National News

(LOS ANGELES) — A wildfire is currently blazing through the mountains of Southern California ahead of the area's typical fire season. While authorities suspect the Pacific Palisades Fire may have been ignited by an arsonist, the fire, which has currently spread to over 1,300 acres, offers more evidence that climate change is affecting the behavior of fires in the West, experts say.

Now that fire season has extended to at least 84 days since the 1970s -- beginning in May and lasting through September -- the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has declared that the dry season essentially lasts all year.

While the warm, dry climate that serves as fuel for wildfires has always been the norm for much of the West, hotter overall temperatures on Earth are exacerbating typical environmental conditions all over the world. And the drought isn't going anywhere, according to the Climate Prediction Center's forecast for the summer, which shows much of the U.S. suffering from drought through July 31.

The dry season on the West Coast is getting hotter and longer, leading to less snowfall during the wet season and later, less moisture on the ground to detract wildfires when the dry season is back again.

The hot, dry air also absorbs water from everything, including plants, soil, lakes and rivers. As it gets hotter, the amount of moisture the atmosphere can absorb increases exponentially. California has warmed 3 degrees since the 19th century, which results in a massive difference in the way soil and vegetation dries out and can help explain the record-breaking wildfires year after year.

Drought conditions from California to Nevada, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico have been so bad that officials began preparing for the fire season in April. For some states, the staggering drought could be the worst in centuries.

The acreage burned so far in California is three times the five-year average for early May, according to CalFire.

Earlier this month, the National Weather Service in California released an update stating that northeast California and northwest Nevada will likely experience the worst second sequential year of drought in more than 30 years. There was also very little-to-no moisture in the U.S. Southwest. Places like Phoenix saw less than a third of what they should have over the winter.

In addition, large patches of wildfire-resistant trees, such as conifers, are gone and take decades to reforest. They have been replaced by flammable groundcover and grasses that can burn quickly.

The current Live Fuel Moisture, which measures the moisture content within living vegetation, is comparable to early July conditions due to a very dry rainy season. Tucson had its second-driest monsoon season on record.

This year's fire season is expected to be extremely dangerous, especially considering the fire behavior of the blaze burning in the Pacific Palisades in Southern California, Curt Kaplan, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, told ABC News.

Four of California's top five largest fires all occurred in 2020, with 4,257,863 acres burned -- more than twice the record acreage set in 2018.

Most fires are human-caused, and forest management choices and an increasing urban-wildlife interface are also to blame for the current wildfire threat. But, the behavior of the fires after they start and how they spread can largely be attributed to climate change.

"What we’re seeing with the fire activity really is climate change, and it really is climate change smacking us in the face," Dr. Phillip Duffy, climate scientist and president and executive director of the Woodwell Climate Research Center, told ABC News in September following a particularly active fire season in which dozens of major wildfires were burning at ounce.

ABC News' Max Golembo, Daniel Manzo and Samantha Wnek contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Graeme Jennings/Pool via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- An unruly passenger on a Delta flight in December is now facing the largest proposed fine from the Federal Aviation Administration this year -- a whopping $52,500.

According to the agency, the passenger tried to open the cockpit door on the flight from Honolulu to Seattle before striking a flight attendant in the face and pushing them to the floor.

Flight attendants and another passenger on the flight managed to place plastic handcuffs on the unruly passenger, but he later freed himself and managed to hit the flight attendant in the face a second time.

The FAA said police boarded the plane after it landed in Seattle and took the passenger into custody.

"Federal law prohibits interfering with aircraft crew or physically assaulting or threatening to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft," the agency said.

The FAA said there have been more than 1,300 unruly passenger cases since Feb. 1. The agency initiated approximately 20 enforcement cases.

"The number of incidents and rate of incidents per 100,000 passengers is up sharply since the beginning of December 2020," the FAA said in a statement to ABC News last month.

FAA Chief Steve Dickson, in January, first signed the order directing the agency to take a "zero-tolerance policy" in unruly passenger cases -- handing down stricter punishments without a warning, including fines of up to $35,000 and imprisonment.

Dickson extended the FAA's unruly-passenger zero-tolerance policy in March.

"The number of cases we’re seeing is still far too high and it tells us urgent action continues to be required," Dickson said.

