are there due to school discipline or academic issues. Smith said these numbers are currently “unknown.”

“There are thousands of other Graces out there and we need to pay attention to those children,” Charisse said. “Our Black girls are being criminalized. My child was criminalized because of her behavior and her ADHD, but Black girls are being criminalized just because of who they are.”

Attorney Allison Folmar, a longtime family friend who is now representing them, told ABC News they are now planning to file a due process complaint against the school district where Children’s Village is located, alleging that Grace was denied her right to adjust to remote learning as a student with ADHD.

“The Individuals with Disabilities [in Education] Act exists because you have to prohibit the very injustice that occurred in this case,” Folmar said. “This federal act empowers students who are differently abled to learn in accordance with his or her individual ability and progress. Students cannot be forced into mainstream academic practice that leaves them at an educational disadvantage.”

She went on, “So, this is about making sure that the educational system does not leave another child behind and … say we’re speaking of this case, to criminalize the inability to learn in this type of situation.”

While she noted that Grace is “still trying to recover academically” after her time in juvenile detention, Folmar also said that Grace “excels” when given “all of the necessary tools to thrive” and pointed to her becoming an honors student.

“We are simply trying to make her whole,” Folmar said.

Since her learning plan had been disrupted by her incarceration, Folmar said they’re now seeking compensation in the civil case to pay for the new school she’s attending as well as the services she needs to succeed academically.

Grace said that her future plans include going to college and starting a computer information or cybersecurity business. She also said she wants to continue to advocate for others.

When asked if there was anything she would say to Brennan, Grace said she would tell her, “I’m not just what was on the papers. I’m not just what you saw from those reports or what you saw in those files. I have so many different attributes and I’m so different than just that, and I hope that she doesn’t judge everyone based on just that.”

ABC News’ Gabriella Abdul-Hakim contributed to this report.

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Millions under flash flood watches as Tropical Storm Elsa moves up East Coast

ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Tropical Storm Elsa is delivering heavy rain as it moves up the East Coast, with more than 50 million Americans under flash flood watches over the next 24 hours.

The storm is moving northeast at 20 mph, with the center about 25 miles southwest of Raleigh, North Carolina, as of Thursday afternoon. North Carolina residents saw heavy rain and wind gusts this afternoon that extended into southeastern Virginia, with maximum sustained winds at 45 mph.

There have been four reported tornadoes in three states thanks to Elsa, with Florida, Georgia and South Carolina all reporting damage.A tornado watch has been extended into southeastern Virginia and southern Maryland into Thursday evening.

Elsa is forecast to hug the Northeast coastline as it heads toward Nova Scotia, with some strengthening possible over the next 24 hours.

Heavy rain and gusty winds are expected in parts of Virginia and Maryland, and later in Delaware as it gets closer to Friday. The storm is forecast to hit Philadelphia and New York City early Friday, with heavy rain likely affecting commutes.

By late morning Friday, conditions likely will shift into New England and last into the afternoon and evening, before heading out of Maine Friday night.

Through Friday, a large swath of the East Coast is forecast to receive 2 to 4 inches of rain. The highest totals are likely along and east of Interstate-95 up across the mid-Atlantic. Up to 6 inches of rain is possible in parts of New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Unrelated to Elsa, a severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for parts of the Northeast, from Pennsylvania to Connecticut, and remains in effect into Thursday evening.

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What we know about the Iowa man arrested after firearms found in Chicago hotel room

Chicago Police Department

(CHICAGO) — The Iowa man arrested after a cleaning service worker discovered firearms and ammunition in his hotel room overlooking Fourth of July activities in downtown Chicago has been released after posting bail.

Keegan Casteel, 32, of Ankeny, Iowa, was arrested Sunday and charged with two felony counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

Officials haven’t yet said why they believe Casteel may have brought the guns to Chicago.

In a bizarre twist, after posting $1,000 bond and being released from jail Wednesday, Casteel proposed to his girlfriend outside a police station, Chicago ABC station WLS reported.

A cleaning service member at the W Hotel Lakeshore found weapons in Casteel’s 12th-floor room facing Navy Pier “in a very suspicious position” on the windowsill around 5:45 p.m., Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said Tuesday.

Casteel had one loaded semi-automatic rifle, equipped with a forward grip assist and a high-powered laser attachment, with a live round in the chamber, as well as a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun and four additional loaded magazines, the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney told ABC News.