A passenger who faces a civil penalty for unruly behavior has a number of options, according to the FAA, including paying the full penalty or contesting it.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(LOS ANGELES) -- An arrest has been made in a raging Southern California wildfire that authorities suspect was started by an arsonist remained out-of-control on Monday, fueled by drought-parched trees and brush that have not burned in about 75 years authorities said on Monday.

The so-called Palisades Fire in the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles County nearly doubled in size overnight to 1,325 acres and was 0% contained, according to fire officials. At least 1,000 people are under mandatory evacuation.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas announced at a news conference Monday that one person has been arrested in connection with the blaze.

"We feel we have the right person," Terrazas said.

Citing an ongoing investigation, Terrazas declined to release details about the suspect or say what led to his arrest. He said the suspect, who was detained for questioning on Saturday and placed under arrest Monday, is being treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation.

He said a second person was also questioned about the fire, but was released and is not a suspect.

About 540 firefighters are battling flames in rugged, steep terrain on the ground and from the air, but have struggle to get a handle on the blaze threatening 500 homes, many of them multimillion-dollar residences.

Air-tankers and helicopters have been used to drop water and fire retardant in remote areas inaccessible to firefighters on the ground, officials said. But Terrazas said the air-tankers were grounded Monday morning due to low clouds.

Terrazas said the air-tankers are not cleared to fly until the cloud ceiling lifts to 4,000 feet. He said the cloud ceiling over the fire area was at 2,500 feet on Monday morning.

LAFD Battalion Chief Al Ward told reporters during a news conference on Sunday that firefighters are focusing on the northeast flank of the fire, trying to prevent it from jumping a road and spreading into the more densely populated area of Topanga Canyon.

About 500 homes in the Topanga Canyon area are under mandatory evacuation.

Terrazas said no injuries have been reported and that no homes or structures have been destroyed by the blaze.

Ward said that on Saturday afternoon the fire was contained to about 100 acres, but south-southwest gusts of 15-25 mph caused the fire to flare up and quickly spread. He said fire grew from 100 acres to 750 acres in about an hour on Saturday and has been growing ever since.

The fire was first reported about 10 p.m. Friday behind a residential area and near a trail leading to Topanga State Park, officials said.

The Los Angeles Police Department said a police helicopter crew spotted what appeared to be a person setting fires in the area on Friday night.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Air Rescue 5 said on Twitter late Saturday night that a team was inserted into the "Topanga area in search of arson suspect setting fires."

The fire comes amid a early and potentially dangerous fire season in California. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire, said last week that California has already seen nearly 14,000 acres burn in more than 2,000 wildfires since the start of 2021, an increase of 700% over fire activity in 2020.

California is coming off a record year for wildfires in 2020, in which nearly 10,000 fires burned more than 4 million acres, destroyed more than 8,200 structures and killed 33 people, according to Cal Fire.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Hennepin County Sheriff's OfficeHennepin County Sheriff's Office

(MINNEAPOLIS) -- The former police officer who killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, is scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial hearing on Monday at 1:30 p.m. Former Brooklyn Center Officer Kim Potter is charged with second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Wright.

The prosecution informed the judge that the state has filed for and will seek to allow media recordings of Potter's trial. The defense indicated they will oppose that motion.

Potter shot and killed Wright on April 11 during a traffic stop in Minnesota. Police say they pulled Wright over for expired registration tags but arrested him after discovering an outstanding warrant for his failures to appear in court on prior charges.

Body camera footage shows officers trying to arrest Wright but the 20-year-old frees himself and re-enters his car. The officers and Wright appeared to scuffle as the cops attempt to pull Wright from the car. In the footage, Potter repeatedly yells “Taser” before shooting a single shot in Wright's chest with her firearm. Wright drove away, and the car drove several blocks before crashing.

At an April 12 press conference, then-Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said he believes Potter meant to deploy her stun gun when she shot Wright. Gannon said the department trains officers to carry their handguns on the side of their dominant hand and to carry the stun gun on the “weak” side.

Wright’s death was ruled a homicide in a preliminary report from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.

Potter and Gannon resigned from their positions at the police department shortly after the shooting. Potter could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Benjamin Crump, the Wright family attorney, rejected the belief that the shooting was an accident in a April 13 news conference.

"After 26 years, you would think that you know what side your gun is on and what side your Taser is on," Crump said. "You know the weight of your gun, and you know the weight of the Taser."