Brown said after the discovery of the weapons, Casteel was interviewed by the Chicago Police Department’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and arrested without incident. WLS reported that Casteel’s girlfriend was also in the room.

Brown said Tuesday the incident is “obviously very concerning, considering the position of the W Hotel to Navy Pier,” a major tourist attraction.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a press conference Tuesday she believes there was “something more nefarious” in Casteel’s taking a rifle with a scope across state lines.

His hotel room overlooked Ohio Street Beach and the lakefront, which was crowded for Fourth of July festivities at the time.

Casteel has an Iowa gun permit, prosecutors said. He did not have a Firearms Owner Identification Card in Illinois, which is required to have a gun in the state, Brown said Tuesday. Police confiscated the weapons.

Brown said Tuesday that Casteel does not have a criminal record, however a review of court records shows Casteel has been arrested several times in Iowa.

His most recent arrest was in September 2019 for failure to provide proof of financial liability, which was dropped a month later. He was arrested on the same charge in July 2019 and found guilty. He also was arrested in 2012 for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

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Michael Avenatti, one-time foe of President Trump, sentenced to 30 months in jail for Nike extortion scheme

Louis Lanzano/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — Not long ago, Michael Avenatti was a fixture on cable news, the bellicose nemesis of former President Donald Trump as lawyer to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. He even briefly considered a run for president.

On Thursday, Avenatti dropped another few pegs on his descent into disrepute.

A federal judge in Manhattan sentenced Avenatti to 30 months in prison for trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike.

“Michael Avenatti used illegal and extortionate threats and betrayed one of his clients for the purpose of seeking to obtain millions of dollars for himself,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement about the sentencing. “Not only did Avenatti attempt to weaponize his law license and celebrity to seek to extort payments for himself, he also defrauded his own client. Avenatti will now serve substantial time in prison for his criminal conduct.”

Prosecutors said Avenatti deserved a substantial sentence after he “sought to enrich himself by weaponizing his public profile in an attempt to extort a publicly-traded company out of tens of millions of dollars.”

“While the defendant may have tried to hide behind legal terms and a suit and tie, the jury clearly saw the defendant’s scheme for what it was — an old-fashioned shakedown,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Geoffrey Berman said in a statement at the time of his conviction.

The sentence exceeded the six months the defense asked for, saying Avenatti had been “openly mocked” by Trump and suffered enough.

Avenatti was convicted by a federal jury in February 2020 after a two-week trial in New York City.

Trump once tweeted, sarcastically, “Such a fine guy! Presidential aspirations you know!” about Avenatti after his request for bail was denied in March 2020 as he awaited sentencing.

Avenatti attempted to extort at least $15 million from Nike or else he threatened to use his media influence to damage the brand, according to prosecutors.

He faces separate charges in New York for allegedly stealing a book advance from Daniels and in California for defrauding other clients.

Daniels, who praised the conviction last year, dumped Avenatti as her lawyer in early 2019.

ABC News’ Mark Osborne contributed to this report.

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Suspect arrested in shooting of three law enforcement officers in Chicago


(CHICAGO) — A 28-year-old man accused of shooting three law enforcement officers on Chicago’s South Side has been arrested.

Eugene McLaurin, a Chicago resident, has been federally charged with one count of using a dangerous and deadly weapon to assault an ATF agent, punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, in connection with the shooting, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.

McLaurin was expected to appear in court later on Thursday.

Two ATF Chicago agents and one Chicago Police Department officer were shot Wednesday morning on the heels of a violent holiday weekend where shootings in the city reached triple digits.

The officers were driving in the Morgan Park neighborhood, near an on-ramp to Interstate 57, just before 6 a.m. when they were fired upon by another vehicle, Chicago Police Superintendent David O’Neal Brown told reporters Wednesday morning. The officers were undercover and in an unmarked car.

The officers were participating in a federal investigation when they noticed that a white Chevrolet Malibu was following them, according to the Justice Department. After the officer took note of the license plate, the driver in the Malibu pulled alongside the vehicle, rolled the windows down and opened fire, officials said.

The Malibu was later found parked on a street in Chicago, and McLaurin was taken into custody later on Wednesday, according to the justice department. The investigation into the shooting continues.