The incident was followed by days of unrest and protests. Tensions were stoked by the Derek Chauvin murder trial, which was happening in the same region, at the same time. The former Minneapolis police officer has since been convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd.

Since Wright’s death, the Brooklyn Center City Council approved a proposal from Mayor Mike Elliott that would create a new Community Response Department and Civilian Traffic Enforcement Department. These departments would allow civilian employees to respond to non-moving traffic violations and mental health crises. The new divisions would be composed of medical and mental health professionals, as well as social workers.

"This is just the first step in a long road ahead -- but that is work that we as a city are ready to do with our community," Elliott tweeted. "There will be lots of questions to answer, lots of learning, and lots of opportunity for the community to be at the center of this change."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Joseph Rouse/iStock

(SIBLEY, Iowa) -- A freight train hauling fertilizer derailed and caught fire in Iowa Sunday afternoon sending plumes of smoke into the air.

The incident took place around 2 p.m. CT near Sibley, Iowa, according to Glenn Anderson, the Sibley city administrator.

Anderson told ABC News that there were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths but dozens of nearby residents were evacuated as crews scrambled to put out the flames.

"Osceola County emergency management has reported approximately 80 people were evacuated from the town of Sibley as the result of a train derailment and fire," Lucinda Parker, with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, told ABC in an email Sunday night.

Anderson said it appears the train's fuel caught fire during the derailment.

"At around 2 p.m. CT, May 16, a Union Pacific train derailed approximately 47 rail cars near Sibley, Iowa," Union Pacific Railroad Company said in a statement Sunday night. "There were no injuries to the crew. Union Pacific is working with local first responders at the scene. Cause of the derailment is under investigation."

The Osceola County Sheriff's Office told ABC News that hazmat equipment was on the scene, although they could not say whether it was being used.

After the incident, the Red Cross in Iowa wrote on Facebook that they opened a reception center for displaced families.

"Individuals and families displaced from their home are welcome at the center where volunteers are on hand to assist those impacted. At this time, overnight accommodations are not being provided, but the Red Cross is monitoring the situation and is prepared to provide lodging, if the need arises," they wrote.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A South Carolina school bus driver who kept his cool during an armed hijacking hailed all 18 children the real heroes of the high-pressure encounter.

Kenneth Corbin spoke exclusively to ABC News' Good Morning America Monday about how he was able to hold off the gunman and what the students said to the man that helped keep them safe for six minutes.

"The kids were the ones that actually got the gentleman off of the bus and they pretty much had my back as much as my concerns were with them," Corbin explained. "At the end when they started questioning him, it seemed to have frustrated him because his main objective were to get to the next town, but I think we were only on the road about four miles and he just got frustrated with the questions and just told me to stop the bus and get off. All y'all get off now."

Police believe Jovan Collazo, the 23-year-old trainee from New Jersey in his third week at Fort Jackson, appeared to be trying to get home. He remains in custody facing two dozen charges, including 19 counts of kidnapping.

"As we were traveling, I guess he realized there were several students on the bus -- kind of scattered throughout," Corbin said. "He decided to move all the students up front so he could keep us all in close proximity, and when he did that, especially some of my kindergarteners, they started asking questions."

The students, according to Corbin, asked if the man was a soldier to which he "hesitantly answered -- 'yes.'"

"They asked him, 'why are you doing this?' He never did have an answer for this one. They asked, was he going to hurt them? He said 'no.' They asked, 'are you going to hurt our bus driver?' He said, 'no. I'm going to put you off the bus,'" Corbin recalled. "He sensed more questions coming and I guess something clicked in his mind and he said, 'enough is enough already,' and he told me to 'stop the bus, and just get off.'"

Corbin, who was trained to handle a hostage situation, said he initially pushed his hands out to signify to the man that he was not allowed on the bus.

"I had to tell him that twice, and when I told him that, that's when he presented his weapon and told me to close the door and move and drive," Corbin said. "It was just a matter of staying calm and following his instructions and thinking about the kids, because I didn't want to do anything that would, you know, rile him to cause him to do something that would bring harm to the kids."

Corbin said the man's "main objective was to get to the next town" and repeatedly asked the driver how long it would take, how much further, etc.

"He told me to speed up and don't let the red light catch me," Corbin said, "that's when he moved the kids up front and then he wanted to know, again, 'how far,' and all I could say was '20 miles because we haven't gone that far.'"