The officers’ injuries were not life-threatening. One of the ATF agents was struck in the hand, the other was hit on the side of the torso and the police officer was grazed in the back of the head, Brown said. They were taken to Christ Medical Center and were last reported in stable condition, said Tom Ahern, deputy director of the police department’s news affairs and communications,

One of the ATF agents is female, while the other two officers are male, and all three are senior officers, he added.

Brown declined to provide details on the case the officers were working to avoid compromising the investigation.

The attack marks brings the tally of officers shot in Chicago this year to 36, Brown said. The shooting comes after a deadly Fourth of July weekend in the city, when 100 people were shot, 18 of whom died, including a 15-year-old boy, ABC Chicago station WLS reported. Two Chicago Police officers and five children 13 and younger were among the injured.

Brown said Tuesday that Chicago officers were “performing at the highest level” and are “risking everything to protect the people of Chicago.”

“They are doing their part, and no one would do what these officers are doing right now,” Brown said. “This is a very challenging time to be in law enforcement right now. They are rising to the challenge, doing all they can. The work they do is extremely dangerous.”

Speaking from outside the hospital, Chicago Alderman Matt O’Shea urged President Joe Biden to come to Chicago and offer additional assistance to the city, saying that 100,000 armed gang members who “have absolutely no fear, no respect for life” are wreaking havoc on the city. Residents are scared to let their children play outside, he said.

“Our communities are under siege,” he said. “Our police officers are under siege. They’re outmanned and they’re outgunned.”

Biden was met by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot upon landing in Chicago Wednesday afternoon. During the greeting, Biden expressed his personal support for the law enforcement officers that were injured and reiterated his commitment to working with the city in the fight against gun violence, said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

Biden was scheduled to visit Crystal Lake, a city about 45 miles northwest of Chicago, Wednesday afternoon.

ABC News’ Cheryl Gendron, Rachel Katz and Alex Perez contributed to this report.

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Nikole Hannah-Jones says UNC tenure fiasco indicative of broader racial inequality in higher learning

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Peabody Awards

(NEW YORK) — Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones was offered tenure at the journalism school of her alma mater, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, but she won’t be taking it.

Instead, she will go to Howard University after her tenure was initially blocked for months at North Carolina. The school’s board of trustees declined to vote twice in November and January on her tenure but finally voted in favor of it just last week.

Hannah-Jones would’ve been the first Black Knight Chair at the school and the first not to have been granted tenure.

“I think it showed that there was not a respect for what Black faculty go through on campus. We know that the University of North Carolina lost some recruits over this, other Black faculty are considering leaving the university,” she told ABC News Wednesday. “If they were able to do this to me — I work at the New York Times. I have a huge megaphone, I have a huge platform — what do they think they could get away with when it came to lesser-known scholars?”

Reports swirled in May that her application for tenure had been blocked at the last minute by several politically conservative trustees.

Those who publicly voiced their disapproval at her tenure included a donor for whom the university’s school of journalism is named. However, the donor, Walter Hussman, insists he “never pressured anybody.”

Hussman has spoken out against Hannah-Jones’ landmark work with the New York Times, “The 1619 Project,” for which she won a Pulitzer Prize. The project examines the role of slavery in the birth of the United States. Critics, including prominent historians, took issue with the portrayal of the American Revolution and requested corrections be made.

The project was backed by support from the New York Times’ executive editor, publisher and magazine editor. She said in a statement her tenure controversy was tied to “the political firestorm that has dogged me since The 1619 Project published” two years ago.

“Tenure matters for exactly the reason that I didn’t initially receive it. …oftentimes, academics are doing research and producing work that could be seen as controversial, or that challenges the status quo, and this protects the ability to pursue work that may not be popular with people who are politically powerful,” Hannah-Jones told ABC News. “The fact that initially I was denied tenure, largely because of the nature of my works, specifically around conservative objections to The 1619 Project speaks to why I could not come to the university without it.”

UNC Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said he is “disappointed” that Hannah-Jones won’t be joining the faculty.

“We wish her the best,” he said in a statement. “I remain committed to recruiting and retaining the world-class faculty that our students deserve at Carolina. Members of my leadership team and I are actively engaged with student, faculty and staff leaders to continue working together toward a more inclusive and equitable campus living, learning and working environment where everyone knows they belong.”