At that point Corbin told Collazo they would have to go to Kershaw County to get to another town, but only made it four miles when "the kids got him frustrated" and they all got off the bus.

Corbin said "it was so evident that they were precious cargo and I pretty much just had to just do whatever -- to get them off the bus safe and sound."

"It seemed like they were going to do the same thing by me, and that's why I refer to them as my heroes," the bus driver said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- Four officers were shot and injured, and a suspect was killed during an attempted search by police in Birmingham, Alabama, investigators said.

The incident took place Sunday at the 1000 block of 18th Street S, where officers were investigating a shooting that took place earlier in the day, according to the Birmingham Police Department.

The officers were going to execute a search warrant at the building when the suspect opened fire, Sgt. Rodarius Mauldin told reporters at a news conference.

Two officers were shot, and two were grazed by gunfire during the shooting, the police said. They were part of the department's tactical unit, according to Mauldin.

The officers returned fire and killed the unidentified suspect, police said. The investigation is ongoing and will be turned over to the Alabama Bureau of Investigations, Mauldin said.

The wounded officers did not suffer any life-threatening injuries and are expected to make a full recovery, according to Mauldin.

"I am extremely grateful the officers will survive their injuries and hope the community will continue to support them," Birmingham City Councilor Hunter Williams said in a statement.

The incident that led to the search warrant dealt with a shooting that took place around 6:30 a.m. where a man and woman were killed, allegedly in an altercation over a dog, the police said.

"We're calling on all of our residents to take a stand against these hostile acts," Birmingham City Council President William Parker said in a statement. "This senseless violence must stop."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(CHICAGO) -- A violent weekend in Chicago left at least 48 people shot in separate incidents, including two police officers who were wounded on Sunday morning when they responded to a ShotSpotter detection alert, authorities said.

At least five people were killed in the rash of shootings between Friday and Sunday morning, according to Chicago Police Department incident reports reviewed by ABC News.

Police said six children under the age of 17 were among the victims wounded, including a 2-year-old girl who was sitting in the back seat of a car when she was hit by a bullet fired from another vehicle. Two 14-year-olds and a 13-year-old were also shot and wounded in separate incidents, according to the reports.

"Let's pray for peace in our city," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a news conference Sunday morning. "We've got to put these guns down. We've got to stop the flow of illegal guns into our city."

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown appeared with Lightfoot at the news conference to release details on a shooting around 7:19 a.m. Sunday that sent two police officers to the hospital with gunshot wounds.

One of the wounded officers was hit in the shoulder, just above his bulletproof vest, and the other officer was shot in the hand, Brown said. He said both officers were being treated at Mount Sinai Hospital and were listed in good condition.

Brown said that when the officers arrived in the Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago's West Side, they spotted a person in an alley. As the officers approached the person, the individual turned around and opened fire without warning, prompting a gunfight.

The superintendent said the shooter, whose name was not immediately released, was shot in their lower extremities and was being treated at a different hospital.

"It just underscores the danger our men and women in the police department face every single day," Lightfoot said. "They run to danger to protect us, and we can't ever forget that."

Brown said the shooting marked the 29th time this year that Chicago police officers have been shot at. He said six officers have been wounded by gunfire in the first four-and-a-half months of the year.

In the past 15 months, he said 16 Chicago police officers have been wounded and another 92 were shot at.

The police department's latest computer statistics on crime, or CompStat, report released May 2 shows there were 865 shootings in the city during the first three months of 2021, a 33% increase over the same time span in 2020. The CompStat report shows 195 murders were committed in the city during the first three months of 2021, a jump of 22% from the same time period in 2020.

Sunday's episode came amid shootings that erupted across the city over the weekend. Shortly after the two officers were wounded, a 13-year-old boy was shot in the head and neck in the McKinley Park area of southwest Chicago, according to a police report. Police said the boy, who was taken to a hospital in critical condition, was standing on a sidewalk when a car pulled up and one of its occupants opened fire.

No arrests have been made in the boy's shooting.

The child's shooting came after a 2-year-old girl was shot while riding in the rear seat of car in the Little Village neighborhood on Chicago's West Side. Police said the shots were fired from another vehicle. No arrests have been made in the incident.

The girl was treated at Mount Sinai Hospital and was listed in good condition, police said.

Two men were killed and three were wounded in a shooting that broke out at a party just after 3 a.m. on Saturday in the Gresham neighborhood of Chicago's South Side, police said.

About an hour after the double-homicide, police found an unidentified victim who had been shot in the chest in a gas station parking lot in the West Garfield Park neighborhood on the city's West Side. The victim was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Also killed over the weekend was a 32-year-old man who was shot in the head just before midnight on Friday in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood of northwest Chicago. Officers nearby heard the gunshots, responded quickly to the scene, and arrested an 18-year-old suspect they saw attempting to flee the area with a rifle, according to a police report.

Around 2:17 p.m. on Friday, a 19-year-old man died after being shot in the back during a drive-by shooting on the South Side of Chicago. No arrests were made in the homicide.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(LOS ANGELES) — A suspected arsonist was on the loose Sunday morning after igniting a brush fire in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles County that has spread to more than 700 acres and is threatening homes and prompting mandatory evacuations in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the region.

The so-called Palisades Fire in the Santa Monica Mountains was 0% contained on Sunday as firefighters battled wind-whipped flames mowing through rugged, steep and extremely dry terrain from the ground and the air, officials said.

Residents of at least 500 homes, many of them multimillion-dollar residences, in nearby Topanga Canyon were ordered to evacuate on Saturday evening, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Some of the homes included ranches with livestock that was being moved to an emergency animal shelter established at Pierce College about eight miles away.

The fire was first reported about 10 p.m. Friday behind a residential area and near a trail leading to Topanga State Park, officials said. The blaze was initially reported as a 15-acre brush fire that firefighters battled into Saturday to bring under control, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

But around 4 p.m. on Saturday, firefighters were confronted by a major flare-up that was fueled by winds and quickly spread, officials said. Helicopters and air-tankers were called on to drop fire retardant and water on flames in areas hard for firefighters on the ground to reach, officials said.

"Much of the area remains inaccessible. This is primarily an air-based operation with both fixed wing and rotary working together," Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson Margaret Stewart said Saturday evening.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire, sent crews to help fight the wildland blaze.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. But the Los Angeles Police Department said a police helicopter crew spotted what appeared to be a person setting fires in the area on Friday night.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Air Rescue 5 said on Twitter late Saturday night that a team was inserted into the "Topanga area in search of arson suspect setting fires.”

The sheriff's department posted photos on Twitter of deputies dressed in paramilitary gear rappelling from a helicopter into a burning wooded area.

David Ortiz, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Fire Department, said the Palisades Fire is burning in an extremely parched area that has seen little rain over the last 10 years, and that dry vegetation was fueling the rapid spread of the fire.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Nelson County Sherriff's Department/Facebook

(NEW YORK) — A Kentucky man who drove more than double the 70 mph speed limit and led police on a lengthy pursuit has been arrested after running out of gas.

The incident occurred on Saturday, May 15, at approximately 12:58 p.m. when the Nelson County Dispatch in Kentucky received a call from the Kentucky State Police Dispatch asking for help to catch a man driving a bright yellow 2015 Ford Mustang.

The reason? The vehicle was clocked driving 143 mph in a 70 mph zone driving eastbound on the Bluegrass Parkway.

Authorities say the suspect, 47-year-old Steven Alford from Roundhill, Kentucky, subsequently led police on a long police chase.

“The driver pulled over at the 30 Mile Markers after a lengthy pursuit due to running out of gas,” Nelson County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted on social media.

Police also said that once he stopped that Alford refused to get out of his vehicle and that he had to be assisted by both the Nelson County Sheriff’s Department and the Kentucky State Police.

Alford was transported to the Nelson County Jail and charged with speeding 26 MPH or more over the limit, fleeing or evading police first degree motor vehicle, reckless driving, four counts of wanton endangerment first degree police officer, driving too fast for conditions, operating on a suspended or revoked license, improper passing, license plate not legible and resisting arrest.

The Nelson County Sheriff’s Office are still looking for witnesses who may have seen Alford driving and ask for anybody who was passed by Alford in the Yellow Mustang to call the Nelson County Dispatch at 502-348-3211.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Maria Torres

(NEW YORK) — The tiger loose for nearly a week after seen roaming the streets of a Houston neighborhood has been moved to an animal sanctuary.

India, the 9-month-old Bengal tiger, will be introduced to a half-acre wooded plot at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, Noelle Almrud, senior director of the sanctuary, told reporters at a press conference Sunday morning.