Hannah-Jones admonished Guskiewicz and other leaders at the school for not addressing the deadlock of her tenure.

“The Board of Trustees not voting was one thing. But to also have the chancellor and the provost of the university fail to speak out publicly, fail to say that the board of trustees should’ve treated me like every other professor who came in under the Knight Chair, I think that sent the message to other faculty on campus that they would not have the protection and the support of the administration if it came down to a fight with political appointees,” she said.

Hannah-Jones will be the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Reporting at Howard University, a historically Black institution of higher education (HBCU). The Knight Foundation’s $5 million investment in the university includes $500,000 for the Knight Chair to help strengthen journalism teaching across HBCUs.

“Instead of fighting to prove I belong at an institution that until 1955 prohibited Black Americans from attending, I am instead going to work in the legacy of a university not built by the enslaved but for those who once were,” she said in her statement.

Hannah-Jones said she was approached by the dean of UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media, Susan King, to become the school’s Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Reporting. Hannah-Jones said the request came during last year’s racial reckoning, and she saw a need for “journalists to have the knowledge, training, historical understanding and depth of reporting to cover the changing country and its challenges.”

She said she accepted, underwent a rigorous tenure process, and passed two votes, first by all professors, then the Promotion and Tenure Committee, which both overwhelmingly approved her tenure.

UNC’s Board of Trustees were meant to vote in November for her start in January 2021.

Then, “we learned that my tenure application had been pulled but received no explanation as to why. The same thing happened again in January,” Hannah-Jones said. “Both the university’s Chancellor and its Provost refused to fully explain why my tenure package had failed twice to come to a vote, or exactly what transpired.”

She said she was told they would not consider her tenure at that time, and offered her a five-year contract for tenure consideration at a later, unspecified date. She reluctantly agreed, becoming both the first Black Knight Chair at the school, and the first not to have been granted tenure.

After a report from NC Policy Watch about her tenure process and ensuing student protests, the board of trustees finally voted on Hannah-Jones’ tenure, and approved it in a split vote.

“I cannot imagine working at and advancing a school named for a man who lobbied against me, who used his wealth to influence the hires and ideology of the journalism school, who ignored my 20 years of journalism experience, all of my credentials, all of my work, because he believed a project that centered Black Americans equaled denigration of white Americans,” she said of Hussman. “Nor can I work at an institution whose leadership permitted this conduct and has done nothing to disavow it.”

Hussman told Poynter this week that he hoped to meet with Hannah-Jones and Dean Susan King, but the meeting never came together. After reading The 1619 Project, Hussman said he voiced concerns about his belief that the report exaggerated the role of slavery as a possible cause for the American Revolution, and insisted his objections were with the scholarship, not Hannah-Jones.

“I don’t have any judgment about her (personally) — I’ve never met her,” Hussman told Poynter. “I feel certain I did what I should appropriately have done. I didn’t lobby against her appointment.” He added that he had no objection to the latest UNC vote to offer Hannah-Jones tenure.

She said she still has not received answers about what happened in her tenure process. She called on UNC to provide transparency, apologize to student protestors, and address demands for recruiting, supporting and retaining Black faculty.

Hannah-Jones told ABC News the lack of Black tenured faculty in schools across the country can be traced back to a system where previously-tenured professors, often white, offer tenure to others and can be “self-replicating.” Also, she said Black scholars are studying issues of inequality and race, which are “not often valued as other types of scholarship.”

“I hope that other universities who might find it easy to point at the board of trustees in North Carolina and say ‘They’re just backwards,’ will do some real, internal introspection on the way that they are also blocking so many other talented Black faculty who dedicated their life to academia.”

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Surfside building collapse latest: Death toll rises to 60 as rescue efforts shift to recovery

Eva Marie Uzcategui Trinkl/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(SURFSIDE, Fla.) — At least 60 people have now been confirmed dead and 80 others remain potentially unaccounted for since a 12-story residential building partially collapsed in South Florida’s Miami-Dade County last month.

The disaster occurred on June 24 around 1:15 a.m. local time at the Champlain Towers South condominium in the small, beachside town of Surfside, about 6 miles north of Miami Beach. Approximately 55 of the oceanfront complex’s 136 units were destroyed, according to officials. The rest of the building was demolished on Sunday night, due to concerns about its structural integrity and an incoming tropical storm.