He will be examined by the staff veterinarian and will be quarantined for 30 days.

While India, who already weights 175 pounds, is still playful at this age, he could prove deadly once he matures into adulthood, Almrud said. While the cub is used to interacting with humans, the two other tigers the group has rescued from homes in Texas -- Elsa and Loki -- quickly acclimated to becoming "wild" tigers and receive no direct interaction with humans, she added.

"Our hope is that we get full and legal custody of India so that he can live out his life here at Black Beauty Ranch, where he can have the life a tiger should—as close as possible to what he would have in the wild," Almrud said in a statement.

The group is pushing for laws that would prevent the private ownership of tigers, Almrud said. It is already illegal in the city of Houston to own a tiger, officials said.

The saga to locate the missing Bengal tiger, named India, began on May 9 after users of the neighborhood social media platform Nextdoor began posting about sightings of the cat.

The tiger's alleged owner, 26-year-old Victor Cuevas, fled the scene with India in the vehicle just as police were arriving. He no longer had the tiger when police arrested him on May 9 and so the search began.

The cat escaped Cueva's property after climbing the fence, Cuevas' attorney, Michael Elliot, said after his court appearance on Friday.

India was located Saturday night after Cueva's wife contacted police and brought the tiger to BARC Houston, the city's animal shelter, Houston Police Department Cmdr. Ron Borza said at a press conference Saturday night.

India spent Saturday night at BARC and was transported to the sanctuary Sunday morning, Almrud said.

"Houston authorities did a remarkable job over the past several days to locate India and to ensure the safety of the public and the animal," Almrud said in a statement. "Black Beauty Ranch will provide safe sanctuary for him and give him a proper diet, enrichment, an expansive naturally wooded habitat where he can safely roam and will provide everything else he needs to be the healthy wild tiger he deserves to be."

Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement that while the organization is glad India was found safe, it is unacceptable to "have dangerous wild animals roaming neighborhoods or living in people’s homes."

"Forcing these animals to live under such conditions, confined and treated as a 'pet' is inhumane and a serious public safety risk -- no matter how ‘cute’ or ‘tame’ the animal may seem," Block said. "Big cats like India express natural, unpredictable behaviors that can occur at any moment. Situations like this are why we are working to pass federal legislation. The Big Cat Public Safety Act would prohibit keeping big cats as pets."

Cuevas has been charged with felony evading police and is being held on $300,000 bail. He denies owning the tiger, but police have alleged multiple times that he is the owner.

Cuevas was previously arrested in July 2020 and charged with murder stemming from a 2017 fatal shooting outside a sushi restaurant in Fort Bend County, Texas, according to police. He has pleaded not guilty and was free on bond at the time of his arrest this week.

Police do not plan on charging Cuevas' wife with any crimes, Borza said.

ABC News' Matthew Fuhrman, William Hutchinson, Mark Osborne, Zohreen Shah, Abby Shalawylo and Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

(FULLERTON, Calif.) -- Under the orange glow of a Southern California evening, the doctors and nurses at Providence St. Jude Hospital in Fullerton, California stand in their blue scrubs and white coats, holding tiny white boxes. In those boxes, butterflies representing all of the victims of COVID-19 who have died at this hospital in the past year.  

"The spirit of the butterflies and the spirit of our loved ones take flight amongst us,” said one of the speakers at the ceremony.

All at once, the white boxes were opened and 200 butterflies took flight. 

The ceremony marks a rare moment for these frontline workers to pause. With COVID-19 numbers coming down in many parts of the country, they're taking that moment to mourn all of the lives lost. Some are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxieties. 

Part of that healing is this ceremony.

"This ceremony is something we've never done before,” said the same speaker. “But it seems appropriate to mark the end, hopefully, of an unprecedented year. When you work in health care, you're familiar with loss. But the suffering experienced last year by families, friends, and health care professionals were beyond anything we could have been we could have imagined.”

Among those family members coming back to say thank you is Patty Trejo, whose husband Joseph died in March. 

"He said how he saw the stress on the nurses and the physicians,” Trejo told ABC News’ Alex Stone on ABC Audio’s ‘Perspective’ podcast. “He got admitted at 10:30, he said by two o'clock the hallways were full of patients. And his heart was melting. He goes 'I feel so bad for the families and the nurses and the doctors,' not only the doctors, he said just the staff in general, right now." 

Her husband was at the hospital during the height at Providence St. Jude in February when the hospital was overflowing. 

In the past year among those who came in were Rick Moran and his wife Georgina. They both work for the hospital, and they got COVID. His wife never left: she died here. 

"She was very loving,” Moran told the ‘Perspective’ podcast. She was a woman of faith. All her patients loved her, all her coworkers loved her. Since she has been gone it's not been the same at her facility. She's touched a lot of people, a lot of people with her prayers."

Like many hospitals, executives at Providence St. Jude are trying to figure out how to make sure the mental health of its staff is solid, to make sure now that things are calmer, and those staff members can take a moment and reflect.

“We were quite exhausted and we talked with our staff and we never knew the difference between being tired and fatigued, now they do,” hospital CEO Brian Helleland told the ‘Perspective’ podcast. “And that is just something that we looked forward to, getting to a place where we could let people have vacation and just be home with their families and take time away. We had some people who worked 20 plus days in a row."

As the butterflies take to the sky, the tearful staff here remember those patients to whom they had to say goodbye. 

"With this symbolic gesture, we honor those who have left us and encourage those left behind to have hope and know that our loving God is always with us, even in the darkest of days,” said a speaker at the ceremony.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Maria Torres

(HOUSTON) — After nearly a week of searching, and enough legal twists and turns to write a movie plot, the tiger seen roaming the streets of a neighborhood in Houston has been found.

The tiger, named India, was found unharmed Saturday evening, after the pet's owner got in contact with the Houston Police Department and said she wanted to surrender the animal.

"We are happy to report that the missing tiger seen in a Houston neighborhood last week has been found and appears to be unharmed," the police department wrote on Twitter.

The tiger was brought to BARC Houston, the city's animal shelter, by the woman, police said.

"I think the public thought that it would be easy to catch a tiger, but it wasn't at all," HPD Cmdr. Ron Borza said at a press conference Saturday night. "I presumed right that it was still in Houston and I'm glad it worked out this way."

Borza said the woman who surrendered the tiger was the wife of Victor Cuevas, who was previously taken into custody Monday night at his mother's house in Richmond, Texas, according to the Houston Police Department.

The Houston Police Department also shared video of someone feeding the tiger after it was recovered.


Wright Family

(BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn.) -- Officials in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, the city where Daunte Wright was fatally shot during a traffic stop last month, passed a resolution that aims to make significant policing changes.

The Brooklyn Center City Council convened Saturday afternoon to address a proposal, called the Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler Community Safety & Violence Prevention Act, to create new divisions of unarmed civilian employees to handle non-moving traffic violations and respond to mental crises.

Wright, a black 20-year-old father, was shot in the chest on April 11 during a traffic stop. Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter, who is white, is charged with second-degree manslaughter in his death.

After hearing two hours of at-times emotional public testimony, including by parents whose children were killed by police, as well as statements from the families of Wright and Dimock-Heisler, the council voted 4 to 1 to pass the resolution. The council member who voted against it, Kris Lawrence-Anderson, said she felt the council needed more time to consider it.

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott, who is a city council member, created and presented the resolution last week to "move toward transforming our public safety," he said.

"We're taking a bold step here, this city," Elliott said at Saturday's city council session ahead of the vote. "But we can do it. We're gonna do it."

The proposal seeks to create a new Community Response Department where unarmed, trained medical and mental health professionals and social workers will respond to calls involving medical, mental health, disability-related and other behavioral needs.

It will create an unarmed Civilian Traffic Enforcement Department for non-moving traffic violations.

In the Wright case, he was pulled over for what police said was expired tags. It escalated when officers realized Wright had an outstanding arrest warrant, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said at the time.

Daunte Wright's mother urged the city council to pass the resolution.

"I truly believe if this was implemented prior to April 11, our son would still be with us today," Katie Wright said at the session before the council vote.

The mother of Dimock-Heisler, a 21-year-old man on the autism spectrum who was fatally shot by Brooklyn Center officers during a domestic disturbance call last year, also spoke in support of the resolution.

"We have no time to wait," Amity Dimock told the council members. "There's not many things I know for sure in this lifetime, but I know for sure that if measures like this had been passed earlier, that Daunte Wright would be alive today, and that Kob Heisler would be alive today. That much I know for sure."

The resolution also seeks to create a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention to oversee the police department, fire department, traffic enforcement department and community response department.