For two weeks, hundreds of first responders carefully combed through the pancaked piles of debris in hopes of finding survivors. But no one has been found alive in the wreckage of the building since the morning it partially collapse, and officials announced Wednesday evening that the search and rescue operation, in its 14th day, would shift to a recovery mission.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told reporters that the decision was “a result of a consensus by those closest to the rescue efforts that the possibility of someone still alive is near zero.”

“And while there seems to be no chance of finding life in the rubble, a miracle is still possible,” Burkett said during a press conference Wednesday evening.

To mark the somber move, a moment of silence was held in honor of all the victims, of whom 35 have been identified thus far. A candlelight vigil was held later that night at the memorial site for the victims.

Reflecting on the transition the next day, U.S. Rep. Deborah Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., told reporters: “When that happened, it took a little piece of the hearts of this community.”

Crews paused their work atop the piles early Thursday “for a brief moment of silence to honor the two-week mark since the collapse,” according to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

“We have now officially transitioned from search and rescue to search and recovery,” Levine Cava said during a press conference Thursday morning. “The work continues with all speed and urgency. We are working around the clock to recover victims and bring closure to the families as fast as we possibly can.”

“We are taking as much care as ever to proceed to find victims in the rubble,” she added.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters that crews “will identify every single person” who is found. Officials will also continue to help the survivors and the families of the victims get back “on their feet as best as we possibly can,” even after the media attention wanes, DeSantis said.

Meanwhile, 200 people who were living or staying in the condominium at the time of the disaster have been accounted for and are safe, according to Levine Cava, who has repeatedly stressed that the figures are “very fluid” and “continue to change.”

Crews have hauled away more than 7 million pounds of debris from the vast scene, but large piles of rubble still remain. Officials said it could take several weeks to get to the bottom of the wreckage. Crews have been working virtually nonstop, with help from teams who came from across Florida and elsewhere in the United States as well as from abroad. However, their efforts were halted for almost an entire day last week due to safety concerns regarding the still-standing structure, prior to the demolition. Poor weather conditions have also forced them to temporarily pause working.

The cause of the partial collapse to a building that has withstood decades of hurricanes remains unknown and is under investigation. Built in the 1980s, the Champlain Towers South was up for its 40-year recertification and had been undergoing roof work — with more renovations planned — when it partially collapsed, according to officials.

“This tragedy shook our community and the world,” Levine Cava told reporters Thursday.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tropical Storm Warning for Northeast, more tornadoes and flash flooding expected

ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Elsa is moving through the Carolinas on Thursday morning with heavy rain and gusty winds and winds currently at 40 mph making it a weak tropical storm which could weaken into a tropical depression anytime.

There have been four reported tornadoes in three states thanks to Elsa with Florida, Georgia and South Carolina all reporting damage.

Elsa is now moving up the East Coast with a tropical storm warning issued from Georgia to Massachusetts, including Boston.

Elsa is expected to move through the Carolinas Thursday with a tornado threat, flash flooding and gusty winds.

Later Thursday night, Elsa will move into the mid-Atlantic states and approach Long Island, New York by Friday morning with gusty winds of up to 40 to 50 mph possible across the region and heavy rain and flash flooding possible for major cities in the Northeast, including Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

The highest winds gusts will be along the coast from the Jersey Shore to eastern Long Island and into Cape Cod, Massachusetts and coastal Maine.

Elsa will then move into coastal New England in the late morning on Friday and will be out of the United States and into Canada by Friday night.

A flash flood watch has also been issued from North Carolina to Maine due to all of the heavy rain forecast in a short period of time across the region.

A tornado watch will also continue Thursday morning for South and North Carolina all the way from Charleston to Wilmington.

Some areas in the Northeast could see up to 5 inches of rain with heavy rain bands from Elsa starting Thursday night into Friday morning as flash flooding is expected along the I-95 corridor.

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Elsa churns up deadly tornadoes as it charges up East Coast: Latest path

ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Tropical Storm Elsa is now charging up the East Coast after making landfall along Florida’s Gulf Coast Wednesday, causing at least one death and miles of destruction, according to officials.

Elsa made landfall at about 11 a.m. Wednesday in Taylor County, in Florida’s Big Bend region.

Elsa, which slammed Florida and Georgia with gusty winds and heavy rain, strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane Tuesday night before weakening back to a tropical storm before landfall.