It would also implement a "citation and summons" policy that would require officers only to issue citations and ban arrests and vehicle searches for non-moving traffic violations, non-felony offenses and non-felony warrants.

It'll also create civilian committees to review and make recommendations regarding police response to protests and policies.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota called the proposed changes "an important first move" in changing policing, The Associated Press reported.

However, the resolution has been met with backlash by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, Law Enforcement Labor Services, Inc., and the Minnesota Sheriff's Association. The policing groups claimed the proposal conflicts with state law in a letter to city officials.

On Friday, the city attorney responded to those concerns in a memo to the City Council, saying "the adoption of the Act establishes goals and commits the City to working to achieve them, but it does not constitute a final action."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Fremont Police Department

(FREMONT, Calif.) -- A California man arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting an Asian woman is suspected of two other attacks and could be linked to more, the Fremont Police Department posted on its Facebook page late Friday night.

Alexander Lomax, who police described as a 28-year-old man from Hayward, was arrested Thursday, Fremont police said.

Police said he severely beat and assaulted a 67-year-old Asian woman in broad daylight around 11 a.m. on Thursday in the front yard of a residence near Grimmer Blvd. and Blacow Rd. in the Bay Area, according to a Friday press release.

Witnesses of the alleged assault called police and officers who arrived to the scene said they found Lomax "completely nude and still sexually assaulting the victim," authorities said.

The woman was taken to a trauma center with major, non-life-threatening injures. She suffered significant facial injuries and broken bones throughout her body, police said.

Lomax, who is homeless, was arrested and booked into Santa Rita Jail. He was charged with rape, kidnapping with the intent to commit sodomy, assault with the intent to commit rape, sexual battery by restraint, assault with a deadly weapon with great bodily injury and elder abuse with injuries charges, all related to the 67-year-old victim.

Detectives said they later connected him to two other assaults -- one committed several hours before the Thursday attack targeting a 57-year-old Asian woman and another at a Safeway supermarket on May 5 targeting a 75-year-old white woman, Fremont police told ABC News.

Lomax was charged with assault with intent to commit rape related to the 57-year-old victim and sexual battery by restraint and false imprisonment related to the 75-year-old victim. The assault with intent to commit sodomy charge is no bail, meaning he'll be held until arraignment scheduled for May 17. An attorney for Lomax could not be immediately identified.

On Thursday at 9:47 a.m. police said Lomax assaulted a 57-year-old woman in the area of Auto Mall Pkwy and Fremont Blvd. He allegedly punched the woman in the back of the head, pushed her to the ground, then got on top of her, even as she fought back and bit him on the arm, police said.

A witness broke up the assault and Lomax fled before police could arrive on the scene, authorities said. The victim later positively identified Lomax as her attacker, police said.

In the investigation detectives connected him to the sexual assault of a 75-year-old victim shopping at Safeway on May 5 around 6 p.m. He allegedly walked up behind her, grabbed her arm and committed a sexual act, police said.

The victim screamed and he fled the store before police arrived. That victim also later positively identified Lomax, police said.

Fremont Police Chief Kimberly Petersen condemned the attacks, vowing to investigate whether Lomax had more alleged victims.

"As a police chief and as a woman, I am completely horrified by this crime. My thoughts are with the victims during this incredibly difficult time. I can assure the public that this case is the Department's highest priority and we are working diligently with the District Attorney to keep this offender in custody. I have also dedicated the necessary resources to investigate whether we have more victims in our community, and we will ensure that all will be provided with victim support services," Petersen said.

Fremont Mayor Lily Mei also denounced the "disturbing" attacks.

"I am deeply disturbed by the three sexual assault incidents that have recently occurred in our community. My heart is full of sadness for the victims. On behalf of the entire Fremont community, you are all in our thoughts and while we know your recovery will be long, we will continue to be by your side," Mei said in a statement.

Police are urging other potential victims to come forward. Additional victims or witnesses are encouraged to contact Detective David Rodriguez at 510-790-6900 or

Lomax has not been charged with any hate crimes in the incidents.

The alleged attacks took place amid a spike of attacks against Asian Americans over the past year.

Stop AAPI Hate, a group that tracks bias incidents against Asians, reported more than 6,600 hate incidents from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic through March 31.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Listen Live




On Air Now
Best Country Hits
Best Country Hits
6:00pm - 12:00am
Night Show