The storm churned two tornadoes Wednesday evening and tornado watches were issued from Jacksonville, Florida, to Charleston, South Carolina, Wednesday night.

One person was killed after a tornado was reported in Jacksonville, according to Mayor Lenny Curry. A tree fell on the victim when the storm swept through the city, Curry said.

Curry said there were no other major injuries reported as of Wednesday evening but several homes and businesses were damaged and over 11,000 households were without power.

“Just be ready,” he told the public.

A second tornado was reported to have caused serious damage at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia. Photos and video showed motorhomes flipped on their sides and trees uprooted.

A spokesperson for the base told ABC News about 10 people were injured. None of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening, but they were serious enough to be transported off the base, according to the spokesperson.

Slow-moving bands of heavy rain along the Georgia coast triggered dangerous flash flooding. Central Glynn County reported between 3 to 6 inches of rain Wednesday evening.

A boat capsized near Key West as Elsa blew through on Tuesday, according to the Coast Guard. Nine people remain missing.

Elsa is now barreling up the East Coast, set to bring heavy rain and flash flooding from Georgia to Maine through Friday.

The latest path shows Elsa moving over Georgia Wednesday night, South Carolina Thursday morning and North Carolina Thursday night.

Elsa is forecast to weaken to a tropical depression by Thursday morning as it brings rain and wind to Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Wilmington.

By Thursday night Elsa will be blowing through Virginia, Maryland and Delaware with heavy rain, gusty winds and flooding. Elsa will hit New Jersey overnight Thursday into Friday.

On Friday morning, Elsa will head up the Interstate 95 corridor with heavy rain and gusty winds from New York City to Boston.

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FBI Task Force officer shot and killed in ambush by gunman outside federal building

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(TERRE HAUTE, Ind.) — An FBI Task Force officer and 30-year police department veteran was shot and killed in the line of duty Wednesday after being ambushed outside an FBI building in Indiana, police say.

The incident occurred at approximately 2:15 p.m. local time, when FBI Task Force officer Greg Ferency was “ambushed and fatally shot” at the FBI Indianapolis Resident Agency in Terre Haute, Indiana, according to a statement from FBI Indianapolis Special Agent Paul Keenan.

Ferency had been an FBI Task Force officer since 2010 and was a 30-year veteran of the Terre Haute Police Department.

Authorities said another FBI agent was able to shoot the alleged gunman involved in the ambush. The suspect was subsequently taken into police custody and is now receiving medical attention at a local hospital.

“We want to extend our deepest sympathy to TFO Ferency’s family, friends and fellow officers,” Keenan continued in his statement.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb called Ferency’s death “senseless” in a statement on Twitter.

“The tragic events that unfolded today are senseless. Our heart breaks for Detective Greg Ferency’s family, loved ones and those who served with him every day protecting the residents of the Wabash Valley,” Holcomb said. “[My wife] and I are thinking of the Terre Haute Police Department, the community and Detective Ferency’s family as I know they will be steadfast in honoring his life, service and dedication to the residents of Vigo County.”

Indiana Sen. Mike Braun also tweeted about the tragedy and called on the public to keep Ferency’s family and colleagues in their prayers.

“Terre Haute PD Officer Greg Ferency was killed today in the line of duty doing what he has done for 30 years: selflessly protecting and serving his community. Please keep his family and fellow officers in your prayers, and all those who wear the badge,” said Braun.

Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch also expressed her condolences in a statement obtained by ABC News’ Indianapolis affiliate WRTV.

“I want to send my heartfelt prayers to Terre Haute and Hoosier law enforcement across Indiana, after learning of the violent and careless assault on Terre Haute Police Detective Greg Ferency,” said Crouch. “Attacks on the brave men and women who answer the call to be our heroes and protect our citizens and state will not be tolerated. Detective Ferency was an honorable servant, who kept drugs off our streets and partnered with federal authorities to defend Hoosiers and his community. I am keeping Ferency’s family and those who worked side by side with him during his 30 years of service in my thoughts as we come together to honor his commitment to making Indiana a safer place.”

The shooting is now under investigation by the FBI’s Inspection Division in accordance with FBI police.

“The review process is thorough and objective and is conducted as expeditiously as possible under the circumstances,” said Keenan.

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